The 11th annual Spiece Run ‘N' Slam tournament opened with a bang from Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and we took to the road to report all the inner workings of the AAU scene and Ohio State's top prospects who participated. A special thanks to my esteemed colleague Scott Mizer who assisted in compiling these notes and reports from action spanning 8 courts wide!
·Indy Heat took one on the chin to Seatle Rotary Select Friday night in game one. The absence of sophomore guard Michael Conley, who was seen grimacing on the bench, did in the heat who suffered to the much quicker backcourt tandem of Terrence and Marcus Williams.
·College coaches need not apply: Greg Oden is as good as gone to the NBA when his high school eligibility expires in a couple of seasons. Facing a constant triple-team, Oden still managed to shoot 7-of-8 from the paint. He finished unofficially with 18 points and 10 rebounds to go nicely with 3 rejections.
·Illinois Fire guard Jeremy Pargo showed some flashes of brilliance, but left us to wonder why he so often disappeared from the game. When we stopped charting Pargo at the end of the third quarter, he was 3-of-8 from the field for 8 points. His passing definitely was impressive, however. Too bad for him that rarely did any of his teammates finish.
·Pargo's opponent, Team Philly MJC, featured one of the newer Ohio State targets in 6-9 center Kent Tribbett. Tribbett, who is from Chester, Pennsylvania, is a long and rangy athletic big man who physically passes the "look" test. Unfortunately, Tribbett didn't mass many other tests as he is very passive offensively, and especially got lost in the guard-oriented style of play. Defensively, Tribbett was a presence in the middle of the lane, and did block quite a few shots if not altering many others.
·While one Illinois team (The Fire) was playing with an Ohio State target, another (The Illinois Warriors) were cruising to an easy win without one. Angel Santiago, a 5-foot-10 point guard from Chicago was expected to play with the Warriors this weekend, but wound up being a no-show. Santiago has been offered by Ohio State.
·Johnny Wolf was another no-show this weekend as well. Wolf apparently stayed back to attend his school's prom. Wolf's team, Cincy AAU Black, dropped their first game 64-60 to the Spiece Select squad, behind an electrifying performance by super point guard Dominic James. James went 9-of-15 from the field on his way to 22 points. James had a few ovation-worthy dunks despite being only 5-foot-10 at the very most. He is a very good passer and is every bit as good as the hype that surrounds him. Cincy was kept in the game solely on the effort of Derrick Brown, a 6-6 junior wing from Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, who battled through a prior leg injury sustained this past week. Brown played the game more like a power forward, showing a very tough inside game and a great performance on the glass. If he grows to 6-8 as some believe he will, he may be tough to pass up as a 4-man.
·The All-Ohio Red/ Michigan Hurricane Black match-up was one of the most anticipated as far as Buckeye fans are concerned. The game itself was a good one, but it wasn't as interesting as it could have been. Several of All-Ohio's players couldn't make it for the Friday games, including Toledo St. John's star B.J. Raymond. Making matters worse for All-Ohio was the fact that super sophomores James Dews and Josh Chichester were both playing down on the 16-under team. As far as Ohio State's recruiting interests go, the substance was on the Michigan team. An emerging Buckeye prospect Wilson Chandler, a 6-foot-8 product of Benton Harbor, Michigan, showed why he is such an up-and-coming prospect. He is very good off the dribble for a big man, and smooth in doing so. He has a knack for picking up the loose change as well as finding open teammates. He played without question the most well-rounded game on the floor. Michigan State looks like the team to beat early on for Chandler.
"Michigan State is my early leader," he said. "They have already offered me and been in on me for a while, but I'm going to be interested in some other schools too."
Chandler finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. How's that for well-rounded?
·Chandler's teammate, Jabarie Currie is also someone Ohio State is very interested in. Currie is a 6-3 guard from Detroit Pershing who has been criticized for inconsistent play. Despite an obvious weakness in his outside jump shot, Currie's ability to get into the lane and distribute the basketball like he did Friday night would make him a worthwhile prospect. Currie scored 17 points, 14 of which came inside the paint on driving lay-ups. The other 3 points game via the charity stripe. In addition to his 17 points, Currie dished out 6 assists. His shot will definitely need some work.
·The other guard Ohio State has looked at is Jalon Perryman. Perryman was a non-factor in the game. Eric Devendorf, a 6-2 guard who de-committed from Michigan State, was definitely NOT a non-factor. Devendorf showed incredible offensive skills on his way to a game-high 29 points. Devendorf finished the game 10-of-11 from the field. When he wanted to play defense, he did that pretty well too. As far as his recruitment goes, he is pretty much wide open. "It wasn't anything against Michigan State," he said. "I just decided I committed too early and wanted to re-open my recruitment. I'll listen to anyone…Ohio State has been recruiting me since last season. They are after my teammate Jabarie Currie. I really like their program, I like Coach Stone a lot too."
·As for All-Ohio, most people probably wonder first and foremost how Jamelle Cornley did. Cornley continues to prove himself as one of the fiercest players you'll ever see. Unfortunately, that might not be enough for him. Although Cornley did show a few glimpses of an outside jumper, as many as 8 to 10 times he had a shot blocked or deflected inside by a front-line not nearly as tall as he would face every day in the Big Ten. Unofficially Cornley finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds, but we had him charted 3-of-15 from the field. Cornley still has a lot of upside to him, but the size issue appears to be a very genuine concern.
·Chris Knight of Cincinnati Withrow played very well, but it was his rebounding (12 boards) that stood out the most. If he is to be a serious wing prospect, his shooting will need to get better. Another player known to have some shooting concerns is Travis Walton. Walton finished 2-of-8 from the field for only 5 points. He had 3 turnovers to only one assist. Walton has definitely had better days.
FRIDAY'S TOP TEN PERFORMANCES WE SAW
1. Dominic James (Spiece Select)- James diced and shredded Cincy Black for 21 points and had 7 steals in the process. A 5-10 guy who can put down a two-hand slam and get above the rim is scary, but that's just the tip of the iceberg with him. He's quick, fluid, elusive and very deceptively strong for his stature.
2. Eric Devendorf (Michigan Hurricanes)- Devendorf torched All-Ohio for 29 points on a 10-of-11 shooting night. He is instant offense and will fit nicely into a team's plans. We made the comparison he is a lot like Jamar Butler minus the passing.
3. Greg Oden (Spiece Indy Heat)- Oden is a man amongst boys, and will be rewarded with a trip to the NBA lottery out of high school. In terms of sheer talent and fundamentals, Oden still has some work, but his body is just so far advanced and he's so incredibly strong. Seatle Rotary triple-teamed him but he still was tough to stop.
4. Marcus Williams (Seatle Rotary)- After a modest start, Williams took over the third and fourth quarters for Seatle doing a little of everything. As Seatle Rotary defeated the Indy Heat, Williams put down some impressive dunks, rain-making three-pointers, and dished out a few fancy no-look passes. Williams looks to be a natural.
5. Wilson Chandler (Michigan Hurricanes)- It's hard to argue that perhaps Chandler had the best all-around game we saw Friday. It's enough that he's 6-8 but has a very good driving ability, but then when you consider he's discipline, hard-working, very intelligent, court savvy, and a good defender, he does a lot of the little things that help his teams win.
6. Chad Millard (Blessed IJN)- We admittedly didn't see enough of Millard as we would have liked, but in the short time we got a glimpse of him, he is impressive. He had a nice shooting touch at 6-8, and he is a great passer. He runs the floor extremely well. At last check, he was sitting at 18 points.
7. DeAndre Thomas (Illinois Fire)- Thomas is a 6-8 post player who has got to be around 280 pounds. One thing is for sure, he doesn't play like it. Thomas ran the floor so well, he often times led a fastbreak for the Fire. He was never the last one down the floor, and he had a very aggressive demeanor about him, but he also had soft hands.
8. Derrick Brown (Cincy AAU Black)- Brown was the fuel in the tank of the Cincy AAU team. He was grabbing all of the rebounds, playing hard-nosed defense and scoring inside nearly at will during certain times.
9. Jabarie Currie (Michigan Hurricanes)- Currie outplayed Walton of All-Ohio Red as to who was the best point guard on the floor. Currie has great instincts and is very smooth in the lane.
10. Daequan Cook (Indy Heat)- Cook didn't have the shots going in the hoop, but he still did enough of the things Cook does to make him a top prospect. Cook's athleticism and instincts took over. He finished with 12 points.