The talented Memphis Pump N' Run AAU hoops squad came to Fayetteville this weekend and left no doubt who was The Real Deal of the Real Deal on the Hill.
Led by MVP Willie Kemp, Memphis pulled off an long-awaited upset of tournament favorite Indy Spiece Heat 76-62 at Bud Walton Arena in the championship game of the inaugural Real Deal on the Hill AAU Tournament in Fayetteville.
"I got a lot of talented players on my team, some of the top players in the nation" Kemp said of a team that was known as Memphis YOMCA last season. "I know I can play as well. I just go out there and have fun."
Kemp, a 6-2, 180-pound point guard from Bolivar (Tenn.) Central who was making his third trip to Fayetteville in six months, had 27 points in the final to earn the MVP honor.
Memphis Mitchell star Thaddeus Young, a 6-8, 200-pound forward who is a top five prospect in the 2006 class, added 20 and then praised Kemp afterwards.
"That's our guy that makes us go," Young said. "He's got talent, determination and motivation. He has what it takes."
That's a sentiment seconded by Coach Felton Young, Thaddeus' dad, who knew how important it was to add Kemp back into the fold after he thought about playing with the Mid-State Ballerz.
"He (Kemp) is an excellent guard," Coach Young said. "I went out and got him because he was playing with someone else and I told him that I needed him to come in and play with me because he knows how to control the game and knows how to control the game. He is one of the best guards that I have ever seen in a long time."
For his part, Kemp says he is enjoying the ride.
"They are great players and to be a point guard with them is just a dream situation," Kemp said. "I know if I can get them the ball in position to shoot they are very rarely going to miss."
While Indy had 7-0, 240-pound Greg Oden, the consensus top player in the 2006 class, Memphis countered with 6-9, 235-pound Wayne Chism of Bolivar and 6-7, 250-pound manchild Pierre Niles of Memphis Treadwell.
"I'd say this game we came out and played as one," Niles said. "Everybody had been doing too much individual stuff and we weren't really playing the type of defense we can. But we wanted this game and come out with all our hearts and did what we had to do."
Niles had 13 points and Chism 7 as they battled Oden to hold him to 11 points in the final.
"We had our ups and down in this tournament playing as a team, at times trying to do too much as individuals," Chism said. "But we finally came together in the end against the biggest team and played great."
Brandon Powell - the team's fifth starter and 6-4 off guard from Memphis Mitchell that Arkansas is also involved with - said his squad had really wanted a shot at Indy coming into the tournament.
Although they had to weather several close games on the way to the title contest - including a 58-50 overtime win over Spiece Elite in the semifinals - they were geared and ready for the championship contest.
"Through the summer we always get in the championship game and they beat us," Powell said. "But we just knew this was our last year and we wanted to go out with a bang. We left it all on the court and knew coming into the game that defense was what was going to do it for us."
Ohio State commit Dequan Cook had 24 to lead Spiece Indy Heat while Arkansas-born Michael Conley - who like Oden has his college list down to Wake Forest and Ohio State - added 15.
"It was time," Young said. "It was time."
Kemp said it was a win that was long overdue.
"We came up here wanting to play them and we knew they wanted to play us," Kemp said. "We came out here in the championship game and played together, had fun and came out with the victory."
Coach Young said he knows that Arkansas had a recruiting pipeline to Memphis once upon a time and would love to get it started back up with some of his current players.
"They could help Arkansas if they sign here," Coach Young said. "Some of them are real good athletes. My son is looking at this school, Wayne and Willie are looking at this school. It would help their program."
He notes that Arkansas could have some roster turnover soon and that there would be playing time available for them.
"The Brewer kid might go in the draft and they lose him and a couple more might go in the draft that's here," Coach Young said. "This would help out their program if they decided to come here. We'll see."
This story originally appeared on Hawgs Illustrated.
Memphis gives Indy Blues
Illini Inquirer Top Stories
Live in Ann Arbor: What I'm watching forIllini Inquirer publisher Jeremy Werner previews Illinois at Michigan and breaks down what he's looking for out of the underdog Illini
Illini Inquirer9:20 AM
Recruit Recap: Another banner day for BonnerAnother big weekend for Illini commits Ra'Von Bonner and Ricky Smalling
Illini InquirerYesterday at 8:01 PM
Illini glad to have Michigan cast-off HardingFormer Michigan commit Dele Harding was a huge late addition to the Illini Class of 2016
Illini InquirerYesterday at 10:50 AM
JCL making progress towards returnIllini guard Jalen Coleman-Lands continues to work his way back into action after hand surgery last month.
Illini InquirerYesterday at 6:00 AM
Preview & Pick: Illinois at No. 3 MichiganIllinois enters Ann Arbor as massive underdog with opportunity to pull off possibly the biggest upset in program history
Illini InquirerThursday at 8:12 PM