Josh Smith, F, Atlanta Celtics: Simply put, this is the MOST explosive, highest leaping athlete in the class (and we say that with all due respect to J.R. Smith). Smith punched two of the best dunks of the summer against Richmond. He got all his points at or above the rim in this one. He blocked shots at a pretty good clip as well. Words cannot describe the overall athletic package that he displayed to those who were in Green Valley's gym on Wednesday afternoon. He finished off two dunks that simply were breathtaking. On one of them he basically leapt from just inside the free throw line, dunked on a guy and wasn't exactly on his way down when he got to the rim. Awesome.
Dwight Howard, PF-C, Atlanta Celtics: After Josh Smith dunked on Bombale Osby, Howard stepped up and banged one home only this time as Osby went up with him and Howard ratcheted up another notch above the rim. He had a sequence of blocks, dunks and two-handed rebounds that put an exclamation point on his candidacy as top player in the class. Then, just for kicks, he flicked passes to open teammates when the double-teams came. The kid doesn't touch the ball nearly enough as he should and he'll never complain or pout, he just plays.
Jordan Farmar, PG, Pump 'n Run: We weren't in the gym for this one but enough people were talking about so that the details weren't hard to come by. Basically, Farmar had himself a Big Time moment. He scored 35 points in a win over Billy Shepherd Sports and, get this; he drilled 10 3-pointers. That's a legend of summer kind of performance.
Bombale Osby, PF, Squires Richmond: In a nightmare matchup for a 6-5 power forward, Osby drew Smith and Howard. Did they throw a few nasty jams on him? Yes. But, to his credit, he never backed down. Not once. He kept coming at those guys and didn't flinch. He's a tough kid and he earned the respect of everyone in the gym. Finally, in the closing minutes of the game he even got a hoop to go down against Smith. Gutsy effort for a kid in a difficult situation.
Gavin Grant, SF, NY Ravens: When his team rolled up a serious halftime lead, he kind of put it in cruise control. Then, as the game tightened in the second half he went to work. From rebounding to blocking shots he stayed active. On the offensive end he went into attack mode and insured his team the win over the Southern Cal All-Stars.
Albert Webber, SG, Squires Richmond: He had 17 in the game against the Celtics and he's consistently scored everywhere he's been. The guy finds a way to put the ball in the hoop and that's why he'll get on the court in a hurry at Alabama.
Drew Neitzel, PG, Michigan Mustangs: The future Michigan State Spartan was fun to watch. Sure, he's not the fastest or tallest kid, but on Wednesday he found a way. He can create his own shot and for a sub-six-footer he doesn't get a ton of attempts blocked.
Shane Foster, SF, New Orleans Jazz: He had 19 points and 8 boards against the Michigan Mustangs. Though his shot wasn't falling, Foster gave you a taste of what he's about. He's an improving shooter and a very good athlete. His one-handed slam off and offensive rebound was SEC athlete quality.
Jamar Butler, PG, Cleveland Basketball Club: After knocking down a handful or so of 3-pointers, Butler's number was called for the last shot against H-Squad-Belmont Shore. With 3 seconds left the ball was in bounded to him, he drove from the wing and hit a tough runner at the buzzer to end it. Clutch shot from the future Bearcat.
Tasmin Mitchell, F, New Orleans Jazz: He was awesome in the first half of the Mustangs game. Mitchell showed the whole package. Obviously he's got a body to do work inside and he'll go above the rim for boards but when he's hitting the jumper like he did on Wednesday, that's an entirely different story. He was physical enough with Al Horford to knock him out of the box at times.
Chad Millard, SF, Granite State: Reportedly he had a huge day on Tuesday but wasn't nearly as effective in Day Two. However, you can see the high-major talent. He's a 6-8 small forward with good ball skills and range on his jumper. He'll be one to watch closely in the coming year.
News & Notes
For J.R. Smith in the morning were Roy Williams of North Carolina, Jay Wright of Villanova, and assistants from Kansas and UConn. . Boston Celtics star Antoine Walker is the head coach of the Illinois Fire. . Rutgers and Richmond were in the stands for Luke Bonner. . Dennis Felton of Georgia, Louis Orr of Seton Hall and Oliver Purnell of Clemson watched Ramel Bradley. In fact, the Pirates sent a full staff to his early game. . Junior Chad Millard likes Providence, Purdue, Syracuse, Connecticut, Missouri, Boston College and Louisville. .
You are going to hear a litany of schools mentioned with Gavin Grant but know this: per our source, the principle players are going to be Pittsburgh and North Carolina State. Both schools were there today. . Sebastian Telfair skipped out on the event and isn't playing with the Juice All-Stars. . Oregon State head coach Jay John was in the stands watching Marcel Jones of the Southern Cal All-Stars. .
Frank Elegar likes Drexel, Quinnipiac, Iona, Hofstra, Rider, College of Charleston, Long Island and Siena. . Paul Hewitt and Dennis Felton were front and center for Dwight Howard and last week's hot rumor was that he had it down to Georgia and Georgia Tech. However, after the game Howard said that he had not narrowed it down to just a pair. .
Joe Posey's list has Virginia Tech, Clemson, George Washington, Iowa State and Penn State on it. . Harvey Perry is going to re-classify after his senior season. His father, decked out in Arizona gear, said that it's his son's dream to play for the Wildcats. . Wake Forest head coach Skip Prosser is one 2005 patrol. Every time there are juniors around, Prosser isn't too far behind. .
How far apart are the gyms in Vegas? Well, one assistant drove 200 miles commuting between gyms the first day of the event. . Look for Paul Hewitt to try and get Georgia Tech into the picture with Al Horford. . Here's one to file away: LSU assistant coach Butch Pierre is the Godfather of junior standout Tasmin Mitchell. .
Charles Rhodes has switched AAU teams and now plays with the New Orleans Jazz. We heard a rumor in Vegas that he re-opened his commitment. When confronted, Rhodes said he was committed to Mississippi State but that other schools were continuing to recruit him. . Shane Foster likes Marquette, Kansas, Florida and Vanderbilt. DePaul, Notre Dame, Mississippi State, Oklahoma and Boston College are knocking on the door. .
Penn State has been trailing Hunting Park junior forward Brian Grimes and seems poised to offer him. . Danny Morrissey is not here with Cleveland Basketball Club because he broke his nose. . Philly forward Mark Tyndale is hearing from N.C. State, Dayton, Temple, LaSalle, Arkansas, Coppin State and Rhode Island. . Junior big man Luke Zeller has a 4.0 GPA and is No. 1 in his high school class.
Lorenzo Keeler, a guard for Branch West, is a nice mid-major athlete and shooter. We like the fact that he enjoys shooting on the move and is comfortable creating that way. . Vernon Goodridge of the Juice All-Stars played better today then we'd ever seen him. . The light might be coming on for Frank Elegar. The 6-8 Ravens post player was active, scored and rebounded like a guy who wants to play in the A-10 or maybe even higher (?). Stay tuned. .
You have to love Ravens forward Brian Laing. His game is about effort and execution. He loves contact and rebounding and he pounds away in the paint. The downside is that he's about 6-4 and needs to be careful what level he elects to play at. Regardless, he's a warrior. . Mike Mercer and Cliff Clinksdale were brought in to stabilize the Celtics backcourt. They're both good offensive players but they need to understand their primary role is getting the rock to what might be the greatest frontline ever assembled in the history of AAU basketball. Between Dwight Howard, Randolph Morris and Josh Smith, the Celtics rule the paint. .
Major props to Bombale Osby. The Squires power forward was dunked on, had his shots blocked and still never gave up. Not once was he frustrated or shaken. He simply took it in stride, went to work and played hard. He scored one on Smith late in the game just to let you know the level of determination he has. On the backside, playing against a lot of size negated his game and as an undersized PF, finding the right fit collegiately will be important. .
Ramel Bradley can get you some offense from the point guard slot. He's one of those guys who likes to turn up the tempo every chance he gets. . Whether or not Al Horford scores consistently enough is debatable. However, regardless of his offensive output, he can always be counted on to rebound and block shots. . Derek Smith AS guard Chris Lofton can really shoot it. He'll benefit from going somewhere with a drive and kick point man. .
Hunting Park forward Mark Tyndale is a guy we weren't very familiar with prior to Wednesday. He's one of those guys with a knack for scoring and had 25 in ballgame this morning. . Jamar Butler is a fine point guard with range. He's also good at penetrating but will sometimes settle for the deep 3s. . Props to Atlanta Celtics guard Cliff Clinksdale who hit the backend of a one-and-one to clinch a win over the Squires. .
Playoffs start on Thursday!