Spiece Notebook: Chichester, Day One Observations

We share an interview with Lakota West two-sport standout Josh Chichester and also have plenty of notes on the first evening of action at the Spiece Run 'N Slam AAU event in Fort Wayne, Ind.

We caught up with West Chester, Ohio star, Josh Chichester after All-Ohio's 84-70 victory over the St. Louis Gameface Friday night at the Spiece Run N' Slam, and it appears Chichester is now focused on football, as well as basketball.

Chichester is a 6-8 junior from Lakota West High School, and scored 12 points unofficially in the first game of the Spiece Run N' Slam tournament in Ft. Wayne, Ind. Friday night for Jerry Watson's All-Ohio Red AAU team.

The talented basketball star plans to try his luck at football, however.

"At the moment, yes, that's what I want to do and i'll see how it goes," Chichester said. "I'm going to play out the process."

He also gave us the latest list of schools he's interested in playing both sports at.

"Notre Dame, Illinois, Ohio State, North Carolina, and Purdue," Chichester added. "Those are the main ones."

According to Chichester, most all of those schools would be willing to take him for both sports, and he says that all have offered for at least football.

While Chichester's gridiron abilities have earned several football scholarships, his effort on the hardwood has also helped him receive numerous offers. One of the things he has worked on is his dribbling and that has led to a much better all-around game.

"I've been practicing on that. Normally I just shoot the ball every time, but now I'm moving the ball around and dribbling," Chichester explained.

Chichester is hoping to wait until later this fall to make his decision.

Notables From Day One

Day one, or should we say, evening one, was plenty eventful even if it was only three or four of several more hours of basketball coming up this weekend at the Spiece Run N' Slam. So with the first of three days in the books, it's time to give you some of the relevant blurbs.

* In game number one, I watched The Family of Detroit struggle with an upstart Wisconsin Swing Black team, comprised mostly of three-point shooters. It took the Family (the former AAU team of Ohio State recruiting legend, Malik Hairston) two overtimes to win 109-102.

In the game, Ramar Smith took over at critical junctures, and disappeared at others. When he was on, he was unstoppable-- which included a stretch where he scored on four straight possesions and five of six possesions. He also got awarded with the dunk of the night, a monstrous one-handed put-back slam where he elevated and paused in mid-air, before rising a few more inches to put down the dunk after bouncing off the rim.

Tujuan Porter, a 5-7 point guard from Detroit Renaissance, also showed me a lot of mettle tonight. Porter is a very small guard who has offers from Oregon and several MAC schools. However, Porter is extremely quick and is a terrific shooter from the outside. He also has a good court awareness. Although 5-7 is being very generous, he could be a very nice pickup.

* One of the great disappointments for me personally, was learning that the SYF Players, who have Ohio State prospects Luke Harangody (6-8 PF/C) and E'Twaun Moore (6-4 SG) on their roster, decided to pull out of the tournament. I was told that the SYF team will defer to a top 100 camp on Saturday in Indianapolis instead, and Ohio State head coach Thad Matta may be making an appearance.

* The up and down team of the night award goes to the All-Ohio Red. They started their game off with the St. Louis Gameface, trailing 13-5 and trailed several times in the first and second quarters by as much as eight points. They even trailed by five heading into the fourth quarter.

However, All-Ohio was able to get out in the open floor and go on to a 14-point victory, 84-70.

What immediately stood out to me, was how much more aggressive Chichester has become. Chichester also was putting the ball on the floor and taking it to the hoop on his way to 12 points, which is something he has not done previously. I feel Chichester needs to stick to basketball in order to continue his development. If he does, he could be a very good player in a few years.

* Although Jon Diebler has become a household name, he didn't play quite up to his expectations in the first game. Diebler scored a modest 10 points unofficially, but he was missing several shots, forcing a few more, and also had four or five 3-pointers blocked entirely. Much like his teammate, James Dews, I felt Diebler was too often settling for the jump shot when he could have drove the lane.

* Speaking of Dews, while the shot-selection wasn't the greatest, I was really impressed with the times Dews did actually drive to the basket. He seems to be a step quicker and about an inch taller. Dews led the way with 19 points.

* I want to give a mention to one final All-Ohio player-- 6-6 Ricky Jackson of Canton McKinley. Jackson, who balled with the King James Shooting Stars last year, could not play with King James because there is not more than two players at a time from the same high school allowed on an AAU team. Todd Brown and Raymar Morgan both play for King James, so Jackson is with All-Ohio this season.

Jackson had a tough 17 points. He was relentless on the glass and going after the ball. He's extremely athletic, and if he improves his ball skills, could be a force at the next level. I was also impressed with his defense tonight.

* The performance of the night easily belongs to David Thompson, a 5-10 guard out of Granville, Mich. Thompson scored 38 points against O.J. Mayo and the D-1 Greyhounds, including 20 in the first half.

Thompson mixed a deadly outside shot, with a lightning quick first step and great poise driving the lane on his way to such an outburst. He was also making several nice passes in the open court and playing great defense and even blocking a few shots.

Thompson is a relative unknown, but many are planning to watch him again Saturday to see if he can follow up the awakening.

* On Spiece' way to an 81-50 victory over the New Hampshire Players, the entire starting five was more or less on cruise control. The starting five had very little reason to play much of the second half, and Greg Oden didn't even play much in the first half because of foul trouble.

Daequan Cook was probably the best all-around player for Spiece on Friday as he showcased his passing and instincts in the open floor. He also played great defense and was really smooth on his mid-range game.

Eric Gordon, meanwhile, showed me why Ohio State reportedly loves his game so much. He only scored 12 points in a balanced effort, but he played tough man-to-man defense all night and was very unselfish with the ball. He was also very smooth in the lane, and seemed to make great decisions with passing and shooting.

As for Mike Conley, the 6-1 guard showed why he is such a great point guard-- not because of his shooting, but his ability to see the floor and distribute the ball, as well as being a floor leader. Interestingly enough, Conley played a lot off the ball Friday night, as opposed to bringing it up religiously. Conley very much impressed me inside, where he was crashing the boards regularly.

Oden was largely a non-factor because of his early foul trouble. Aaron Pogue played a really tough game doing a lot of the dirty work.

Cook led Spiece with 14 points.

* Speaking of Spiece, the word going around the gym is that Ohio State is in very good shape with the uncommitted portion of the 2006 trio-- that being Conley and Oden. Practically the whole team is very fond of Ohio State right now, especially Gordon who is probably as big a target in the class of 2007 as there is for the Buckeyes. Ohio State will try to put on the full court press next weekend in hopes of landing two giant verbal commitments from these two juniors of Lawrence North High School.

* That wraps up the day one notes. Stay tuned on Sunday for day two. Also, you can hear more from Spiece by hearing me live on 10 TV's Wall to Wall Sports tonight at 11:30 p.m. from Ft. Wayne.

* Here is coverage from ScoutHoops.com on the Spiece Run ‘N Slam:

Spiece Coverage from ScoutHoops.com

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