AAU Grand Finale Preview

After weeks of camps, scouting, and recruiting, the basketball summer evaluation season is winding down with the upcoming Nike, Reebok, Adidas, and AAU Super Showcase tournament events. The top players from across the country will be in competition, including some committed to or interested in Ohio State. Read on for a preview.

The bad news for college basketball coaches beginning Saturday is that no fewer than four major AAU tournaments are running at once.  The good news is that casinos and entertainment won't be the center of their attention in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas will be the location for Nike (Main Event), Reebok (Big Time) and Adidas (Super 64) tournaments from July 22-26 as coaches go out for their last hurrah during the summer evaluation period.  Meanwhile, Orlando will host the AAU Super Showcase event during the same period.

It's the busiest time of the year for Division I coaches hoping to catch a last glimpse of high school basketball prospects for a few months.

"We're at the point now where you've got to think of it as an ice cream sundae," said ScoutHoops.com basketball analyst Dave Telep. "The ice cream is already there, now it's time to put that big old cherry on top for the guys that have already had great summer performances."

"These next 10 days are exhausting for everyone involved including the players," he added.  "There are a lot of guys that have made tremendous strides this summer and this is their opportunity to put an exclamation point on it."

With everything going on, Las Vegas will still be the focal point of most of it. 

Coaches consider the trip to Vegas a bittersweet one.

"It's nice that most of the action is in Las Vegas all at once," said one assistant Big Ten basketball coach, "but it's also crazy trying to get around town from gym to gym trying to see everyone."

The task for Ohio State is amazingly simple in 2006. 

With the 2007 recruiting class being finished, having four committed basketball prospects, all of Ohio State's attention will likely go to the 2008 recruiting class where already two of a projected five or six players will compliment the haul when it's all said and done.

Simplifying matters even further, Ohio State can head to Las Vegas with probably no more than five 2008 must-see targets.  Throw in a few wildcards here or there, and maybe a handful of early 2009 candidates, and the Buckeyes do not likely have to cast their net very wide.

"Thad Matta is doing his best George Steinbrenner impersonation," Telep explains.  "They've got an all-star cast already assembled and now they're out looking for pieces in the future that could make them the class of the league.  Having this kind of head start on 2008, knowing exactly who their primary targets are going to be is amazing."

Although the task may be relatively simple for Ohio State, that's not to say they won't keep options open to other possibilities.

It wouldn't surprise Telep if someone else catches Ohio State's eye while the coaches are there.

"Maybe what you will see them do is broaden their horizons just a bit," he explained.  "Maybe they will fall in love with an '08 guy out of the region and certainly they will be looking at '09 guys from around the country because the Ohio State brand is strong right now and I think they will try to spread it out a little bit."

While the coaches are busy doing their thing, the players will continue to do theirs.

Las Vegas has become one of the favorite places to play for many kids, for reasons even beyond visiting the strip. 

Despite the heat and sometimes having the reputation of being a little tough for catching a breath, the prestige and notoriety of the July tournaments make it rather popular.

"This is my fourth time going there," said Indianapolis Lawrence North sophomore forward Stephan Van Treese.  "It's fun.  It's really fun to play there – it's one of my favorite places to go because there's so much to do between games."

While Van Treese and others view it as a nice getaway, a chance to play some basketball and have fun with peers, there are plenty of other major reasons this is one of the biggest weeks in AAU basketball.

For instance, there are a lot of younger players on the verge of emerging into another echelon among the nation's best. 

William Buford, the 6-5 guard of Toledo Libbey, also ranked No. 14 by ScoutHoops.com in the 2008 class, began his descent up the national rankings two weeks ago at the ABCD Camp where he was voted as one of the MVP's of the camp for underclassmen.

Buford's coaches are expecting that continue as he plays up with the 17-under team, O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker, in Las Vegas this weekend.  His 16-under team just won the AAU National Championship in Arkansas last week.

"He came back from ABCD down in Arkansas and had a lot of confidence and basically said, ‘I'm not going to be stopped,'" said Keith McClure, a Libbey and D-1 Greyhounds 16-under assistant coach.  "I expect him to play well in Las Vegas."

Much like Buford, there are several players that have helped themselves and are in prime position to put that big cherry on top, as Telep says.

Two Ohio State recruits, one committed and one still being recruited, have already made their sundaes and are ready to top it off in the eyes of Telep.

"To me, two guys just have really stood out this summer," he says.  "Kosta (Koufos) has had a great summer – the type of summer you expect from a player of his caliber to be honest with you.  And honestly, I'm really not sure anyone has improved at the rate Delvon Roe has this summer.

"He could not have drawn-up his summer any better," Telep adds.  "If he had laid it out by himself he couldn't have done it any better than it's gone."

Fittingly, Koufos and Roe will play together at least a few more times before the summer is over.  Koufos and Roe will play in Las Vegas with the King James Shooting Stars, and after that, they are expected to fly to Orlando to join Ohio State commitment Jon Diebler with the All-Ohio Red for the AAU Nationals.

That headlines this year's grand finale where Las Vegas becomes the Grand Central Station of AAU basketball.  Here's the tentative schedule of where all the Ohio State recruits, both targets and commitments, will be playing over the next 10 days.

NOTE:  Teams, pools and schedules are subject to change.  Although most players listed with their respective AAU teams appear to be current as of Thursday, July 19, changes could still be made.

Nike Main Event (July 22-26; Las Vegas)

17-U Division

Single-elimination bracket play begins Tuesday at 8:00 AM

(Four separate 64-team brackets - Platinum for first place teams in their pool, Gold for second place teams in pool, Silver for third place teams in pool and Bronze for fourth place teams in pool)

Kosta Koufos & Delvon Roe (King James Shooting Stars)

Saturday, 8:50 PM vs. South Florida Heat (at Durango High School; Gym 1)

Sunday, 12:40 PM vs. Phoenix Magic (at Durango High School; Gym 1)

Monday, 3:00 PM vs. Houston Hoops (at Durango High School; Gym 1)

16-U Division

Single-elimination bracket play begins Tuesday at 8:00 AM

(Three separate brackets – Platinum (48 teams) for first and second place teams in their pool, Gold for third place teams in their pool and Silver for fourth place teams in pool)

Walter Offutt (Indiana Elite MG)

Saturday, 6:30 PM vs. Arizona Monsoon (at Doolittle Recreation Center; Gym 1)

Sunday, 3:00 PM vs. Blue Raiders (at Doolittle Recreation Center; Gym 1)

Monday, 3:00 PM vs. Colorado Force (at Doolittle Recreation Center; Gym 1)

Reebok Big Time (July 22-26; Las Vegas)

17-U Division

Single-elimination bracket play begins Monday at 8:00 AM

(Four separate brackets – Open Division (112 teams) for all teams in pools A-Q and first place teams in pools R-PPP, Division ‘A' (48 teams) for second place teams in pools R-PPP, Division ‘B' (48 teams) for third place teams in pools R-PPP, Division ‘C' (48 teams) for fourth place teams in pools R-PPP)

Dallas Lauderdale, William Buford, O.J. Mayo & Bill Walker (D-1 Greyhounds)

Saturday, 2:20 PM vs. Michigan Hurricanes (Anthony Crater & Alex Legion) (at Foothill; Main)

Sunday, 10:20 AM vs. Meanstreets Express (Derrick Rose & Eric Gordon) (at Foothill; Main)

Sunday, 7:40 PM vs. Southern Cal All-Stars (Kevin Love & B. Jennings) (at Foothill; Main)

Anthony Crater (Michigan Hurricanes)

Saturday, 2:20 PM vs. D-1 Greyhounds (Will Buford & Dallas Lauderdale) (at Foothill; Main)

Sunday, 9:00 AM vs. Southern Cal All-Stars (Kevin Love & B. Jennings) (at Foothill; Main)

Sunday, 6:20 PM vs. Meanstreets Express (Derrick Rose & Eric Gordon) (at Foothill; Main)

Evan Turner (Illinois Wolves)

Saturday, 11:40 AM vs. Worldwide Renegades (J.J. Hickson) (at Foothill HS; Main)

Saturday, 10:20 PM vs. Long Island Lightning (at Foothill HS; Main)

Sunday, 5:00 PM vs. Spiece Indy Heat (at Foothill HS; Main)

Kenny Frease (Team CBIZ)

Saturday, 1:00 PM vs. Long Island Lightning (at Silverado; Main)

Saturday, 10:20 PM vs. Southwest Rebels Elite (at Silverado; Aux.)

Sunday, 3:40 PM vs. Nor Cal Pharaohs Purple (at Silverado; Main)

Adidas Super 64 (July 22-26; Las Vegas)

Open Division

Single-elimination bracket in open division begins Monday at 6:20 PM

(One bracket with 34 teams in the Open division)

NOTE: Cleveland Basketball Club 16-under team could possibly have moved to the 17-under division instead of the Open Division, which is a single-elimination 128-team bracket

Yancy Gates & B.J. Mullens (Cleveland Basketball Club 16-under)

Saturday, 5:00 PM vs. Exodus (NY) (at Cimarron HS; Main)

Sunday, 3:40 PM vs. Team Ichiban (at Cimarron HS; Main)

Monday, 2:20 PM vs. Cimarron Spartans (at TBA)

16-Under Division

Single-elimination bracket in 16-Under Division begins Monday at 11:40 AM

(One bracket with 32 teams in the open division)

Stephan Van Treese (Indiana Elite 16-Under)

Saturday, 2:20 PM vs. Utah Pump N' Run (at Tarkanian Basketball Academy; Court 3)

Sunday, 9:00 AM vs. Conn. Young Gunz (at Tarkanian Basketball Academy; Court 2)

Sunday, 5:00 PM vs. Quinn Anvils (at Tarkanian Basketball Academy; Court Court 1)

AAU Super Showcase (July 24-27; Orlando)

Gold Division

Single-elimination bracket in Gold Division begins Wednesday at 10:30 AM

(One bracket with 16 teams in the Gold Division)

All games at the Disney Sports Complex

Jon Diebler & Nate Miles (All-Ohio Red)

Monday, Noon vs. Boo Williams (Court 6)

Monday, 7:30 PM vs. Wisconsin Playground Warriors (Court 1)

Tuesday, 2:30 PM vs. Alabama Lasers (Court 3)

National Youth Basketball Championships/ Las Vegas Summer Classic (July 27-31)

Walter Offutt (Indiana Elite MG)

Schedule not yet released

Adidas Best of the Summer (July 27-31; Los Angeles)

Yancy Gates & B.J. Mullens (Cleveland Basketball Club 16-Under)

Schedule not available

**AAU Nationals** (July 27-August 1; Orlando)

Junior Division (17-Under)

Double-elimination bracket in Junior Division begins Saturday, July 29 at 11:30 AM

(Two double-elimination brackets – both 70 teams; One bracket with teams that finish first or second in their respective pools and the other with teams that finish third or fourth in their respective pools)

Jon Diebler, Nate Miles, Kosta Koufos & Delvon Roe (All-Ohio Red)

Thursday, July 27, 4:00 PM vs. West Broward Blazers (at Disney Complex; Court 2)

Friday, July 28, 1:00 PM vs. South Georgia Kings (at Disney Complex; Court 3)

Friday, July 28, 7:00 PM vs. Louisiana Leaders (at Champions Complex; Court 3)

Dallas Lauderdale, William Buford, O.J. Mayo & Bill Walker (D-1 Greyhounds)

Thursday, July 27, 10:00 PM vs. OBC Elite (at Disney Complex; Court 1)

Friday, July 28, 2:30 PM vs. Kentucky Shining Stars (at Disney Complex; Court 1)

Friday, July 28, 10:00 PM vs. Illinois Hawks (at Disney Complex; Court 1)

Evan Turner (Illinois Wolves)

Thursday, July 27, 7:00 PM vs. Jacksonville Jazz (at Disney Complex; Court 6)

Friday, July 28, 10:00 AM vs. Dunbar (Mass.) (at Champions Complex; Court 3)

Friday, July 28, 5:30 PM vs. Atlanta All Stars (at Champions Complex; Court 4)

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