1. Attendance was up from the previous year.
2. The level of talent was at an all-time best.
3. The level of talent from outside the New York City metro area rose significantly too.
4. The games were very competitive and the play seemed to have even a better edge this season as opposed to the previous year.
5. "The Grill." The grilled hamburgers and hot dogs are among the best at any concession stand. Some of the key teams that made a positive stand in preparation for the busy July evaluation period:
1. New York City Bounce -- Led by Theo Davis, who is being recruited by six high major programs, this team bounced a very talented New Heights AAU program in the final of the Gold Medal round. New Heights had big contributions from Lance Thomas, Terrance Grier, and Vernon Goodridge. New Heights and the Bounce are well-coached AAU programs that should have big summers.
2. Team Texas -- Sparked by McDonald's All American candidate C.J. Miles and his buddy, Kevin Rogers, it's obvious the talent level continues to increase each year in Texas. Miles has a great shot from the outside while Rogers is a workhorse inside. Both would like to play at the same school on the college level.
Team Texas defeated the New England Playaz team. This is a very talented team consisting of Antonio Anderson, Colin McIntosh, and Chad Millard. If this group stays together and becomes more comfortable with each other, the NE Playaz are going to be a very tough team to beat in July.
3. Albany City Rocks -- Without the services of inside warrior Paul Harris (he played instead with the GC Ballers), the Rocks still were able to have a great showing. The Rocks made it to the semifinals before exiting. Tiki Mayben was outstanding again as he continues to showcase why he will be counted on to deliver some big minutes in the future for the Syracuse Orangemen. The Rocks also are well coached and have several underrated players.
4. Fairfield County Stars -- Could have been the best coached team in the tournament. No big names on the team but plenty of mid to low division one talent. A team and it's important to underline the word "team" that can be troublesome for any AAU team this upcoming July.
5. New York Elite -- Though eliminated by the New York City Bounce, the Elite were missing their point guard Greg Paulus, who was spending some time competing in France. The Elite feature a player that will be in the June 2005 NBA draft in Andray Blatche. John Garcia and James Tchana are also forwards to watch. If Paulus leads this team at any event, the Elite will be a favorite to win it all.
The Outstanding Players
1. Andray Blatche -- Clearly the best player at the event. With Kevin Garnett perimeter moves around his defender, he has become such a well-rounded offensive player. If he were eligible for the NBA draft his year, he would have been among the top five picks. What was most impressive about Blatche this weekend was his desire to win. Several times Blatche ended up with floor burns trying to retrieve a loose ball.
2. C.J. Miles -- What an outstanding scorer Miles is. Has to receive high consideration for the McDonald's All American game. His sweet, lefty stroke from the outside helped his team, Team Texas, to a Silver Medal title win.
3. Tiki Mayben -- Ran the Albany City Rocks offense with great patience and skill. Playing without Paul Harris certainly hurt, but Mayben hit clutch shots and directed the offense with rigid effectiveness.
4. A.J. Abrams -- An outstanding shooter with great range on his jumpshot. He can produce points in bunches and appears to possess that great scorer's mentality -- a great deal of confidence in his own shot.
5. Theo Davis -- Theo's biggest problem is he is too unselfish. Once Theo adds more strength to his frame, maybe he will feel more comfortable in turning in the paint to make his move. Several times Davis fed the ball out after gaining great position in the post area. However, Davis is going to be a great college player.
6. Lance Thomas -- Helped New Heights advance to the Gold final. Just a 2006 prospect, Thomas is long and athletic with a bounce to his step. It seemed Thomas could run all day and still not be effected. Several high majors have already offered him.
7. Paul Harris -- What a warrior he is. Bouncing inside all the time with his dribble drive, Harris is also an outstanding passer. He reminds me a little bit of Dennis Rodman with the way he utilizes his frame to shield off a defender to get rebounds.
8. Antonio Anderson -- Is a tough, physical guard who can jet to the basket and finish strong. Anderson can jump over bodies inside to slam it home with authority. Major schools love his aggressive style. There's nothing soft about his game.
9. Jessie Sapp -- Has four offers now on the table. Sapp is one of the top players on a traditionally tough AAU team, the New York City Gauchos. It wasn't a great tournament for the Gauchos but likely one that will motivate them for July. Sapp continues his torrid Spring AAU run by producing 20 plus points in most tournament games.
10. Tyrell Biggs -- His team was missing a few players due to the Team Hofstra camp. So this wasn't the same Metro Hawks team we will see in July. But Biggs is a big-time player who has many high major offers. He's a good kid who plays hard. He almost torn down a part of the stands when running back to try and block a shot. Some college is going to be very lucky in the Fall when Tyrell chooses a school.
There are many more great players that had a good tournament last weekend. Many are already profiled on this site or over at hsnewjersey.theinsiders.com.