2008 Las Vegas AAUs: Day 1
By Nick Prevenas
Typically, a trip to Las Vegas begins with dreams of wealth beyond comprehension and ends with empty wallets.
This week, more than 6,000 high school hoops stars hope to see the opposite happen.
Nearly every major AAU team is in Sin City this week, along with representatives from every college basketball program and the holy trinity of shoe companies (Reebok, adidas, Nike) to form the summer's biggest amateur basketball event.
From July 22-26, kids will be attempting to distinguish themselves in hopes of scoring a Division 1 scholarship, which could one day lead to the ultimate dream for anyone who's ever put a ball through a hoop -- a shot at the NBA.
The Reebok Summer Championships is this week's marquee event, with John Wall, Brandon Knight, John Henson, Kenny Boynton, Abdul Gaddy, Renardo Sidney, and countless others vying for the title. More than 200 teams have signed up for Reebok's main event, which has produced some of this area's most exciting summer basketball.
The adidas tourmanet, with Derrick Favors as the main attraction, has more depth than in years past. This event tends to have a handful of hoopsters leap from anonymity to notoriety in a week's time, so be prepared to see more than a few names you haven't seen before post some monster outings.
The Nike event, with top rising junior Jeremy Tyler and a myriad of other high-profile players, can get lost in the mix, with Reebok and adidas pulling out all the stops, but that's not to say there isn't some excellent basketball to be seen. Many of the top Nike kids spend this week in Orlando, but Las Vegas is the place to be at the end of July. It just wouldn't be the same without the "swoosh" in the mix.
This week, NBADraft.net has you covered from top to bottom. Aran Smith, Borko Popic and myself will be taking you through all of this week's action -- the risers, the fallers, the surprises and the disappointments. Check in with NBADraft.net throughout the week for daily updates.
[img_assist|nid=1565|title=Kenny Boynton|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=225] The American Heritage sharp-shooter picked a great time to go off, pouring in 33 points with Billy Donovan watching intently from the sideline.
The ultra-quick Boynton hit 5-10 from three; 12-19 overall. Everyone familiar with Boynton knew he could shoot the lights out, but in the second half, he simply lost consciousness. On a handful of occasions, his teammates started cheering when he squared to shoot. They didn't need to wait until after the ball went through the hoop.
What came as a surprise, however, was his relentless defensive pressure. He created chaos on the defensive end, coming up with four steals and even more deflections. He split the Gaddy duties with his teammate Knight and flustered the Washington star. His steals didn't come from dangerous gambles, either. They happened as a result of his active hands and textbook footwork.
If he has a weakness, it's that the 6-foot-2 Boynton might be a bit of a tweener. He has point-guard skills, but prefers to attack the game with a scorer's mentality. Can Boynton make plays for others if the 3-ball isn't falling?
NBADraft.net currently has Boynton ranked No. 10, but if he keeps playing like he did on Tuesday, expect to see that ranking climb.
People came to the Foothill Main gym expecting big things from Knight -- arguably, the top prospect in 2010. After sharing Player of the Week honors with Renardo Sidney at the Reebok All-America Camp in Philadelphia, Knight's reputation followed him to Vegas.
The 6-foot-3 combo guard struggled a bit in the first half, forcing the issue a bit too much. But hey, he has completed only two years of high school, so that sort of thing can be expected.
Knight shook off his weak first half to come on strong in Team Breakdown's second-half run, finishing with 26 points. With his perimeter jumper missing the mark more often than not (1-7 from three), Knight capitalized on his aggressiveness by hitting nine of his 12 free-throw attempts. It's savvy for any player to force his way to the charity stripe when the jumper isn't falling, let alone one that hasn't yet to acquire his driver's license.
If that second half is any indication, Knight is well worth the hype. He's blessed with the scoring gene, in that he can create points in any number of ways. He's more physically developed than most rising juniors, so we'll see if his skills continue to improve as the rest of his class catches up to him. He also underwent minor back surgery last offseason, which kept him out of 14 games his sophomore year at Pine Crest. It doesn't appear as if he has any ill effects from that procedure, however.
Be prepared to hear Knight's name on a regular basis for the foreseeable future, as he will certainly be the centerpiece of every major college's recruiting push -- particularly Florida's -- in 2010.
The Bellarmine Prep star scored 23 points and dished out eight assists, but Team Breakdown's dynamic Florida duo got the best of him in an 85-73 defeat. The 6-foot-3 Gaddy displayed advanced playmaking skills in the first half, finding his Northwest Panthers' teammates in a variety of ways.
He possesses enough size to see over his defenders and enough quickness to get by anybody. He projects as a high-level college point guard with solid NBA potential.
However, Gaddy's weaknesses were exposed by Kenny Boynton and Brandon Knight. When Team Breakdown went on its second-half run to close out the ballgame, Gaddy forced his shot instead of running the offense, which led to 13 misses on his 23 shot attempts. Boynton ripped his dribble on more than one occasion, and the aggressive Knight took advantage of his lackadaisical defensive approach and made him pay for his sluggish close-outs.
To be fair, Gaddy didn't get much help from anyone other than Avery Bradley -- a fantastic prospect in his own right -- and Daren Dickson, but point guards are supposed to elevate their team's play while maintaining their composure. Gaddy struggled in that department in the second half.
I wouldn't read too much into this, however. Boynton and Knight are elite prospects in their own right. Gaddy remains one of the top point guards in the class of 2009.
Gaddy, ranked No. 17 by NBADraft.net, originally issued his verbal commitment to Arizona, but the school's complete coaching overhaul led him to withdraw his verbal and re-open his recruitment. Arizona is still the favorite to land Gaddy, who should help carry on the "Point Guard U" tradition.
By Borko Popic
[img_assist|nid=1562|title=John Wall|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=367]One of the top-rated players in this graduating class was on display today and he did not disappoint. Standing 6-foot-4 and possessing a nice wingspan, John Wall's athleticism and explosiveness make him a specimen at the point-guard position. His stat-line was an impressive 30 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds and 3 steals, but even more spectacular were some of the flashes of brilliance that he displayed on numerous occasions.
Seeing a point guard finish above the rim is always special. Having him do it in traffic, amongst trees is almost nonexistent. Wall has blazing open-court speed and has the ability of changing direction effortlessly. His jump shot looks nice. He gets good elevation and has a smooth release, but he has to work to improve his range. He is most comfortable getting to the rim, or pulling up from midrange, but lacks confidence beyond the arc.
As a playmaker, he shows good instincts and court sense, but his decision making needs work. Even though he had a large number of assists, the 8 turnovers are a bit worrisome, as they came in large part to trying too much and forcing the issue instead of making the easy pass.
Another part of his game that needs some improvement is his ballhandling, as he is weaving around defenders. Sometimes the only thing that slows him down is losing control of the ball for a slight moment, resulting in a minor fumble and a slow down of speed.
On the defensive end is where Wall gets his rest. Even though he has all the attributes that should make him a pest on that end, he doesn't take much pride in guarding the opposition.
Richard Howell had a nice game, putting up 21 points and 5 rebounds. The big man has some nice inside-outside skills, but at times gets caught up in a dribbling act that does nothing but kill the motions of his team's offense. He is most effective when he is around the basket, where he can use his wide body and good footwork to do damage inside. He is not very quick, and this may eventually limit him to strictly playing the PF position, for which at 6-foot-7 he is somewhat undersized.
Ari Stewart showed some good things, going for 22 points. He has good size and is able to shoot the ball effectively all the way out to the three. His main problem is that his ability to put the ball on the floor and attack the smaller defender is fairly limited and he does not do much with his back to the basket -- in effect somewhat negating his nice height advantage. He definitely shows potential, but his game needs major work before he can become a serious contributor at the next level.
Mfon Udofia had a steady 20 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. He has good size and nice athleticism, combining that with his aggressiveness and competitive nature makes him not only a threat on offense but also a defensive stopper. He was matched up with Wall on many occasions and was able to stay in front of him even after a series of moves off the dribble by the top-rated PG. His playmaking ability is limited and he makes bad decisions, but one cannot deny that his physical package shows tremendous potential.
Maurice Creek went for an eye-opening 29 points, also hitting four shots from three. His shooting stroke is as smooth as they come and he is able to get his shot off under duress because his release is quick and he gets nice elevation. Even though he doesn't have incredible explosiveness or athleticism, he is a natural scorer and is able to fill it up in a hurry from everywhere.
Hollis Thompson finished the game with 18 points, but most of them came when the game was already out of reach. He has good length for the wing possession, but his slight frame and passive nature hurt him a fair bit. His quickness is limited, therefore when he tries to make a move off the dribble he is easily stopped because people can ride him out of the lane.
A player to keep an eye out for is the rising sophomore Cezar Guerrero. The young point guard finished with 12 points, showing great poise and nice ability off the dribble.
By Aran Smith
In the 3 p.m. game, the battle between the LA Dream Team and the Franchize All Stars featured a match up of top rising senior bigmen Renardo Sidney and John Henson.
In his first day of action playing for the LA Dream Team; no, not the 80's rap group (yes they're here, the dream team is here), Sidney looked a far cry from the top player in the class mantle he once held.
Sidney's body is at least 30 pounds overweight, tipping the scales at around 275 lbs. As a result, his motor comes and goes. He had one stretch where he actually gave solid effort. Unfortunately, it lasted only a minute. The rest of the game, he sleep-walked, showing a lack of focus and fire. In 20 minutes of action, Sidney finished with 15 points, knocking down an effective 7-11 FGs. But most of the time, he was out-hustled and out-worked by the anemic Henson -- more on him later.
Sidney's intensity level and demeanor have taken a turn for the worse in recent years. Many recruiting analysits feel that he was better as a sophomore, when he could explode around the basket and run the floor like a deer.
Not unlike Derrick Caracter from two years ago, Sidney appears to have bought into all the hype prematurely and is no longer working hard at his skills and body. Unlike Caracter, Sidney can move up and down the floor well despite the additional weight, but the attitude and body language are horrendous.
Sidney is an immensely talented bigman, with face-the-basket skills, but his lack of discipline and work ethic are unmistakable. If he doesn't make a big change over the next two years, there's a good chance it will be too late and he will never see a guarunteed NBA contract. Worst-case scenario, he might become a what-could-have-been story.
[img_assist|nid=1561|title=John Henson|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=338] Henson weighs about as much as a muppet ,but his heart and passion for the game weigh twice that of Sidney's. Henson was able to get under Sidney's skin, rattling him with his non-stop pestering aggresiveness -- which is pretty unbelievable, considering he's outweighed by close to 100 lbs.
Sidney was duped into making three dumb fouls in the open floor, shoving Henson and drawing a technical on one occasion.
The UNC recruit has narrow shoulders and needs to put on a lot of weight, but his ability to run the floor plus handle and shoot with his great length gives him a great deal of potential. He is very fast and, at just 16, there is good hope for him to put on significant weight over the next few seasons.
He's certainly not a one-and-done candidate due to his weight and position (power forward). He appears to be a late bloomer who will take 2-3 years minimum in college before he could be expected to enter the draft.
Henson seemed to improve as the game went on, getting out on the break and finishing with a few dunks, as well as being a factor on the defensive end, registering four shot blocks.
Henson outplayed Sidney, finishing with 25 points and 14 boards to Sidney's 15 and 8.
Henson and Sidney appear to be players going in opposite directions. In this one, Henson proved that he was not only a better prospect, but a better player.
Boynton has been a beast for a while. Team Breakdown won nationals last year, he and Vargas were unstoppable. I've been seeing a lot of Derrick Caracter (probably spelled wrong) in Renardo Sidney. I have never seen him play in person, but his lack of athleticism is blatantly obvious. He has been the same height for the past 3 years when everyone was expecting him to be a 7'0 footer. I can see him getting outplayed by more athletic big men for a while. Tell him to develop a 20+ jumper or it is over.
Did anyone from Indiana show up Nick? Is Team Elite out there? Deshaun Thomas? Dominique Ferguson?
Alton D. Clark
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Teammates Malik Hairston and Maarty Luenen unexpectedly heard their names called but Taylor didn’t.
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Siirler Hikayeler Fikralar Programlar Guzel Sozler Resimler freetemplates Taylor was arguably Oregon’s best player last season, but his 6-foot-4 frame makes him a undersized at the next level. Nonetheless, his scoring ability, length and athleticism give him a chance to make in in the league.