It was a huge weekend of state tournaments in the Midwest and the Road Show wrapped up it's 2008-09 tour of high school hoops by hitting as many of them as possible. Between Wednesday and Saturday, the Road Show was in Des Moines for the Iowa Class 4A tourney, Topeka for Kansas Class 5A, Columbia for Missouri 5A and 4A games and finally Emporia for Kansas 6A.
The crisscrossing of Iowa, Kansas and Missouri was made more than worthwhile thanks to several top performances and guys emerging as sleepers.
STATE TOURNEY STANDOUTS
Harrison Barnes- Simply Put, he's as complete a wing player as you are going to find in the class of 2010. Barnes led Ames High to the Iowa Class 4A title by scoring 24 points and grabbing eight rebounds in a win over a talented Linn-Mar team. Watched by the Road Show during Wednesday's quarterfinal, Barnes demonstrated his versatility in limited minutes during a blowout win. More athletic than generally given credit for, Barnes takes the game over by blending in. His willingness to share the ball, blend in and pick his spots to take over on a talented team makes him even more dangerous. His jumper continues to improve from deep, his dribbling is improving and he's adding lean strength to his long and wiry frame.
Brad Beal- A sophomore, Beal played a huge role in orchestrating an incredible comeback by Chaminade in the Missouri Class 5A semis on Friday. Trailing a talented Rock Bridge team by 21 after the first quarter and 18 headed into the fourth, Beal and the Red Devils shook off an awful start from the floor to make a bunch of big shots. Scoring 15 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, Beal sealed the game with a steal and mad dash to the basket that got him to the free throw line with just 1.4 seconds remaining. Calm and collected, he nailed the first of two free throws to give the Red Devils an improbable 66-65 win. Beal backed up that performance by going for 30 points and eight rebounds in an 80-70 win over Grandview in the title game. The 6-3 shooting guard can handle, has a dangerous mid range game and is a very good shooter from deep with tremendous upside. There are few guards in the class of 2011 that can match his skill level.
Alec Burks- The Colorado bound shooting guard led Grandview all the way to the Missouri class 5A finals in Columbia where they fell short to Beal and Chaminade despite his 33 points and 13 rebounds. Long and slender, he's a terrific ball handler with size and the ability to burn defenses off of the dribble or with his much improved jumper. A terrific rebounding wing, his ability to sneak in for easy buckets off the glass is vastly underrated. As he adds strength and learns to really go all out on each possesion, he's got a bright future. Burks is an excellent pickup for Jeff Bzdelik and the Buffaloes and should have locked up Missouri and Kansas City player of the year honors with his great scoring and rebounding run through the state playoffs. Had 31 and 11 in Friday's semis with Bzdelik and the Road Show in the house.
Perry Ellis- It had been a long time since any freshman had entered high school in the state of Kansas with as much hype as the young forward at Wichita Heights. At the end of the day, nobody could have asked for more. With the help of a solid and deep surrounding cast, Ellis led his team to a state title win in Emporia on Saturday. Despite struggling on the offensive end, Ellis played like an absolute monster on the glass in snatching 20 rebounds to go along with his nine points. It's his terrific rebounding and ability to sprint the floor that are among his biggest gifts and they are aspects of his game that should always remain strong. His physical transformation since last year has been quite apparent as he's gone from scrawny 8th grader to a wiry strong and physical freshman.
MORE NOTES FROM THE TOURNAMENTS
Bishop Miege and Trevor Releford ran into a familiar foe in the Kansas 5A game and Rico Richardson and Highland Park got them again thanks to a buzzer beating layin by senior forward Michael Copeland. … Rock Bridge sophomore point guard Justin Miller is going to start getting some run over the next couple of years. A quick six footer with a pretty stroke, he's a playmaker who plays with confidence. … Give a lot of credit to Chaminade senior point guard Brandon Lockhart. The unsigned senior cast aside a woeful 1-14 performance from the field during Friday's semifinal to put together an impressive 21 point, five assist outing in the state title game. … Up in Iowa, there's another potential high level player on the landscape in freshman point guard Marcus Paige of Linn-Mar. A jet quick and skinny lefty, Paige commands his team with poise and can score the ball when needed. His progress should be fun to watch down the road. …
Drake and Missouri State both look to have landed some help from what was witnessed at the state tourneys. Seth Van Deest will head to Des Moines next year and should give head coach Mark Phelps and his staff a nice big man to work with. He's skinny, but he runs quite well, has good touch and a skill level that will fit Drake's system perfectly. Meanwhile, Cuonzo Martin has to be excited for the arrival of wings Jerome Jones and Keith Pickens. Jones is a strong 6-4 scorer with a college ready frame and the ability to score off the dribble or with the jumper while adding some much needed athleticism. While Jones is a fine athlete, Pickens enters the freak show category of leaper. Long and swift, he's a slasher and above the rim player despite only being 6-3. … Finally, as long as he has grades, there has to be a division one program out there willing to take a chance on Wichita Southeast's Joe Mitchell. A strong 6-1 shooting guard, Mitchell is always in attack mode and mixes in just enough jumpers to keep defenders honest. …
Total teams watched- 211.
Total games watched- 133.
Total miles traveled- 18,202.