Chris Paul, PG, Kappa Magic: The Wake Forest bound guard had 17 points at the break. He was only getting started. When 3s finally stopped going down, Paul finished with 42 points, the highest reported total we've heard so far in the tournament. He's routinely mentioned with the top PGs in the class but what sets him apart from many of his counterparts is his presence. Always under control and the consummate leader, Paul changes tempo, rarely forces plays and provides stability to an offense.
Charlie Villanueva, SF, Long Island Panthers: The 6-9 perimeter oriented forward didn't exactly bust out of the gate like gangbusters, but once he got it rolling in the second half of a game we caught against DC's Assault, he was terrific. He shed defenders off the bounce and skillfully rained jumpers. He spearheaded a valiant comeback. Once he gets a better feel for playing under control with the ball in his hands on the perimeter, the sky came truly be the limit.
Anthony "PJ" Tucker, F, NC Gaters: Though not quite as athletic, Tucker is like former N.C. high school standout Eric Hicks in that he busts his tail but is difficult to classify position wise. The kid has a motor and drive that allows him at 6-5 (not quite 6-6) to rebound with taller players and routinely score. Against Beach Ball Select and Major Wingate, he was the best rebounder in the game. In fact, Select had no answer for his 24 first half points – he finished with 30. Though there are more talented guys in the class, few can boast they get as much done with their talent as Tucker. One observer commented that if he were just two inches taller he would be a beast. Maybe so, but if he were taller, then he might take some things for granted. Right now, he's just kicking butt and taking names.
Sean Banks, SG-SF, Tim Thomas Playaz: He led the cheers as Tim Thomas was forced to sit and hope Fox Valley defeated the Middlesex Magic, otherwise the Playaz would not have made the playoffs. Regardless, Banks had himself a fine weekend, again proving that among perimeter players, especially those capable of playing both the SG and SF, he's in that top tier. His ball handling has improved so much that the PG starved Playaz resorted to allowing him to run the show for extended stretches.
Corey Gibbs, PF, World Wide Renegades: The Renegades have plenty of prospects on their roster and won their game rather convincingly when we watched but Gibbs was able to stand out. His game is predicated on getting things done in the paint and when he values that aspect of his game, he's very successful. Look for him to do well at a school that likes to get out and run so he can use his transition skills. He's hard to classify position wise, but he contributes in different ways. Style of play should be a real factor in his decision because given the proper "fit" he can be successful.
Shaun Livingston, PG, Ft. Sooy: Of all of the talented sophomores in the country, Livingston might be having the best spring. He's already been the MVP of a major event and his team is winning games at a pretty good clip. Meanwhile, he's cementing his rep as one of the elite guards in a loaded class with each performance. Some compare his 6-6 frame and appearance to that of Tayshaun Prince, however, the two aren't remotely similar. First of all, Livingston is a bonafide PG; Prince is not. The Peoria standout is slightly built but he finished everything at the rim, even with contact and it goes without saying that he can pass the rock.
Glen Miles, PG, Southeast Pump and Run: The sophomore point guard does a nice job of running a ballclub and he's seemingly always in control of the show. He has plenty of offense and that intangible of "presence" when he's on the court.
Milton Collins, PG, Jackson Panthers: Loved his athleticism and defensive presence. He's a good drive and kick point guard. He made a lot of plays and did a ton of positive things including setting up teammates and creating his own chances.
NC Gaters shooting guard JamesOn Curry played mainly with the 16-year old team but did get the call up for the final game of the night in the upper division. Though he was used sparingly because the Gaters seemingly had great chemistry and raced out to a commanding lead early, Curry found a way to contribute. Not known for his passing per se, he handed out 5 assists in probably 5-8 minutes of action. … Elliah (aka Karron, aka Elijah) Clarke is set to attend Winchendon next season despite being a qualifier.
Brian Butch's run at the TOC continued as he tallied 36 in a mid-day game on Saturday. He also led the Skillz rally that took down Middlesex Magic. He played the game on what appeared to be a sprained ankle. A few weeks ago at Spiece, he opted to play a game instead of leaving to get stitches in his eye. That should tell you all you need to know about the seven-footer from Appleton. … Sophomore Jason Horton converted a big time clutch free throw to list Team Texas over Raymond Felton and Beach Ball. Felton hit a 3-pointer that sent the game into OT. …
It wasn't a good day if your favorite mascot was a Hurricanes. The NHL's Carolina Hurricanes failed to clinch a Stanley Cup Finals berth while Chris Grier's AAU Hurricanes failed to get out of pool play as they lost to Belmont Shore and Houston Select. Sophomore guard DeMarcus Nelson was the talk of the tournament as onlookers said he gunned down the Hurricanes pretty much by himself. Makes sense, he's had a terrific spring. …
Look for Oklahoma State to be strong with Houston Select wing guard Blake Adams. … World Wide Renegades power forward Jermario Davidson likes Florida State, Florida, Cincinnati, Missouri, Alabama and Wake Forest. … NC Gaters point guard Anthony Atkinson was key in his team's first half run – and we mean run – against Beach Ball Select. The speedster went baseline to baseline in the blink of an eye. Speed thrills and Atkinson's got it. ... The Kappa Magic and NC Gaters will duel at 10:30 in the morning at Cameron in a rematch of the NC state AAU title game. ...