Oden scored 14 points and showed flashes of his dominance in a rout against the Mid-State Ballerz, but it was rising junior Eric Gordon who was arguably the best player on the floor on Friday night.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Gordon (No. 6, Scout.com) connected on a few trifectas, put down a monster dunk and also handled the ball more than we've seen him in the past.
``Ohio State is probably my leader," Gordon said. "I love the coaches."
Daequan Cook, who has already committed to Thad Matta's Buckeyes, was also able to show some of what makes him one of the elite players in the Class of 2006. He only finished with 12 points, but it was an impressive dozen – he knocked down a mid-range shot off the glass, sank a double-pump 12-footer from the baseline and proved he can score from just about anywhere.
Then it was Mike Conley Jr., who did what he always does – gets everyone involved and picks his spots. Conley spent the early part of his life in Fayetteville, so this was a homecoming of sorts for him.
PROVING A POINT Javaris Crittenton has shown everything else. Now he just needs to show that he can shoot it from the perimeter.
The 6-foot-4 Southwest Atlanta Christian (Ga.) guard did a terrific job with the ball in his hands in a victory against High 5 East; he got his teammates the ball, was unselfish and made intelligent decisions.
Crittenton only finished with 8 points, but he simply made his teammates better with outlet passes off rebounds, with crisp passes in the open court and also with his poise demeanor in running the Atlanta Celtics black squad.
Crittenton is looking to establish himself on the elite level of point guards, along with Conley, Tywon Lawson and D.J. Augustin. If he can prove he can consistently make shots from the outside, there's no reason to think he doesn't belong in that group.
As for his impending commitment to Georgia Tech, he says not so fast.
``Right now I'm just sitting back and I'll probably wait until the fall," Crittenton said. "I'm still open. I don't want people to think I'm a Yellow Jacket already."
The first day of the Real Deal of the Hill didn't exactly go as planned.
The Miami Senior High (Fla.) teammates are tying to do what their younger teammate, Class of 2007 guard Edwin Rios has already done.
Make a national name for themselves.
Rios lit up the Northwest Arkansas Raptors for 18 first-half points. Then he was shut out for most of the second half – until it was too late.
The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Collins only has three years of organized basketball under his belt.
``I just want to build my stock," Collins said.
Collins did a nice job of it during the high school season, averaging 17.8 points and 9.6 rebounds. He's a hard-working, aggressive and athletic forward who attacks – but needs to be more consistent in his effort.
``He's really athletic," Team Breakdown's Brionne Gillion said. "We play with four guards and him, so he's the one down there battling. He determines whether we win the tournaments."
As for the 6-5, 215-pound Hall, he's the mystery man who really hasn't gotten much exposure. He played a little bit with Team Breakdown last summer and missed the first half of his junior season, after transferring from Northwestern, due to academics.
``He's going to emerge of one of the top five wings in the country," Gillion said. "He's as athletic as anyone and he's a big, strong guard who can score in a variety of ways. If you put a small guard on him, he'll go in the post and if you put a bigger guy on him, he'll go around him."
Hall played the final 14 games at Miami Senior and didn't miss a beat, putting up 17 points, 9 boards and 5 assists per contest. However, he finished with just 4 points in the loss on Friday night and battled through a left leg injury he suffered in the first half.
``I don't do anything fancy," Hall said of his game. "I just go out there and keep it simple. I can shoot it, get to the basket and also pass it. People will be surprised because I love to pass it more than shoot it."
Notes: Team Breakdown guard Kenny Boynton Jr. is just 13 years old. … D.C. Assault's Adrian Bowie, a 6-foot-3 rising senior at Montrose Christian (Md.), lit it up for 21 points in a lobsided victory against the Birmingham Raptors. He knocked down four from long range. … Nolan Smith had an off-night for D.C. Assault and Michael Beasley finished with 8 points. … The resemblance of Spiece Indy Heat's Aaron Pogue to Sean May in the body department is fair. The comparisons in game are unjust. … The best player in the state of Arkansas is 6-foot-8 Michael Sanchez. He's already been offered a scholarship by Stan Heath and the Razorbacks.