LAS VEGAS – A word of advice, the next time you plan to spend something more than just a few moments in the gymnasium at Green Valley High in Henderson, Nev.:
Wear a freakin' sweatshirt and long pants or suffer the consequences!
I hate to use a word as trite as "chilly" to describe the way it felt in the gym Wednesday morning and early afternoon while watching playoff games of the Reebok Championships.
But if they were selling hot chocolate in the snack bar, I would have bought some – and poured it on my legs.
I never realized stepping outside into 100-plus-degree temperatures could feel so soothing . . .
Observations culled from watching four and one-half games in that icy gym Wednesday before bailing for warmer locales:
*Tensions got a bit heated (if it would have only radiated onto those sitting courtside or in the stands!) between the Inland (Calif.) and D-1 Greyhounds (Ohio) teams early in the second half Wednesday morning.
There was no real nastiness – just the standard gabbing in each other's faces, etc. – but tournament officials, mindful, no doubt, of the post-game incident Sunday night at Foothill High when players and coaches from the Belmont Shore (Calif.) and Triple Threat (Washington, D.C.) teams ended with pepper spray reportedly being doused on one of those in the, "discussion", were taking no chances.
By the time the Inland/D-I Greyhounds' game ended (with the Ohio lads pulling away after intermission to prevail, 75-57) six Las Vegas law enforcement officers were just off the court.
If the stern/"we mean business" looks at their faces weren't intimidating enough, the fact that they toted pepper spray, handcuffs and serious heat (aka, "handguns") on their utility belts was.
UCLA-bound guard Malcolm Lee created enough offensive opportunities of his own to score 23 points for Inland. But the Greyhounds' balance and composure (other than when they were yakking at their Inland counterparts) enabled them to pull away, with guards William Buford (headed for Ohio State) and Brett McClanahan (6-5/Nitro, WV), a couple of fellows who are as comfortable shooting jumpers and most of us are digging into a cheeseburger and fries, scoring 15 points each.
*The World Wide Renegades Black (as opposed to the WWR Red, which also competed in the event) edged Branch West Team Reebok, representing a Southern California-based program that is run by former college coach Bob Gottlieb, dad to Doug (the ESPN face and voice) and Gregg (an assistant at San Diego State), 72-69, in about as well-played a game as I've watched in the first four days of the three-tournament action in town.
Gottlieb's team led, paced by University of Washington-bound post Tyreese Breshers and Lithuania guard Deividas Dulkys (he finished with 29 points; he can jump shoot it, nice and easily), for about three-quarters of the game before WWRB picked up the pace of the game considerably and took control.
Six-four junior combo guard Lorenzo Brown (East Roswell Centennial), one of the best backcourt prospects in the national class of 2009, was easily, and I mean easily the most polished player in the game.
And, from what I understand, he was the biggest reason the WWRB rallied to beat Texas Blue Chip later in the evening to advance to Thursday's quarterfinals (against King of the Court) at Foothill High.
*Speaking of King of the Court . . . the Akron, Ohio-based team features the best pair of post players on any team playing in Las Vegas right now.
So, how tough is Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edwards going to be with the 6-8 duo of Delvon Roe (he's committed to Michigan State) and Tom Prichard (he's a clone if the University of Washington's Jon Brockman, only with a better jump shot)?
They led their team past the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Storm and Team CBIZ (Ohio) to earn the right to wear their summer uniforms once again on Thursday.
Roe is a cinch McDonald's All-American in 2008 and it would surprise me in the least if Prichard was to sign a national letter of intent in November with a program from within the Big Ten Conference.
*D-One Sports 16-U (Raleigh, N.C.) is chock full of supreme underclass talent from North Carolina.
The most notably, nationally, of those prospects is junior (to be) point guard John Wall (Word of God Academy).
But, at least during the team's win against the Florida Elite Wednesday, sophomores-to-be, 6-6 Melvin Babb (Enloe High) and 6-3 James Terrell (Huge Cummings High), played better than Wall – who isn't much of a jump shooter and made some harried decisions with the ball – did.
*I got in one half of the Belmont Shore (Long Beach, CA) vs. Wisconsin Playground Warriors 17-U team before to heading to the Sweet Tomatoes soup and salad bar place up the street from the school, and then venturing to north Las Vegas and Rancho High for some adidas Super 64 games.
Lute Olson was also fighting off the chill of Green Valley's gym but the sight of future Arizona Wildcats Brandon Jennings and Jeff Withey doing their dazzling (Jennings) and dunking (Withey) things had to warm the Hall of Famers' heart.
And, over in the land of Three Stripes . . .
*Pump-N-Run (Calif.) continued slicing up opponents with its without-peer (OK, with the exception of the New York Gauchos, who are expected to win the Main Event Thursday afternoon) backcourt and junior twin forwards David and Travis Wear (Santa Ana, CA, Mater Dei).
Jerime Anderson (Anaheim, CA, Canyon) had one of the more startling dunks of the week, hammering it over the top of some overmatched Gateway (St. Louis) opponent.
*Seattle Rotary Select, another team with superb (if not quite PNR or Gauchos' level) backcourt play, surprisingly cruised by EBO (Calif.) by 18 points in one of the Round of Eight games played at Rancho.
*The Las Vegas Prospects got by teams from Colorado and Philadelphia, led by the play of one of the more underrated juniors (left-handed, and strong), guard Anthony Marshall of Mojave High.
He'll be one of the more heavily recruited backcourt players in the West a year from now.
OK, boys and girls, it's now four days (elapsed for the three tourneys) and just one more – Thursday – to go before calling it wrap for another glorious week of nearly non-stop July chillin', literally, in Las Vegas gymnasiums.
C'mon, now! Don't get all weepy on me!
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