NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The Nike Memorial Day Classic got underway on Saturday, and Rivals.com spent half the day with the 17-unders and half the day with the 16-unders. Although he is young enough to play 16-under, Xavier Henry was the most impressive player we saw in 17-under action.
The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Henry did what he does best against Team Florida, which is score at all three levels. Proficient in the mid-range, Henry also has the explosiveness to attack the rim. After struggling early in the game with his deep jumper, Henry found the range right before the half and dropped some jaws with his patented hop back three.
The much-anticipated matchup between Greg Monroe of Louisiana Select and Al-Farouq Aminu of the Georgia Stars did not live up to the hype. Unlike their memorable battle at the Houston Kingwood Classic last month, neither player really guarded the other this time around and Monroe finished with 11 points while Aminu managed 10.
Saturday also saw a thrilling overtime battle between Team Texas and Memphis YOMCA. With Leslie McDonald and Willie Warren on the bench after fouling out late in regulation, Rotnei Clarke took over the game in overtime to secure the win for Team Texas. Clarke, who scored 30 points in the game, did a nice job handling the ball and scored on floaters going right and his deep jumper.
Willie Warren also had a strong game. He and Clarke to turns controlling the ball. One the game Warren scored 20 points on physical slashes to the basket and a couple jumpers.
Memphis YOMCA's Leslie McDonald looked every bit the five-star prospect that he is. With a mature understanding of the game, McDonald contributed on the boards as well with his smooth jumper which produced 20 points.
With teammates Samardo Samuels and Sylven Landesberg staying home, 2009 point guard Dexter Strickland is carrying the load for the Metro Hawks. In a half of work against the Mean Street Express, Strickland knocked down a couple threes and got to the basket repeatedly. He also did a nice job of finding shooters off his penetration.
An undersized Team Final pulled off an impressive win against Boo Williams. Tyreke Evans pumped in 21 points while Ed Davis only managed nine points. Ty Walker spent most of the game on the bench for Boo Williams.
Kemba Walker continues his hot play. In a New York Gauchos' win over Howard Pulley, Walker led the charges while also scoring 19 points. His teammate Durand Scott had a team high 20 points.
The Alabama Challenge fell behind early to the New York Gauchos, but stormed back mid-way through the second quarter and dominated the rest of the way for a near 20 point win.
A balanced scoring attack for the Challenge was headed by shooting guard Andres Gentry with 14 points. Shooting guard David Murray, who game resembles Boston College commitment Nick Williams' game, added 11 points on jumpers and post up moves.
The two most impressive prospects for the Challenge were 6-foot-5 wing Brandon Peterson and 5-foot-11 point guard Eric Bledsoe. Peterson went for 11 points with nine of those points coming off three-pointers. The long athlete also rebounded well and handled the ball with poise against the Gauchos' pressure defense.
Bledsoe anchored the Challenge's attack with a combination of strong ball handling and timely scoring. He had nine points, but his constant penetration kept the Gauchos on their heels.
Jeremy Tyler and his California Supreme squad struggled mightily against a pesky and rugged St. Louis Eagles squad. Tyler managed nine points, the majority on dunks, but was repeatedly stripped of the ball when he put it on the floor in the post.
A tremendous 2010 talent, Tyler will develop all the physical tools to be an elite player. The question, however, is how much he will mature emotionally on the court. Right now, his constant emotional out bursts, prevent him from focusing his vast abilities on consistently making winning plays.
BABC 2010 point guard Phil Pressey and 2009 forward Jamal Coombs played impressive games in a route of Howard Pulley. Pressey continually found his way into the lane while also knocking down deep jumpers for a total of 14 points.
At the top of the press, Coombs harassed the Pulley ball handlers throughout the game. He was also active on the boards, scored on drives to the basket and ended the game with a smooth looking three-pointer.
Coombs' teammate and fellow UConn commitment Alex Oriakhi struggled to finish plays and ended up with only five points.
With the Portland Legends 16-under team unable to make the trip to Nashville, the YOMCA Tennessee Tigers easily defeated a fill in local squad.
Combo forward Zaccheus Mason hit a three to start the game and then muscled his way around the basket for the rest of his team high 18 points. Perhaps caught between positions as a high-major prospect, Mason is at worse a top flight mid-major prospect as a skilled power forward. If Mason can improve his lateral quickness and improve at putting the ball on the floor, then he is a high-major small forward prospect at a generous 6-foot-6.
The Tigers do have a high-major prospect in 6-foot-4 shooting guard John Jenkins. With a smooth high release on his jumper and a feel for the game, Jenkins is a threat offensively. He ended up with 17 points and also did a nice job handling and passing the ball. As with Mason, improving his lateral quickness will improve his value as a prospect.
We caught the first half of the Georgia Stars against the Metro Hawks as well as the Birmingham Storm against the Illinois Warriors.
The threesome of point guard Quinn Bivins and forwards Terrell Barnes and Kammeron Holsey are good looking prospects for the Stars. Bivins showed quickness with the ball and the ability to knock down a jumper. Barnes, although not that athletic but a strong 6-foot-5, used his muscle and craftiness to score in the mid-range. However, it was Holsey who impressed the most with his ability to chase down rebounds and handle the ball at 6-foot-7.
Demarcus Cousins showed some flashes of brilliance in his first game of the day. A step back three and spin move to the basket from the low post were a couple of his highlights.
And in a note from the 15-under action. Remember the name Ralston Turner. A 6-foot-5 shooting guard for the Alabama Challenge, Turner went for 29 points. Along with five three-pointers, Turner also went to work with a strong post up game. His point guard teammate Terrence Smith is also a nice looking high-major prospect.
Xavier Henry named Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina, Texas, Ohio State and Louisville.
Sharp shooter Rotnei Clarke hasn't trimmed his list down, but he listed Oklahoma, Kansas, Florida, Kentucky, Marquette, Washington State, Arizona State and Gonzaga. All but Florida and Kentucky have offered according to Clarke.
2009 Athlete's First prospect Daniel Orton has Maryland, Auburn, Oklahoma (offer), Florida, Kansas (offer) and Oklahoma State (offer).
Fast rising Gauchos point guard Kemba Walker likes Cincinnati, Miami, St. John's, Providence, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Memphis and Florida State.