Alexander Kaun, C, Team Florida: After hanging 21 points and 7 boards on the SC Ravens, we feel pretty confident in stating that this must be one of the Top 5 centers in the country. The native of Siberia is big time. He plays with passion and a purpose and scores with power and determination. No one helped themselves more at this event that Kaun. His high school coach said that Hofstra offered and Stanford, Georgetown and South Florida inquired. Folks, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Big timers will line up and soon. If this guy needed a breakout game this was certainly it.
Al Jefferson, C-PF, Jackson Tigers: Against the Tallahassee Wildcats he fouled one guy out and another asked to be taken out. 36 points later "Big Al" emerged as the top player here. The guy dunks everything. The nimbleness and power are so impressive. Will he ever see a day in college? Don't count on it.
Tommie Liddell, SG, St. Louis: The guy is always making plays. He's been given the gift of scoring and he gets it done in our eyes. The lefty creates for himself and scores from a variety of places on the court.
Marquie Cooke, PG, Boo Williams: Cooke had 23 points (9-15 FG, 4-4 FT) as Boo Williams beat up The Family to advance in the evening. Cooke, a super driver who favors the left side of the hoop, makes you foul him and then is very tough at the line.
Jawann McClellan, SG-SF, Houston Hoops: He's starting to fill out his frame and the scoring package looks very good. The Arizona-bound swingman had 14 in one half we watched. He was built to score but will be sore on Sunday after getting fouled hard on one play.
Mohamed Tangara, C-PF, Georgia Elite: On Saturday he showed us much more offense than he ever did at Mount Zion and he played aggressively. This kid wants to learn and it seems as though he's starting to come around on offense without hurting himself at the other end.
Josh Dollard, SF, SC Ravens: This weekend is our first look at him. While we can't quite pinpoint his level, we know he's got a long body, makes threes and is pretty athletic. Think Brandon Bowman of Georgetown but not quite on the same level as a prospect at this stage.
James Gist, C-PF, DC Blue Devils: Like we've been saying for the past few months, this guy is on the rise. His overall length is starting to impact games at both ends. Defensively he's terrific and is gaining confidence on the other end.
Darius Washington, SG, Tallahassee Wildcats: He had 22 in the loss when we watched him. Forget the height, the guy can score. His jumper is sweet. Washington bruised his knee a few weeks ago and this was his first game action.
Richard Hendrix, C, Alabama Lasers: He was too much for the Illinois Warriors in the first game of the day. He liked the matchup he had and went to work. Big time talent who plays with passion and smarts.
Julian Wright, PF, Illinois Warriors: Talk about length, this guy's got it. Right now he likes to face up and take jumpers, but something tells us he's going to turn into a monster athletic four-man in the near future.
Off The Dribble
Jefferson and Lamarcus Aldridge matched up in a quarterfinal game Saturday night. We didn't see the contest but reports at that Jefferson had 22 and Aldridge has 11 though Aldridge's team did win the game. As to whom had the edge, it sounded like Jefferson was predictably a load inside but Aldridge showed his versatility. .
Eric Vierneisel and DeAaron Williams combined to go 2-for-14 from downtown in the Warriors first game of the day. However, we understand the pair really picked it up later in the day and took their team to the quarters before losing. . Point guard Justin Dentman hit the game-winning jumper for the Warriors over the Alabama Lasers. .
We watched the DC Blue Devils once on Saturday and in the game Brian Johnson surprisingly didn't really get on track from an offensive standpoint. . Ever heard of Matt Shaw? Well, the St. Louis Eagles forward is a sound mid-major talent (maybe higher) who is rugged and one of the toughest kids we've seen in the class. .
Isaiah Swann's free throws with 1.5 seconds gave the Blue Devils a win over St. Louis. . Eagles small forward Brandon Rush is still feeling his team out and got limited minutes in the game we watched though he made a few key contributions late. . Indiana Red has a big fella named Carl Swanagan. He's about 280 and has only played one year of organized high school ball. The Salt Lake native is a mid-major guy right now but he's got a chance. .
The Jackson Tigers have a power forward named Charles Thomas. This guy likes to face up and plays just like Charles Oakley. . Speaking of the Tigers, swingman Robert Clark is sneaky athletic. He had a few throw downs today that were of the big time variety. . Hatila DeSouza played with the Tallahassee Wildcats today. The native of Brazil is still searching for offense to compliment his rebounding. .
Louisiana Select has a nice looking 2005 shooter. Corey Bloom was raining 3s on Team Texas in the afternoon. . Ra'Sean Dickey and the SC Ravens got kind of overwhelmed in the evening. Team Florida threw a lot of size, athleticism and talented post players their way and took it to them. .
News & Notes
The Alabama Lasers have a guard on their roster who is an 8th grader. Keagan Bell started this year on his high school varsity team. . In the 16-and-under division, standout big man Josh McRoberts turned an ankle on Friday and his status was questionable from reports we received. . Demare Carroll and D.J. White skipped early games to take the SAT. .
Allen Iverson attended Bethel High, one of the game sites. Why are there no Iverson jerseys or reminders in the main gym? . We missed the Tennessee Travelers this time around but we'll see them in the coming weeks. We heard Corey Brewer was having a nice tournament and scored in the mid-20s on Friday night. . Former St. Louis standout Erwin Claggett coaches the St. Louis Eagles. . Daniel Gibson's hairline fracture will likely keep him out until early May. He's scheduled to have the cast removed the first day of the Kingwood Classic. .
Demarcus Nelson dislocated his shoulder Friday night but played in some pain on Saturday. . The DC Blue Devils won a game by 26 points today as Peter Prowitt had 12, 11 and 5 blocks. .
Scores of Games We Watched
Illinois Warriors 53, Alabama Lasers 51 DC Blue Devils 59, St. Louis Eagles 57 Northern California Elite def. Bloomington Red Houston Hoops def. Georgia Elite Jackson Tigers 78, Tallahassee Wildcats 64 Louisiana Select 65, Team Texas 62 (OT) Team Florida 80, SC Ravens 65 Boo Williams 74, The Family 56
Sunday's Semifinal Matchups
St. Louis Eagles vs. Team Texas BABC vs. Riverside
Pool Winners (Gold Playoffs): BABC, Jackson Tigers, Gauchos, Riverside Church, Illinois Warriors, St. Louis Eagles, Team Texas, Northern California Elite.
Pool Runner-Ups (Silver Playoffs): The Family, Tallahassee Wildcats, Arkansas Wings, Team Florida, SC Ravens, DC Blue Devils, Georgia Stars, Boo Williams.