USA Basketball: Day Four

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Red went undefeated in pool play, and their impressive play continued on the last day of USA Basketball Men's Youth Development Festival, but could Scotty Hopson keep them from getting the gold?

The championship game lost a little of its luster when Delvon Roe, Malcolm Lee and Jamil Wilson were held out because of minor injuries. Then Drew Gordon bowed out of the championship game just five minutes in because of a hand injury.

Regardless of the multiple injuries the game still didn't lack star power, as guys like Devin Ebanks, Lance Stephenson, Jrue Holiday and Scotty Hopson took center stage.

USA Blue jumped out to an early lead because of the early play from Holiday and Hopson, who were penetrating and dropping floaters in over taller defenders. Not to be left out, Storm Warren went to work on the glass and got a number of put backs for USA Blue as well.


Ebanks goes off…again!
Slowly USA Red crept back in the game, as Ebanks and Stephenson started going to work. Ebanks looked to score every trip and more often than not his shots found the bottom of the net. Stephenson, who has been inconsistent this week, began driving the lane and stroking spot up threes.

The game was forced to overtime and Ebanks came up with a few clutch buckets to seal the deal for the USA Red squad, as they won 112-109.

Below we will touch on a number of the top guys from the championship game, but also on some of the other prospects we haven't mentioned yet this week.

Scotty Hopson, SF – Known to be a tad inconsistent at times, Hopson showed up all week in Colorado Springs. Maybe he's over the hump, because not many people could contain the Hopkinsville (Ky.) University Heights standout. This 6-foot-6 wiry wing can really make things happen off the dribble and loves to shoot the one-hand floaters in the lane. His improved jump shot was showcased in the championship game too, as he hit a number of pull-up J's. If performances like this continue Hopson should be a strong candidate for the McDonald's All-American game. He finished with a game high 35 points (15 of 24) and 7 rebounds.

Devin Ebanks, PF – If Kelvin Sampson gets this type of play from Ebanks next year he's bound to be a happy coach. The 6-foot-8 wing isn't the quickest by any means, but he usually gets where he wants to go. His jump shot was on point all weekend and quite frankly he hit some shots that guys his age just shouldn't be hitting.

After this weekend I don't think there's any doubt he's a top ten prospect (likely higher!). He'll need to gain strength and improve his lateral quickness in order to stay with smaller, quicker wings, but Ebanks is certainly looking like one of the most talented prospects in the class.

Jrue Holiday, SG/PG – Another productive and efficient day of work for Holiday. We've raved about his unselfishness, control and care for the basketball all week and in the championship game it was more of the same. Although he played off the ball more often than not, he still tossed out 7 assists and was only tallied for one turnover. He scored 19 points in the loss.


Davis gets double-double
Ed Davis, PF – It wasn't a bad week for Davis, but he certainly hasn't played his best. The 6-foot-8 junior put together a double-double (19 points and 11 rebounds) and helped his squad win the gold. Although he struggled scoring on the block, he did corral a number of offensive rebounds that led to put backs.

Al-Farouq Aminu, PF – Much like Davis' week, Aminu hasn't put forth his best effort. In the championship game he did come alive, and showed some toughness when he took his game to the glass. He's equipped with long arms, a slender frame and above average athleticism. In the championship game he finished with 8 points and 11 rebounds.

Tony Woods, PF – Passing the look test isn't a problem for Woods, as he stands a 6-foot-11 and is outfitted with a long set of arms. However, at times he doesn't put his skills to the test. At the USA Festival, he didn't get many looks inside or that many minutes for that matter, but he did make a difference defensively in a few games. He's a good shot blocker and is improving offensively.

Jerime Anderson, PG – The USA Blue squad didn't have any shortage of guards, as Anderson joined future UCLA teammate Malcolm Lee and Jrue Holiday. The three played well together and Anderson was the primary point man. The smooth 6-foot-1 junior is deceptively quick, has good court vision and is capable of heating up from deep. He didn't have a great championship game, but he should be commended for his play this week.

Jordan Theodore, PG – There's nothing flashy about the way Theodore plays the game. He does, however, play the game how it should be played. He's unselfish, always makes the extra pass and plays some of the best on the ball defense in his class. His toughness and drive to win is something that will continue to attract college coaches. In the championship game he finished with 5 points and 6 rebound.

Erving Walker, PG – The Florida commit had his times in Colorado Springs. He's capable of getting hot from deep and is quick enough to get around most defenders, but a lot of his passes seem to get tipped when he drives the lane looking to create. To take the next step forward, he needs to gain strength and develop a floater.

Storm Warren, PF – The 6-foot-6 junior saved his best performance for last. With Roe on the bench, Warren was the enforcer in the paint and he got after it on the glass to the tune of 15 rebounds. Offensively most of his buckets were off put backs or from running the floor. To go with his high rebound total, he scored 20 points on 10 of 14 shooting.

J.T. Thompson, PF/SF – His best asset at this point is his strength. Often times the 6-foot-6 junior looks to overpower defenders on his way the basket. He's working on improving his perimeter game and although we didn't see him make a three-pointer, his stroke looks pretty good. He scored 12 points and snagged 5 rebounds in the championship game.

Andy Poling, C – The USA Festival probably isn't the best setting to evaluate Poling because he's clearly in need of playing in a more structured offense. The Portland (Ore.) Westview product struggled to get much going all weekend. He did, however, show a nice touch and can shoot rainbow jumpers out to 18-feet. The most obvious place he needs improvement is in the strength department, as he was knocked off the ball and had rebounds taken from him on more than one occasion. As a prospect he still has time to grow, and you certainly can't teach his size (6-foot-11).


Cousins snags 11 boards
DeMarcus Cousins, C – We saw two different versions of Cousins this weekend. The first version dominated the paint and effortlessly sealed off defenders for easy buckets. Unfortunately, Cousins also showed a side that consisted of yanking long jump shots, instead of banging in the paint. This 6-10, 252-pound sophomore is among the most talented prospects in the country and if he sticks to getting after it on the block, snagging rebounds and dropping in jump hooks then he'll certainly excel as a basketball player. Another part to his game that caught our attention was his willingness to take charges, as we saw him try and sell charge calls at least a dozen times this weekend. In the championship game he finished with 9 points and 11 rebounds.

Brennan Cougill, C – Going head to head with the top players a in the 2008 class was tough for majority of the 2009 prospects in attendance, Cougill included. He did, however, show that he could compete. The 6-foot-9, 255-pounder has a wide frame and is willing to do some banging in the paint. His hands are solid and his touch is good in close range. From here he needs to work on his lateral quickness and hit the weight room to make up for his lack of athleticsm.

Tony Woods told us that he's down to Wake Forest and Florida. He mentioned that he would like to play college ball with his AAU teammate Al-Farouq Aminu and that the Demon Deacons are selling him on a package deal with Aminu.

"Gimme that!"…"In yo mouth!" – Just a few of the many comments that the always talkative Lance Stephenson blurted out during the championship game


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