Hoops, All-Ohio To Play For Title
Semifinal No. 1: Houston 85, Howard Pulley 76 Daniel Gibson and Tack Minor scored 23 points each to pace the Hoops. Gibson heated up from downtown, making 5-of-10 attempts from behind the arc. Gibson's July has been a little sluggish by his standards, though today he showed signs of really breaking out.
One area of concern we have about the Hoops heading into the finals is Ndudi Ebi. The big man played really well in the first half against Pulley but he was ignored in the second half. Late in the game, Ebi apparently had enough and snared a rebound and went coast to coast for the sweet layin. Our point is this: he's the best player on their team right now and they need to get him the basketball, especially against an undermanned All-Ohio team inside.
Semifinal No. 2: All-Ohio 54, Boo Williams 52 A JR Reynolds 3-pointer was not to be as the Red advanced to the Peach Jam title game. The game was of the slow down variety and really lacked a steady pace.
For All-Ohio it's much of the same story. Andrew Lavender does his thing with the ball and runs the show while Brandon Foust assaults the rims. Foust has been terrific all tournament long but his reverse jam off a missed shot was totally awesome from an athletic standpoint. We've said it before but it bears repeating: his athleticism changes games. Imagine Foust going high for a rebound and throwing down a slam over another player with 15,000 people in the building. He's going to affect the momentum of a game one way or the other.
Jonathan Williams, PF, Howard Pulley: The former resident of Florida and newcomer to the AAU scene is slowly showing plenty of promise. For stretches in the semis, he looked very comfortable. Williams has a big body and has shown offensive talent. While he's clearly still feeling his way around with the Panthers, we think he's got a bright future.
Al Jefferson, PF, Jackson Tigers: His team didn't make the playoffs as they were the youngest group of players in the tournament but Jefferson did distinguish himself. Here's a guy under the microscope and he continues to play at the highest level. We love how he gets after it and his size is just impressive.
Off The Dribble
The DC Blue Devils Ryan Lambert is improving his offense. The fifth-year prep player is extending his range and his lefty jumper is going down. He'll even make some 3s. … Michael Morris is having a sweet tournament for the Hoops. This fall, he'll take his game to Colorado State. … Speaking of the Hoops, Justin Benson is continuing to rise up the charts. The power forward drilled a 3-pointer that gave his team the lead and eventual win in a crucial pool play game. He's been a great addition to the roster. … Torre Johnson had the block of the tournament when he removed a Matt Annen shot from the game. Johnson measured Annen so well that he met him right at the release point and rejected his shot hard. Annen didn't seem the same after the play. It was a kind of swap that just takes away your confidence. …
Around The Gym
Gary Ervin played injured the final day at the Jam. His team couldn't rally against Boo Williams in the first round of the playoffs. … Speaking of Ervin, head coaches Ben Howland of Pittsburgh and Rick Stansbury of Mississippi State were on hand watching him today.
The battle for Ndudi Ebi's attention is on. In the morning, Texas coach Rick Barnes was in the building joining assistants from Duke, Indiana and Arizona. Then, in the evening, Duke's heavy artillery arrived. Mike Krzyzewski watched Ebi's final two games.
We hear Krzyzewski has an impressive itinerary lined up for Wednesday. Apparently, he's flying to Washington, D.C., to dine with the President of the United States and also the President of Poland who's in town for a visit. That's big time.
All-Ohio and Houston Hoops share a common trait. Both teams were in the same pool during the round robin tournament. …