2007 Las Vegas AAU Tournaments - Day Two & Three
By Aran Smith
[img_assist|nid=3701|title=Demar DeRozan - Photo: Mike Burnley|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=459]Pool play wrapped up on Monday with Nike playing at Cox Pavilion in the morning and adidas taking over at 2:40 and going until 9 PM.
For Nike, who has most of their top players down in Orlando at another tournament, one of the few headliners is 6-3 shooting guard Willie Warren.
He's a high flying athlete who dominates against inferior competition. With Kansas' Bill Self, and Kentucky's Billy Gelespie looking on in the Thomas and Mack 18,000 seat arena, Warren put on a dazzling display of acrobatic ally oops and drives to the basket. He's very strong and shows a solid ability to create off the dribble.
His upside however appears somewhat limited for the NBA level as he's just 6-3, and much more of a 2 guard than a point. Despite great explosiveness, he lacks great length. He is very similar to the Seattle based Stewart twins, (Rodrick and Lodrick) who were absolutely sensational high school players, but didn't have a big impact on the college level.
Warren benefits being in a weaker class, and is a little more explosive so he should have a greater college impact, but his pro potential appears limited, unless he grows a few inches. He also doesn't give a great deal of effort defensively, looking lazy at times, although some of that may have had to do with the level of competition.
Next up was the P Miller All Stars, coached by one of the richest rappers in the world, Master P. P's team has his rapping son Lil Romeo as their point guard and high flying Demar DeRozan on the wing. They made short work of their opponents in the Cox gym with Derozan breaking free for no less than 8 dunks. He's been the most exciting player so far and has a tremendous combination of athleticism and outside shooting ability.
DeRozan has really shown a great deal of improvement in the past year going from a great athlete, to a great player. He shows the ability to create shots for himself and has range on his shot. His leaping ability (as shown in the photo) is on an elite level. His body and game is similar to another LA product: Paul Pierce, only Derozan is even more athletic.
DeRozan verbally committed to USC, but it's considered a "soft verbal" as some feel he will ultimately end up elsewhere.
[img_assist|nid=3702|title=BJ Mullens - Photo: Mike Burnley|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=450]We got a chance to see Ohio State bound center BJ Mullens twice today and he left a strong impression. He's a legit 7-footer with a huge frame, long arms and extremely agile. He also is showing a developing offensive game with turnaround jumpshots and drop steps and post moves. At 240-250 now, he looks like he'll be able to put on another 20-30 pounds easily without losing any mobility.
Off the court he's a friendly kid with an engaging personality. He seems to understand how to flip the switch and change his on court demeanor, which especially seems to be an issue for bigmen. He should really blossom into a bigtime center at Ohio State in 2008.
After seeing Mullens play it was downstairs to the Cox auxiliary gym to see the best match up of Vegas AAUs so far as the Atlanta Celtics featuring Derrick Favors and Chris Singleton squared off against Pump and Run with Jrue Holiday and a stacked Pump and Run squad. The Celtics started out strong with highlight plays from Favors and Singleton matching Pump and Run's energy and output for the first 15 minutes of the game.
By halftime, Pump and Run had begun to pull away with a double digit lead. That lead quickly grew in the second half as the Atlanta Celtics had no answer for Pump and Run's superstar point guard Jrue Holiday. Holiday had 30 points to lead all scorers.
The tiny space was completely packed with players from other teams as well as college coaches and media cramming the gym to get a look at the match up. It's possible these two teams will meet once again later in the week in the championship game.
On Tuesday, it was off to adidas HQ Rancho high school where we saw Mullens' OBC get a first round scare from Impact Basketball Club.
OBC's guards struggled to get Mullens the ball in good position in the second half as the big man got frustrated, traveling one time after catching the ball out of position, and leaving the game for a few minutes in the final 5. Mullens finished with 14 points. He had some big time dunks and showed great flashes, but he faded in the end of the game, something he'll need to learn to improve upon in the future. He seems to still be making the transition into a great player as he has a hard time demanding the ball from teammates and being a vocal leader.
Next it was Pump and Run in the Desert Pines Aux gym. By the time we got to the gym, Pump and Run had run away with the game 37-7. Jrue Holiday looked very sharp running the break and setting everyone up. The game ended up completely lopsided as the Pump and Run squad looked like a finely tuned machine. The Wear twins David Wear and Travis Wear looked very solid knocking down midrange jumpers and attacking the basket. Pump and Run won it all last year with Holiday playing for their second squad, and they definitely appear to be the team to beat again, as they've been the best team we've seen so far in three days.
Wednesday's games should provide a better opportunity to see the top talents getting challenged.