* Lauderdale Shines: The Cleveland Titans were led at the TOC by a pair of Ohio State targets in 6-9 sophomore Dallas Lauderdale from Solon, Ohio, and 6-9 sophomore DeJuan Pursley from Lawrence Academy in Groton, Mass. (Pursley is actually originally from Parma, Ohio.)
The Titans won their first two pool games 66-57 over Belmont Shore of California and 68-61 over Vic Sims All-Stars from South Carolina to set up a first place showdown with the Louisiana Stars led by top-75 junior Perry Stevenson, a 6-10 junior who made the underclass all-star game last July at the Reebok ABCD Camp.
The Titans fell 61-52 as the Stars pulled away in the last five minutes. The Titans finished second and entered the Select bracket and lost their opening game Saturday night 60-56 to the Worldwide Renegades of Georgia.
Lauderdale's top schools are OSU, Michigan State, Syracuse, North Carolina and Illinois. Pursley is looking at OSU, Syracuse and Arizona.
OSU verbal David Lighty joined the team for the first time this year and was in uniform with a heavy knee brace as he continues to rehab his knee injury. Several times during timeouts lighty went on the court to shoot baskets on a basket on the side of the court. He looked very agile considering he had some complications after the ACL surgery. In fact, he was hoping to shoot any technical foul shots should they happen.
The best and most consistent performer for the Titans was 6-7 combo forward David Jackson from Sharon (Pa.) Kennedy Catholic. He was the only Titan on the all-tournament team. Jackson was 12th in scoring averaging 22 points per game.
Lighty, Jackson and Lauderdale are all going to the 2005 Reebok ABCD Camp July 5-9 in Teaneck, N.J. At the moment, Pursley has not been invited but should be. He is not as strong or powerful as Lauderdale, but is more fluid and skilled offensively.
* Spiece Feels The Heat -- The Spiece Indy Heat entered the Reebok/Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions as defending champs in the 17-and-under division and were the No. 1 seed. They also brought a powerhouse lineup that included part-time member 6-9 Jamil Tucker who also plays with the SYF Players in Gary, Ind., and 6-1 Armon Bassett from Terre Haute, Ind., who was making his Spiece debut.
Basssett who will likely attend Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., plays for Indiana Elite. So, with those two joining the nucleus of 7-0 Greg Oden, 6-1 Michael Conley, 6-5 OSU verbal Daequan Cook (all top-25 seniors-to-be nationally) plus top juniors-to-be 6-3 Eric Gordon and 6-8 Aaron Pogue, everybody was anticipating a potential semifinal showdown with the Playaz Basketball Club from New Jersey.
Playaz features 6-5 Wayne Ellington, who just committed to North Carolina, and 6-5 Gerald Henderson, who is headed to Duke. However, that match-up never happened as Indy Heat was derailed in a 9 a.m. Sunday quarterfinal game against the H-Squad from Los Angeles.
Going back to pool play earlier in the weekend, Indy Heat rolled over two of their three opponents with the mercy rule which means the game is called when you have a 20-point lead any time under four minutes left. The first was Friday night against the Middlesex Magic of Massachusetts. That team was without its two best players. The Heat cruised to an 80-42 blowout which featured the normal balanced attack with Oden (14), Tucker (14), Conley (12), Gordon (12) and Cook(11).
The only full game came Saturday morning against the Maryland Madness in a 63-58 win. Cook led the Heat with 11 points. Conley had nine, Oden and Gordon eight each and Tucker with five.
The second mercy game came versus Team Hoop Zone from Texas, led by 7-1 center Josh Lomers, who recently committed to Baylor. The Hoop Zone started strong running their offense through Lomers who caught the ball easily with Oden playing behind him and scored on some jump hooks or passed the ball out to open shooters when doubled.
After coach Mike Conley Sr. called timeout and instructed Oden to front Lomers to deny him the ball, the game was soon over as the Hoop Zone could not get the ball over Oden's reach. Indy Heat cruised to a 61-26 victory with Cook and Gordon scoring 10, Conley eight, Tucker six and Oden four.
It was on to the playoffs Saturday night at 9:50 p.m. with Hoosier state rivals Blessed IJN from ft.wayne. IJN had a gigantic from line with 7-1 Kyle Luckett, a senior who put his name in the NBA draft; 6-11 Clarence Holloway, who signed with Louisville in November but is headed for prep school; 6-10 Phillip Jones from Philadelphia; and 6-9 Richard Semrau from Rocky River (Ohio) Lutheran West comes off the bench. Semrau, of course, recently committed to Illinois, but was never a factor in this tournament.
IJN also has two talented guards in junior Marques Johnson and sophomore Eshaunte Jones both from Fort Wayne. The Indy Heat jumped out to an incredible 30-1 lead and the crowd watching the game quickly found another to watch. The final in another mercy rule win was 73-49, with Conley scoring 13, Cook 12, Gordon and Tucker 10 and Oden four.
Sunday morning's quarterfinal is where Indy Heat got derailed 72-68 against the H-Squad. The H-Squad simply played harder, better and seemed to want it more than Indy Heat. Devon Jefferson, a 6-8 forward from Lynwood, Calif., who signed with UNLV in the fall but is headed to prep school, was the best player on the court. The high flying Jefferson led all players with 30 points and was a beast on the boards.
Gordon and Conley (scoring 20 and 18 points, respectively) kept Spiece in the game, but they trailed most of the game. Cook and Oden rarely touched the ball in the second half and finished with nine and six points, respectively. Tucker was scoreless. Bassett came off the bench to try to spark the the Heat, but it was not enough.
After the game, Cook said although the H-Squad was not as talented as the Pump-N-Run Memphis team which gave spiece their only other loss, they deserved to win as they played harder and better.
Conley said that he and Oden would not make any unofficial visits to North Carolina or Wake Forest after the loss. They planned to just go back to the hotel and relax until their flight back to Indiana.
After his game on Friday, Conley told reporters that he was down to OSU and Wake Forest, but might wait now to July or August for a decision. When asked what he liked about Wake Forest, Conley said the education and the conference they're in. For Ohio State, he said they are close to home, and both had outstanding coaching staffs. He also was asked about OSU's ongoing NCAA investigation. He said he would be concerned only if it affected his potential time there.
Next for Conley, Oden and Cook is a USA Basketball Festival in San Diego June 7-11. None of them will attend the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp June 22-26. Oden and Conley are playing in a trio of all-star games in Indiana with other juniors in the state versus seniors from Indiana during that time. Cook is planning on attending a Nike skills camp in Portland, Ore., June 18-21, but that is also when his Dunbar High School team is attending Ohio State's team camp (June 18-19), so he will have make a decision.
Also, Indianapolis Lawrence North (Conley and Oden) and Solon (Lauderdale) are expected to be at the OSU camp. Stay tuned to Bucknuts.com for more info on the camp.
After the championship game, won by the Southern California All-Stars over the H-Squad 81-74, the official all-tournament team was announced with Oden and Conley selected from Spiece Indy Heat.
* D-One Gets It Done -- The D-One Greyhounds program ended up winning one half of the four championship trophies, with the O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker led 17-under team winning the Select Bracket (second place pool teams) and the 15-under Greyhounds winning the 15-Under Bracket.
The 15-under team went 3-0 in pool play, then defeated Syracuse Select 67-60, the Westchester(N.Y.) Hawks 75-73 in the semifinals and finished off the Carolina Raptors 67-64 for the championship. Powerful 6-5, 238-pound power forward Chris Grimes from Cincinnati Woodward was named MVP and 5-10 point guard Damon Butler from Cincinnati North College Hill and 6-5 wing forward William Buford from Toledo Libbey made the all-tournament team.
However, Buford, who averaged a team high 16.8 points per game, is the top college prospect on the team and the only one Ohio State is recruiting. He is very similar to Lighty at the same stage of their development and will vie with 6-5 Rayshawn Goins from Cleveland Rhodes for the top honors at that position in the 2008 class in Ohio. As a matter of fact, he should have a breakout season next year with the top two players at Libbey expected to transfer -- 6-6 wing forward Nate Miles to Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy and 6-3 point guard Chris Poellnitz to Laurinburg Prep in North Carolina.
Of course, Mayo and Walker both made the 17-under all-tournament team as they led the Greyhounds to an 88-76 win over Mean Streets(Illinois), a 59-58 victory over the New England Playaz, a 77-55 semifnal blowout over the New Orleans Jazz (in which Mayo poured in a dazzling 25 first half points) and finished off the North Carolina Gaters 75-66 for the championship. That game featured one of Walker's posterizing tomahawk dunks.
Mayo was tied for fourth in scoring at 26.0 ppg and Walker averaged 18.4. More important is that now Mayo is listing Ohio State as one of his schools, the others being Cincinnati, Louisville, Connecticut, Texas, North Carolina, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Florida A&M (no typo). Walker listed Cincinnati, Louisville, West Virginia and Connecticut, but assuming they go college, it will be the same school.
Also, 6-11 Keenan Ellis also a junior-to-be from North College Hill listed Indiana, kentucky, Louisville, Ohio St. and Connecticut. Ellis will be eligible to join the 17-under team when school ends on June 3 due to OHSAA rules prohibiting more than two players from a school on the same AAU team during the school year.
* More Tidbits -- A couple of other OSU recruting tidbits involve 6-9 junior-to-be power forward JaJuan Johnson from Indianapolis Franklin Central and 6-1 point guard Will Walker, a senior-to-be from Bolingbrook, Ill.
Johnson's Spiece Gym Rats Central Stars won the 16-under bracket and although Johnson did not make the all-tournament team, he clearly the best college prospect on the team after excelling in two previous events -- the Spiece Run-N-Slam at Fort Wayne and the adidas May Classic in Bloomington earlier this month. Johnson, who resembles Jared Jeffries physically, lists Purdue, Ohio State, Indiana, Illinois and Xavier.
Meanwhile, Walker lists Ohio State and North Carolna State as his favorites with Miami (Fla.) and Wake Forest completing his top four. Walker said Miami is recruiting him as a shooting guard because they have a commitment from 6-1 junior-to-be point guard Edwin Rios from Miami and that Wake Forest has yet to offer. He also is aware of OSU's interest in Conley and that if Conley commits before Walker makes decision in August or September it will affect is decision because he prefers to play the point and he would be interested in how Conley would be used.