Real Deal: Final Rundown

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.– The Illinois Warriors survived a marathon tournament as they defeated a surprise finalist. The Dallas Heroes worked their way to the finals but Ahmad Starks and Brandon Spearman would not be denied.

Ahmad Starks, PG, Illinois Warriors: He wore out Grassroots Canada in the 8 a.m. game. Someone forgot to inform this kid that he's 5-7. His timely shooting and smart passes helped the Warriors race out to a lead that they were able to hold onto. Two games later in the championship, Starks scored 16 for the winners.

Jordan McRae, SF, Celtics: He stepped his game up for the Celtics and was about to bring it home when he missed a pair of free throws with under a minute to go. As luck would have it, McRae caught a pass inside the arc and drilled the game-winning runner against Memphis.

Brandon Spearman, SG, Illinois Warriors: Every year at this event someone from Larry Butler's team steps up and plays to a higher level. Spearman was into the action on Sunday as was aggressive on offense and kept his man in front of him. Against the Gauchos there was no panic in him. He looks every bit like a big time mid-major player whom we think is going to be evaluated by bigger programs in his region, provided he turns in another weekend list this one.

Ryan Harrow vs. Joe Jackson: Two of the fastest, most athletic points in the event squared off Sunday morning. Harrow's team won on a buzzer beat in the quarters. The North Carolina State commitment finished with 22 points (9-19 FG, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 3 rebounds) and Jackson had 17 points (6-14 FG, 3 turnovers, 2 assists and 5 rebounds).

The two sparingly guarded each other and Jackson, who was cold in the first half, faced a zone the first 16 minutes. Harrow did spin by him in the second half for an acrobatic finish. Jackson had his blow by in the first half. Later, the pair traded buckets in an exciting sequence where Harrow got in the paint and then Jackson pressed at the other end for hoop and foul. Jackson had a chance to win the game but the defense collapsed on him and he turned it over in the lane leading to McRae's buzzer-beater.

Madracus Wade, CG, Memphis Magic: Quiet most of the tournament he took the game over in his team's quarterfinal loss. He's going to be recruited at the high-major level with efforts like this. He took a pair of charges, hunted his shot and used an inside-out dribble to get in the paint. Wade made 3s Sunday morning and stepped his game up in a big way. He had a challenging defensive assignment in Harrow as well.

Tristan Thompson, PF, Grassroots Canada: His squad had no answer for the Warriors until he went into takeover mode. Thompson used both hands from short range, blocked shots and went to the sweeping move he prefers in the paint. It was a strong effort that came up short.

D.C. Assault guard Tyler Thornton made a run at it but wasn't himself as an injury toned down his game this past weekend. …

Trae Golden's calling card this event was his touch behind the 3-point line. He hit a series of biggies in the playoffs. … There's no denying the offensive talent that Harrow possesses. He's not big or strong but he's athletic and crafty. He's got a runner, a floater and a whole bunch of shots in the bag of tricks. Beefy up his body is a priority off the court. He'll always be a scorer and running a team is next on the to do list. …

Joe Jackson did one of the more impressive things I've seen anyone do this weekend. He caught the ball in the middle of the paint against the zone and drop stepped to actually go up for a power dunk. He didn't get it to go down but to be his size and actually contemplate doing that in traffic is mind-boggling. …

Dwayne Evans of the Warriors looks like a very good mid level player. Love how he dove to the post for tough hits and has a good handle on his small forward position. … Cameron Clark hit for 39 in his final game here. College coaches are going to descend onto Sherman, Tex., in droves this week. …

Apparently Doron Lamb was strong against for the second straight weekend. He's a huge part of the winning formula for the Gauchos. … We heard Harrow had 34 Saturday night and Deshawn Thomas netted 41. Marquis Teague went down in the first half of the playoff game with an injury. …

Dwayne Evans lists Northwestern, Southern Illinois, Kent State, Loyola, St. Louis and Western Michigan as programs of interest. …


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