May 28, 2006

SoCal All-Stars can't be stopped

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - What else can you do to stop the Southern California All-Stars? For the third time in the AAU season, the answer is nothing. The boys from the West Coast came to North Carolina for the Tournament of Champions and dominated the field to claim back-to-back championships.

Using a balanced and dominating team effort, SCA had all cylinders firing against the Playaz (N.J.) to win the 2006 event with an 83-62 victory on Saturday afternoon at the University of North Carolina.

SCA spread the offensive wealth around and blanketed the Playaz on defense, keeping the Northeastern power on lock down. The Playaz didn't score a field goal until eight minutes into the game. When guys like USC commitment Malik Story and Duke pledge Taylor King knocking down long threes in the first half, it looked like the game was over in the first half.

Story played his best game of the tournament in the championship as he sunk home a trio of triples, two of which came off of pull-up jumpers. Story finished with 17 points. King was close behind with 14 all the while showing off range that players in the NBA don't even have.

From start to finish, there hasn't been a better player at the TOC than Brandon Jennings. The sophomore point guard dazzled the crowd in the championship game with his athleticism, passing skills and overall feel for the game. He glues the talent all together like few point guards, regardless of class, can.

Jennings finished with 16 points in the title game. He makes the difficult shots look elementary. There isn't a point guard with the kind of athleticism that he brings to the table.

The beneficiary of so many great Jennings passes was Kevin Love, the official tournament MVP. Love scored the high percentage buckets because Jennings put him into position to get the easy scores.

Love has been one of the most dominant players on the AAU circuit this spring. He has the championship trophies to prove it. There are few players that can say they have back-to-back championships at the Kingwood Classic and the Tournament of Champions. Love can.

16 and under championship

The Georgia Stars looked like they were ready to win their division of the TOC with a quick start against the Carolina Raptors. The Stars jumped out to a quick start and saw the deficit climb to 17 points within the first 10 minutes of the game.

Then the story changed. The Raptors clawed back from the slow start thanks to the stellar guard play of Demarquis Bost, Damier Pitts and Andre Cornelius.

The Raptors tied the game at 42 and never looked back, claiming the 16 and under title with the 66-48 win over the loaded Georgia Stars.

Bost, a 6-foot-2 combo guard from Concord (N.C.) High School, capped off a big weekend with 21 points. His play earned the Most Outstanding Player award of the tournament. The young class of 2007 prospect was one of the quickest players in the 16U division and blew by anyone that tried to get in front of him on the defensive end of the floor. His best work comes off of penetration to the basket and scoring in the lane. Athletically, he's top notch too. Bost said Clemson, High Point (offer), Florida State, West Carolina and Georgia are aware of him. Once word gets out, that list could double and possibly triple.

Bost didn't do it along. Pitts, a 5-foot-10 sophomore point guard from Charlotte (N.C.) Christian was the pillar of consistency as a lead guard. He made great decision after great decision and never once panicked during the difficult start. He's a competitor that wills his team to big victory. He's under the radar nationally despite interest from Wake Forest, Clemson, NC State and Virginia Tech. It's time to start paying more attention to him.

Cornelius was the defensive stopper and playmaker with the dribble. The 5-foot-9 sophomore is quick as a hiccup and the Stars backcourt just couldn't find an answer for him. As good as Bost and Pitts were, Cornelius may have had the most impact in the championship game because of his big play ability.

After scoring 24 points in the semi finals against the Westchester Hawks, Al-Farouq Aminu had his most disappointing game of the tournament but still managed to muster 13 points in the defeat. Despite the loss, Aminu was the best player and prospect in the 16 and under tournament from start to finish. The 15-year-old capped off a stellar spring at the TOC. The momentum he has going into July is scary.

15 and under championship

Indiana Elite defeated Texas Select 64-44 to claim the 15 and under championship.

Colt Ryan was named tournament MVP but a case could be made for several members of Indiana Elite's team. D.J. Byrd scored 16 points in the final while Stephan Van Treese added 11.

Roger Franklin lead Texas Select with 12 points while Shawn Williams added eight points.

The game was a rematch of the Real Deal on the Hill championship game. Indiana Elite also won that game.



 

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