Big Time: Top Performers

LAS VEGAS -- While the adidas Big Time Tournament didn't lack for high Division I prospects, the presence of big-name talent didn't necessarily translate into success on the court for some heralded AAU programs.

Teams such as the Michigan Hurricanes, Alabama Ice, Tim Thomas Playaz Gold, Oakland Slam N Jam and the Atlanta Celtics brimmed with talent, but didn't even make it to the semifinals.

Here's a look at my first, second and third teams of the tournament based on a combination of production and potential. Also, the players picked were one's I was able to see. Unfortunately, some such as talented Ohio State commitment Ivan Harris or Duke commitment DeMarcus Nelson, were eliminated before I was able to watch them.

First team

Darius Washington, Florida Hoopsters, Shooting guard, (Tourney MVP)

Washington might be the best of the new wave undersized scoring guards since Allen Iverson spawned the position change. Washington scores in every way possible and despite only being about 6-foot, 160-pounds (maybe), he's adept at drawing fouls and is as mentally tough as anyone. Even on defense, he's no slouch. He's a joy to watch and hopefully the circuit won't affect him.

James Lang, Alabama Ice, Center

The post-graduate behemoth from Mobile, Ala., was basically unstoppable. He's about 6-foot-10 and well over 300 pounds and there wasn't a big man in the tournament that was going to stop him from getting position in the post. Maybe Indiana's Kenneth Harris, who is 6-9, 350-plus, could do it but he wasn't here. And despite the girth, Lang didn't tire when running the court. Definitely a future NBA player and probably sooner rather than later.

Shaun Livingston, Ft. Sooy-No Limit, Point guard

Livingston's feel for the game is tremendous as he's one of the best passers regardless of class. His awkward looking outside shot seems to go in with regularity and he plays with such poise. In an era of selfish guards, he's the opposite. As time goes on, he'll put on some much needed strength and hopefully, he'll stay healthy during the high school season, which has been a problem the last two years.

Dion Harris, Michigan Hurricanes, Shooting guard

I'm not sure how Harris failed to make the all-tournament team but he's everything you could want in a shooting guard. He can drill jumper after jumper, drive to the hoop and finish and is so smooth. He gets things accomplished with skill instead of freakish athleticism. He'll be a big-time star at Michigan, no question.

Travis Outlaw, Alabama Ice, Forward

Speaking of freakish athleticism, that's Outlaw. His game is hard to rank because no matter what he does now, you know how much more he'll do in the future when he gets more refined, stronger and confident. But he showed he could create his shot on the perimeter, though it still needs more work. He's not a bad ballhandler, taking it up the court several times. And when there's a dunk to be had, he had it.

Sixth man: Olu Famutimi, Michigan Hurricanes, Small forward

The Toronto product has improved so much in the last two years. He has gone from a run/jump athlete to a skilled perimeter player. He can still crash the boards (double digits in their loss to Florida), has a nifty turn-around jump shot and some legit NBA tricks in his bag.

Second team

Earl Smith Jr., Tim Thomas Playaz Gold, Shooting guard

The 16-year-old football/basketball star is athletic, skilled and efficient. His motor is always running and other than their disastrous loss to the New York Ravens, he's active and attacking in every game. At 6-foot-4, he could improve his ballhandling and his outside shot is a little flat but goes in pretty regularly, but that's just nit-picking.

Brandon Bass, New Orleans Jazz, Power forward

As one astute media member said, if Bass were 6-9 instead of 6-6, it would be over. He attacks the board, shoots better than most assume and plays hard. He has a warrior body and it's easy to see why he's in everyone's top 25. As he gets better at taking bigger players outside, he'll be difficult to stop on the college level.

Josh Smith, Atlanta Celtics, Small forward

Smith's down-the-road potential is off the charts but the junior lefty is pretty impressive right now. He skies towards the basket, hits soft 3-pointers and drives well to the basket. About the only thing he lacks at this point is the confidence and killer instinct to just humiliate lesser opponents, which is almost everyone he'll face the next two years.

Matt Webster, Billy Shepherd Sports, Power forward

For pure production, Webster is a remarkable player. The 6-7 post from Indiana just gets it. He passes well, will drag defenders out and hit 3-pointers and will bang in the paint. Not a dynamic athlete by any means but for schools such as Butler, Northwestern, Ivy League, Gonzaga, etc., he'd be an ideal fit.

Trevor Ariza, Pump N Run, Small forward

The transition from being an undersized power forward with great athletic ability to outside perimeter player is progressing nicely. He showed a nice pull-up jumper inside the 3-point arc, better ballhandling skills and can still finish strong on the break.

Sixth man: The New York Ravens perimeter players

It's hard not to have a single mention of the tournament champions so here's a tribute to what the Ravens accomplished. Guards Curtis Stinson (title game MVP), Daon Merritt, Louie McCroskey and talented junior Brian Laing all played huge roles on offense and defense. They were a big reason why the Ravens went 10-0 including complete blowouts over the loaded Tim Thomas Playaz Gold, Billy Shepherd Sports, Fox Valley Skillz Black, Texas Blue Chips I and a gutsy win over the Florida Hoopsters to win the whole thing.

Third team

Charlie Villanueva, Long Island Panthers, Power forward

Whether catching or shooting or working the baseline, Villanueva is a tough matchup. He's still up and down and maybe always will be but the defense has to plan against him. Off the dribble he still struggles but he has the ability to create his own shot. With the right college coach, who will work him hard, he'll turn into a defensive nightmare one day.

Richard McBride, Ft. Sooy-No Limit, Shooting guard

Like Villanueva, McBride is very good spotting up or hitting floaters in the lane. He's not a dynamic athlete and had trouble getting his shot off while driving to the rim against long, rangy shot-blockers. However, he'll knock down jumpers all game long as long as teammates (in this case Livingston) created for him. Off the dribble, he has a quick first step but isn't explosive, which is why he'll float buckets in time and time again.

Ayinde Ubaka, Oakland Slam N Jam, Point guard

Ubaka's calling card is running the show. He's a capable scorer but at is best when he plays the role of a pure point guard. His jumper is fine and he's good at driving to the basket and hitting floaters in the lane. On defense, he's very quick. Not a physical power point guard, but he won't back down either.

Dwight Howard, Atlanta Celtics, Center

The 6-10 rangy Howard has all the potential in the world. He truly could be the best player in the 2004 class when people look back years from now. He's still up and down, but when at his best, he blocks shots, dunks with authority and runs the floor easily. As he gets stronger with maturity and teammates look for him more, look out.

Sebastian Telfair, Juice All-Stars, Point guard

After receiving so much attention, Telfair's game has definitely gone under the microscope this spring/summer. At Vegas, he showed why he's beloved but also the leaks that he'll need to plug in the next two years to live up to his impressive potential. The good: he's a tremendous passer, super quick and has all the tricks. The bad: he sometimes shoots too much, lacks a consistent jumper and needs to become interested in defense. Overall, when Telfair understands that winning basketball games at all times is more important than putting on a show, he'll be the top 5 player that everyone thinks he can be.

Sixth man: Martell Webster, Seattle Friends of the Hoop Green, Shooting guard

The rising sophomore played in the smallest division and was truly a man amongst boys. He hit 3-pointers, drove to the basket and was unselfish. Already about 6-4 and 200-plus, Webster can be as good as he wants to be. And hopefully, he'll stay with all the other talented soph's on FOH, and keep setting picks and doing the little things that he showed in Vegas.

Five more to remember: Sophomore Tasmin Mitchell (New Orleans Jazz), junior Lamarcus Aldridge (Texas Blue Chips), senior Ronnie Brewer (Mississippi Panthers), David Pendergraft (Eastern Washington Elite Blue) and seniors Rodrick and Lodrick Stewart (Gary Payton Nike Select).

Note: Both Mustafa Shakur (hip pointer) and Brian Butch (lower back) were injured but when they played, both were on pace to be second team selections or higher.

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