Big Time Checklist, Day Four
Charlie Villanueva, SF, LI Panthers: The Panthers needed OT to knock off the Tim Thomas Black squad. Villanueva tossed in a country club like 29-point effort. Things come so easy for Big Charlie. Right now, he's probably one of the Top 5 players in the class and he's yet to break a sweat this summer. Truly the sky would be the limit if he decides to play every possession with passion. He's putting up serious numbers here in Vegas and the scary thing is everyone in the gym knows how easy he could turn 25 points into 40.
Dion Harris, SG, Mich. Hurricanes: The ‘Canes first game of the morning was a statement game and probably their best game of the tournament as they ripped the NE Ohio Shooting Stars. Harris came out smokin'. He has plenty of shots in his bag and is going to be a fine scorer for the Wolverines.
Brandon Jenkins, PG, Mich. Hurricanes: There are some in the recruiting world who question his skills as a point guard, however, we take the opposite approach and in his game this morning, he showed why. Jenkins is your typical drive and find kid. He made shots and distributed the basketball well and in turn, the Hurricanes rolled.
James Lang, C, Alabama Ice: Simple concept here – get James the ball and he overpowers kids. He did so versus Minuteman Press to the tune of 25-6 start. Then, his team somehow managed to forget about the 310 pounder and had to stave off a rally to hold onto the win.
Peyton Stovall, Billy Shepherd Sports: We didn't see the game but one college coach came out of the gym as we were walking in proclaiming," Peyton Stovall just gunned down the Atlanta Celtics." That was kind of hard to swallow at first, but a quick review of the box score revealed that Peyton Stovall did just gun down the Atlanta Celtics. Previously, he wasn't his team's leading scorer at the event, but 5 3s in Thursday night's finale led to a team-high 29 points and new fame.
Tim Pierce, SG, Oakland Slam ‘n Jam: He's been playing his tail off since ABCD Camp. Pierce has to be one of the top players in the country at his position. Today, in a loss, he made 3s, played hard and made it impossible not to mention him in this column – again. He had one play where he completed a ridiculously athletic reverse layin in traffic that pretty much summed up his day. The one chink in the armor today was a shaky 3-ball he took in overtime.
JR Smith, SG, Tim Thomas Playaz: We were slow to come around, but now have learned: he's one of the best players in the country. His athleticism allows him to make things look easy and create and finish plays other kids can't. He has the fadeaway where he creates separation, the 3-point range and the explosion to the basket.
DuPree Fletcher, PG, DTA Wisconsin: Let me put this into perspective – DTA has no big man and they are in the final 8 of this tournament. Fletcher's 26 points against Southeast Pump ‘n Run lifted his team into the quarterfinals. We first wrote about Fletcher during the Spiece tournament. Since then he's been spectacular and here at TheInsidersHoops.com we're big fans of his work.
Dwight Howard, C, Atlanta Celtics: He scored 20 points in each of the Celtics final two games. This kid is a super prospect. He tries to dunk everything. His soft touch around the rim is worth a lot of money down the line. He's polishing up his game and doing so quickly. He's using both hands at the rim and finishing.
Darius Washington, PG, Florida Hoopsters: Two weeks ago he shared MVP honors at ABCD and now he's got the Hoopsters in the final 8. His 25 were good enough to help sink the Seattle Rotary ship. Though his shot selection remains very questionable, there's absolutely no questioning his talent level.
Milton Collins, PG, Mississippi Panthers: The Panthers might have lost to get into the quarterfinals but they earned the respect of everyone they played, especially Collins. His effort against Ft. Sooy No Limit was sweet. He used his athleticism and speed to get to the rim and did his best to take over when needed. Very impressive.
Shaun Livingston, PG, Ft. Sooy No Limit: Big time players make big time plays. Livingston is in this category. Down the stretch, he made a needed layup off a tough drive in which he had to use his off hand to convert the finish. Then, a minute later with the score tied, he found a cutting teammate with a bullet pass. He's a stud.
Off The Dribble:
Travis Outlaw had one play in the morning game where he sailed up to the rim, almost paused for effect right at the rim, hung in the air and then somehow missed a layin. Regardless, it was the kind of effort that sent a hush throughout the gym. … Part of Minuteman Press' problem against the Alabama Ice was poor shooting. A little James Lang combined with some misses from Oumar Sylla and it was 26-5. … Terrence Roberts is nursing a sore ankle, but down the stretch he made some conversions. … Props to Jamar Nutter who also stood up and was big in overtime of Tim Thomas' epic win over Oakland Slam ‘n Jam. …
Carl Marshall of the Illinois Fire made a slew of 3s in the first half to keep his team in it versus the Atlanta Celtics. His stroke remained on throughout much of the game. He did have a chance to win the game in regulation for the Fire but missed two from the line. Overall, though, he really had a nice game. … Speaking of the Fire, Justin Williams' dunk over top of Randolph Morris was one of the summer's best. … Rodrick Stewart scored 41 points in a game today. … Villanueva's high for the day was 35. … Here's something to ponder: Darryl Watkins and Major Wingate each had a game in the tournament where they didn't score a single point. Ouch. … Guard Jason Price hit the game winner for DTA Wisconsin against Southeast Pump and Run. …
Quarterfinal Matchups (complete with the latest lines)
Michigan Hurricanes vs. Florida Hoopsters: This is the surest bet of the first round. Too many stars for the talented, but young Hoopsters. Older ‘Canes sweep through Durango for 12 point win.
New Orleans Jazz vs. DTA Wisconsin: DTA is on a roll but the lack of size inside means Brandon Bass continues to run wild. Jazz by 13.
NY Ravens vs. Long Island Panthers: John Gotti, on his luckiest day, wouldn't touch this one. We'll take the Ravens by 3 as the upset train continues. Artie Green's boys get in your grill on defense and the Panthers don't have a ton of skilled ballhandlers.
Billy Shepherd Sports vs. Ft. Sooy: The tournament record for 3s by a team is 19. Billy Shepherd hits 20 from downtown and still loses by 5 as Richard McBride bulls his way into the paint.