Big Time: Injuries highlight first day

LAS VEGAS -- Two of the biggest stars at the adidas Big Time Tournament could be out with injuries for the rest of the week, and the biggest star of all is hinting he might return.

Appleton, Wis., big man Brian Butch entered the tournament with a sore back and after what happened on Monday, the damage could now be severe.

Butch, who plays for Fox Valley Skillz Black, and Elijah Miller of the Fort Worth Lions of Texas got tangled up while battling underneath for a rebound.

Miller, who is probably 30 pounds heavier than Butch, flung the 6-11 center to the ground in the first half, where he landed harshly on his back. The pain on Butch's face was immediate and long lasting.

He eventually came back to his team's bench in the second half but was still in a lot of pain if his facial emotions were any indication.

Prior to the injury, Butch was showing why he's among the top 10 players in the country, going 4-for-8, including a 3-pointer to finish with nine points and a blocked shot.

Monday's other sad injury news centered around Philadelphia's Mustafa Shakur. The smooth point guard tried to play in his teams' opener in the morning but his hip wouldn't let him. In the nightcap, Shakur didn't step foot on the court.

As for what could be an incredibly hyped return, talk among some is that LeBron James could conceivably make an appearance later in the week. James, who broke his left wrist on his non-shooting hand, recently got his cast off.

And on the fashion front, James' Monday's look featured Jerry Stackhouse's Detroit Pistons jersey.

Juniors in action: Two of the juniors that North Carolina coach Matt Doherty took time to watch on Monday included Texas' Lamarcus Aldridge and Illinois' Shaun Livingston.

Livingston and his Ft. Sooy-No Limit took on Mater Dei, who are all from the high school of the same name in Santa Ana, Calif.

Livingston quickly showed why many think he's the best prospect in the 2004 class with deft passing and nifty moves to the basket. The long-armed righty even popped in a couple of pull-up 3-pointers.

But in the second half, Livingston kind of got lost in the shuffle offensively and Ft. Sooy went south because of it.

Livingston unofficially shot 1-for-7 in the second half, including 0-for-4 from 3-point land to finish with 11 total points on 4-for-13 shooting.

However, Livingston won't be lacking for publicity as word around the tournament is that ESPN has chosen to feature him in their documentary, "The Life," where they'll be following him around all day.

As for Aldridge's game, it was a mixed bag.

Aldridge drips with talent but his Texas Blue Chips squad was horrid against the Gary Payton All-Stars of Seattle.

Aldridge went to work around the hoop and went to the free-throw line often to collect 21 points but his team was blown out.

Odds and ends: One player who could pop up on the UNC recruiting scene is do-it-all guard Churchill Odia Ehis, who plays for the aforementioned Gary Payton All-Stars.

The skinny 6-foot-5 guard from Lagos, Nigeria, who might be matriculating to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, impressed several college coaches, including North Carolina according to some sources.

A handful of players who have already committed to colleges had big games. Illinois-bound Warren Carter of the Ft. Worth Lions finished with 18 points and two blocks against Butch's Fox Valley Skillz Black squad.

Also for Ft. Worth, Houston commitment Parker Pinkalla was impressive whether from long-range or driving to the hoop. He's a definite steal for the Cougars.

Cal-bound Wesley Washington and Illinois-bound Richard McBride went head-to-head with Washington scoring 19 and McBride netting 33.


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