Not only did we get to see four of the elite seniors in the nation but we also got a good look at several of the top underclass prospects on the east coast. Best of all, we got to see them play against excellent competition in a big time environment.
Some of the top performers during the weekend came as no surprise. Josh Smith dunked Oak Hill to two wins. Dwight Howard grabbed 20 boards against Lincoln. Palacios showed he has the complete skill package. And Shane Clark played like the steal of the 2005 class for Villanova.
But the most captivating and electrifying performance came during the main event Saturday night when University of Louisville signee Sebastian Telfair went off the hook. Sure the stat line of 30 points and 9 rebounds was eye popping. No question the game winner was big time. But it was the way he controlled the game and made his teammates better that stands out.
By now, it's becoming common knowledge what the likely scenario for Telfair will be at the end of the season. He's earned a spot in the lottery in this June's draft and he's clearly one of the two best points available. And should this train remain headed on the track it is, it's not a total loss for Louisville by any means. The recognition of Sebastian's signing with Louisville has quickly made the Cardinals one of the hot programs for the nation's top underclass prospects, especially with the one's who aspire to play in the NBA. So while Pitino may not get the benefit of Telfair's services, his recruitment may pay dividends down the road with other talented prospects.
I suppose if it's good enough for Sebastian, it's good enough for me….is the common thinking among the young kids coming up through the ranks. Not a bad position to be in if you ask me.
Top Performances of Note
Brian Johnson, Oak Hill – Brian had a real good weekend. His play on Saturday helped key Oak Hill's comeback victory over a very talented Cardinal Dougherty team. While his shots didn't fall Friday night, he made 7-8 on Saturday, all of the high percentage variety. He knocked down a couple midrange jumpers on his way to 15 points and hit the boards for 10 rebounds. He's a pretty skilled big man with good athleticism and he was quick and explosive enough to split a tough double-team on the baseline that he finished with a powerful slam.
Tello Palacios, Our Savior New American – As we've already said, he can do it all. He's a power forward with point guard skills. He's got great hands and a soft touch and scores inside and out. His range on the jump shot extends behind the arch and his ball-handling ability is rare in a player his size. His body has become more toned because of a new diet and conditioning program and that transformation has really helped him become a very fluid athlete.
Uche Echefu, Montrose Christian – Echefu is a big time athlete with explosiveness. He showed some range by knocking down a triple from the key and repeatedly used an effective ball fake to create some space for himself. He gets after it around the basket and has excellent footwork. He also made some nice passes to cutting teammates, particularly from the high post. He's a 6'7, 230 pound junior and has a big upside and he's certainly on the radar screen of several major colleges. High level division one coaches want him to show the ability to put the ball on the floor. MVP performance with 17 points.
Michael Coburn, Mount Vernon (NY) – Easily one of the best freshman point guards in the nation. He hit some big time shots against Rice (NY) and showed three-point range. He'll create and get his own shot. Played with poise and control. He's on the radar screen already. Coburn finished with 17 points and was named the games MVP.
Brandon Rush, Mount Zion – Deluxe athlete used his athleticism and length to get big rebounds against OSNA. Didn't get much done offensively but was apparently limited because of an injury to his arm. He finished with just four points but had about a dozen boards. He's a big time junior small forward prospect.
Curtis Kelly, Rice – Big time 6'9 sophomore prospect. Runs the floor well and has good athleticism. He's pretty active and scored 12 points, mostly around the hoop.
Mark Tydale, Simon Gratz (PA) – Had an excellent performance slashing and finishing in the paint. He's a typical 6'5, physical Philly guard who gets after it aggressively on the court and received the effort of the day award for his hustle play for a loose ball that resulted in a scary fall over press row. He can put it on the floor and get his shot, too. Grades might be an issue.
News and Notes
Cardinal Dougherty's big men, 6'8 DeSean White and 6'7 junior Shane Clark shot their team to a 15 point halftime lead over Oak Hill…The Warriors came back but Clark, though thin, will be an excellent player for Villanova in the future with his athleticism, length and ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter…6'7 power forward Tracy Smith from Mount Zion has good hands, a nice frame and made an impressive catch and finish on the break….Smith, originally from Detroit, is also the cousin of the University of Louisville's Brandon Jenkins…Curtis Kelly lists North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Miami, and Texas…Kelly's coach, Mo Hicks, played at Loyola under U of L Director of Basketball operations Bill Burke…Reggie Theus was attentive when Uche Echefu was on the court…Speaking of Theus, he might have been the most popular guy in the gym and signed autographs from the time he walked in to the time he left the building…Theus also got an up close look at Tydale, who hopped the press table over Theus during the early action…to his credit, Theus never flinched an inch…Javaris Crittendon knocked down a few triples against Lincoln and has Louisville and North Carolina at the top of his list…Former Louisville Seneca standout Robbie Simpson didn't dress for Mount Zion…A.J. Price is a big time guard who's signed with UCONN…6'9 Herb Pope of Montrose Christian has a big body for a freshman, has good hops and runs the court…
"I'm not sure. He has great quickness and he's a winner but the average height in the NBA is like 6'3," - Josh Smith giving his thoughts on Sebastian Telfair going directly to the NBA after high school.
"Louisville's really good and I like them a lot. Any school that can get me to the next level I'm interested in and Rick Pitino and Louisville are a school that can do that," - Curtis Kelly on his interest in the Cards.