Aside from a Team USA setback in the Hoop Summit, the last game John Wall lost came against an Ian Miller-lead United Faith club. In the championship game at the GSK, Word of God had a chance to enact revenge on Miller for his last second game-winner that sank the Holy Rams in the 2009 state title contest.
Miller wasn't cooperating.
A tip dunk over the outstretched arm of C.J. Leslie was the highlight play of the tournament and it summed up the magnificent play of one of the nation's fastest rising point guards.
Miller torched Word of God for 26 points on 10-for-17 from the field. Miller sank 3s but it was his dribble-drive game that took center stage. He connected on five his six drives. Playing alongside an arsenal of big men, Miller was in command of his team and his game. There are others with bigger national reputations but that matters little, the Charlotte native is an elite player. Florida State seeks a replacement for Toney Douglas and Miller will do more than fill his shoes.
At one point, United Faith was up 21 points on Word of God. Leslie had 9 first half points but mounted a charge in the second half to finish with 25 points and 8 rebounds. Against a towering frontline, Leslie found a crack or two.
United's frontline of Peter Jurkin and Hanner Parea is impressive. Size isn't a problem and Parea is quite the athlete. He had 10 rebounds. Jurkin's outstretched body accounted for 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and 11 points.
The warm-up to the main event – The Shavlik Randolph Foundation Invitational – turned into an instate GSK classic. Rice defeated Kinston 55-54. Kansas State signee Shane Southwell connected on a jumper over Reggie Bullock at the horn to give Rice the dramatic win.
The first half belonged Bullock and Kinston as it began the game with an 11-0 run and held Rice scoreless for the first six minutes of the game. Rice big man Kadeem Jack was saddled with fouls and Manhattan's finest was in trouble that is until it slowly reeled Kinston back in.
Bullock shot 9-for-23 and scored 24 points to go with 10 rebounds. A missed dunk late took points off the board and Rice capitalized. Southwell's jumper extinguished Kinston's hopes in dramatic fashion.
Jack, a potential Top 100 prospect, raised his game in the second half. His 11 points seemed to come during all of the big Rice runs. There's no doubt any high-major program seeking a big man must look his way. He's made strides in the last year as a shot blocker, post scorer and now he's learning to play a prominent role.
Weston Murphy, PF, Apex: It's safe to say that he's maxed out this event. He averaged 23 and 9 in three games. Today, he went for 18 and 12 against Luke Cothron's team. He's got the grades, clearly he would like to play in college and he's capable of playing in the Ivy or Patriot League. He knew this event could jumpstart his recruitment and he took full advantage.
Kamren Belin, PF, Walton: His last two games at the GSK, Belin displayed a lot of heart. If he can consistently make the mid-range shots as he did here in Raleigh he could slide into the Southern Conference late. Another double-double, this time 16 and 10 with Ryan Harrow unable to play.
Melvin Tabb, PF, Enloe: He did not shoot particularly well his first two games but his third produced a 15 and 12 effort plus a win.
T.J. Warren, SF, Riverside: The Pirates star might have waited a quarter too long to begin asserting himself. Once he did, the buckets began to fall and Millbrook's lead dwindled. Only a soph, he's easing into the role of leading man. By assertive, we don't always mean scoring (he had 22) it's about boarding and being an active contributor on the glass.
There's no turning back for West Charlotte freshman Kennedy Meeks. How about 9 points and 11 boards today? Not bad. … Luke Cothron went through the motions. He collected 15 points and 8 rebounds in a 4-for-18 showing that was lacking energy. …
Kansas State fans can expect much the same from Southwell. He's a college glue guy who stuffs the stat sheet. Aside from the game-winner, he had 10 points, 5 assists and a couple boards. He'll play a role for K-State as a primary wing defender, passer and chip-in scorer. Good sign for Frank Martin. …
Long Beach State's Dan Monson was there to see Mikic. …
Kadeem Jack is leaning toward signing this year instead of taking a prep season. Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Arizona, Rutgers and Wake Forest have shown recent interest. Seton Hall, Georgia and George Mason were the first to offer. …
Head Coaches: Chris Mack, Xavier; Levelle Moton, N.C. Central; Dan Monson, Long Beach State.