Philly vs. Maryland Challenge

Oxon Hill, Maryland – Bothered by a Sports Illustrated article a few months ago proclaiming Philly the No. 1 basketball hotbed in America, Triple Threat (Md.) AAU coach Keith Stevens organized an event pitting all-star teams from Maryland and Philly against each other.

The result of Saturday's Philly vs. Maryland Shootout was an emphatic victory by the Marylanders, who swept the four games -- freshmen up through seniors – against a group of Philly teams that admittedly were without some of their best players.

The highlight was expected to be a preview of Georgetown's high-octane future backcourt of Chris Wright and Austin Freeman, but Freeman didn't show, so Wright instead put on a show of his own. The 6-foot St. John's (D.C.) senior poured in 35 points, many in highlight fashion, as the Maryland seniors racked up 131 points.

His was by far the best performance, but he was not the only player who impressed…

Chris Wright, SG, St. John's (D.C) -- Wright is a Ferrari on the fastbreak. You can try to stay with him, stay in front of him, body him – whatever – but he simply shifts speeds and directions too fluidly to be slowed. He scored on a bevy of 3-pointers and slashing moves to the hoop against some Philly guards who are regarded as hard-nosed defenders. He and Freeman have Georgetown fans envisioning a more evenly distributed version of Allen Iverson and Victor Page.

Jay Gavin, PG, Bishop McNamara (Md.) – Marist has found itself a gem here. Gavin is more of a power lead guard than a classic distributor, but the bottom line is he gets it done. The sturdily built 6-footer is very strong with the ball, has nice handles and can shoot the 3. You almost felt bad for the players tasked with defending him and Wright.

Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris, F, Prep Charter (Pa.) – The run-and-gun all-star game setting wasn't advantageous for the twin brothers. Markieff, who at 6-foot-9 is about an inch taller than his brother, was too much for anyone from Maryland to handle in the post early on. But Philly stopped getting the ball to him. His brother, more of a small forward, had an off night shooting the ball.

Donte Greene, F, Towson Catholic (Md.) – Same old, same old for the sure-thing McDonald's All-American. Greene (Syracuse) again showed off his advanced footwork and ball handling along with an array of moves not often seen in a 6-8 player.

Josh Martin, SG, Simon Gratz – He's not going to dunk on you and he's not a physical specimen, but he's one of those players who simply can't be kept from the basket. He got there time and again and found ways to finish. His quick-release 3-ball was falling as well. If the 6-foot-1 slasher can play like this consistently, he's a solid mid-major candidate.

Jason Clark, SG, Bishop O'Connell (Va.) – Clark will play the complimentary guard role alongside Freeman and Wright at Georgetown, and he'll do it well. He doesn't specialize in anything, but he can handle, shoot, slash and defend, and he plays taller than his 6-foot-1 listing.

Russell Johnson, SF, Chester (Pa.) – Perhaps a tweener, but he's an aggressive wing player who can pitch in everywhere. Made several nice passes. Not an athletic freak but is athletic and has a very good motor.

Sean Mosley, SG, St. Frances (Md.) – Didn't look for his shot, but the thickly-built 6-foot-4 shooter has great natural form. Showed up at halftime and seemed less than thrilled to be there, but when he goes all-out, you can see why he's a prized high-major recruit.

Frank Ben-Eze, PF/C, O'Connell (Va.) – Ben-Eze has played basketball for only three years and has been in the U.S. barely a month. He's raw, unpolished and huge (6-10 and 230 pounds), and is sure to pile up high-major offers.

Devon White, PF, Roman Catholic (Pa.) – White is 6-8 with a solid frame and very good hands. If he can become more consistent in the intensity department, he could see some serious offers.

Malik Wayns, G, Roman Catholic (Pa.) – Nails-tough, has a really nice handle and showed he can get up and dunk with ease at about 5-11. A future major-conference player, or quite possibly a high-major.

Maurice Creek, SF, Oxon Hill (Md.) – Just what the doctor ordered for an Oxon Hill program that has struggled a bit after a run of dominance here. He's 6-foot-3 and lanky with a nice handle for his size and age.

Josh Selby, G, John Carroll (Md.) – Often out of control with his playground dribbles and laser-beam passes, he made his share of turnovers. But that doesn't change the fact that he's got a ridiculous amount of ability for a kid who hasn't even begun high school ball. Selby is about 6-1, has rare, innate court vision and a flare for passing. And he can sky. Quite possibly a star of the future.

Kendall Marshall, PG, O'Connell (Va.) – You don't often see freshman point guards as pure and polished as Marshall, who became a national name while in sixth grade. The lanky lefty has the intrinsic feel for the game that some point guards never learn. He'll likely start as a freshman for one of the Washington area's best programs.

Deon Waiters, SF, John Bartram (Pa.) – With his strength and aggressiveness, probably could have held his own is the sophomore games. About 6-foot-2, he plays with a chip on his shoulder. He scored 21 points while almost single-handedly erasing Maryland's 10-point lead in the final 2:30 and sending the game into OT.

Philly had a good excuse for it's poor showing, thanks to the Eddie Griffin Challenge being held in Newark at the same time ‘Cuse commits Scoop Jardine and Rick Jackson were among a few notable senior absences. And super-juniors Tyreke Evans and Samardo Samuels would have all but guaranteed Philly at least one victory. Still, Maryland was without a few studs of its own, such as Michael Beasley and Nolan Smith.

The Morris twins reiterated they will attend a boarding school somewhere near Philly next year in an attempt to mature. They're a young 17 and, despite having several major offers, will not graduate, instead opting for another year to develop before college. They are dead set on playing together in college.

The Maryland juniors won despite quite an unorthodox substitution pattern: Mosley, stuck in traffic, showed up at halftime. At the same time, 6-foot-9 Georgetown commit Chris Braswell of DeMatha left to attend his school's homecoming. Meantime, 6-foot-10 Henry Sims, Scout.com's No. 29 player in '08, was a no-show.

Final Four-boosted George Mason may have landed itself the next Kevin Pittsnogle in St. John's senior Vlad Moldoveanu. Moldoveanu is far from a defensive stopper or a banger, but he has one of the sweetest 3-point strokes you'll see on a high-school big man. Fellow Patriots recruit Isaiah Tate, a 6-4 wing player, is a nice pickup as well..

Mosley is being recruited by an ever-growing list of schools, but it seems Syracuse has a very good shot to continue its recent Baltimore pipeline … Martin loves Old Dominion but still awaits an offer … The Morrises visited George Washington this weekend. They're also considering Memphis, Kentucky, LaSalle and Indiana. They'll commit next month to play somewhere in '08

… Johnson is hearing from Temple, Penn State and Miami … Ben-Eze has an offer from Maryland and interest from UConn, Florida and Georgetown … Highly athletic '08 guard Kevon Moore of Archbishop Spalding is hearing from St. Joe's and Virginia Tech, among others … Talented '08 scorer Troy Blue from Philly is hearing mostly from Nebraska, Utep and LaSalle…


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