CHICAGO – Long projected to skip college for the NBA, Mount Zion (Durham, N.C.) swingman Brandon Rush said Sunday he's no longer considering the jump. Instead, he'll choose between Oklahoma, Illinois, Arkansas and Texas.
He might want to add Syracuse to that list.
Rush and Syracuse-bound guard Eric Devendorf of Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) teamed up to lead the West All-Star team to a convincing 136-119 win over the East in the Roundball Classic at the United Center in Chicago Tuesday night.
The two were named co-MVPs of the winning team. Devendorf finished with 17 points and seven assists while Rush scored a game-high 21 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and had five assists.
"I wanted to show that I could rebound and dish the ball of instead of just show that I can be a scorer all the time," Rush said.
Devendorf, who has signed with Syracuse, set Rush up for breathtaking off-the-backboard alley oops twice and delivered Rush a smooth no-look pass for an easy layup.
"That's my boy, we've been playing together for a minute," Devendorf said. "I know what he wants, so I definitely have a feel for him."
Eight players scored in double digits for the West. Denham Springs (Denham Springs, La.) forward Tasmin Mitchell and Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.) center Amir Johnson had 17 a piece; Benton Harbor (Benton Harbor, Mich.) forward Wilson Chandler and Dominguez (Carson, Calif.) guard Bryan Harvey each had 13; Laurinburg Prep (Laurinburg, La.) forward Shawne Williams had 12; and Carmel (Carmel, Ind.) power forward Josh McRoberts had 11 in the win.
"I think I did pretty good, I think the entire team did good," Johnson said. "I was just out there having fun."
Despite losing, North Carolina-bound point guard Bobby Frasor echoed Johnson's thoughts. Yet with about 150 of his classmates from Brother Rice (Chicago, Ill.) cheering him on behind the East hoop, Frasor said the loss still hurt.
"You hate losing, everyone hates losing," said Frasor, who finished with eight points and three assists. "But you've got to look at the big picture, it's just an all-star game. We all had fun."
The East team, which included five Chicago-area products and was coached by local coaching legend Roy Condotti of Homewood-Flossmoor (Flossmoor, Ill.), took a 9-8 lead with 8:10 left in the first quarter when St Mary's (New York, N.Y.) shooting guard Danny Green hit a 3-pointer. That was the last time the East would lead.
After Green's trey, the West went on an 11-0 run to put the game out of reach early. Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.) guard Marcus Johnson hit a 3-pointer to give the West a 19-9 lead with five minutes left in the quarter.
The West led 36-23 after the first quarter and 69-46 at halftime.
Rush's 360-degree dunk gave the West an 80-55 lead three minutes into the second half. The West then extended the lead to 30 points several times in the third quarter before the East closed the gap a bit in the fourth quarter.
"It was tough," said hometown star Nate Minnoy of Hales Franciscan (Chicago, Ill.), who had about 50 family and friends in the stands. "I'm a competitive person, and I look at it as a measurement as to where I stand. I wanted to win."
The night wasn't a total loss for Minnoy, who scored 16 points and had six boards. The Purdue-bound guard was named co-MVP of the East team along with Danny Green, who 15 points nine rebounds.
Gulf Shores Academy (Houston, Texas) forward Gerald Green, who many expect to recant his commitment to Oklahoma State and enter the NBA Draft, had a team-high 17 points for the East but still took the loss hard.
"You never want to lose," Green said. "It don't matter if it's monopoly or checkers or basketball, I don't like losing period."
South Kent (South Kent, Conn.) center Andray Blatche had 13 points, Hillcrest (Chicago, Ill.) guard Jerel McNeal had 12, Westinghouse (Chicago, Ill.) forward DeAndre Thomas had 11, and Lynwood (Lynwood, Calif.) forward Davon Jefferson had 12 for the East.