Nike Memorial Day Classic Wrap Up

More on the performances turned in by <b>Joe Crawford</b> and <b>Malik Hairston</b>. GBW gets word from the father of <b>Jerret Smith</b> on his son's performance over the weekend and a possible visit to Michigan this week. Also included is a statistical list of top performers and much more.

For those who missed the previous reports on the Nike Memorial Day Classic, click below.

Memorial Day Classic, Day 1
Memorial Day Classic, Day 2

The summer exploits of Malik Hairston and Joe Crawford are becoming commonplace. Both players have been phenomenal at times on the AAU circuit. Malik's name is blowing up nationwide now, but he had been turning in those same big time performances during the high school season as well. Pundits from around the country are now seeing what local observers had been witnessing for months. Malik is a tremendously skilled player whose demeanor sets him apart from the majority of his peers. I addressed that very topic on our premium messagebaord over the weekend with the following:

"Malik quite simply is a big time scorer. Those who favor flash over substance won't like his game because Malik is a substance player. He doesn't have a freaky crossover or a 40" vertical, but he has that "dog" in him. When I say "dog" I mean he's a kid that's supremely confident, unafraid to fail, and is damn tough! Don't get me wrong,...he has great basketball skills. However, his demeanor is an equal part of what makes him special. He'll go down low to rebound if he needs to, AND he'll throw an elbow or two to send a message while he's down there. If his man comes down court and scores, Malik wants the ball so he can get those points back. If his teammates need encouragement, Malik is the guy that gives it to them."

After seeing Malik play four of five times, I thought a comparison to Jalen Rose was the most appropriate. His high school coach called Malik "my Jalen Rose." The Detroit News' Tom Markowski wrote an article listing the similarities between the two native Detroiters' as well. Even Prep Spotlight's Vince Baldwin, whom has seen Malik more than just about anyone, told me that the young man was a cross between Scottie Pippen and Jalen Rose. However, there was one comparison that appeared in my Malik Hairston Scouting Report a few months ago that seems to be a better fit. After watching Malik play close to 20 times up to this point, I'd say Durand Walker's comparison to Steve Smith is the best account of what this young man brings to the table.

Steve Smith could run the point if you asked him too. In fact, he played that very position for a few seasons with the Miami Heat. That said, he excelled as a scorer. His game and build are very similar to Malik's. Hairston is a great jump shooter, can get to the basket, can do the intangibles (dish and rebound), and he has that "dog" in him! If you talk to Malik he'll tell you that he'll play the 1, the 2, and the 3 in college. I don't doubt him.

I also addressed Joe Joe's performances in a recent premium board message"

"Joe Crawford has a TON of potential. I think he and Malik are performing at equally high levels this summer (with maybe a slight edge to Malik). He has all of the physical tools; a NBA body, he can jump out of the gym, and he has a very good handle for a 2 guard. His dribbling skills have been steadily improving throughout the year. His handles are better than Malik's at this point, and he's very adept at shaking his defender with a crossover or creating space with his first step.

Malik's jumper is more renowned at this point, but Joe is no slouch. I've seen him hit 6 threes in at least 3 games now. He can rock the dribble and pull up for a three, drive and shoot a leaner in the lane, or take it all the way to the basket and finish despite contact. I agree with Coach Walker in that I too think that the one part of Joe's game that probably needs the most improvement is his aggression. I don't mean taking the ball up hard or the like, because he does that. I mean aggression in the form of demanding the ball.... taking his opponent's will...dunking on a guy that talks too much smack and then giving him a glare after he's served him a facial. That's something I've been seeing him do more of lately.

Joe-Joe will probably be the most dynamic player (in terms of physical tools) Michigan has had since Webber. In my opinion, he is the most gifted offensive player I've seen from this state since that time. I like the JR Rider (minus the attitude) and Baron Davis comparisons given by Vince and Mark White (Joe's high school head coach) in my Joe Crawford Scouting Report a few months back. He has that kind of explosive attack. The kid can do amazing things at times, and at others you'll wonder how he's gone minutes without getting a shot. Once his aggression rises to the level of his ability, he'll be even MORE big time than he already is!"

Both players' efforts propelled them to the top 10 in points per game for the entire tournament. Malik finished 3rd in scoring with a 21.2 ppg average and Joe finished 6th in scoring with a 20.4 ppg average. Malik also finished 5th in rebounding with a 7.2 rpg average. Here's a list of the top performers in each category.

#25 Al Jefferson - Jackson Tigers - 25.4 ppg
#10 Shawn Williams - YOMCA Memphis - 21.7 ppg
#1 Malik Hairston - The Family - 21.2 ppg
#12 AJ Price - Riverside Church - 21.0 ppg
#5 Jawaan McClellan - Houston Hoops - 21.0 ppg
#23 Joseph Crawford - The Family - 20.4 ppg
#11 LaMarcus Aldridge - Team Texas - 20.2 ppg
#22 Daniel Gibson - Houston Hoops - 19.7 ppg
#22 Keith Brumbaugh - Team Florida - 19.0 ppg
#4 Elijah Swan - DC Blue Devils - 18.9 ppg

#25 Al Jefferson - Jackson Tigers - 9.6 rpg
#11 LaMarcus Aldridge - Team Texas - 9.5 rpg
#25 Dayshawn Wright - Albany City Rocks - 9.4 rpg
#4 Ra'Sean Dickey - South Carolina Ravens - 9.0 rpg
#1 Malik Hairston - The Family - 7.2 rpg

Both players also made Inside Carolina's All-MDC teams. Malik made the first team list. The author added the following commentary:

"A star is being born this spring as the Michigan swingman dominates on both ends of the floor. He can shoot with range, jump out of the gym and has a competitiveness that never allows him to think the game is over. There's few things he can't do as he should be in most national top 20s at the end of the summer, if not the top 10."

Joe made the second team, and the commentary was as follows:

"Crawford has become a scoring assassin. So strong and explosive, it's almost impossible to keep him out of the lane. He can also keep defenses honest with his outside shooting, though that's the part of his game which will need the most work on prior to his arrival to the University of Michigan."

For the entire list click here.

It appears that Malik Hairston is heading elsewhere, but that doesn't stop me from thinking that he's one hell of a player. As for Joe Joe, Michigan fans couldn't be luckier. The kid is a tremendous talent and I'd have so see with my own eyes the player that anyone proclaims to be a better 2 guard in the 04 class before I believed it.

I've conversed with the father of Jerret Smith quite often in the last half year. We caught up at this weekend's classic and he informed me that Jerret was playing on a hobbled ankle (as mentioned in my previous report). While there, Mr. Smith said the following: "I didn't really think he should be playing, but I'm trying to let him start making some of these decisions on his own. The fact that he decided to play in spite of the pain showed me a lot. It took a lot of heart to go out there and do what he did."

The next day Jerret took the advice of his dad and others and backed out of the rest of tournament play. That's not the first time I've seen this young man turn in a gritty effort despite being injured. The kid is a leader, plain and simple.

Mr. Smith phoned me last night to inform me that they have a visit planned for this week. He also had a little more to say on that topic. That info can be found on our premium board.. If and when there's more, we'll be sure to let you know.

I'll be putting up scouting reports on Ron Coleman and Alexander Kaun, as well as photos from the weekend in Bloomington shortly.

There are plenty of network stories on both the Memorial Day Classic and The Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions. There isn't much more mention of Michigan commits/recruits, but there are tons tidbits available for the basketball junkies in the crowd. Check out Inside Carolina and Insiders Hoops for more on the MDC and TOC.

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