FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. - Eight o'clock comes early in the morning for basketball games but it didn't stop a throng of head coaches from piling into the HPER Building at the University of Arkansas and it didn't stop guys like Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young from having outstanding games in the early morning quarterfinal games of the Real Deal on the Hill.
Javaris Crittenton came to Arkansas with the mindset of me against the world. The 6-foot-4 point guard for the Atlanta Celtics will leave disappointed that he didn't lead his team to the championship but he'll certainly take home the satisfaction that he did all he could do on his own.
After picking apart (25 points, 10 assists) the loaded Playaz program that features guys like Wayne Ellington, Gerald Henderson, Earl Clark, Luis Guzman and Corey Stokes on Saturday, Crittenton picked up where he left off against Memphis Pump 'N Run.
There may be lingering questions regarding his perimeter game, even though he buried home a couple of treys in the game, Crittenton has incredible court vision and zips passes to slashing teammates for the score time and time again. He can thread the needle in traffic or make the hard pass look simple.
Athletically, Crittenton got high above the rim and thundered home a handful of dunks, some in transition, one on an oop and one in traffic. The kid just makes things happen. Defensively, he was one of the key reasons why Willie Kemp was held scoreless.
But as good as Crittenton was, he couldn't do it alone. The Celtics lost to Memphis Pump 'N Run 78-75.
One of the reasons why the newly formed adidas team won was because of the play of Thaddeus Young, one of the most versatile players in the nation.
The 6-foot-8 forward does a tremendous job of adapting to the opponent's weaknesses. If a team has little size, he'll pound it in the blocks. If a team is slow on the wing, he'll blow by his man with the dribble. If a team relaxes on perimeter defense, he'll knock down the perimeter bucket. And he's so smooth doing it, too. Young led the way for Memphis with 21 points and survived a nasty spill when his head slammed onto the hardwood.
Kemp may have been held scoreless and just judging by that alone, it would be easy to assume he had a bad day at the office. Not so much. The guy wills his team to win. There aren't a lot of guys you can mention that go scoreless in a big game but makes it happen enough to win.
When the clock is under two minutes, he's the guy you want to have the ball in his hands. He makes things happen and makes sure guys like Young get the right touches at the right times. Kemp has had himself one heck of a tournament.
Coaches convention at the morning games
Not only did Arkansas head coach Stan Heath enjoy the luxuries of sleeping in his own bed he is certainly enjoying the opportunity that some of his top targets could see the beautiful Bud Walton Arena and the surroundings of Razorback country.
Guys likes Kemp, Chism and An'juan Wilderness all have had a chance to see the inside and out of Fayetteville and the college campus. Heath was on hand to see all three play on Sunday morning.
New Tennessee head coach Bruce Peal and new assistant Scott Edgar have watched the Memphis Pump 'N Run team closely all weekend and Sunday morning was no different.
Roy Williams was at mid court to get a long look at Young and he followed up when Memphis Pump 'N Run beat Indy Spiece Elite to move onto the championship game.
Paul Hewitt made sure he amongst the coaches when Crittenton had his phenomenal game against the boys from Memphis. Hewitt also say the Southwest Atlanta Christian product against the Playaz on Saturday night.
Assistants from Georgia, Connecticut, Memphis, Ole Miss, Texas and Baylor were also seen at the Atlanta-Memphis game.