CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--The Tournament of Champions is an unforgiving event. Slip up once and you are staring at a second place finish in your pool at best. Have an off night as a player and there is someone else there to grab a headline.
Mike Williams, PF, Southeast Pump ' Run: What a way to celebrate his commitment to Texas! Williams, who is from Wilcox Central in Camden, Ala., went off for 26 points and 12 rebounds. He did his work in the paint and he did it well. Seriously, just an hour after picking the Longhorns he did his best work of the spring period. It was vintage Mike Williams.
Dwight Howard, C, Atlanta Celtics: OK, so Atlanta smoked the Illinois Fire in a mismatch. So what? Howard was awesome. He had 22 and 11 and looked like a franchise big man. Toss in a 10-13 effort from the line and you see why he's universally loved as a prospect. In truth, he left some balls on the rim or it would have been a signature effort against the Fire.
Jameson Curry, SG, NC Gaters: There was an audience waiting for a virtuoso performance against Telfair and he delivered. Curry struggled in the morning but stepped up his game in the evening. He did what he does best--smoke jumpers--and finished with 24 points in a losing cause. Equally as important as the points were the three assists and zero turnovers. We've got to hand it to him, he rose to the challenge.
Sebastian Telfair, PG, Juice All-Stars: We had him down for 19 points and six assists against the Gaters. He went 4-for-10 from downtown, but it wasn't about his scoring in this one. "Bassy" dropped a few big time assists and stepped it up in the leadership department to rally his squad.
Corey Brewer, SF, Tennessee Travelers: In one of the best statistics we have seen this spring, Brewer recorded seven first half steals and eight for the game against the Gaters. He was meeting guys at half court and taking their candy. He finished with a smooth 18 points on 5-11 from the field and 6-for-8 from the line.
Bryce Taylor, SG, Pump ' Run: The Michigan Hurricanes looked like they had some life in them in the early stages of the second half of their playoff game against PNR. However, four straight Taylor threes later and it was over. He finished with 21 points and did what he does best: catch it and let it rip. The kid makes threes at a high-major rate.
Cedric Simmons, PF, NC Gaters: We aren't kidding when we tell you that he improves every time out. In two games on Saturday, Simmons more than proved a capable mid-range shooter and even his footwork looked more developed than two weeks ago. Needless to say, North Carolina State fans were pleased with his efforts.
DeMarcus Nelson, SG, Belmont Shore: In a morning game, the Minnesota Magic could have placed armed guards at the rim and Nelson would have gotten passed them. He hit up the Minnesotans for 28 points and each was pretty easy to recall.
Rudy Gay, SF-PF, Cecil Kirk: This was our first time seeing him this spring and he's a legit six-foot-eight. He likes to dunk and he can sure fill a stat sheet. Try 17 points, five rebounds and three assists against Team Richmond.
Tyree Evans, SG, Team Richmond: The two-sport standout began the day with a barrage of three-pointers that he unleashed against Cecil Kirk. Evans rung up a cool 26 and when the smoke finally cleared, he had seven treys. You better make this guy put it on the floor or he'll bury you.
Jamar Butler, PG, Cleveland Basketball Club: People forget about him because he committed to Cincinnati so long ago, but that is a mistake. He had 23 versus Arkansas and he showed off his long-range capabilities. The guy has pace to his game and when he is clicking from deep like he was in day two, well, he looks like a stabilizing future force in the Cincy backcourt.
Randolph Morris, C, Atlanta Celtics: They say Morris has been turning it out lately and if Saturday was any indication of how he has been playing, well, count me among the impressed. Morris looked to be more comfortable than we've ever seen him. He was assertive and efficient on offense, using a variety of skill and power moves to score. Big thumbs up for this effort against the Illinois Fire.
Jermaine Bell, PF, Juice All-Stars: Say what you want about his lack of weight--he doesn't weigh 200 pounds yet. But, Bell gets things done. He's got a sweet mid-range touch and he challenges everything in the paint.
Southeast Pump ' Run Sophs: Joey Cameron has been on the injured list a good bit this spring. Not on Saturday. If he wasn't blocking shots, he was finishing strong. He looked like the guy we loved last summer in Vegas. His 2005 partner, Tyler Smith, is simply a big time player. He is so explosive in transition that it's scary.
Off The Dribble
Whoever thought it was a good idea to give Tyree Evans of Team Richmond a clean look from downtown? Get in his grill or start running to the other end. Rudy Gay does something that reminds you of Eddie Griffin. He loves to extend and finish plays. That translates into a lot of dunks and an aggressive style near the rim.
Kenny Hunt of the Gaters is having a terrific spring. Few guys on the circuit are burning jumpers the way he has been in the month of May. The word around the gyms this weekend is that Shaun Livingston, now healthy, has been super. We have caught him doing amazing things out of the corner of our eye. Could he be playing for a potential Duke offer? On Saturday he didn't deny that might be a factor.
Upset of the Day? Try First Class in relatively easy fashion over Southern Cal All-Stars. Charlie Jones does a great job with his Houston Westside team. They knocked off the players to get into the main draw playoffs and then won a game in the playoffs. The kids love playing with each other and he's got four Division I 2004 commitments on the roster.
Best athlete in the Class of 2004? Tough call but at 6-9, Josh Smith is in the conversation. He launches himself at rims in multiple gyms. Dunk of the Day: anyone in the gym who saw Jameson Curry hit Cedric Simmons in transition for a mean one-handed dunk knows what I'm talking about.
The Jason Horton-Jordan Farmar matchup never really materialized. The foul-marred playoff game was ugly and Bryce Taylor ended any suspense of the outcome shortly after halftime. Farmar did an excellent job of driving and setting up Taylor.
News & Notes
Shane Dansby, a SG with the Tennessee Travelers, now has an offer from Appalachian State and interest from Rutgers and Boston College. Tyree Evans lists North Carolina State, Miami, Cincy and James Madison and has offers from two latter schools. Cecil Kirk center James Johnson likes UConn, Providence, Richmond, Northeastern, Kent State, Penn State and Charlotte.
Travelers PG Justin Hare has an offer from Chattanooga and interest from Clemson, Davidson, East Tennessee State and the Tennessee Volunteers. Devon Hardin, the recent California commitment, sat out per doctors orders. Tendonitis was the reason. Greg Paulus visited Duke unofficially on Thursday and plans to visit North Carolina on Monday after the event. The Duke visit reportedly went very well.
Belmont Shore scorer Lorenzo Wade didn't make the trip because of an ankle injury. Chamberlain Oguchi recently visited New Mexico. He wanted us to know that in addition to the Lobos he likes Kansas State, Mississippi, Indiana, Georgia Tech and Cincinnati. Southeast Pump 'n' Run soph Joey Cameron likes Duke, Alabama, Oklahoma, North Carolina State and Florida.
After just 1 hour and 45 minutes on Syracuse's campus for his official visit, Darryl Watkins committed. The center didn't even stay for his entire trip. He committed and went home. The next call from Mike Krzyzewski to top-ranked point guard Shaun Livingston will be the first. Livingston says he has never talked to Coach K, but is interested in speaking with the leader of the Blue Devils.
Randolph Morris has an updated school list of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Kentucky, Notre Dame and Tennessee. Cleveland Basketball shooter Danny Morrissey has offers from Clemson and Florida State. He also likes Xavier, Ohio State, Indiana, Arkansas and Georgia Tech.
Did you know that Gaters guard Jameson Curry is 255 points shy of becoming the all-time scoring leader in the state of North Carolina? He is just 495 points shy of 3,000 for his career. Oregon is sitting pretty with Bryce Taylor. He liked the visit and the Ducks are in great shape. He is also being recruited by Southern Cal, Indiana and California.