SG Cordell Pope, SE Elite – The Elite played their first game of the tournament today and it was a blowout from the start. They led 11-0 before their opponents scored a basket and then went on a 33-0 run before they allowed another point. They led 58-8 at halftime. The 6-foot-6 Pope showed plenty of his skills in the game stroking the ball from deep, putting the ball on the floor, and dunking with ease. He is a fun player to watch and will be a key for the Elite as they try to win the tournament title tomorrow.
PG Rico Pickett, SE Elite – The tournament's top ranked point guard was finally playing, but just barely. Early In the route, Pickett (an Alabama commit) was taken out of the game because he was not needed and could use the rest from the hectic schedule as of late. He did play a few minutes hitting a 3-pointer and a recording a dunk before he was in flip flops the rest of the game.
PF Julian Gamble, In the Zone – As reported yesterday Gamble (6-foot-8) received interest from St. John's and Rhode Island. Today, he added an even more impressive list of interest as Kentucky, Tennessee, Miami, and Florida Atlantic were watching him. He has a strong body and is able to knock down a jumper when needed. In a 2-point loss to the World Renegades his team was eliminated, but he did have a big game with 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 blocks going up against J.J. Hickson.
PG Edwin Rios, Team Breakdown – Rios, a Miami commit, scored 12 points in his first game and looked quicker today than the previous two days. Like many of the top players in the tournament Rios admits he was a bit tired after the ABCD camp.
SG Chris Allen, Worldwide Renegades – The Michigan State commit had a productive day today after a slow start to the tournament. Allen (pictured right) scored 17 and 24 points in the two games he played as he knocked down his jumper from the outside. The smooth guard has an excellent shot and will need to take over games if the Renegades will have a chance to win the title.
PF J.J. Hickson, Worldwide Renegades – Hickson had a tough game in the afternoon before taking it to Julian Gamble in the night game eliminating Gamble's In the Zone team. Hickson has been getting into trouble by putting the ball on the ground trying to dribble through traffic in the paint as opposed to keeping his head up and keeping a strong base after catching the ball. He is a strong played with a long frame.
SG Adam Allen, Tallahassee Wildcats – Allen scored 13 points in the first game and had more open looks than earlier in the tournament. He knocked down a couple 3-pointers, which is nothing new to him. At 6-foot-5 he has a great stroke with a high release. The Wildcats suffered an upset in the evening and were eliminated from the tournament.
PF Darnell Wilkes, SE Elite – There is a new prospect in town as Wilkes showcased a great deal of athleticism. He is a 6-foot-8 forward who can shoot the ball and get up and down the court with ease. Watching this kid dunk is a treat as well.
PF Eloy Vargas, Team Breakdown – Vargas scored 15 points in a 38-point victory in the 17U age group. He has been playing for both squads, but is a reserve on the 17U squad.
PG David Blackwell, In The Zone – Blackwell had another productive game with 12 points and 7 assists as his team was eliminated from the tournament.
PG Kenny Boynton, Breakdown South – Boynton did what he has been doing all tournament. He hit jumpers, penetrated, showed extreme athleticism, and did a lot of the little things well. Now the fun begins as he will have a number of premier matchups in the tournament on Saturday.
SG Chris Baez played for Team Breakdown for the first time in the tournament and had a solid first half in a blowout victory The 6-foot-5 guard has good athleticism and holds an offer from Wichita State…SE Elite SG Varez Ward hurt his ankle in the Alabama North/South game and is not participating in the tournament…SF Jonathan Hall had a 19-point game today…PG Corey Fisher scored 14 points as his team cruised to a victory and is 3-0 in the tournament…SG Fred Brown concluded his solid tournament as the Wildcats were upset today, but he did have a solid game in the afternoon with 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. Brown put up 30 points yesterday.
Saturday's Quarterfinal Games (all games at LaSalle High School)
9:15 a.m. - Southeast Elite vs. Florida Rams
10:30 a.m. - Breakdown South vs. MPSLO/Lee Bulls Select winner (at 8 a.m.)
11:45 a.m. – Long Island Lightning vs. Jacksonville Jazz
1:00 p.m. – Worldwide Renegades vs. Jacksonville Lee Bulls Elite
Semifinal Games: 2:15 p.m. – SE Elite/Rams winner vs. Breakdown South/MPSLO or Lee Bulls Select winner
3:30 p.m. – Lightning/Jazz winner vs. Renegades/Bulls Elite winner
There were over 25 different colleges represented at today's event including at least seven head coaches.
The following head coaches were in attendance today: Mark Few (Gonzaga), Frank Haith (Miami), Norm Roberts (St. John's), Leonard Hamilton (Florida State), Mark Turgeon (Wichita State), Rex Walters (Florida Atlantic), and Derek Waugh (Stetson).
Assistant coaches were represented from the following schools: Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, Cincinnati, Villanova, N.C. State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Georgetown, UNC-Charlotte, Central Florida, South Florida, FIU, Jacksonville, UL-Monroe, Virginia Commonwealth, Gardner-Webb, Wofford, James Madison, and Eastern Kentucky.
PF A.J. Stewart (2007) was once considered a lock to attend Florida, but continues to tell coaches he is "open" because he is unsure where he stands as a Gator.
Stewart wants to visit Oklahoma State and Wake Forest and is still interested in the three big Florida schools: Florida, Florida State, and Miami. He expects to make a decision prior to his senior season.
My favorites to reach the tournament final are the Southeast Elite and the Long Island Lightning. Both teams have solid all-around teams led by premier point guards and a dominant big man. They also have guys who understand their roles who can make plays. It should be a good day of games.
"And he told me he had hops."
-- One AAU coach after his player attempted a lay-up on a breakaway as opposed to a dunk.
Christopher Stock can be reached at email@example.com