The 2006 version of the Southern Cal All-Stars is on its way to being mentioned in the same breath with those juggernauts. On Sunday, SCA took apart the Playaz to capture its second consecutive Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions title. When the referees blew the whistle enabling the mercy rule to take affect the scoreboard read 83-63 but it was never that close.
Aside from Southeast Elite who nearly caught SCA napping Saturday night, the boys from west coast completely owned this field and frankly, the outcome was never in doubt. From the opening tip to the trophy ceremony, SCA dominated the field.
Kevin Love (right) scored 13 points, connected on a few touchdown passes and provided the interior stability SCA leaned on for the weekend. No big surprise that he was named the MVP of the event, though a certain 2008 point guard made his case for the hardware too.
Brandon Jennings took his already outstanding game and then cranked it up almost to another level in Chapel Hill. Let's be honest, there are a lot of point guards who would love to have the arsenal he's got at his disposal. However, the beauty of Jennings' game is how he has complete command and control over his team.
Jennings has weapons. From the sweet shooting marksman Taylor King to Love and a plethora of high-major wings, he's not short of firepower. Keeping everyone happy is a full-time job and Jennings uses his arsenal better than any point guard in high school basketball.
He's flashy but smart. A scorer but an even better distributor. He is not just the top point guard in the country when it comes to the Class of 2008, he's one of its best overall players. The kid had the place buzzing all weekend long!
DeJuan Blair (left), PF, Pittsburgh JOTS – Are you ready for this line: 36 points, 23 rebounds, 19 offensive boards! Wouldn't have believed it if I didn't witness it with my own eyes. It was a performance Moses Malone would have been proud of and Charles Barkley would have extolled. For our money, this was the top single-game effort of the tournament.
Somehow, Blair is still flying under the radar but not for long. He's easily a Top 50 prospect in this class based on what he did this weekend. Blair has soft mitts, we're talking real soft. He's a beast inside and what he can't rebound he tips out or gets his hands on. Right now he's playing with tremendous confidence. Plus, he wasn't a one-hit wonder. He took care of business all weekend long and like we wrote yesterday, keeps improving each time out.
Eric Gordon, SG, Indy Elite – You could tell he was exhausted and by the time the semifinals rolled around he had emptied his tank. He hit for 19 against the JOTS and 28 against SCA which easily dispatched Elite. All in all, it was a great personal showing and a terrific run by his team.
Herb Pope, PF, Pittsburgh JOTS – Solidified his status as 1) a Top 10 player and 2) the most entertaining and vocal kid in the Class of 2007. Pope speaks his mind when he wants the ball ("We're going inside, baby. Draw it I up") and gets in the minds of his opponents ("They're on the ropes, baby!"). He'll score it every which way on you and then come back for more.
Taylor King, SF, SCA – Give him credit because he played his role on this team and did it at a high level. You expect every one of his good looks to go down from behind the arc and most of them do.
Dairese Gary, PG, Indiana Elite – His crew had no business winning the game against the JOTS but they did, largely due to the toughness Gary exhibited. He got tagged in the eye, beat up and bruised and kept coming back. His toughness and Gordon's scoring ability were the sole reasons for Elite's surprise run to the Final Four. Gary had 21 against the JOTS in the quarters and earned them all.
Brandon Jennings, PG, SCA – The distance between himself and the next best point guard in his class is too wide to measure. He had 16 in the finals and 21 in the semis.
Al-Farouq Aminu, PF, Georgia Stars – His team got upended in the finals but that did little to diminish the work he put in this weekend. Steadily ascending (in our mind) up the 2008 charts, Aminu is a terrific blend of skill, size and athleticism at the four spot.
Kevin Jones (right), PF, Westchester Hawks – He had 15 in the first half of a semifinal game. He's gotten a little taller, has always been long and has the makings of a high-major post presence. He finished with 22 in an OT loss to the Georgia Stars.
Demarquis Bost, SG, Carolina Raptors – After scoring 20 in the 16-and-under title game upset of the Georgia Stars, Bost was awarded the MVP award for best performance. He's a 6-foot-2 scoring guard.
Devin Ebanks had a tremendous event for National Christian. He scored over 20 points each game and hit for 24 in his final contest. There's some debate as to whether or not he'll be 2008 or 2007, but there's no debating that he can score the rock. …
Phil Jones isn't here but he did phone in to diffuse a rumor: he's not committed anywhere yet. Indiana, Seton Hall, Connecticut and Rutgers are his schools. He'll trip to Seton Hall on Tuesday and UConn later in the week. However, the Huskies have not offered him yet. …
Kevin Jones talked about Syracuse and Villanova as schools that are recruiting him. He hinted at most of the Big East having interest and North Carolina has dropped him a line. … Brock Young, the MVP of the Select Division, has offers from East Carolina and Appalachian State. He's hearing from Wake Forest, Clemson, South Carolina and Xavier. …
The Playaz were chatting Malik Story up, chiding him that he couldn't make a shot. Bad idea: Story went out and wrote his own chapter in the title game stroking 3s in front of the Playaz bench and finishing with 17. End of Story. …
Rick Jackson was a horse for the Playaz all tournament long. That horse couldn't get out of the stable against SCA. Guard Anthony Nelson was the prime time playa for the Playaz with 20 in the finals. .
"Watch out for that Frank Sinatra acting!"