USA: Friday Afternoon Report

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The games got underway today at the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival. Padgett and Curry impressed, while some other elite players had monster outings.

* Today was the first session of games, with the second session tonight. Before breaking down individual player performances, note that these games are extremely long, with four 12-minute quarters, so stats tend to be inflated somewhat.

* Apparently game outcomes are inversely related to the number of talented players on the roster. The West topped the heavily favored East, 116-114, and the North took out the South in a 146-138 shootout.

*While we were watching the North/South game, David Padgett put forth an impressive effort in the West's surprising win over the East. Padgett had 18 points (8-11 FG), 14 rebounds and three blocks.

Analyst Dave Telep was sitting courtside. "The second half spurt, where the West began to take over, Padgett was key in the whole thing," Telep said. "What he did was finish plays, run the floor … he was just terrific today. To speak to his talent level, I was sitting next to someone who made the comment thinking that he was left-handed. But David Padgett is right-handed."

* Since JamesOn Curry is only a rising junior with a lean frame, we anticipated the possibility that he'd struggle here in Colorado Springs. However, he clearly belonged on the court today – so much so that he played the second-most minutes on his team (37).

After a few early misfires, Curry hit a zone – a swished three, a steal in the open floor which he dunked on the other end, a nice pass in traffic, a strip of an opposing center, a behind the back dribble to create space for a drilled three-pointer and then stopped on a dime in the lane for a ten-footer. He missed on his final four attempts.

The box score read 22 points (8-20 FG, 2-11 3pt, 4-4 FT), five assists and nine rebounds. Do note that the box score had a fair share of mistakes, including the fact that we know Curry hit at least three three-pointers. But, regardless of the exact stats, Curry played quite well, more than holding his own against elite, physically-developed opponents and was more than adequate in the point guard role he assumed for a good portion of the game.

* Two Tar Heel targets fit in the category today of very talented players having very quiet games. Brian Butch, struggling with the altitude and rapid-fire, high scoring game, had six points (2-3 FG) and six boards in only 13 minutes. (The highlights for Butch included a nice hook shot and a defensive stop in the fourth quarter where he redirected a Ndudi Ebi shot and then blocked a Jackie Butler follow.) Brian Johnson posted three points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes of playing time.

"Last year, McDonald All-Americans Raymond Felton, Bracey Wright and Elijah Ingram had bad weeks," noted Telep. "For some guys, altitude plays a major part, and the other part is chemistry. Because the teams aren't broken up into an equal number of positions, players will find it difficult to get involved and into the flow of things. A lot of times kids will not play well, but are better players. Johnson just didn't get touches in today's game. He played the second least minutes on his team. So, it wasn't anything he did negatively. He's not the first guy to run into a situation like that, and he won't be the last."

* Four players deserve mention for the top performances of the day …

Sebastian Telfair – 25 points (10-27 FG), 6 assists and 7 rebounds. He almost led the East to the win, hitting a tough three in the final seconds to tie the game. The rising junior NYC is already a legend, and rightfully so.

Ndudi Ebi – 35 points (15-24 FG), 16 boards and 3 blocks. While Jackie Butler was supposed to be the NBA-bound star in the game, we might as well prepare to see Ebi in the 2003 first round, as he's already got the NBA attitude (picked up a T and did a lot of sulking). Ebi isn't versatile – versatility is Ebi. Does that make any sense? Maybe not, but know that at 6-10, there isn't much he can't do.

Shannon Brown – 32 points (9-21 FG) and one turnover. At 6-2, he's strong, fast, very explosive and drills fadeaway threes with ease. No doubt he's a Top 10 player.

Andrew Lavender – 28 points (12-18 FG) and five assists. He may only be 5-7, but the Ohio point guard knows how to score despite his size. Speedy and crafty around the hoop, and made some excellent passes.


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