USA Festival: Courtside Report II

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Some of the nation's top high schoolers were on the campus of San Diego State University this past week for the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival, which is now a part of the International Sports Invitational. IC correspondent Monte Macias provides his second in-depth report on the UNC recruits in attendance ...

Fri. 6/10/05 – USA White 105, Russia 86


Arthur started strong on the first possession with a fade-away from 17' on the right baseline, where his consistent form and high release were again on display. Shortly after, he followed it up with a hard drive into the lane and a nice flip-shot finish. Russia had the biggest frontline of any team, so Arthur was able to use his superior quickness and agility to maneuver inside on a few occasions. It looked like he might be headed for a big game.

But on defense, it became apparent that the Russians' size was more than he could handle. Massive center Anatoly Kashirov used his 7'2" and 242 lb. frame to bully Arthur in the paint. He simply was not strong enough to fend off the bigger players. On rebounds, he missed a number of block-outs which enabled the taller Russians to reach over him for the boards. At the 6-minute mark in the 2nd quarter, he picked up his 3rd foul and went to the bench for the remainder of the half.

The long breather killed the offensive momentum he had going, and he wasn't able to regain it in the 2nd half. He disappeared for stretches, resurfacing briefly to tip in a teammate's miss, or come up with a loose ball here or there. His lone highlight of the 2nd half came when G Igor Smyghin got loose on the fast-break for what appeared to be a gimme lay-up, when out of nowhere Arthur flashed eye-popping recovery speed to race down and smack the ball into the seats. It was a remarkable display of hustle, speed, and athleticism.

Others of note: G Javaris Crittenton took over the game when he wanted, attacking the hole with a quick first-step, popping step-back jumpers, and providing the play of the game with a vicious follow-up dunk off a missed free throw… F Bill Walker got into it with a couple of the Russian players, but they were separated before things got too heated. Walker likes to play a very physical game, and he's never shy about getting in someone's face to say a few words… F Paul Harris is a force on the glass. He finished with 14 rebounds… PG Michael Conley put together a good outing and showed that despite his slight frame, he can absorb contact and still finish in the lane…

Fri. 6/10/05 – USA Blue 96, USA Red 74


After the Red team jumped out to an early lead, Ellington brought his team back from the early deficit by asserting himself from the outside. He netted a deep three, and then hit a couple more long jumpers. Once he got the Blue team's wheels turning, he settled back into his role as the consummate floor leader. He directed the offense, set up his teammates for good shots, worked on the inside for rebounds and put-backs… a little bit of everything.

I was anticipating a head-to-head matchup of Ellington and G Gerald Henderson, Jr., but it wasn't to be. Ellington played the point almost the whole game, so he matched up with PG's Jeremiah Rivers or DJ Augustin. Neither player got much going against Ellington, who forced a few of Rivers' 6 turnovers and also picked Augustin clean to spark a fast break. Ellington is a stingy defender, and is relentless in containing his assignment.


This game was hardly a showcase for Davis, as he only saw 4 mins. of action. He managed to tally one basket, but missed a few other short jumpers in and around the lane. He sported a bandage over one eye; but I was unable to ascertain when he acquired the injury, or whether it affected his PT.

Others of note: Red team guards Gerald Henderson, Jr., Jon Scheyer, and Deaquan Cook combined to shoot 10-of-38 from the floor, or 26%… Cook aggressively contested an OJ Mayo dunk attempt in the 2nd half, showing some of the fire that seems to come and go with him. Mayo went to the floor hard but was ok…

Sat. 6/11/05 – Bronze Medal Game – USA Red 92, Russia 77


There is no denying that Bryan Davis is a hard worker who competes on every play. He's a floor-burn guy who winds up on the hardwood pretty often. In the bronze medal game, he wasn't afraid to mix it up against the big Russian team. He was very active pursuing rebounds amongst the trees, and seems at home in a physical game. However, he does tend to let his emotions get the best of him at times, which was evidenced when he committed a silly and obvious frustration foul after getting tangled up with a Russian player under the basket. It was off the ball, and had no real impact on the play, so he basically gave his opponents two points on the free throws. However, there are times when he harnesses that emotional energy, and then it seems to work for him in positive ways as well.

Davis showed some nice face-up moves in the post, but he failed to recognize the double-teams in time, and had it ripped from him twice by a guard helping down. Other than a couple of baskets on put-backs, which seem to be his specialty, he didn't do much scoring. He did some great work on the offensive glass though, with 5 boards. He finished with 7 rebounds total, and chipped in 6 points and 1 assist in 14 mins.

It's apparent that Davis takes pride in his defensive intensity, but he relies too much on his hands. He doesn't move his feet enough in order to establish the necessary position. He seems to have a bad habit of giving up the position and just waiting to size up the opponent's shot attempt. However, he does play excellent help-side defense, and is always aware of penetration; and he goes hard after every pass in the vicinity. His highlight came when he sprang into the passing lane for a steal, and then dribbled the length of the court for the breakaway dunk.

Davis is a raw talent with great energy and loads of potential. At this point, it appears as though he needs to refine his fundamentals, both offensive and defensive, in order to be a more complete player.

Others of note: G Deaquan Cook owned this game with 3's, dunks, mid-range jumpers, steals, you name it. It's too bad he didn't play with this kind of intensity every game… G Gerald Henderson, Jr. had the play of the game when he sliced down the middle of the lane and threw down a nasty two-hander in traffic (big Russian traffic)…As for Russia, skilled big man Anatoly Kashirov and do-it-all F's Igor Smyghin and Maxim Sheleketo are fun to watch, and should all make a splash on the international scene… G Jon Scheyer's form looked good, he got open looks, he just never got it going. He shot 0-for-5, to finish at 30% from the field, and 10% from 3 pt. land for the five games. Worst of all, he was victimized in the crowd-pleaser moment of the game when a Russian PG dribbled through his legs in the open court…

Sat. 6/11/05 – Gold Medal Game – USA White 107, USA Blue 85


Ellington drained a 3 on the first possession, and followed that up a few plays later with an obscene crossover step-back jumper on the right baseline. It came off his fingertips so softly, and landed in the net even softer. Somehow, in the midst of such an aggressive and athletic play, he still just oozes composure.

He didn't play the point as much in this game as he had been playing, but he continued to run things effectively from the wing. He is one of those guys who has a knack for reading the angles. He surveys and even lulls them a little; and then quietly, and like a cat, he's into the gaps and seams, confounding the defense.

When White C Greg Oden got the Blue bigs in foul trouble in the first half, Ellington and G OJ Mayo didn't have a lot of options inside. They were left to their own devices on the wing, putting up a number of 3's and penetrating where they could. White took control of the game; but all the while, Ellington remained a positive vocal leader and set an example on defense with active feet, quick hands, and tireless effort.

I could've sworn Mayo didn't leave his Blue teammates but a handful of shots to go around, but somehow Ellington managed to put up 27 points simply by taking what the defense was giving him. And with Ellington, defenses tend to give him much more than they would like. That explains how he managed to come up with a game-high 12 rebounds. His points came from everywhere on the court, but the most spectacular two came in the lane in the 2nd half. He penetrated deep in the paint and launched into the air where he was met by a White team post player (either Oden or Arthur). He turned his back in mid-air to shield the ball, hung for a bit, and then flipped it over his head and into the hoop without looking. It was a display of amazing body control, which he's exhibited on several occasions this week.

After seeing this guy all week, you just can't sing his praises enough – skill, maturity, instincts, court presence. He grew on me more and more as the week wore on; and despite the losing effort, he definitely saved his best for last.


Arthur, however, showed more during the week than he did in this game. He had a nearly silent first half. On a loaded White team with so many options, it was tough for him to get shots in the early going. He played solid help-defense, picking up some blocked shots from the weak side; but otherwise he wasn't heard from.

In the 2nd half, he started with an authoritative alley-oop from F Bill Walker. That seemed to get him going a bit, but he still never quite asserted himself offensively the way he had at other times during the week. He did manage to finish with 9 pts., 6 boards, and 3 blocks in a workman-like effort.

Others of note: F Paul Harris dominated the game offensively for White. He created a huge matchup problem, and exploited it to the tune of 28 pts. He handles himself exceptionally well along the baseline and in the paint. He even showcased a nice mid-range jumper I hadn't seen much of all week… F Mike Washington is bigger, stronger, and just as quick as Darrell Arthur, as he showed in the first half when he blew by him with a nifty move at the top of the key. Had Washington (and C Robin Lopez) not been saddled with early foul trouble, it may have been a different ballgame – but that's what happens when you guard Greg Oden… Speaking of a different ballgame, Blue also could've used the help of F Thaddeus Young, who sprained his ankle in Wednesday's game and will be out for 3-4 weeks…



How many schools are you still considering?
Young: I'm still considering everybody. I don't want to do a list, so I'd have to say "everybody."

What's your timeframe to narrow that down?
Young: The end of summer; probably the end of July.

When do you plan on taking the rest of your visits?
Young: I want to take them before the High School Basketball season starts. I want to wait until after summer though, so the students are back on campus; so I can get a better idea of the campus.

Since you'll probably play the WF in college, have you been watching which schools are recruiting other WF's as well?
Young: Yeah, definitely. I've been doing my homework for sure, keeping an eye on things.

Will that factor into your decision?
Young: No, not really. Because I feel like I'm good enough to come in and play. I think I have what it takes to play anywhere, no matter where I'm at… to come in and contribute.

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