Jayhawk Invitational Kicks Off

As it does this time every year, the Jayhawk Invitational kicked off Friday night in Allen Fieldhouse and Robinson rec center. While there were a few disappointing no-shows, there was still plenty of action to keep a nice crowd entertained on Friday night. While many showed up looking forward to watching future Jayhawk Cole Aldrich do his thing, it was another player on the Kansas radar who really had the crowd buzzing.

KANSAS TARGETS AT THE JAYHAWK

Conner Teahan - For those who have been reading Phog.net over the last six months, the 6-5 WG from Kansas City (MO) Rockhurst’s offensive fireworks shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Playing in a loaded KC Pump ‘N Run backcourt, Teahan went off for 20 plus. He stroked home pretty jumpers from deep, got into the lane where his football toughness allowed him to score among the trees and showed that he can handle the ball well enough to create shots. He’s more athletic than you might think and it’s surprising that his game hasn’t received more accolades considering he was the Gatorade player of the year in Missouri as a junior. The secret looks to be out, Teahan’s a player.

Xavier Henry - Making his first appearance on a court his father Carl once called home, the 6-6 lefty put on a pretty impressive display during a 36 point outing. He’s got very deep range on his jumper, a well developed frame and athleticism to spare. Considering he’s just finishing up his freshman year of high school it’s dangerous to place too high of expectations on the 15 year old, but it’s clear he’s got all the tools to be great. He missed two free throws with just over three seconds left that could have sent his game to overtime, but came out of nowhere for a miraculous tip well above the rim to send the game to extra time. Once in overtime he went to work off the dribble using a quick first step and his ability to hang in the lane to score and assure Athlete’s First a hard fought win over Team KC Select.

Cole Aldrich - Plagued by a bum foot, the 6-11 junior surely didn’t expect things to go as poorly as they did during a sluggish four point, eight rebound outing. Perhaps a little out of shape, he struggled to get much lift around the basket and seemed to turn to the wrong shoulder on spin moves. He is already well schooled in passing out of the low post and throws crisp outlet passes igniting easy fast break opportunities. The big fella knows that much of the crowd -- and several future teammates -- were there to see him and there’s little doubt he’ll bounce back on Saturday.

Travis Releford - It’s been since January since the 6-5 WG last took the court so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the sophomore was a little rusty. The ankle he dislocated back in March looked to be fully healed but it’s going to take a little while to catch his wind. Like he always does he got to work on the glass, made some slick dishes off the dribble and threw down a ferocious two handed slam in transition. Expect a huge difference from one of the nation’s top sophomores by the time he gets a few games under his belt.

Tyrel Reed - Also fresh off an ankle injury, Reed was looking to erase the memories of a sub par outing at last year’s Jayhawk. After missing a few early jumpers, the 6-3 PG/WG from Burlington (KS) High got it dialed in from deep and scored his 16 points with relative ease. Because of his scoring ability and the presence of jet quick PG Lamont Austin in the KC Pump ‘N Run backcourt, Reed played off the ball much of the night but his future is clearly at the point where he makes rock solid decisions.

OTHER FRIDAY NIGHT NOTABLES

Michael Dixon - During the high school season, this 5-11 PG from Lee’s Summit (MO) West established himself as the top freshman in the city and he backed it up on Friday night. Playing for a talented Team KC Select in the 15 and under division, the Tyron Lue look-alike dazzled with his playmaking ability off the bounce. He can score too thanks to a nice little floater and accurate jumper from deep range. He’ll fill out with maturity but what really sets him apart is his tenacious on the ball defense.

Daniel Orton - Although Xavier Henry gets a lot of the headlines on Athlete’s First’s 15 U squad, this 6-8 BF is one to watch closely. He’s extremely skilled as a passer and shooter out to 17 feet, runs the court, and erases shots in the lane. He’s got a baby face, huge feet and probably has a few inches of growth left in him. The Oklahoma City (OK) Bishop McGuiness product has basketball in his family as well as his older brother Terrance Crawford played at Oklahoma State. He’s quietly emerging as one of the premier big men in the class of 2009.

Dominique Morrison - Known to his teammates as “Doe”, this long and lanky 6-5 combo forward from Raytown (MO) High did his thing for the KC Pump ‘N Run 16 U group. He isn’t the most athletic kid, but there aren’t many around with his advanced feel for the game or knack for making plays. Doubt his quickness and he slithers by for a finger roll, take away the drive and he’ll hit you with a 17 footer off the glass or dime up a teammate with a no look pass. He’s a basketball junky and the type of kid who is a lot of fun to watch.

John Roberson - Just a month and a half ago, the 5-11 PG/WG put his Plano (TX) High teammates on his back and carried them to a state championship. More recently he’s earned scholarship offers from the likes of Oklahoma and Texas A&M. While the debate rages over whether or not he’s most suited to play the point or the wing, one thing that can’t be debated is that he makes plays and puts points on the board.

John Leur - A completely unknown 6-9 BF from Orono (MN) High, the slender but skilled big man put on a clinic shooting the rock. He probably doesn’t weigh more than 190 pounds and he’s not an enforcer around the rim, but he does move extremely well around the perimeter. He’s got easy range to 22 feet and can shoot over zones and defenders with ease thanks to his size and textbook shot. He’ll be an interesting guy to watch down the road.

MORE NOTES FROM THE JAYHAWK

Several current Kansas players including Brandon Rush, Darnell Jackson, Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers, Rodrick Stewart, C.J. Giles and Julian Wright were on hand to watch Aldrich.

Speaking of Wright, he was in the middle of an intense one man workout when Phog.net showed up shortly after five pm, and it’s clear that he’s been hitting the weights hard. According to Wright, he’s bulked up to about 225 pounds so far during off-season workouts.

KU wasn’t the only program with players on hand as UMKC stars Quinton “Pooh” Day and Tim Blackwell were on hand as well. Day’s nephew, Dominique Newton, is a 6-0 sophomore PG at Raytown (MO) South and is playing this weekend with KC Pump ‘N Run.

We’ll get more of a look at him later on in the weekend, but Rome Draper of the Compton Magic 15 U team is a very nice looking young wing. Long and lanky, the 6-5 WF looks a lot like a young Brandon Bowman.

Keep an eye out for South Florida Heat big man Steve Toyloy. He’ll graduate soon and will likely end up at the juco level next year but the 6-8 BF is one bad dude on this level. Playing in the late game, he talked trash, intimidated and looked like the kind of guy who you’d want on your side in a setting more dangerous than Allen Fieldhouse.

Blake Hoffarber, a 6-4 WG and summertime teammate of Cole Aldrich is out of action this weekend and for the next month or so because of an injured wrist.


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