Hoops Futures Continue To Blossom In Vegas

To no one's surprise, the likes of Greg Oden, O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love have been standout performers during the Reebok Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas. But a multitude of lesser-known players, at least on a national level, have joined them as prospects that recruiters and media members-alike will be paying close attention to this season.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – What promises to be a dazzling and frantic Tuesday of basketball threatens to overwhelm us here in town before we have the opportunity to reflect on what took place Monday.


So, before heading over to Cox Pavilion to check out the adidas Super 64 (EBO/EA Sports of Fresno vs. the Philly MJC 17's of, you guessed it, Philadelphia) and Main Event (Seattle Friends of Hoop vs. D.C. Blue Devils, a rematch of a sensational pool play game Sunday) title games at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., respectively, here's a quick spin on some Monday happenings at Foothill, Coronado and Basic High Schools, where Tuesday's Reebok Big Time quarterfinal field was determined:



 Some players from the Classes of 2007, 2008 and even 2009 – yes, there was a rising freshman of note who showed he could more than strut his stuff against guys four or five years older – continued to establish themselves as players whose returns here a year from now will be eagerly anticipated.


Kenny Boynton Jr. (North Broward Prep), a ninth-grader next month, averaged 22 points per game for Team Breakdown of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., hitting 45 in a playoff victory over the Oregon Rebels team Sunday night.


Boynton, who, facially, looks a little bit like Sebastian Telfair, is a 6-1 14-year-old who is an exceptional scorer in transition and is a streaky deep shooter. As his overall game evolves (his jump shot needs a lot of polishing), he could become one of the best prep guards on any level.


The Portland Panthers (who were scheduled to face the Southern California All-Stars Tuesday at 1 p.m.) were a mild surprise in advancing to the quarterfinals.


One of the big reasons they got there – figuratively and literally – was the presence of 6-foot-11 Andy Poling, who will be a sophomore at West View High.


Kevin Love (Lake Oswego) will be the dominant post player in Oregon (and most other locales) for the next two seasons.


But Poling has the opportunity to develop into just as heavily a recruited prospect. His feel for the game, especially on the offensive end, is well beyond his years. Someone has done a pretty good job of exposing him to the fundamentals of post play. And that's former UCLA and NBA player Swen Nater.


Drew Gordon's dad (Eddie Gordon) was a standout on a very talented L.A. Verbum Dei High team in the 1978-79 season and was later a quality player at San Diego State.


The younger Gordon, a 6-8 sophomore this fall at Mitty High in San Jose, will be even more heavily pursued as a college prospect than was his father. He scores mostly because of his size, strength and quickness right now. Once he gains some offensive versatility, both facing the rim and in the low post, he'll be an even more difficult player to check on the high school level.


The Fox Valley Skilzz team (from Wauwatosa, Wis.) moved to the Sweet 16 of the Big Time despite having an all-Class of 2007 roster.


Guards Byron Perine (a smooth 6-1 lefty from Milwaukee Vincent) and Scott Christopherson (a 6-1 playmaker/jump shooter from La Crosse Aquinas), and 6-9 lefty post player Andrew Zimmerman (Oostburg) are reasons why the team should be more than good enough to get to at least the final day of the tournament next July.



I only checked out one game there but it was a dandy: R.E.A.C.H Legends (of Detroit) 100, Arizona Magic 96.


The Magic's 6-2 guard, Jarryd Bayless (Phoenix St. Mary's), only solidified his status as the second best backcourt player, behind O.J. Mayo, in the junior class with his play over four days.


He and Christian Polk (Glendale Moon Valley), who has committed to Arizona State, almost led their squad to a spot in the Sweet 16. But the team from Michigan, led by DeShawn Sims, a 6-7 relentless sort from Pershing High, was too strong inside and in the open court and later beat the Smyrna (Ga.) Stars to earn its Tuesday morning quarterfinal against Team Danny Williams from Los Angeles.



A jersey snafu – not all of the New Mexico Force Gold team members brought the light-colored jerseys they were supposed to wear as the designated "home" club – led to a 55-minute delay in the start of Sweet 16 game between the D1 Greyhounds and the team based in Albuquerque.


When New Mexico players were provided with white jerseys from the Basic High team, the problem seemed to be rectified. But the D1 Greyhounds' coach, Dwain Barnes, refused to let his team take the floor because he felt that New Mexico should be forced to forfeit the game for failure to have all of its correct jerseys. There is no such provision in tournament guidelines for a team having to forfeit in that situation.


Finally, after what seemed like a half-dozen on-court meetings involving (at various times), game officials, Barnes, New Mexico coach Ross Romero, Jim Allen (one of the tournament's managers) and Chris Rivers (Reebok's Grassroots Basketball director), the game was finally started.


Only the six New Mexico players who had the correct jerseys were permitted to play until the other jerseys were retrieved from the team's hotel room.


By the time three other players (including New Mexico's best player, forward Kasey Cunningham of Cibola High) were handed their jerseys, only four minutes remained and O.J. Mayo & Co. had a 19-point advantage in a game that probably wouldn't have been particularly close regardless. D1 won, 89-66.


Summer basketball . . . isn't it grand?


Frank Burlison, elected to the USBWA Hall of Fame in April, is Scout.com's National Basketball Expert and also covers basketball for the Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at frank.burlison@presstelegram.com. Read more of Burlison's pieces at www.frankhoops.com

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