TerpSportsReport.com's Trip to the Southern Invitational
DC Blue Devils
With Maryland prospect Frank Ben-Eze as its go-to-guy, the DC Blue Devils played very well in the tournament. The 6-foot-10 Nigeria native led the way with 17 points and 12 rebounds en route to a 61-37 win over Fairfax Stars of Virginia. In its next game, the Blue Devils beat the Maryland Crusaders. Ben-Eze was quiet but his teammate, Max Kenyi, a 6-foot-3 guard from Gonzaga, put in 16 points to lead the Blue Devils past the Crusaders, 67-65. Jordan Clarke of the Maryland Crusaders, a 6-foot-8 small forward from Good Counsel High School, led not only his team, but all scorers in the entire tournament with 32 points. In the gold playoffs, Ben-Eze's 14 points helped lead the Blue Devils past Bethesda Magic, 57-43. In the second round of the playoffs, the Blue Devils had an unlucky draw and faced perennial powerhouse Boo Williams Summer League. Boo Williams, with its duo of Wake Forest commit Ty Walker and five-star prospect Ed Davis, beat up on the Blue Devils, 60-35. Ben-Eze was outmatched versus the two stud class of 2008 prospects and finished with only seven points.
After a day of watching Ben-Eze play, TSR nabbed a quick interview with Bishop O'Connell's big man. He says the schools he likes are Clemson, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Georgia Tech and Marquette, and is planning on making his decision after the summer. Ben-Eze has some level of offers from the previously mentioned schools, and says that he is big on Maryland. "I have visited a lot," he said. "I am friendly with all of the [team]." Ben-Eze, whose guardian is Maryland basketball player Dave Neal's parents, said that "Dave Neal is like a brother."
The bottom line on Ben-Eze is that he must continue progressing in order to play big-time basketball. His body is perfect to compete at high-major programs, but his game is raw and needs a lot of refining. He is very vocal and doesn't have an ounce of fat on him, but he does not always position himself well for rebounds, and sometimes he stood still, staying back during a Blue Devils' fast break. He is athletic considering his size, but he loves to shoot the ball. Ben-Eze hoisted up more than 15 field goal attempts versus Fairfax Stars and Boo Williams, and not all of his attempts were advisable.
Baltimore Stars features Maryland targets Terrell Vinson and Isaiah Armwood, both in the class of 2009, as well as recent Georgetown-commit Henry Sims. As always, the three combined for the majority of Stars' points and showed off impressive athleticism. In a game against Grand Strand's Finest, a South Carolina-based squad, Armwood exploded for 13 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks. Vinson added eight points and 12 rebounds as well as three steals despite a heavily taped ankle. Sims was reliable with 13 points, five rebounds and three blocks. Baltimore Stars won 73-61. In the prior game, Sims led the Stars to a 73-48 win over Virginia-based Richmond Squires with 15 points. In the playoffs, the Stars disappointingly lost their first-round gold bracket game to National Christian Academy 67-62. Sims led scorers with 11 points.
As is the case with most AAU teams, the Stars established a fast-paced tempo versus Grand Strand's Finest. There were some words exchanged in the beginning as well as some hard fouls, but things cooled down eventually. Armwood showed the crowd why he would be a valuable addition to any high-major team, going for every loose ball. He and Vinson made crisp passes, racked up assists, and the two combined for an astonishing 25 rebounds. Armwood blocked several shots throughout the day, and possesses one facet to his game over which many head coaches will drool: he follows his shot every time, grabbing a number of offensive boards.
Despite the absence of Georgetown-commit Jason Clark, Triple Threat stepped up and played as good basketball as TSR has seen. In its first game versus Hoop Booth of Virginia, Triple Threat won by a lopsided 69-41 score. CJ Garner of Springbrook High School led the team with 12 points. Chris Braswell, another Georgetown-commit, Rodrigo Peggau and Maryland target Maurice Creek each had seven points. Creek added five rebounds and two blocks. Triple Threat won its next game versus Mid-Penn Motion 72-36, propelling the Maryland-based AAU squad to the gold playoff bracket. In the playoffs, Triple Threat, led by Creek's 12 point performance, won 80-47. In the second round, Triple Threat cruised past Virginia's U-Turn Warriors 76-63, led by Kevon Moore's 24 points. In the Final Four game, DC Assault's gold team edged out Triple Threat 74-72. Still, without one of its catalyst players in Jason Clark, Triple Threat played very cohesive basketball and showed why its starting five could compete amongst Division I colleges.
Though Terp target Maurice Creek is not the center of attention on the team, he stepped up and played both point guard and shooting guard positions comfortably. He continues to play pesky defense and bring the ball up the court. TSR was able to speak to Creek, who said that, among Maryland, Texas and North Carolina, Marquette has just come into the picture in terms of recruiting. "Marquette is doing a heck of a job," said the class of 2009 prospect. He said his offers include Maryland and two other schools, of which he could not recall. Creek said that Maryland is "a good school," and that it is his "hometown team." Said Creek: "I always liked Maryland growing up. I would like to play for them." He said he will not make his decision until his senior year, but that Maryland is high on his list, which, for the time being, remains a short one.
Team New Jersey Elite
It's nobody's surprise at this point that Quintrell Thomas was one of the major focal points of the Southern Invitational. The exceptionally-athletic power forward out of New Jersey played a great tournament from start to finish. In Elite's first game, Thomas' 26 points led his team past Pennsylvania's Montgomery Defenders, 67-54. Later that day, Thomas again led his team in scoring with 17 points, eight rebounds and six blocks as his team required overtime to seal a one-point victory over Virginia's NOVA United Blue, 57-56. In the first round of the gold bracket playoffs, the opposing Carolina Raptors were too much for the one-man show. Despite Thomas' impressive 21-point, 10-rebound, five-block performance, Elite lost 68-58.
After the loss, a handful of reporters waited around to speak to Thomas. The hot commodity said he will likely make his decision by the start of his senior basketball season. Though he is not leaning toward any particular school, Maryland is high on his list. "I think I fit well there," Thomas said. He currently holds offers from Marquette, Maryland, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Miami and Virginia Commonwealth.
The only question of concern at this point is how well Thomas is able to finish out games. Though he is a very skilled player whose athletic prowess leads to hard-earned points, he lost steam at times. He scored 15 of his team's 33 points in the first half versus NOVA United, but scored two in the second half. Thomas is great when he is giving 100 percent. During one of his emphatic slam dunks, Thomas finished the play so hard that the referees had to stop play to re-set the basket in place. In another play, Thomas ripped the ball out of an opponent's hands during a blocked shot. Thomas was one of the grittiest, most patient players in the whole tournament.
DC Assault's Gold Team
A talented team from top to bottom, DC Assault played a flawless weekend's worth of games. Beginning with a 92-56 slaughter of Pennsylvania's Blast in which Syracuse's Kris Joseph led the way with 14 points, Jordon Brooks with 13 points and Roscoe Davis with 10 points, Assault was ready and rearing to go. At halftime, Assault held a 13-point lead, but the game was called off in the second half as Assault had built its lead from 13 to 35 points. In its next game, Jamar Samuels led Assault with 11 points as they continued to demolish opponents, beating Virginia Pride 80-41. Its first-round gold bracket playoff game was no different. Assault punished New York's BC Eagles 79-54 before beating a talented Richmond Squires led by Terp recruit Karron Johnson. In the semi-finals, DC Assault squeaked out a 74-72 win over Triple Threat before surprising Boo Williams in the final, 72-64.
Boo Williams Summer League
A pair of blue-chip recruits led the usually-favored Boo Williams team. Ed Davis and Wake Forest commit Ty Walker were two of the more talented players performing in the Southern Invitational. In its first game, Walker led Boo Williams with 12 points as his team beat the Maryland Regulators 84-54. In its second game, Boo Williams beat New Jersey-based Leap Forward 65-36, with Ed Davis leading the way scoring 16 points. In the gold bracket playoffs, Ed Davis again led the way with 18 points as Boo Williams cruised past DC Blue Devils, 60-35. In the second round, freshman point guard Kendall Marshall, a traditional pass-first-shoot-second player, led the team with 15 points and helped Boo Williams beat Carolina Raptors 68-53. In the semi-finals versus National Christian Academy, Boo Williams won, advancing to the finals, where they lost to DC Assault, despite 11 points from Marshall.
TSR's All-Tournament Team
Ed Davis, Boo Williams – showed great court presence, good passer, very athletic.
Ty Walker, Boo Williams – soft touch for a 7-footer, could become a Tim Duncan-type.
Quintrell Thomas, Team NJ Elite – led team in scoring each game, has the tools to become a great player.
Isaiah Armwood, Baltimore Stars – super athletic, jumps out of the gym, and hustles like no one else.
Devon Curry, Brooklyn Heat – Though TSR did not see any of Brooklyn Heat's games, Curry's numbers: 26, 26, 31 and 22 points led Heat in each of its games.
Kendall Marshall, Boo Williams - Floor general of one of the premier AAU teams in the country. And he's a freshman. He scored 15 points and 11 points throughout the playoffs to help lead his team to a runner-up in the gold bracket.
DeMarquis Bost, Carolina Raptors - One of Carolina Raptors' shining stars at guard position. Scored 24 and 19 and had a solid weekend, showed why he was one of the better guards in the tournament.
Darius Johnson-Oden, Carolina Raptors - Second half of the impressive duo with previously mentioned Best. He scored 16 points and 23 points in two playoff games to lead team to gold bracket's elite eight.
Henry Sims, Baltimore Stars - Showed good position and grabbed his fair share of rebounds throughout the weekend. Though he's still growing into his own body, he has good fundamentals and cleaned up the boards.
Troy Jones, Georgia Ballers - Georgia Ballers' 6-foot-5 forward helped lead his team to a gold bracket playoff game, although they lost to Playaz. Jones put in 24 points to get Ballers to the playoffs, and 22 points in the playoff game.
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Terp Sports Report Scouts the Southern Invit.
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