JR Smith, Chris Lofton explode, DSAS fall

6'6 JR Smith and 6'1 Chris Lofton exploded out of the gates Friday night at the Tournament of Champions. Smith led the Playaz to an opening round victory while Lofton's DSAS lost a hard fought opening round game.

JR Smith, Chris Lofton on fire, DSAS fall

If you're a basketball junkie and a Louisville Cardinal fan and you aren't in Chapel Hill, Raleigh or Durham this weekend you've missed out!  It seems everywhere you turn in these parts you find one of Coach Pitino's top prospects in the class of 2004.  And each of those prospects seemed to have one thing in common as pool play opened Friday night at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions; each played extremely well!!

Playaz (107) vs. Middlesex (101) @ Cameron Indoor Stadium

6'6 JR Smith put on quite a show against an excellent shooting Middlesex squad.  Smith led the Playaz to a come from behind victory, pouring in 28 points in a variety of different ways.  By our count, Smith was 6-9 from two point range, 2-10 from behind the arch and 10-17 from the free throw line.  He also grabbed 5 boards and dished out 3 assists.

Smith is clearly one of the more talented players in the class.  He takes the ball aggressively to the hoop and has the strength to finish in traffic.  He's and unselfish player who can get into the lane from the wing and find people for easy looks.  He has good vision and plays solid on the defensive end.

Smith played the point of the Playaz 1-2-1-1 (diamond and one) press and used his size and athletic ability to create several steals and help change the face and flow of the game in rallying his team from a 54-50 halftime deficit. 

And can Smith dunk!  JR had three vicious dunks, including one off his own missed free throw.  He has explosive hops and isn't timid to throw it down hard from above the rim.  He showed balance to his offensive game, draining a couple threes, including one he drained by pulling up on the break, hitting a jumper off the glass and slashing to rim for layups and dunks.

He's need work on his ball handling skills at this point and would benefit from more arch on his perimeter jumper but the kid has all the talent in world and plays hard the entire game.

Derek Smith All-Stars (76) vs. Alabama Challenge (72) @ Duke University

Chris Lofton did what he does best, drain the three!  Friday night Lofton made 6 threes and finished with 24 points in a losing effort to a bigger, more athletic Alabama Challenge squad.

Alabama Challenge, led by recent Alabama commit Ronnie Steele, jumped out to big leads in the first half and early in the second until Lofton and Co. started nailing threes and competing on the boards a bit harder.  Lofton pulled down 8 rebounds by our count.

Rajon Rondo played well but sat out a large portion of the second half while the DSAS made their comeback.  Rondo finished with 12 points and had a couple of impressive slam dunks on the night.


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