Super Showcase Day 5

In the last couple of days in Orlando there have been blowouts and surprisingly closely contested games. At the end of the day two teams were left standing to compete for the Gold Bracket title Tuesday night.

This is about the time where summer hoops starts to wear on some talented kids who have played a lot of basketball through the last few months. The length of the summer grind has its effects on everyone including the bleary-eyed coaches who continue to fly red-eyes to see as much of the action as possible.

The 17U bracket played the quarterfinals and the semifinals on Monday with a couple of blowouts and a couple of closely contested games and there were few Kansas recruits at the forefront of the action.

Each 1 Teach 1 Elite
The day started with a huge blowout against an overmatched Westchester Hawks team that couldn't find the bucket and it ended with an emotional comeback led by some highlight reel material from local product Austin Rivers.

The blowout win was a suffocating defensive effort from E1T1 collectively. The 72-50 victory was never in doubt. Trevor Lacey showed his defensive prowess while Rivers continued his dominance driving to the basket. It's a contest here at the Milkhouse to see who draws more and 1's - Beal or Rivers? Both are incredibly good at taking the hit and finishing. With Rivers I haven't seen much of a midrange game. Everything is either  a drive all the way to the rim or three-pointer. His ankle-breaking moves break at least one ankle per game. He had one crossover, shake, and pull from three getting the +1 for a four-point play.

In the semifinals against the Georgia Blazers things didn't come as easily for E1T1. The Blazers got off to a hot start and late in the game E1T1 was down as much as seven. But Rivers got on a roll and got the competitive juices flowing and as a result brought his team all the way back. Three straight threes by the talented senior-to-be - one on a sick step back and pull move, another he stepped into, and then another where again he drew the foul. Rivers was locked down and forced into a few turnovers early but at the end of the night and the 76-67 win, he made the moves that folks will be talking about on the drive home.

St. Louis Eagles
An interesting day for the St. Louis Eagles for sure. KU target Ben McLemore had 11 points in the first half against the pesky Long Island Lightning while Brad Beal struggled at times. For Beal struggling is a matter of perspective. He had a couple of unforced turnovers and uncharacteristic misses. Beal ended up spending the end of a quarterfinal game where his team was down seven on the bench after fouling out. After back-to-back identical offensive fouls were called the Eagles forged a comeback without their star.

A three by Shaquille Boga and a hoop inside highlighted the comeback while "do-everything" utility man Roosevelt Jones hit the two free throws to provide the 49-46 final margin.

In the afternoon semifinal it was a rematch of the Peach Jam final with Team Takeover taking on the St. Louis Eagles. Team Takevoer won the contest in Augusta but less then a minute into the game Mikael Hopkins went down after rolling over his ankle badly. He attempted to come back in the game but just couldn't go. Team Takover fought to stay in this one but in the end the Eagles and Beal were just too much (80-76).

The Eagles will take on E1T1 for the championship of the 17U Gold bracket tomorrow night.

PPO Basketball Organization
Perry Ellis was watched by Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend in his final game in the Copper bracket. After splitting time at several games, I saw the last few minutes of the third quarter and the entire fourth quarter vs. Sport Univsersity All Stars. Perry did most of his damage inside at first completing a nice post move and finish with the left hand. I watched him score 12 points like it was nothing in the 11 minutes of action I watched. It's all just so smooth and effortless for Perry who is an "easy" leaper. By that I mean he jumps high without looking like its much work. With under five minutes to play Ellis never gave up and hit a three to tie the game at 60 from the left corner. With under a minute left he hit another critical three to cut the lead to 74-73. But in the end Sports University, though they had no answer for Ellis, got to the rim way too often in this one and finished with the win 75-73.

Martin Brothers Select - 16U Nationals
Kansas head coach Bill Self watched both games played by Marcus Paige as the 16U nationals got underway.

Paige continues to show what a smart player he is and a kid that just understands and knows how to play the game. Every once in awhile he'll get bumped off a ball and turn it over but it isn't often. He always seems to know and understand the best play and completes it. He's not one for flash, unless its necessary to make the play - he just gets it done. I've watched him a lot over the last couple of years and it doesn't get old watching a kid who understand his game and his teammates so well.

With the half winding down Paige drove hard to his right and with a hard jump stop, elevated to hit the shot at the half time buzzer. Martin Brothers won the morning matchup and the afternoon game easily advancing further in the nationals. Offensively he does have that pretty lefty stroke and really goosenecks the finish. He is streaky however but if he keeps focusing on his midrange game it will be tough to contend with his versatility.

In the early game Martin Brothers played a good chunk of man-to-man defense and I really love how the 6-1 Paige was able to keep his man in front of him and with his long arms he makes it so difficult to get a pass around or over him. I think he has the potential ala Mario Chalmers to be a force on the defensive side of the floor as well.
If you want to watch a team collectively that understands how to play team ball, watch Martin Brothers play.

Kansas head coach Bill Self watched E1T1's games, both St. Louis Eagles games, and both of Marcus Paige's games. Kurtis Townsend watched Perry Ellis in addition to E1T1, and one St. Louis Eagles game. Self will check out some of the morning action as the 17U nationals begin and then head out of town Tuesday night. Townsend will stay until Thursday. Top Stories