LAS VEGAS – The most newsworthy event on Day 4 of the Las Vegas Marathon of Traveling Team Basketball took place in an auditorium on the campus of Foothill High in the ultimate in Las Vegas suburbia, Henderson.
If you haven't heard by now (and if you haven't, the chances are you've just ventured into the Scout.com network for the very first time in your life), Kevin Love announced that he would sign a national letter of intent with UCLA in November.
Unless you are a fan of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels (the runner-up for his services during the 2007-08 season, the only one he is likely to spend in college before being fit for a "I'm fixing to shake hands with David Stern on NBA Draft night" suit), there wasn't much suspense to Lake Oswego, Ore., senior's decision.
It's been widely suspected for months that Love would eventually opt for the Southern California school. In fact, that suspicion became an assumption in most circles (well, other than those in Chapel Hill) after the Bruins' run to the NCAA championship game.
And, because of the talent Coach Ben Howland is expected to have on hand when Love finally begins classes in Westwood some 14 months from now, the Bruins will be a consensus choice to reach the 2008 Final Four in San Antonio.
By the way: If you are suspicious of the hyperbole surrounding Love – and, as is the case with the other most high profile player in the Class of 2007, O.J. Mayo, it began being ladled on well before he attended his first high school class – then the presumption here is that, a) you've never watched him play, and/or, b) you don't have at least a rudimentary understanding of the elements that make up an elite prospect in the sport.
The moment he steps onto a court with his Bruins' teammates in November of 2007, he'll, a) be one of the four or five best rebounders in college, b) be the best passing big man in college; and, c) have more polished low-post moves than 75 percent of the NBA population.
And the above assessment might shade toward the conservative.
BOUNCING AROUND TOWN:
*The best individual match-up of Wednesday – and one of the best to take place in the Big Time, Super Sixty Four or Main Event tournaments – will occur during the championship final in the adidas-sponsored Super Sixty Four Final in Cox Pavilion.
That's when the Los Angeles-based Pump-N-Run Select team will take on D.C. Assault.
Six-foot-five James Harden (Artesia High in Lakewood, Calif.) of PNR and 6-3 Austin Freeman (DeMatha in Hyattsville, Md.) of D.C. Assault have demonstrated in the past week that they are two of the three best shooting guard prospects in the Class of 2007.
The other, Eric Gordon of Indianapolis North Central, has been toying with would-be defenders while teaming with point guard Derrick Rose of Chicago Simeon to lead the Mean Streets Express to the Elite Eight in the Reebok-sponsored Big Time Tournament.
Freeman committed to Georgetown last November and Arizona State is considered the leader for the services of Harden, although University of Washington coach Lorenzo Romar hasn't come close to conceding that the smooth lefty will be playing against him during Pacific 10 Conference action two seasons from now.
*Big Time Tournament officials hinted over the weekend that a second press conference might be on tap at Foothill and the speculation was that O.J. Mayo's college destination – assumed for the past month to be USC – would be the subject.
But Mayo and his D-1 Greyhounds were eliminated by Urban Dallas Fort Worth (67-62) Tuesday in by far the biggest stunner in any of the three tournaments. And a source close to the Mayo camp said later Tuesday that there is no timetable for a Mayo announcement.
Just a hunch: Even if he "commits" to or signs with a college, Mayo will never play college basketball.
*His play was overshadowed by Austin Freeman's 33-point effort in an adidas Super Sixty Four semifinal victory by D.C. Assault Tuesday night at Desert Pines.
But Jrue Holiday's four-day performance in the event left little doubt that the 6-3 guard from Campbell Hall in North Hollywood, Calif., and the Double Pump Elite team should be considered one of the five or so best prospects in the Class of 2008.
A year from now he may be every bit as dominating a shooting guard as Freeman and Eric Gordon are right now.
UCLA, Washington and Arizona have been considered the leaders. But it's a recruiting derby that could heat up to the sizzling level (translated: North Carolina, Duke and the likes are sure to try to get heavily involved) after so many coaches got their first extended looks at him.
Inducted into the USBWA Hall of
Fame in April, 2005, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's national basketball expert and is
also a columnist for the