The Southern Cal All-Stars, in a slugfest, defeated Meanstreets Express 69-63 to claim the Big Time title. So Cal, acknowledged all year long as the best traveling team in America, passed every test here this week before finally gutting it out against Eric Gordon and Derrick Rose in a classic.
"They're a great team and they were hard to stop," Gordon said. The nation's top ranked shooting guard wanted to make a statement early after falling behind big against SCA in an earlier game and he did just that by putting on a show with his jump shot and athleticism.
Gordon was brilliant
"Whoa. That boy can score," Love said. "He's a scoring machine. He can rise, he can shoot and he can get to the basket. I respect him more than anybody in the country. He's that good." Gordon finished with 25 points on 10-for-20 from the floor.
Meanwhile Love went about his business with 20 points and 15 boards in the title game. In reality, there wasn't a body over 6-foot-5 on the Meanstreets team that could check him. Love operated with little resistance and once he got it on the blocks there was little done to impede his progress as he muscled his way to the rim.
As good as Love was he didn't do it by himself. Daniel Hackett's drive with 21 seconds remaining gave SCA a crucial 4-point bulge and demonstrated his toughness. The consummate team player, Hackett impacted this basketball game by offering up his body en route to the rim. He would finish with a team-high 21 points. His first half in the semifinals didn't go unnoticed either.
Two of the nation's premier point guards – Rose and Brandon Jennings – were human from the floor as they combined to shoot 10-for-28 from the field. Rose, who may be the best rebounding point guard in the country, finished with 12 points, 6 assists and 5 boards. Jennings had 8 and 6 assists.
Now the debate rages on as three players have separated themselves from the field in the battle to be called the top ranked player in America. O.J. Mayo's Big Time resume includes one of the event's most dramatic moments ever when he stroked a game-winner over Rose. Gordon, who was the MVP of the adidas Superstar Camp, was nothing short of brilliant all summer long. Meanwhile, the big behemoth inside, Kevin Love, keeps on motoring along posting huge numbers and racking up the wins! Tough call.
Semifinals Southern Cal AS 60, Houston JR Hardballers 51 Meanstreets Express 74, Spiece Indy Heat 57 Quarterfinals Houston Jr. Hardballers 54, Squires Richmond 52 (OT) Southern Cal AS 72, Minn. Magic Elite 63 Meanstreets Express 74, L.I. Lightning 65 Spiece Indy Heat 79, H Squad 71
Play of The Summer
Eric Gordon's resume is lengthy and strong but there's always room for a defining moment. Gordon snatched a long rebound and took off down the floor. He met Jeff Teague shortly after he crossed midcourt and slapped the wickedest crossover of the summer on Teague who was left on an island. Gordon then set his sights on the goal where Tommy Freeman was positioned underneath the hoop. Gordon exploded, crushed it on Freeman and set the place rocking in a show stopping dunk. Then things got bizarre. It was so load you didn't immediately hear the whistle which was blown after one referee (who worked his last Big Time game) decided to call a charge. Meanstreets coach Reggie Rose lost it and was ejected. Bucket or no bucket, Eric Gordon rocked the house.
Jeff Teague, PG, Spiece Indy Heat – What a summer! To begin the month on the fence between mid and high-major to where he is now is a credit to his talent and character. He's going to pass a lot of kids on our point guard list and deservedly so. Not known for his jump shot, it was his stroke that put Spiece into the semis as he dropped 21 points including a pair of clutch 3s. He bowed out to Rose and Co. but not before he left his mark on Vegas.
King cuts down nets
Jon Leuer, PF, Minn. Magic Elite – One of the toughest guys out here to get a read on. His skill level is tantalizing and his stroke is high-major though he didn't shoot it well in Vegas overall. He remains a very good long-range prospect but clearly needs strength, as evidenced by 2 guards on his team out rebounding him for the course of the event.
Fred Ellis, F, Spirit Got Game – He was worn out but managed to rally in his first game to finish with 19. Coaches are taking a peek at him and he's performed well enough to garner a lot of August interest from programs across the country and across the board.
Carlton Scott, PF, Houston JR Hardballers – On the last day he made quite an impression. The versatile – albeit slightly undersized – forward showed that he's a player who sits squarely on the mid to high-major fence. He's getting plenty of interest and really bolstered his stock on the final day of the event.
Steven Thomas, PG, Spiece Indy Heat – Teague got most of the ink and deserved it but Thomas is a good player who will make a mid-major program very happy. Solid like a rock he had a strong day but couldn't get a bucket late in the semis from the outside and when the Heat went frigid from the outside it was over against Meanstreets.
Justin Bocot, FT. Sooy – He smoothly sank the game-winner – a runner as time expired – delivering the "A" championship for his team. Bocot finished with 17 points in the game.
Steve Tchiengang, PF, Houston JR Hardballers – In leading his team in scoring he brought an upstart bunch all the way to the semifinals where they ran into the most powerful traveling team force assembled this season. His game could use some tightening but he can step out and make 3s. Good looking inside-outside prospect.
James Tyler, C, Squires Richmond – He's gone from big kid to prospect and here took steps toward becoming a player. Provided his conditioning continues to improve (and he's heading down that route already) expect him to be a high-major pivot man prospect.
Renardo Sidney, PF, SCA – In the semifinals with his crew struggling to make a shot from the outside, Sidney rallied them with his interior play. Sometimes you forget that one of the nation's most prominent 2009 studs comes off the bench for this team. Most programs should all be so lucky to have this kind of 6th man!
Steven Thomas has offers from Fresno State, Dayton, UTEP, Kent State, High Point, IUPUI and Evansville. Marshall is interested. … Carlton Scott, a forward with the Hardballers, lists Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, SMU, Rice and Georgetown. …
Carlton Scott stroked a pair of free throws with 1.5 seconds to seal the deal against the Squires in overtime. … Antonio Topps played his role well for Mean Streets Express. His job is to fire 3-point bombs and his makes were key in the title game. …