EBoss: Reflecting on Vegas

No doubt about it, Las Vegas is a wonderful place. If scouting high school hoops is your game then Sin City was certainly the place to be for the last week.

Three tournaments featuring around 6,000 kids chasing their hoop dreams meant that there was a lot of ground and action to cover. (I was about 80 miles round trip if you wanted to head from the Adidas Super 64 headquarters at Shadow Ridge High School to the Reebok headquarters at Foothill High). It also made for a long week of work that had to be balanced with all of the other entertainment options that Vegas can offer.

The original plan was to cover as much of Las Vegas as possible and, of course, the focus was going to be on the players themselves. At the same time, I had hoped to cover some of the other things that you never hear about - like how kids pass their time (for which I spent an entire afternoon running around town with an AAU team), which rappers are fire (Lil Wayne and Lloyd Banks), what they think about their peers and some other general Vegas observations.

Unfortunately, my Dell 500m had other ideas, joining in on the table action and shooting craps early Saturday. The result was no coverage for the last few days, but that doesn't mean that I can't go back and highlight a couple of players, notably Kansas commitments Mario Chalmers and Micah Downs.


As talented as Mario Chalmers is, there are several valid questions about how his game translates to the next level. The questions don't have anything to do with physical ability. Chalmers is a 6-1 freak who has all of the tools that you look for in a point guard. Instead, the questions have more to do with his approach and how he'll make teammates better on the next level.

Playing with his boys from Alaska, Chalmers had the perfect opportunity to prove whether or not he can elevate the level of his teammates play because Alaska Pump N' Run was overmatched in pretty much every game they played. The test was one that Chalmers passed as the crew of mostly Anchorage kids put up a good fight and acquitted themselves nicely.

For Chalmers himself, the weekend was highlighted by a 45 point outburst against KC Pump N' Run where everything he is capable of was on full display. Rather summarize, I'm going to do something different and give Phog.net readers a verbatim look at my notes on Chalmers from that particular game.

"Ridiculous change of direction with body shaking the other way. Forced drive, turnover. Quick hands, ganked Tone's dribble. Crazy defender when motivated. Pull up left wing three. Steal, open court layup. Out of control drive, bailed out by refs. Slick behind the back dribble to step back three, way off.

Quick hands again. Long arms, good feet on both ends. Slither into lane, cut left and back right again, and one. Harassed into turnover while handling against press. Change of direction, jump shot off glass from '17, right wing. Looks like a young Jay Z. Nice T-Mac shorts. Works glass for tip. Elevated for strong rebound in traffic. Big time run down and block of dunk on break. Got into lane off crossover, step back, crossover again, jump stop and convert and one.

Working the officials again. Careless turnover after rebound. Body control isn't fair. This is getting silly, got into lane again. Goes either direction. Only passing when drive gets cut off. What are him and Tone talking about? Father is tall, has young face, maybe grow?

Big time athletic finish with left hand. Step back from '22, splash. How many points does he have? Why is he sitting? Steal out of press, score get to free throw line again. Drive, no look dish. Got pummeled on screen, gave up left wing three. Rebound, coast to coast, jump stop fake dish and score. Getting all kinds of calls."

The "Tone" referenced in the notes is KC Pump PG Antonio Hanson who got 22 points of his own and hit a game winning three from the left corner. Afterwards, Hanson didn't hide how impressed with Chalmers and freely admitted that he couldn't stop Chalmers.

"I can see why he's going to Kansas, I mean he was killing us. No matter what I did, he got into the lane and he was getting so many calls from the refs that there wasn't anything I could do," said Hanson.


Saturday afternoon, I had the opportunity to spend some time watching a few games with UMKC guard Tim Blackwell who was in town to support his best friend Brandon Rush. One of the games that we caught featured Seattle Friends of Hoop and Kansas commitment Micah Downs.

Make no mistake about it, Tim Beezy knows his hoops and he was very interested to see Micah Downs play. Although his playing time was limited because the game was a blowout, Downs still had enough time to score 17 points and make a major impression on the redshirt freshman shooting guard.

"Micah's game is tight. I can see why people compare him to Mike Dunleavy. He's so tall for a shooting guard and his jump shot is wet. He's skinny, but he has hops and it looks like he plays hard," said Blackwell.

"That boy is going to be in the league soon. I want to get to know him so I can play with him once he gets into town because that boy is bad. I can't believe that anybody would be dogging him."

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