Spencer Hawes, C, Seattle FOH: His morning game against the Miami Tropics was about as efficient and productive an AAU game a center could have. Matched against a fellow 7-footer, Hawes went for 21 and 13. Hawes is big time skilled and one of the beautiful things about his game is that rather than wait for rebounds, he pursues balls off the glass. Candidate for performance of the day.
Lance Thomas, PF, New Heights: Speaking of performers of the day, his club might have dropped one to the SoCal All-Stars but it wasn't on him. Thomas, in his traditional hard-playing style, went for 27 points and 6 boards. Did we mention he went to the line 15 times (though he made just 9, well below his average). Southern Cal won because they had more talent but no one on their roster actually wanted a piece of Thomas who circled the wagon and went to work.
Javaris Crittenton, PG, Atlanta Celtics: We caught him when he was matched up against O.J. Mayo's crew and Crittenton tossed in 18 points and 6 assists. He shot 7-for-19 from the floor but it was his ability to handle the point that stood out. Not too many guys can successfully transition from the role of scorer to the point slot. Crittenton looks comfortable, his passes were on the money and more than anything, he's playing with a fire in his belly. He's so strong and athletic that he makes finishing tough shots look easy. He's won over a lot of folks who weren't sure if he could make the transition from scorer.
D.J. Augustin, PG, New Orleans Jazz: In the game we caught, his numbers were modest: 10 points, 5 assists. However, the stats don't tell the entire story. He made the game easier for his teammates who promptly left would-be assists unfinished on the rim. It was great to see one of the best PGs in the country running the show. With his high school team he runs the two, but on the AAU circuit he's strictly a point and looks good driving and kicking. He fits nicely into the conversation of top five point guards in the country.
Devan Bawinkel, SG, Illinois Wolves: What surprised us more than anything in watching him drop 25 points on the South Florida Heat was his ability to put it on the deck, take a bounce in either direction and hit a shot. His 25 points included a number of skilled perimeter plays. Different teams will place different values on his overall package (he's not very athletic) but his ability to make 3s will get him looks from the high-majors.
Jason Bennett, C, Miami Tropics: It's amazing what a dose of confidence can do for a kid. Clearly he's become more comfortable and confident in his abilities. Against Hawes, he dropped in a jump hook and ran the floor for a tip dunk in transition. Hawes was outstanding but Bennett didn't look too shabby himself. There's a buzz out there about his game and deservedly so.
Tracy Smith, PF, Georgia Hurricanes: He certainly didn't have the kind of high school season to hang his hat on but in the early game of the day he was hustling inside, scoring and playing with a purpose. Word is he'll be reclassed to 2007. In the nightcap, Smith wasn't quite as sharp but he did tip in the game-winner and we tip our cap to him for preventing overtime in what seemed like a marathon AAU game.
Jon Kreft, C, South Florida Heat: Like a lot of centers, he can get lost in the tempo and pace of an AAU game. Regardless, you can see the potential in the 7-footer. Florida State has the verbal and should it not stick plenty of schools will be there to catch him on the rebound.
Chase Budinger, SG/SF, So Cal All-Stars: The word coming out of last weekend was that he's a big time stud. Well, he is a big time athlete who uses his dribble to attack the rim. Overall, he's a nice looking prospect but he doesn't seem quite ready to go from standout to superstar. He's got tons of bounce and you can see the volleyball player in his game (reportedly he's one of the elite volleyball prospects in America). To take that next step he'll need to become more involved each time out.
Jodie Meeks, SG, Georgia Hurricanes: In the two games we caught he struggled from the perimeter but that's not the reason why schools like him anyway. College recruiters are hip to him because he's cerebral, passes the ball well, makes plays for himself and others and has a strong, college-ready body. He should also be a fine defender with great strength for his position.
Bryce Webster, C, Howard Pulley: One of the younger seniors in the class appears to be pressing. Reportedly he had one excellent game on Saturday but we caught him twice and he didn't fare as well. Expectations were for him to come out and dominate but he might not be ready for that just yet. He's a good kid with a nice game and it might just be time to sit back, crack and smile and roll up his sleeves and get to work again. He needs to have some fun out there.
O.J. Mayo, PG, DI Greyhounds: It's hard to be the best player in your class for all four years of your high school career but so far so good for Mayo. If he learned one thing from King James it's to be unselfish. He went off for 35+ and made some huge plays down the stretch for his club in an overtime win against the Celtics. Scoring is so easy for him and his passing game is effortless.
Derrick Rose, PG, Mean Streets Express (pictured): He's playing in the 16 year old division and tearing it up. Like Mayo, he's a special guard with tremendous gifts. He controls a game the way Tiger manages a final round at The Masters: error free. His first step is long and lightning fast. Rapper Master P sponsors a team at the event and before Rose's first playoff game he came over to meet and greet Rose and Co. You have to wonder just how long it'll be before Rose returns the favors and inks an autograph for Master P? By the way, in the game we watched Rose went 9-for-12 from the floor with 5 boards and 7 assists.
Senario Hillman, SG, Atlanta Celtics: Pound for pound, this might be the most athletic guy we've seen all weekend long. He attacks the rim like he's jumping off a trampoline. He's freaky athletic and finishes what he can with a dunk.
LaRon Dendy, PF, S.C. Elite: Playing in the 16s, Dendy has been dominant. When we caught his act he was pinning shots on the rim, finishing strong and he'll even face you up to mid-range and stick the jumper. He looks like a Top 25 recruit in his class and he's out there having a great time.
Brandon Jennings, PG, So Cal All-Stars: The freshman looks to be extremely comfortable on a court with older players. The lefty has a variety of scoring tricks in his bag but it's his poise that stands out. He's really confident and extremely talented and the talk about him as one of the best PGs in 2008 is completely justified.
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