Prime Time Shootout: Day Two

The Prime Time Shootout reconvened in Trenton over the weekend and SOR was in the house Saturday night to catch the days' last two games. We saw Lincoln H.S., led by Lance Stephenson and Rutgers target James Padgett, take on Rice, with UConn-bound Kemba Walker and another young man high on RU's radar, Durand Scott. The finale was a classic, as Oak Hill took on St. Pat's.

For a basketball junkie, going to an event like the Prime Time Shootout is like going to one of those restaurants that gives you more quality food than you can eat. You get there and you're really hungry, and then when your plate comes out, you realize that no matter how hungry you are, there's no way you can possibly eat that much good grub in just one sitting.

So it is with Prime Time; after taking in four games at the RAC on Friday, the intrepid souls from SOR knew we'd have to be back for more on Saturday – but we'd have to pick our spots. After all, the first game on Saturday began at 10:30 in the morning, and the last one was slated for tip-off at 10 p.m. That's a pretty long day, so we'd have to prioritize.

So even though it would have been wonderful to watch players such as Tyreke Evans and Greg Monroe and Malik Wayans, to name just a few (in addition to St. Benedict's once again), from an RU perspective, the choice was obvious: the last two of the day were the ones to see – Rice vs. Lincoln, and Oak Hill vs. St. Pat's. The game between the two NYC powers featured two players high on Rutgers' '09 wish-list: Rice's Durand Scott, and Lincoln's James Padgett (then there's the matter of just taking in Lance Stephenson).

As for the nightcap, is an explanation even necessary? Oak Hill is Oak Hill, and we wanted another chance to check out Dan Jennings once again, as well as Brian Oliver - especially against a team that figured to give them a far tougher test than did Piscataway. There isn't any one player in particular that RU is after right now from St. Pat's (we can exempt Michael Gilchrist for now, as although he's been a visitor to the RAC more than once this year - 2011 is just a little too far away).

Then of course, there was that little matter of seeing Quintrell Thomas once again. He didn't do particularly well at all the night before against Samardo Samuels and Greg Echenique; now he was going to battle Keith Gallon and Dan Jennings. Quintrell is going to Kansas, of course, after choosing them over RU, which pursued him vigorously. There are many that questioned his decision, feeling he may wind up in over his head at KU, and his performance the night before against the St. Benedict's big men did absolutely nothing to dispel those doubts.

He played a little better against Oak Hill, mainly in the second half, but was not the catalyst that propelled his team to victory. St. Pat's pulled this one out, hanging on for a 63-54 victory, and it was the freshman for St. Pat's, Michael Gilchrist, who was awarded team MVP honors. He scored just 10 points, but played an overall very complete game, which made the choice a good one. It will be very interesting to watch this young man develop over the next few years. I would say keep an eye on him, but he'll no doubt garner such fame that it will be virtually impossible not to.

Dan Jennings scored 4 points, had 5 rebounds, and 6 blocks, in about half a game's worth of action. He would be an absolutely fantastic acquisition for RU. He would actually be the second Oak Hill player that RU has landed (Byron Joynes being the first). Rutgers to my knowledge has never landed a player from Kevin Boyle's St. Pat's squad. If and when that happens, it will be a very noteworthy event, much in the manner that getting Mike Rosario from St. Anthony's has been.

In the preceding game, Lincoln, fueled by Lance Stephenson, jumped all over Rice early on, and streaked out to an early 18-4 lead. Rice never quit, and really made a game of it, but in the end could not quite overtake Lincoln, falling 75-68. Stephenson is an incredible talent, and although I knew his ability to attack the basket off the dribble is virtually unstoppable at this level, I didn't realize he had such range on his jump shot.

He can truly do it all, but seemed at times a bit more interested in trying to be flashy, which comes quite naturally for him. He also never saw a shot he didn't like, but I suppose if I were coaching this team, I think I'd let him fire away also. He led Lincoln with 35 points. James Padgett didn't play a whole lot, as this was a guard's game. Still, the potential he has is obvious; he runs the floor quite well, and he displayed a soft touch the few times he was given the opportunity. He'll be a nice player for someone, and RU will be there, battling it out for his services.

UConn is getting a truly great point guard in Kemba Walker, who led Rice with 23 points. Durand Scott, their 6'5 junior wing (who plays power forward for them) was equally as impressive. He finished with 21. Athletic, fearless, he has a good handle and plenty of range. I had a very nice conversation after the game, which you'll be able to see soon.

If RU were actually able to add Dan Jennings, James Padgett, and Durand Scott to their '09 class, along with Dane Miller – well, one can dream a little, can't they?

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