April 22, 2007

Future Big East Stars Shine at MSG

New York, NY -- The road to the Big East title always goes through Madison Square Garden so it was only fitting that two future conference rivals were named MVP's of the sixth annual Jordan Brand All-American Classic Saturday night at "The World's Most Famous Arena." Syracuse bound Donte Green (Towson Catholic, Baltimore, MD) scored a game-high 20 points, but with 12 points and 10 assists Corey Fisher (St. Patrick, Elizabeth, NJ) led his Jordan Yellow team to a 127-119 victory.

With a loaded lineup that included Fisher, Eric Gordon (North Central, Indianapolis, IN), Derrick Rose (Simeon, Chicago, IL), Chris Wright (Trotwood-Madison, Trotwood, OH) and Kyle Singler (South Medford, Medford, OR), the Jordan Yellow squad was the prohibitive favorite going into Saturday night's game. The Jordan Blue team, however, kept the game close and competitive until the end even though the Yellow squad took an early lead. A follow up dunk by Wright made the score 4-0 and lay-up by Rose gave the Jordan Yellow team a 9-4 advantage.

The Jordan Yellow squad kept its comfortable lead early after a shake and bake lay-up by Fisher gave his team a 15-7 lead. Fisher crossed over Jeffrey Jordan (Loyola Academy, Wilmette, IL) on his way to the rack and despite making only four of 14 shots from the field Fisher did a good job of setting up teammates. In the two national all-star games the Bronx native participated in, Fisher racked up 26 assists, including a record 16 at the Roundball Classic in Chicago.

Jordan, of course, is the oldest son of NBA all-time great Michael Jordan, whose Jordan Brand became the title sponsor of the Capital Classic six years ago when it was renamed the Jordan Capital Classic. Arguably the greatest NBA player ever, Michael Jordan played in the 1981 Capital Classic in Washington D.C. and his 6-foot-1 son was able to play in the game on the same court where his father often excelled for the Chicago Bulls in memorable match ups with the New York Knicks.

"I was real nervous," Fisher told the New York Daily News of playing in front of Michael Jordan. "He shook my hand and I was really happy to meet him."

Although Jeffrey Jordan is clearly not one of the top 50 players in the national Class of 2007, he did an admirable job competing against many of the nation's best players and finished with nine points, one assist and one steal for the Jordan Blue team. One of the Jordanesque moments of this year's Jordan Brand game occurred at the end of the first half. The Jordan Yellow squad built a double-digit lead (40-30), but the Jordan Blue squad cut it down to four points (55-51) on back-to-back dunks by Green. It looked like the Jordan Blue unit would carry the momentum going into the intermission until Austin Freeman (DeMatha, Hyattsville, MD) hit a 42-foot bank shot at the halftime buzzer to give his Jordan Yellow team a 64-55 lead.

The favored Jordan Yellow unit maintained its lead for a majority of the second half, although the Jordan Blue unit kept the game surprisingly close. Green's second three-pointer of the game made the score 77-75 and even though repeated drives to the basket by Freeman helped keep his team in the lead, the Jordan Blue team was able to cut the deficit to one point (111-110) on a made free throw by Patrick Patterson (Huntington, WV).

Patterson had a chance to tie the game, but he made only one free throw but moments later the Jordan Blue team took its first of the game on a highlight half court alley-oop pass from Chris Wright (St. John's, Washington, D.C.) that Jerryd Bayless (St. Mary's, Phoenix, AZ) finished with reverse dunk. The underdogs took a 112-111 lead on the Wright to Bayless alley-oop, but their lead was short-lived as Rose answered with a strong scoring drive to make the score 115-114.

Rose then made the biggest play of the game when he came up with a steal and then saved the ball from going out of bounds in front of the Jordan Blue bench. He simultaneously threw the basketball down towards the Jordan Yellow basket to a streaking Jeff Robinson (St. Patrick, Elizabeth, NJ) for a windmill dunk. Rose's heady play gave the Jordan Yellow team a comfortable 120-114 lead and his two free throws made the score 122-115 and all but sealed the game.

Freeman, who will join Fisher and Green in the Big East at Georgetown, finished with 16 points off the bench with the majority of them coming on those strong drives to the bucket. Robinson, a Memphis recruit and teammate of Fisher's at St. Patrick, scored a team-high 17 points for the victors. Gordon and Singler also finished with 16 points for the Jordan Yellow team.

In addition to Green's 20-point performance, the Jordan Blue club got a solid performance from Bayless as the Arizona recruit finished with 17 points.

The Jordan Brand All-American Classic featured the head coaches of the top two ranked clubs in this year's Student Sports FAB 50 national rankings. Steve Smith (Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, VA) guided the Jordan Blue club and suffered his second defeat as a head coach this season. Smith guided Oak Hill to a 40-1 mark and mythical national title. Fisher and Robinson's mentor at St. Patrick, Kevin Boyle, coached the victorious Jordan Yellow club and earlier led the Celtics to a New Jersey Tournament of Champions crown and No. 2 final ranking.


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