Gym Rats Midnight Madness recap

<i>IC</i> corresponent Dan Baker reports back from Saturday night's high school all-star event in Cherry Hill, NJ, featuring some of the nation's top talent.

GYM RATS MIDNIGHT MADNESS
CHERRY HILL EAST HIGH SCHOOL
CHERRY HILL, NJ

Saturday night's Gym Rats Midnight Madness proved to be the latest evidence of the coming of age of some of the most intriguing names in high school basketball.

Before describing the action, though, it is important to describe the tournament and its non-basketball aspects. The tournament, founded by Rick Barrett and Robert DePersia several years ago, is not just about hoops. The players participate in drug awareness programs, SAT preparation classes and even take the SAT. The directors make great efforts to prepare the players for college, even in the short time that they are together.

The Blue/White Elite underclassmen game showcased a Blue team of John Winston, 6-3 from Salesian, Richmond, CA, Olu Famutimi, 6-5 from NW Edison in Michigan, Harrison Schaen, 6-8 from Mater Dei in Santa Ana, CA, Leon Powe, 6-7 from Oakland Tech in Oakland, CA and Trevor Ariza, 6-7 from Westchester, CA, against a White team of 6-7 Jordan Ingram from Archbishop Carroll of Philadelphia, PA, 6-9 Ivan Harris from Dayton, OH, 6-3 Tim Pierce from Fremont, CA and 6-3 Reggie Harwell from Cleveland, OH.

The Blue team, took its 63-30 halftime lead and cruised to a 98-68 win behind Leon Powe's 29 points and Olu Famutimi's 25. Trevor Ariza also chipped in with 20. Keep an eye out for John Winston as well, who, at 6-3, proved to be very explosive and had a great handle as well.

The White team was led by local star, Jordan Ingram's 17, who scored on some impressive inside play, hitting some short jumpers and putbacks. Ingram was supported by Tim Pierce, who pumped in 16 points from all over the floor.

But, the real stories in this game could be summed up in two words - flight and power. Olu Famutimi and Leon Powe. I first saw both players at last year's Gym Rats Midnight Madness, where I came away very impressed by Powe last year, but Famutimi, looked lost.

This year, Powe was his usual relentless self, grabbing rebounds and throwing down thunder dunks. He ran the floor well, running in his Michael Johnson/upright style, and was always in the middle of things. His outside game needs a little work, and from a Carolina perspective, he probably would fit right in as he missed all but one of his free throws. But, at 6-7, with big shoulders and a fierce attitude, he could be a primetime player for several years.

Famutimi, though, brought the house down with his high wire act. His game has matured over the past year and is much more complete. Last year, he appeared very passive and seemed to be lost. This year, though, showed how much his game has progressed. Between skying for alley-oops, running the break and hitting threes, he was THE SHOW. And, speaking of THE SHOW, while MJ will always set the standard, Famutimi's style resembles the Great One's, even down to the form on his jumpshot, which is almost a replica of MJ's. To further prove the point, the crowd demanded a third slam dunk round in the slam dunk contest after Famutimi missed his second jam. His first dunk left grown men weeping in three surrounding counties, while the women in the crowd were last seen headed to the nearest enlistment office.

Game MVP's were Olu Famutimi and Jordan Ingram. In a family note, Ingram's cousin, Julius Ingram was named MVP of the 8th grade game, which he dominated.

The All-American senior game was the final game of the night. The White team took the run 'n gun finale, 116-100, improving on their six point, 56-50 halftime lead.

Playing for the Blue were 6-6 Matt Walsh (committed to Florida), 6-5 DeAngelo Alexander (Oklahoma), 7-0 Keith Butler (uncommitted), from Celestial Prep in Philadelphia and 6-4 Dom Mejia, from nearby Eastern HS (Voorhees, NJ), together with "move-ups" from the Elite game, Ivan Harris, Tim Pierce, Jamar Butler and Jordan Ingram.

The White team was comprised of 6-3 Tommy Baker from Millville, NJ, 6-4 Maurice Ager (Michigan St.), 6-10 Canadian, John Clark (Rhode Island) and 6-9 Omar Williams (George Washington, Keith Butler's Celestial Prep teammate, together with "move-ups" Olu Famutimi, Leon Powe, Trevor Ariza and John Winston.

Unfortunate (for us) no-shows were Daniel Horton (committed to Michigan), Robert Hite (Miami) and Allan Morrill.

Tommy Baker and Olu Famutimi were co-MVP's for the White team, both hitting big shots down the stretch to power White to the win. Baker scored 19, mostly from outside, while Famutimi chipped in with 18, in a repeat high-wire act. Maurice Ager led the team with 21 points and impressive Omar Williams added 18.

Blue Team co-MVP's Matt Walsh and DeAngelo Alexander each tossed in 28, while unsigned Dom Mejia led the team in scoring with 28, including five threes.


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