Ndi Ebi, PF, Houston Hoops: The Hoops are loaded with talent – seeping with it actually – but no one star shines brighter than Ebi's. In a head-to-head semifinal matchup with the Ravens and sophomore PF Ra'Sean Dickey, Ebi scored 19 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and blocked 10 shots. He was Awesome, with a capital A. In one stretch he rejected Dickey on 3 straight attempts.
Chris Paul, Kappa Magic vs. Gary Earvin, Riverside Church: The Church won this one but the storyline was a game which showcased a pair of promising PGs. Paul, the junior, scored 21 points and did a nice job in a fast paced game. Earvin, a senior who will prep next season, showed that he's growing more and more comfortable as a point as time passes. They didn't guard each other much, which was a little disappointing. However, the contrasting style of Paul who plays at different speeds and is the consummate leader against Earvin, a jet quick guard who likes to get it and run, was interesting to watch.
Tack Minor, PG, Houston Hoops: Could very well be the top junior point guard in the country, though the best PGs in the country certainly have varying styles. Minor's style is drive it to the rim as hard and as fast as you can. The Hoops toss it to him ASAP and he goes from first to fifth gear into attack mode as fast as anyone in the business. He scored 24 in a semifinal win on 11-20 shooting.
Brandon Cotton, CG, The Family: The Illinois Warriors simply didn't have an answer for him. He played much of the first half at the point where he was held in check. In the second half, he freed himself up at the off guard and went to work. The Warriors couldn't guard him as he caught it on the wing and went to the rim to the tune of 22 points on 10-17 shooting. He's tough to give a position label to and would one day like to be a point but right now he's best when he's being one of the top wing scorers in the country.
Rajon Rondo, PG, Kentucky Stars: Recognized as one of the finest prospects in the Bluegrass State, Rondo didn't disappoint. He's very, very fast and at least on this day, it looked like his game is getting to the rim. He hit for 20 on 8-11 shooting.
Charlie Richardson, PG, Illinois Warriors: He's Illinois' answer to Ohio's sub-six-foot PG Andrew Lavender. Richardson is a pesky defender who has made a ton of plays for his club this weekend. Plus, he's got fast hands and gets himself a ton of steals.
Jay Jackson, CG, Louisiana Select: The talk was that he's one of the finest in his home state and that appears to be true. His game is smooth and was a perfect 3-3 from downtown. His assist totals should have been quite larger but unfortunately some teammates weren't able to connect.
Paul Milsap, PF, Louisiana Select: Unfortunately, the Select didn't win a game in pool play but the emergence of Milsap was interesting. He has some bounce, plays with fire and energy and really got after for long stretches on Saturday.
DJ Strawberry, PG, Team California: The son of Darryl Strawberry is a pretty good hoops player. He was probably the most consistent player on his team in the event. He's a fine athlete with good quicks who was big in an overtime win.
We saw some good ones today. DeAaron Williams of the Illinois Warriors is a player. The 6-5 swing man is athletic and active. Plus, he's even beat up and looked good anyway. … Team California center Robert Swift has a huge rep out west. He showed flashes of being a good passer and is a lock high-major guy. … Mohammad Tangara of Team Georgia has been working on his shooting. On Saturday, he routinely canned medium-range jumpers. … Shawn Williams, an athletic combo forward with Team Memphis was fun to watch. Teammate Andre Allen has probably had better days, but the talent is certainly there, all packed into a power guard package. …
Probably the top 2004 performer today was combo guard Daniel Gibson of Houston Hoops. This kid can pass, handle and let it fly from deep with a nice stroke to boot. He has to be one of the elite guards in his class. His father played for the Houston Cougars.
Byron Eaton of Team Texas played for national champion Dallas Lincoln and is a standout with his AAU team. Can you name the last freshman PG starter on Team Texas? How about Bryan Hopkins who also plays for Lincoln?
Riverside Church routed Georgia Elite prior to the start of the playoffs. The big win gave Ernie Lorch a chance to rest big guns Quincy Douby and Gary Earvin. … Boo Williams center Darian Townes was MIA today as he took the SAT. … Shannon Brown did not unofficially visit Michigan State as we originally thought he was going to do last Thursday. … Arizona, Duke and Texas seem to be the first tier schools for Ndi Ebi and North Carolina and Kansas comprise the next tier. …
Kappa Magic point guard Chris Paul used to have an afro. However, after a state semifinal loss to Winston-Salem Reynolds, he cut his hair. Now, he plays on the same AAU team with 3 Reynolds players and sports the bald look. … Douby and Earvin are talking as if they are a package deal to prep school next year. Milford Academy and Mount Zion are the likely options. … We were anxious to see Team Georgia big man Shawn Taylor but the rail thin prospect barely played in the game we watched. …
Michael Brock of the Kentucky Stars nailed a jumper to defeat Team Texas. … Colin Falls nailed a big-time 3-pointer to help the Illinois Warriors clinch one against Louisiana Select. …
Shannon Brown of the Illinois Warriors bruised his thigh, played only a few minutes in the morning session game, and missed the entire game against The Family. … Kappa Magic small forward Reyshawn Terry reportedly has a stomach virus and it has limited his performances. …