AAU Nationals: Day Three Rundown

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Big guys can handle big trophies. On Wednesday, Jared Sullinger picked up a hefty piece of hardware as his team captured the AAU 16-and-under national title.

The 16-and-under national championship belongs to the team that most would agree has been the strongest collection of talent since the April period opened.

Led by its all-american, Jared Sullinger, All-Ohio Red won the championship game in the same manner it ripped through the rest of the field. It dominated the competition. Sullinger led the way with 19 points as his team blasted the Gauchos 85-61.

The Gauchos were able to keep it relatively close midway through the contest until wing guard Jordan Siebert buried a 3-pointer and rattled off 5 straight points. After under-rated but not under-recruited guard Aaron Craft connected on a deep ball it was over.

Juwan Staten, a Dayton commitment, poured in 19 points and got it done at both ends. Siebert finished with 13 and forward J.D. Weatherspoon dunked his way to 16 points. At totaled it was a tremendous capper to a great season by a team that not only has a great player in Sullinger, an elite prospect in Adrien Payne but so many recruitable prospects they should have been outlawed in the 16-and-unders a long time ago. Had this team played up and age bracket it might not have won the title but it would have been around on the final day.

Sullinger is a force that may not be reckoned with anytime soon. He's a mixture of Elton Brand and Kevin Love. As big bodied as they come, he flashed the jumper, passing ability and consistent production that the great ones tend to give you on the big stage.

Garrius Adams, SG, Garner Road – For a guy who began the summer with mid-level attention, it's been quite a run. What the big boys appreciate is his size and stroke. He can move left or right and knock down a shot. In the morning he had big numbers (22 vs. Memphis YOMCA) and finally ran out of bullets later in the day. East Carolina sent its full staff to see him multiple times and plenty of ACC programs are earmarking him as a must get as well.

Kenny Boynton, SG, Team Breakdown – After the big run in Vegas and an injury here in Orlando, he took the court on Wednesday. The ace scored 17 of his team's 36 first half points before settling in for the easy win and finishing with 20.

Ben Eblen, PG, Team Florida – He's one of those guys everyone respects. He's also on that fence between mid-and-high major that is going to make his choice extremely tough because some bigs will bite. While he could sneak in and play at the higher level, he's that kid who you flip on your TV in March and he's leading a good mid-major team in the tournament. If he picks the school that values him the most instead of the place with the biggest name, he'll be an all-league floor general.

Marshawn Powell, PF, BWSL – The reality is Boo's roster is so loaded that different guys step up in selected games. Steven Pledger's 20 in the morning got Boo to the next round. Later in the day it was this youngster showing off the mid-range game and the mix inside. Guys on the roster take turns showing out and it happened to be his night on Wednesday.

Jontel Evans, PG, BWSL – This commitment might not have received the attention it deserved. Evans – along with All-Ohio's Aaron Craft – have carved out the reputations for being the best defenders in Orlando. Frankly, having this kid check you can ruin a night. He's a bulldog and he's going to get in the paint, plus he'll find scorers on offense. Virginia has itself a player and this guy doesn't even start for Boo (Kendall Marshall is the main man and he's not too shabby!).

Mychal Parker, SF, Squires – What a day for the young fella! Trailing by a point against the Birmingham Ice in overtime, Parker stepped up. He drove the lane and rattled home a left-handed runner in traffic for the playoff win. Later his team would succumb in overtime to Team Breakdown. Great run, fine showing for the athletic young man who performed to his reputation on the big stage in Orlando. Once he locks on with that jump shot he'll take the next step.

Lenzelle Smith, Wing, Team NLPS – There are some guys who don't fit any mold and Smith is one of them. Despite being a position dilemma, he's a high-level player. The kid can pass. He's got the lower body of power forward but he's 6-foot-3 and wired up like a point man. Smith is a tremendous passer with super vision. He guarded bigs and wings against Boo and was his team's best facilitator of offense. Very good player.

Patric Young has been impressive all month long. A year from now … lookout. … Phil Pressey has spent time with Chris Paul and it shows. He knocks down shots off the wrong foot all the time. … Darrick Brown gave Team Florida a big offensive boost off the bench in its first game of the day. He's a mid-major kid who finds ways to score. This time it was a pair of shots and a great pass that triggered a run. … Memphis YOMCA has a 2013 youngster on its roster and he's a name to recall: Jonathan Williams. …

Low and mid-major schools will pay attention to Team Impact's frontline of Milos Kluet and Ronald Blossomgame. The latter shed 60 pounds in the past year. … In one of the more bizarre sequences we've ever seen, Team Breakdown beat the Squires after Pe'Shon Howard sank a pair of free throws. The officials completely brain cramped, called a pair of techs and mismanaged what was a hotly contested, spirited game. …

Marshawn Powell is going to Arkansas elite camp this weekend and that means the Hogs have their chance to get him back into the fold. The competition for his services is Virginia, Maryland and Pittsburgh and he's worth doing battle for. …

Forward Tristan Spurlock wants to get it done in the next 2-3 weeks. He's set an August 6 unofficial visit with Georgetown. It's the Hoyas and the Virginia Cavaliers neck and neck down the stretch. … Gauchos combo guard Sean Johnson likes Manhattan, Fairfield, Robert Morris, Quinnipiac, N.C. A&T and Long Island. … Memphian Johnnie Williams said Oklahoma State leads Georgia State (offer), Missouri State (offer), Purdue and Tennessee. … Jordan Siebert likes Xavier, Ohio State, Miami, Tennessee and West Virginia. Minnesota, Cincinnati, Louisville and Maryland are chasing. …

Head coaches for Durand Scott: Miami, St. John's, South Florida. … Head coaches for Patric Young (morning game): Florida, Georgia Tech, Miami. … Head coaches for Eric Bledsoe: South Carolina, Miami, UAB, Alabama. …

This is more of a story than a quote but its worth telling. The life of a mid-major assistant at a national event is filled with potholes and danger. If your recruit makes one too many shots, he's not your recruit anymore because he'll be tempted by the bigger schools. The following story spells out exactly how frazzled one's nerves can get in these situations. Remember, these guys have been recruiting kids for a long time and when they blow up, it's a painful experience.

We've changed the names to protect the identities of all persons involved. Before a night game, one mid-level assistant walked up to the referees as his recruit was about to play. "No. 44 fouls a lot. I mean a lot. If you could please watch for it, that'd be great," the coach told the officials. They looked at him, laughed a bit and went about their business. Hoping to have planted just a tiny seed, the coach found his prominent seat on the baseline and set about the business of watching the game.

No less than one minute into the game, his recruit buries a deep 3-pointer from the wing. "You didn't tell us the kid could shoot too!" the official shot back the next time he came down the court. Minutes after that, the same official had a chance to make a 50-50 call on a foul and he called a travel instead.

Life's hard on the road. The player was hot that night behind the arc.

J.P. Kuhlman needed crutches to leave the Milkhouse. An ankle injury ended his week at the AAU Nationals. …

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