Just as the snow started to fall early Wednesday morning in Kansas City, the Road Show was on the way to St. Louis to spend a day in the Savvis Center. The reason? An annual stop at the always enjoyable KMOX Shootout for a terrific day of high school hoops. In the past players like Kevin Garnett, Stephon Marbury, Vince Carter, Alonzo Mourning, Penny Hardaway, Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire, Mike Bibby and several others have played in this event and used it to help cement their reputations.
Despite setbacks experienced as a result of having to move the event from it’s annual second Thursday after Thanksgiving timeslot, the 2005 edition still featured several standouts. Among those that shone the brightest were future Arizona Wildcat Chase Budinger and the jewel of Georgia Tech’s recruiting class, Thaddeus Young.
Chase Budinger - Sometimes stats put up by high school players can be a bit misleading because you never know what level of competition is being faced. However, the 6-8 wing’s 48 point (an event record by the way) and 14 rebound effort in an overtime win over Lees Summit (MO) North was every bit as impressive as the stat line would lead you to believe. Budinger used his out of this world leaping ability to hang in the air for finishes and calmly stroked jumpers from NBA three point range. He’s got a terrific frame and has improved his ball handling significantly. Bottom line, he’s a top 10 player in the class of 2006.
Thaddeus Young - The Road Show has been lucky enough to watch Young perform in two different events within the past few weeks and he’s been very impressive each step of the way. Blessed with excellent ball skills in a 6-8 frame, Young has the perimeter game and matching jumper to cause nightmares for his opponents. However, part of what makes him so special is that he is a smart player who always plays to his strengths. Against hometown favorites St. Louis (MO) Vashon, Young could help his team the most by planting himself in the low post and using his quickness and footwork to his advantage. So, that’s exactly what he did and by the time he’d finished he wound up with 30 points, 11 rebounds, six blocks and five assists in a thrilling win. Just another day at the office for one of 2006’s top three prospects.
Verdell Jones, Jr. - This wispy 6-1 and growing PG from Champaign (IL) Central recently made the trip to Lawrence for Late Night in the Phog and is an early 2008 possibility for Kansas. A smooth player who isn’t afraid to attack the lane despite a glaring lack of bulk, Jones is going to be a very nice point guard. He’s got a great feel, changes speeds easily and his teammates look to him as a leader. He looks remarkably similar to Shaun Livingston -- who coincentally was coached during the summer by Jones father, Verdell Sr. -- and it is pretty obvious he grew up watching the current LA Clipper. He’s not Livingston, but he is a kid who has a legit chance to develop into a high major recruit.’
Adam Leonard - He still isn’t even that well known around the KC metro area, but Lees Summit (MO) North’s star PG put on an impressive display despite a losing effort. The tough as nails 6-0 PG scored 22 and hit deep threes, tough floaters off the run and most of all competed from the tip to the final whistle. He’s a combustible personality who has learned to channel his energy more positively and as a result he’s an absolute steal for Eastern Kentucky, a school for which he’ll play major minutes as a freshman. His teammate, 6-6 BF Bristan Kelley, was good for 17 points and 14 rebounds and looks like a nice pickup for Northern Illinois.
OTHER NOTES FROM THE KMOX
Stanley Robinson would probably like to forget his trip to St. Louis. The future UConn Husky from Birmingham (AL) Huffman suffered through a poor shooting day and looked out of sync. He did use his athleticism for several emphatic blocks and jams, but his eight turnovers outweighed any positives on the offensive end. … Jeremiah Rivers, the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc and a future Georgetown Hoya, looks like he should be a player. He’s big and strong but he’s been very inconsistent since last spring. Not coincidentally the 6-4 guard has been nicked up for seemingly eternity. His latest ailment is a bum wheel which bothered him so much he could barely limp to the huddle at times. …Among those in the crowd were St. Louis Ram Torry Holt and National League Rookie of the year -- and former Shootout participant -- Ryan Howard and East St. Louis native Darius Miles. …Another former participant in attendance was former NBA’er and Notre Dame star LaPhonso Ellis whose matchup with Alonzo Mourning in 1987 is still regarded as the best head to head matchup in event history. …Birmingham (AL) Huffman’s 6-7 Demetrious Jemison is going to make somebody a nice spring pickup. He’s strong, tough and an improved scorer around the basket.
Schools in attendance- Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa, Western Illinois, Southeast Missouri, Evansville, Navy.
- Total teams seen - 63
- Total games watched - 43
- Total miles traveled - 6,360