The best game of the day was in the quarterfinals between Kappa Magic and North Carolina Red Storm. This game featured enough talent and intensity to pass for the championship game, and it's a shame that one of these teams had to be knocked out so early. Kappa Magic won 81-80 with a basket with two seconds remaining, after ACC target Jeremy Ingram missed the front end of a one and one for the Red Storm.
Here are some thoughts on some individual performers:
Chris Paul 6-0 PG Kappa Magic - Chris played in the quarterfinals, but missed the night's semifinal match-up due to his high school prom. In his one game, Chris unofficially ended up with 20 points on 4-13 shooting (4-10 3-pointers) and 8-11 free throws, to go along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Chris also had a ton of steals as part of Kappa Magic's constant pressure defense.
Chris once again displayed the intangibles that make him a special player. He is the leader of his team, and his teammates lacked some intensity with him not being around this evening. Chris also is very smart with the ball, knowing how to use spacing to his advantage, and getting the ball to teammates in the right position.
When looking at physical talent alone, there are other point guards as good if not better than Chris. Chris is deadly shooting the 3-pointer when wide open, but his accuracy drops dramatically when there is a hand in his face. Chris also struggled inside the 3-point line, going 0-3 inside the arc. Chris struggled at times against the Red Storm's 2-3 zone that they played most of the game. Chris did begin to penetrate in the third quarter and was able to get to the free throw line, but overall he did not seem comfortable in leading the attack against the zone. Chris seems most comfortable playing in an up-tempo setting, where his ability to stay under control allows him to take advantage of defenders being out of position.
Chris is obviously a major target for Wake's staff, and landing him would be great, but I think it's important to understand that it won't be the end of the world for Wake's program if Chris heads elsewhere.
Reyshawn Terry 6-7 SF Kappa Magic - Rey continues to be an enigma. In the quarterfinals, he was a non-factor for the entire first half, chalking up 3 points and several turnovers. In the second half, Rey stepped up and made several plays at both ends of the floor that allowed his team to pull out the victory. He unofficially finished with 19 points (6-18 from the floor including 4-8 3-pointers and 3-4 free throws), 5 rebounds and 1 assist. In the semifinals, Rey finished 4-12 from the floor, 1-4 3-pointers and 4-5 free throws for 13 points to go with 5 rebounds.
Just like at the Boo Williams Invitational, Rey looks the part of a big time wing player, but his general lack of intensity and willingness to settle for jumpers instead of challenging defenders left me underwhelmed. There is no doubt that there is a lot of natural ability there, but the question is to what extent will it be used.
Bobby Perry 6-7 SF NC Red Storm - An extremely versatile player who seemed to disappear at times against Kappa Magic. Bobby finished with 10 points, 5 boards and 2 assists, hitting a couple 3-pointers. One stat that sticks out is his zero free throw attempts. Bobby is a good finisher, but did not put the ball on the floor today to challenge defenders. Bobby is the kind of player who you would like to see play with a little more selfishness. He does just about everything well, and I think he's talented enough to force up some shots. He reminds me a lot of Jason Capel at a similar point in his career (which is a good thing, despite what you might think of Capel's UNC career).
Jeremy Ingram 6-3 SG NC Red Storm - If you need somebody to sink a jumper, he's your guy. Finished with 25 points against Kappa Magic, including 5-8 3-pointers. I also watched him hit a few more 3's later on in a losers bracket game. Jeremy played PG for his high school team last season, but it is clear that he is much more comfortable spotting up on the wing and waiting to catch and shoot. He has a similar playing style to fellow Kinstonian Craig Dawson, but has more athleticism that he doesn't seem to use too often. In fact, he had a monster slam off an offensive rebound that seemed to surprise some people. There are a lot of colleges who would love to have the instant offense he can provide.
Anthony King 6-8 C NC Red Storm - Played significantly better than when I watched him three weeks ago. Torched Kappa Magic for 25 points and 10 rebounds, going 11-13 from the floor. He also was a force on the defensive end, anchoring the middle of the 2-3 zone and blocking several shots. When Anthony plays with some fire, he can simply overpower opponents at this level. What remains to be seen is if he can develop the offensive moves to score at the college level.
Drew Williamson 6-1 PG/SG Carolina Hornets - Unfortunately Drew fell and hurt his shooting wrist early today, and his shot appeared to be greatly affected. Did manage to hit a buzzer beating 3-pointer to send his team to the semi-finals. Very nice all-around guard play, handling the ball very well and making several nice passes on the break. He also impressed me with his solid defense. Drew could be a player college coaches look at more and more after the elite point guards start making their choices.
P.J. Tucker 6-5 PF NC Gaters Blue - Fierce. Tenacious. Ferocious. None of these words can do justice to P.J. Tucker's effort in leading his team to a semifinal victory. P.J. finished with 33 points and 17 rebounds, shooting 13-21 from the floor and 7-8 from the free throw line. Most of P.J.'s misses were immediately followed by an offensive rebound by P.J., until he was able to get the bucket or draw a foul. P.J. brings a linebacker's mentality to the basketball court, and he obviously loves to compete. Handles the ball fairly well, but right now he isn't a threat to hit the jumper. It'll be interesting to follow P.J. in college, wherever he ends up. You can't help but love his effort, but the fact that he is a 6-5 post player cannot be ignored. For every Larry Johnson or even Scooter Banks there are dozens of 'tweeners who excelled in high school but couldn't get the job done at the college level. Tomorrow's final against Kappa Magic and their three legitimate big men will be a good test for P.J..
Todd Hendley 6-8 PF Raleigh Heat - About as good of a shooting big man you'll find in the class of 2003. Reached the 20-point mark in two separate games today, scoring from all over the court. Todd runs the floor very well and looks comfortable on the offensive end. My biggest question mark is his rebounding and defense. I think he'll need to improve in those areas to be a more complete player. Todd is under a lot of people's radar right now, but don't be surprised to see more big names showing interest. People who can score will always attract attention.