Jayhawk Invitational Wrapup

The ninth annual Jayhawk Invitational came to an end on Sunday afternoon as KC Pump ‘N Run picked up their fourth straight trophy in the 17 and under division defeating a scrappy High Intensity bunch from California. The KC Pump outfit also took home the 16 and under crown while finishing second to the All-Iowa Attack in the 15 and under division.

Given the overall strength of the event from top to bottom, the 2008 edition of the Jayhawk may have been the best ever. Before moving on, we’ll take a final look at some of Sunday’s and the weekend’s top performers.

KANSAS TARGETS AT THE JAYHAWK


Derrick Favors - Before foul trouble and fatigue got the better of him in a 9:15 am quarterfinal game against an Indiana Elite squad that threw big man after big man at him, the 6-9 power forward was quite beastly in the final game of his All-Tournament run in the 17U division. He attacked the rim, got to the free throw line over and over and even stepped out to hit a pretty looking three pointer that drew nothing but the bottom of the net. As good as Favors is, he’s still quite raw with plenty of room for improvement. In particular, his low post footwork with his back to the basket needs some work as he sometimes gets his feet tangled up and can’t turn and score quite as quickly as his physical gifts could eventually allow him to. Given his ability to dominate the glass and his ability to get off the floor in a hurry for emphatic blocks and slams, Favors is an already great prospect who has a chance to be super if he continues to refine his offensive repertoire.

Stephan Van Treese - Indiana Elite has so many quality big men that the playing time can be a bit hard to come by at times, but Van Treese made the most of his somewhat limited minutes on Sunday. A very good athlete who doesn’t mind contact, he goes at the rim and loves to get out and finish in transition. He’s got very good hands and a frame that is filling out nicely.

Elijah Johnson - We have to look back to Saturday in order to discuss Johnson. The 6-2 point guard from Las Vegas didn’t put up huge numbers and his Pump ‘N Run Elite team never did seem like they got on the same page but he at least showed flashes of his immense talent. Quick and explosive off the bounce, he’s got just enough wiggle in his usually straight line assaults on the rim that he’s almost impossible to keep out of the lane when he really wants to get in there. His jumper was off kilter, but he’s got excellent lift, good rotation and a high release point on a shot that has proven to be pretty reliable in the past. From a pure talent and potential standpoint, he’s easily one of the top guards in the class of 2009 even if he didn’t put his stamp on the Jayhawk.

Harrison Barnes - Although he hasn’t necessarily been linked with Kansas in the past, it’s safe to assume that the 6-6 wing from the class of 2010 is on the Jayhawk radar. A skilled player who shoots with excellent range and form, Barnes is also capable of attacking off the dribble, plays good defense and is an excellent rebounder. Blessed with an ideal frame for a wing player, his greatest gifts are superior body control and maneuverability in traffic. A terrific kid who plays the game the right way, he’s emerged as one of the top wing prospects nationally in his class and he was easily one of the top five players in the event regardless of class.

MORE JAYHAWK NOTABLES


Mason Plumlee - The recent Duke commitment didn’t make the All-Tournament team, but it wasn’t because he didn’t deserve it. It’s just that with only five spots -- plus one MVP -- available in each division, there just wasn’t enough room for him to be included on the 17 U All-Tourney squad. Standing every bit of 6-10, he’s a very good straight up leaper with above average hands, the ability to put the ball on the deck and loads of confidence. He’s having himself a terrific spring and is positioning himself for a serious run at next spring’s McDonald’s All-American game.

Justin Clark - The 6-4 shooter from Independence (MO) William Chrisman has been on an absolute tear shooting the ball from deep of late and he never cooled off in Lawrence. For his efforts, he earned MVP honors in the 17U division and he’s established himself as one of the elite net strippers in the class of 2009. Long and fluid, he’s also got some game off the bounce and should continue to build upon the high major attention that has been aimed in his direction. Pretty much unknown nationally headed into the spring, the secret is pretty much out and he’s looking like a kid who has a shot at cracking the national rankings and he’s been drawing more and more interest from schools around the country over the course of the past few weeks.

Michael Dixon - It’s a point guard’s job to lead his team and keep them steady and that’s exactly what the 6-1 floor general did while earning All-Tourney honors in the 17U division. Even when his team got down, Dixon never rattled and his steady play helped KC Pump ‘N Run weather a serious barrage of three pointers -- and a 13 point halftime deficit -- from Howard Pulley Black in the semifinals. When he mixes speeds and doesn’t rush decisions, he’s awfully productive and his mid range game remains a viable weapon.

Jordan Hulls - He might not look all that dangerous, but the 5-11 PG for Indiana Elite One is one tough dude. Unafraid to take the big shot, he seemed to hit a crucial three whenever his team needed one and led by example. His play earned him a spot on the 17U All-Tournament and it’s proof that scouts and coaches do pay attention to guys who aren’t ranked or committed to glamour schools. Mid majors are salivating over him, but he’s going to get higher looks than that in a class very thin on point guards.

Josh O’Neill - A member of the class of 2008 who is an academic qualifier out of Oakland (CA) Fremont, he’s a 6-3 shooting guard who is deserving of some late Division One looks. A fine athlete who is a dangerous shooter from deep, he played his way onto the All-Tournament team while leading his team to the finals of the 17 and under division. The miracle three pointer he hit at the buzzer to send his team to overtime against Indiana Elite in the semifinals had to be seen be believed. He played with confidence, poise and tremendous effort all weekend long.

Trevor Releford - The younger brother of Kansas recruit Travis Releford, the now 5-11 PG got off to a rocky start Friday night when he got tossed from a late game after picking up a pair of technical fouls. One rear end chewing from his coach and five terrific performances later, the sophomore was named the MVP of the 16 and under division after leading KC Pump ‘N Run from the brink of elimination against Howard Pulley Black in the semifinals. A gifted ball handler who teases defenders with the rock, he blows by them once they reach and dishes off to teammates for easy buckets. He’s finishing much better around the rim himself and is playing with a ton of confidence at this point.

FINAL NOTES FROM THE JAYHAWK


Earning MVP honors in the 15 and Under division was the All Iowa Attack- Red’s talented freshman Reggie White. A 6-6 power forward from Des Moines (IA) Hoover, White is athletic, plays relentlessly on the interior and never seems to get rattled. It should be fun to watch him develop as a player over the next few years. … Another player who played a significant role in High Intensity’s run to the finals was 6-4 wing Justin Brue. An athletic lefty who loves to attack the rim, you have to love the effort Brue puts forth on the defensive end. He’s sure to rack up attention from West Coast schools as the spring and summer roll on. … Minnetonka (MN) Hopkins was already loaded for next season but the addition of transfer, and Minnesota commitment, Royce White is going to make them a legitimate top 20 team nationally next season. While the 6-7 forward is off the board, recruiters are still going to find their way up to the school and it’s a safe bet that they’ll be eyeing sophomore guard D.J. Peterson and freshman wing Marvin Singleton very closely. Peterson is a 6-3 combo who can get to the rim, strips the nets from deep and understands how to change pace. Only a freshman, Singleton is an impressive looking 6-5 physical specimen who is capable of playing mean and finishing with bounce around the hoop. The duo was more than deserving of their All-Tournament honors in the 16 and under division while leading Howard Pulley Black to the semis. … Speaking of Howard Pulley, the Minneapolis based program has developed quite the rivalry with KC Pump ‘N Run over the course of the past three or four years. The kids from KC got them this weekend, but program director Rene Pulley’s bunch will be looking for revenge next weekend when they host the Sabes Invitational on their home turf. … Already committed to Texas A&M, freshman point guard Jamal Branch looked really comfortable playing back close to home. He resides in Texas now, but the 6-1 point guard grew up in KC and had the luxury of playing in front of a lot of friends and family even though he’s from out of town. A good ball handler who can shoot with range, finish in traffic and get others involved, he’s got all the markers of a good player. … Finally, a word of thanks to the crowds who came out to support this year’s Jayhawk Invitational. The event was pretty well attended and the efforts of the crowd to support all the teams and players involved are not lost on those pouring their sweat on the court or working behind the scenes to put everything together. …

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