Saturday at the Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas (Nev.) begin pool play and the start of teams stepping up their games or finding themselves with a couple extra days to tour Sin City. Elimination games begin at 9:40 a.m. and lasted until the late hours with players such as O.J. Mayo highlighting the action.
O.J. is fantastic in afternoon game
From a scoring standpoint it wasn't the best game from 2007 sensation O.J. Mayo in the Big Time Tournament. He finished with 23 points (10-15 from the field) but it was his unselfish attitude and overall well-rounded game that made the biggest impression. After coming out of the gates with 13 quick points Mayo got his teammates involved with several nice looks, passing up open jumper for higher percentage shots.
He rebounded well, snagging 10 boards, and showed a great feel for the game by using not only his athleticism but awesome court awareness to put himself in position. He barely missed out on a triple-double when he dropped seven dimes and could have hit the magical mark if a few of his passes had been finished.
Mayo's teammate Bill Walker sat out the first six minutes of the first half and when he entered the game he was sporting a bulky knee brace. Whatever the injury, it didn't slow down the 6-foot-5 small forward who was his usual active self on both ends of the floor. He transition dunk which started 10-feet away from the basket proved that his athleticism is near the top of the charts. Walker scored 19 points, including three 3-pointers, in the Greyhounds 87-55 rout.
While Walker and Mayo snagged the bulk of the national attention, big men Keenan Ellis and Kurtis Huelsman are high major recruit who shine when given the chance.
Ellis, 6-foot-9, blocked five early shots before his opponent figured out it wasn't a good idea to challenge him. He finished the game with seven blocks while also doing a nice job on the boards with eight rebounds. Offensively, he posts hard and although he is thin finishes well. In addition he showed a nice 15-foot face-up jumper that he knocked down a couple of times while scoring 10 points.
Huelsman, 6-foot-8, used Walker's early minutes on the bench as a chance to showcase his skills and proved to be a solid post player. All of his points came within 5-feet of the basket and he has good footwork and sets a nice, big target. During the game he totaled 13 points, five rebounds and three blocks.
Oklahoma State commitment has impressive game.
With Oklahoma State head coach Eddie Sutton looking on Cowboy commitment Gerald Green had his best offensive performance in Las Vegas. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard poured in 32 impressive points against Team Detroit with the majority coming on deep long balls that he created off the dribble or rim-rattling dunks off the break. During the tournament Green continues to do a nice job on the glass, finishing with eight rebounds.
While the performance of the game goes to Green the clutch shot award must be given to Michigan commitment Jerret Smith who continues to impress. Quiet for much of the 1st half the 6-foot-2 shooting guard erupted late with two 3-pointers to help Detroit overcome an 11 point deficit in the final three minutes. After an Elite free throw to put the Texans on top with 3 seconds to go Smith outran the defense, caught an alley-op and made a 5-footer as time expired for a 73-72 win.
He scored 20 points, including three 3-pointers, but it was his defensive effort on Elite point guard Jovan Adams that impressed the most.
California small forward is blowing up in 'Vegas
Belmont Shore small forward Dior Lowhorn is putting on an offensive clinic in Las Vegas this weekend. Fresh off a 24 point effort on Friday night Lowhorn, 6-foot-6, scored an amazing 37 points, including knocking down five treys, against Team Fort Worth. Whether it was from the mid-range or outside the arc Lowhorn found the bottom of the basket on almost every shot attempt. His high energy level style of play keeps him involved on every series and he gets a lot of extra touches that result from his hard work. Several new schools have become interested.
Michigan State head coach getting an early start
While most of the college coaches are trying to finish out their 2005 recruiting efforts Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is already getting face time with some of the top prospects in the 2006 class.
Daequan Cook, Tom Herzog and David Lighty have all seen the Spartan leader in the bleachers watching their every move over the course of the last two days.
2006 shooting guard is something special
Cleveland Titan shooting guard David Lighty has that special knack for scoring from anywhere on the floor. Outside the arc he has deep range, his mid-range game is solid and when necessary he uses his strong frame to drive to the basket. The 6-foot-5 Ohio native is a top-rate athlete who excels on both ends of the floor. A good on ball defender, Lighty is long and surprisingly quick and agile. As might be expected he rebounds well and has a nice feel for the game. He chooses to let his offense come to him rather that force the issue. A top 20 ranking in a very strong class is an easy call.
Quick, fast and in a hurry
UNLV, Arkansas and Oklahoma were in attendance to watch Jovan Adams' early contest. Those three along with Boston College and Washington round out his top five college choices. All have offered.
Houston Elite small forward Rashad Woods is currently a heavy lean to DePaul with a commitment possible at any moment.
2006 big man Tom Herzog likes Michigan, Michigan State, Duke, Kentucky and UCLA. He scored nine points in his afternoon contest.
Michigan Hurricane point guard Tory Jackson claims an offer from Michigan State and favors the Spartans along with Michigan, Florida, Ohio State and California. The 2006 prospect scored 23 points in the Hurricanes victory.
Small forward Jamal Boykin has received an offer from Michigan and the Wolverines are among the favorites with Duke, no offer but he will officially visit, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Boston College and Georgetown.
Louisville commitment Amir Johnson is a terrific athlete who scored 16 points, pulled down six boards and blocked five shots despite limited minutes in the LA Stars victory.
Coaches from Texas, Oklahoma State, Florida and Arkansas were front and center for Jeremy Mayfield's game Friday afternoon. He scored 17 points.
Washington and USC were seen watching Dior Lowhorn explode for 37 points. The Californian is seeing his stock rise at a rapid rate with NC State, Florida, Kansas State and Texas Tech showing heavy interest.
Brandon Rush dropped an effortless 25 points Friday afternoon. When he's playing like this he's a legitimate contender for the No. 1 spot in the 2005 class.