17-Under National Championship Southern Cal AS 83, H-Squad 74 17-Under Select Championship D-I Greyhounds 75, N.C. Gaters 66 16-Under Championship Spiece Central 79, Arkansas Hawks 63 15-Under Championship D-I Greyhounds def. Carolina RaptorsBasically, the Southern Cal All-Stars and H-Squad – a pair of West Coast teams – traveled 2,518 miles to wage a title game war on the floor of the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill. Southern Cal won the championship by virtue of the 83-74 win over H-Squad.
H-Squad, led by a trio of players about to be re-classified, sprung upsets against the Spiece Indy Heat and Playaz before finally running out of gas against a deep and talented Southern Cal All-Stars team.
The steady and sometimes spectacular play of small forward Chase Budinger was a key in the championship run. Budinger finished with 18 points in the title game and his stock has never been higher. Clearly he'll be a riser when we re-calculate our 2006 player rankings. For his weekend efforts, Budinger was named the MVP of Tournament of Champions.
H-Squad was led by Danny Williams with scored 23 points in the championship game before fatigue took over. Davon Jefferson had one of the biggest weekends we've seen a kid have on the circuit this spring and scored 21 in the finale.
Davon Jefferson, PF, H-Squad: The rule is simple: if you are a 5th year, go out and dominate. Jefferson did just that all weekend and hung 30 on Spiece. In the semis, when he was out with an injury, the Playaz made their run. He came back and erased their hopes.
Chase Budinger, SF, So-Cal AS: He averaged 20.7 points and scored the 3rd most points of anyone in the 17-and-under bracket. Athleticism shined and his rise up the charts is inevitable.
Greg Oden, C, Spiece: The Heat got dumped on Sunday by the H-Squad and Oden mustered just 6 points in the contest. Either the guards have to get him the rock or he's got to track it down off the glass. He's the best prospect in the country and his toughest critic so he'd probably agree that he needed to be more productive in that game.
Taj Gibson, PF, So-Cal AS: His 19 points and overall athleticism and length were evident in the title contest. A fine weekend of hoops was awarded with a championship.
Earl Clark, SG, Playaz: In the first half against H-Squad, there wasn't a better player on the court as he scored it every way possible to the tune of 15 points. Finished with 17 for the game.
Wayne Ellington, SG, Playaz: Traded places with Clark and was the offense in the second half of the semis as he was the primary offensive force. Lit up the Illinois Wolves in the morning for 29.
Deonta Vaughn, PG, D-I Greyhounds: Not known for his perimeter stroke, the 5th year standout was stroking it in the final two games of the event. Struck for 17 in his final game.
Danny Williams, SG, H-Squad: He was making all kinds of plays on the final day and finished with 23 in a championship loss.
O.J. Mayo (pictured), PG, D-I Greyhounds: In a throttling of the Jazz, Mayo scored 34 points, including 25 in the first half. He then paced the Hounds with 22 in the Select title title.
Alex Legion, SG, Mich. Hurricanes: He had it flowing in a morning game against the G.C. Ballers. The superior touch was on display to the tune of 27 points; shoots it with skill all over the court.
Taylor King, F, So Cal AS: After two quiet days in N.C., King found his stroke and became a factor on Sunday as his scoring was a boost for the All-Stars.
Darquavis Tucker, SF, Mich. Hurricanes: He and Legion seem to trade off big scoring games. In the semis, Tucker went for 23 points and played with a slight injury.
Michael Sanchez (pictured), PF, Ark. Hawks: A force on the 16-and-under circuit, Sanchez averaged 20 points a game and took his team to the title game. Excellent around the basket.
NEWS & NOTES
Derrick Caracter did not play for the NY Panthers and was injured. … Deonta Vaughn committed to Indiana last year but needs a year of prep school. Will he be a Hoosier? "I'm thinking about maybe opening it back up," Vaughn said. "If Illinois offers I might consider it again." Other interested parties could be Eastern Illinois, Southern Illinois, Western Illinois, Purdue and Michigan State. …
Mookie Jones was at it again for the Westchester Hawks as he went for 29 in a loss to Mayo and Co. … Omar Thomas of the Mich. Hurricanes did an outstanding defensive job on Paul Harris on the final play of regulation. He managed to stay in front of Harris and forced him into a tough shot. Few are capable of doing what he did. … Kiwan Smith had 37 in a loss to the Greyhounds, one of the highest point totals of the event. …. Kevin Durant appears to be the only guy who could even ponder chasing down Greg Oden for the top spot in this class. Reports out of New Orleans are that he's having a big weekend and continues to have the most productive spring of any rising senior. … Ridge McKeither led the N.C. Gaters with 22 in the Select game championship. …