2008 Las Vegas AAUs: Day 5
By Nick Prevenas, Borko Popic, and Aran Smith
After five days of wall-to-wall AAU basketball action, we managed to catch nearly every big-time high school recruit participating in the three major Las Vegas tournaments.
Thanks to In-and-Out burger and a phenomenal Mexican joint called Mar y Tierra, we were able to weather Sin City’s storm and tackle the Reebok Summer Championships, the adidas Super 64 and the Main Event with a full tank of energy and enthusiasm.
[img_assist|nid=1603|title=Kenny Boynton|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=360] What did we learn over these last five days?
The next three classes have a fair number of talented players, but each of them possesses a potentially fatal flaw that could keep them from taking that next step. John Wall might’ve been the most impressive player in Vegas this week, but as the championship-game loss to Team Breakdown showed, he is in desperate need of a reliable jump shot, lest opposing fans start calling him “Brick” Wall.
Derrick Favors is clearly the most dominant and athletic big man out there, but at 6-foot-8, he’s not really all that “big,” per se. Can he develop the necessary perimeter skills -- along with a much-needed 18-foot jumper -- needed to succeed when he can’t simply out-jump his defenders?
Kenny Boynton is one of the most dynamic scorers in the class of 09, but he lacks a definite position. Can he help a team in other ways if his three-ball isn’t falling? Teammate Brandon Knight might be the most talented rising junior out there, but his consistency just isn’t there yet.
Tristan Thompson is among Knight’s competition, but at this stage, he’s more prospect than player.
Renardo Sidney, Lance Stephenson and Jeremy Tyler? It’s too early to write these kids off, simply because they possess far too much natural ability, but we might one day see them listed in the “too much hype too soon” category.
Abdul Gaddy is the steadiest, most cerebral point guard out there, but judging from his serious struggles against Wall and the Boynton/Knight duo, he needs to take his game to another level before he can be mentioned in that elite group. His teammate Avery Bradley is an explosive scorer, but about 3-4 inches too short to be an ideal 2-guard.
Ironically, the most impressive, well-rounded prospect might have come from the class of 2011. Even though he’s only 15, Seattle Rotary’s Tony Wroten opened eyes and dropped jaws with his wide array of offensive weapons. The 6-foot-5 guard even spent some time at point guard. It might be an unfair amount of pressure to put on such a young player, but there’s no telling what this kid can accomplish.
There might not have been a clear-cut, can’t-miss prospect in any of the tournaments, but the strong collection of talent and “maybe if” guys might make this one of the more interesting and debatable groups of prep players to come through Vegas.
Reebok Summer Championships
Reebok Championship Game
Team Breakdown 81 D-One Sports 64
[img_assist|nid=1604|title=Boynton guarding Wall|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=407] The final was a matchup that everyone wanted to see, not only because it was the two best teams, but also because they possess the best overall talent. However, this being the 3rd game of the day (in a period of about 6 hours), it was more of a fight of will rather than skill. The extremely talented and fierce backcourt of Team Breakdown has been breaking teams down the entire week, and they proved to be way too much for D-One. T
hey have been relentless assassins the entire time and they looked like they could play another couple games in the day. What hurt D-One the most was the fact that Ryan Kelly had his worst performance of the tournament and it came when they needed him the most. He was totally outplayed by Keith Clanton and Guillaume Sabour-Pina, in fact he did not score his first field goal until mid 2nd half, when the game was well out of reach.
John Wall’s lack of shooting proved to be another major problem. He was able to beat people off the dribble and get to the basket, but Team Breakdown dropped all of their defenders into the paint and made him finish amongst their bigs in traffic. He was not able to convert on many drives and the shooters for D-One were also unable to spread the court because they could not knock down crucial shots. If Wall had a reliable midrange jumpshot that he could get off before the help came, he would have had a field day, unfortunately he doesn’t yet have that aspect in his game, and it caused major problems for his team.
From the early going, Team Breakdown seemed to be playing at a level that was a notch above everyone else as they were not rattled by adversity, instead playing with a confidence and swagger that led to their inevitable championship run. Kenny Boynton finished with 26 points and Brandon Knight had 24. For D-One, Wall had 20 points.
[img_assist|nid=1605|title=Kenny Boynton|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=389] D-One Sports 79 Houston Elite 67
Having learned from their earlier mistake of letting a team back into the game, D-One took the early lead once again, but this time they never let up. John Wall did not have his highest scoring game, but it may have been his finest performance of the week. He finished with 22 points, 8 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals and only 2 turnovers. Most of his turnovers aren’t forced by the other team, but rather by difficult pass attempts. It seems as if he just wants to try to make an impossible pass and more times than not they lead to turnovers. This game he was composed throughout, showing that his turnovers aren’t due to lack of skill, but rather a lack of concentration at times. James Terrell had a fine scoring game, finishing with 29 points on 7/12 from the field, 11/11 from the free throw line and 4/7 from 3. For Houston Elite, Tim Frazier had 21 points, 8 rebounds and Jonnie Richardson finished with 17 points and 6 rebounds.
Team Breakdown 68 DC Triple Threat 53
The 1st half was evenly played and Team Breakdown was up by only six. The 2nd half was not much different, and Team Breakdown cruised to an easy victory behind their talented back court duo of Knight and Boynton who finished with 22 points and 14 points respectively. DC was led by Christopher Braswell who had an impressive 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Houston Elite 81 Upstate Basketball Club 69
Houston Elite has been playing well the entire week and it was expected that they would advance this far in the tournament. They were able to build an 8 point lead by half and they extended it 4 more points to end up winning by 12. Tops for Houston were Kevin Williams with 20 points and Matthew Staff with 19. Gerardo Suero had 24 points for Upstate, while Brandon Triche chipped in 22.
D-One Sports 72 World Wide Orange 66
[img_assist|nid=1608|title=John Wall|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=434] D-One Sports took the early lead behind the play of John Wall and Ryan Kelly. They were up by 14 at half and seemed to be on their way to an easy victory. However, when the 2nd half rolled around, D-One became complacent and left the doors wide open for World Wide to catch up. Instead of pushing the tempo and attacking the hoop, D-One settled for outside shots and allowed the WW to even the score. WW had the ball with a minute left and they tried to run the clock so they could get the last shot, but with about 10 seconds D-One stole the ball but were unable to convert the game winner. In overtime D-One went back to their aggressive style and proved to be too much, outscoring WW 11-5 in a 2 minute OT. Wall finished with 26 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. Kelly had 20 points and 6 rebounds. For the Orange, Ari Stewart had 21 points, 5 rebounds, Mfon Udofia had 31 points, 8 rebounds and Richard Howell had 16 points and 16 rebounds.
DC Triple Threat 67 Arizona Metro Elite 49
In a fairly uneventful game, DC took the early lead and never looked back. Erick Green Jr. led DC with 18 points, while Raphiael Putney had a solid 12 points and 7 rebounds. For Arizona, Mike Topercer led the way with 20 points.
Team Breakdown 72 Northwest Panthers 50
In a rematch of one of the best games we’ve seen all week, Team Breakdown proved to be too much for the Northwest Panthers. In the early going, the teams exchanged runs and the game seemed to be headed in the same direction as the first matchup. However, with 5 minutes left in the 1st half, the Panthers (down by 8) decided to sit back in a zone. Team Breakdown having the lead decided to dribble out the clock for almost a full 5 minutes before shooting what would be the last shot of the half. This tactic proved to be fatal for the Panthers who could not find their rhythm at all in the 2nd half as they fell behind by as much as 30 points, before eventually losing by 22. For Team Breakdown, Brandon Knight had 25 points, while Kenny Boynton finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds. The Panthers were led by Abdul Gaddy who had 16 points. Avery Bradley finished with 12 points and 9 rebounds, but he had a woeful shooting game, going 3/18 from the field.
adidas Super 64
Grassroots Canada 88 Compton Magic 79
[img_assist|nid=1606|title=adidas Super 64 MVP Tristan Thompson|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=427] The Grassroots Canada team was able to cruise to the adidas Super 64 title behind the one-two punch of tourney MVP and top three rising junior Tristan Thompson and powder keg, senior point guard Junior Cadougan. The combo both play for high schools in the US but hail from accross the border. This was the first time this event was won by a Canadian team. It took double OT to pull out the final, but in the end the Canadian squad was too much for the Compton Magic.
Thompson continues to impress but remains more prospect then player. While an extremely agile and athletic 6'8 wing prospect, Thompson lacks any real small forward skills. Last season at St. Benedict's Prep, Thompson was used almost exclusively as a post player, which certainly isn't doing his skill development any favors.
Thompson should use his senior season to work on expanding his range shooting from the perimeter and facing the basket and working on his ball handling. When he gets the ball at midrange, he's much more comfortable backing his man down and scoring close to the basket. But since he's nearly a year older than his class, his body does not appear as though it will develop to the point where he could play in the post at the highest level.
He shows solid touch on his shot and should be able to extend his range and improve his consistency over time.
Junior Cadougan did a tremendous job leading this team to win the final, but he's a much better scorer than distributor and did not always look to get Thompson the ball, making it more difficult for Thompson to put points on the board.
Grassroots Canada 79 Pump and Run Elite 55
In the auxilary gym, Grassroot's point guard used his great strength and penetration ability to get to the rim virtually at will. The Canadian squad went on a 11-0 run early in the second half to build a near 20 point victory and cruised to victory.
Cadougan has been on the radar for some time. He's a thick point guard in the mold of Khalid El-Amin, and could stand to drop another 15-20 pounds. This is the best shape he's ever been in and his play is a reflection as even though Thompson won the MVP, he was the team's true MVP as he would not let this team lose and came up with all of the key baskets when needed.
Cadougan is a solid passer, but an even better scorer who handles the ball well and uses his thick body to his advantage, getting efenders on his hip and creating shots in the paint. He has a very good first step and although he doesn't get above the rim for exciting finishes, he's a highly effective offensive player.
Compton Magic 96 Atlanta Celtics 87
[img_assist|nid=1607|title=Derrick Favors|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=430] Despite another strong individual effort, the Derrick Favors-led Atlanta Celtics bowed out of the adidas Super 64 tournament in the semifinals to a fired up Compton Magic squad, 96-87.
Favors was his usual dominant self, registering 27 points (11-14 FG, 5-8 FT), 11 rebounds and five blocked shots, but the glowing statistics don’t tell the entire story.
Favors battled foul trouble throughout, committing his fourth with 13:31 remaining in the second half. He got a little too anxious in his block attempts instead of playing correct, fundamental defense. Once he re-entered the game a couple minutes later, the defensive aggressiveness had vanished. Sensing an opening, the Compton squad started fearlessly crashing the lane, knowing that Favors wouldn’t want to put himself in a position to foul out.
Favors needs to learn that sometimes, the calls aren’t going to go his way every game. Learning to play with fouls is a vital skill for any post player -- one Favors needs to learn.
The Magic took a nine-point lead with 4:30 to play, but the explosive Celtics only needed two minutes to close the lead to within two. On back-to-back trips down the floor, Favors caught the ball on the low block (once on the right, once on the left) and easily spun past his man for an easy deuce.
Compton’s big man Joe Burton stole the momentum right back. First, he blew past Favors on the low block with a baseline spin move to extend the lead to three. On Atlanta’s next possession, Burton overplayed the high entry pass, forcing Favors into a crucial traveling call, which (for all intents and purposes) ended the ball game.
In addition to the foul trouble, Favors displayed some poor form on his box-outs. At this stage, he’s simply too athletic for most of his competition, so he has no problems getting his share of rebounds. But I counted three key plays -- one on a Compton free throw with under a minute to play -- where Favors was caught napping and a Compton player snuck in for a rebound.
I don’t want to sound too negative, because without Favors (and the superlative first-half efforts of Andre Malone), Compton would’ve blown this game wide open. Favors was the dominant force in this contest on both ends of the floor. Had he found a way to manage his fouls better and play a little bit smarter, this game might’ve turned out differently.
2008 Las Vegas AAUs: Day 1
2008 Las Vegas AAUs: Day 2
2008 Las Vegas AAUs: Day 3
2008 Las Vegas AAUs: Day 4
Back to back national AAU championships for Team Breakdown? That speaks volumes about Kenny Boynton's ability to play in big time situations. Although he lacks a true position, that will come with time. He is a Jerryd Bayless mold, yet he knows how to win. Boynton should be the top rated pg in his class and will lead his future college team to at least the sweet 16.
Alton D. Clark
Team Breakdown having the lead decided to travesti
dribble out the clock for almost a full 5 minutes before shooting what would be the last shot of the half.
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