FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.-The Southeast Elite made a statement Saturday as they worked their way into the quarterfinals of the Real Deal on the Hill. The most impressive prospect of the day was elite 2009 prospect Renardo Sidney.
The loaded Pump N Run squad from Southern California came into their game against Southeast Elite as a favorite, but were completely overmatched in the second half, losing a six-point lead at the half to fall 75-67.
The game began as if Pump N Run were going to run Southeast Elite out of the gym, but midway through the first half both Jrue Holiday and Jerime Anderson went to the bench giving life to the Southeast Elite as they went on a double-digit run.
Leading the charge for the Southeast Elite was Romero Osby, who scored all but three of his game-high 24 points in the second half. Osby had several crafty left-handed finishes around the basket and put the ball on the floor on the perimeter to create shots for his teammates and himself.
Courtney Fortson, who will reclassify to the 2008 class after winning Alabama's Mr. Basketball award this season, played a solid game scoring 16 points and grabbing some tough defensive rebounds from his point guard position.
A prospect on the rise, Darnell Wilkes also had a big game for the Southeast Elite. The Cincinnati commitment used his explosive first step and athleticism in the paint to score 15 points and lead his team in rebounding.
Varez Ward took advantage of slower defenders guarding him on the wing and knocked down some timely jumpers in support of the big three for the Southeast Elite.
For the Pump N Run, Jrue Holiday was impressive as the top prospect on the court, but he failed to take the game over in the second half. He did finish with 18 points as he led his team in scoring, assists and steals and was one of his team's top rebounders along with Reeves Nelson. Holiday got into the lane at will against the Southeast Elite defense, but forced a few too many shots at the rim instead of pulling up for the mid-range jumper.
Nelson, who is a 2009 prospect to watch, was strong and athletic around the boards. The forceful combo forward showed he is capable of igniting the fastbreak with the dribble after his defensive rebounds.
He and Victor Davila were the most competitive big men in the paint for Pump N Run.
Renardo Sidney looks extremely impressive with his new travel team LA Dream Team, which is coached by his father. Over the high school season Sidney has conditioned his body and is playing inspired basketball. Besides the fact that he scored from all over the court, perhaps the most telling sign of Sidney's development is the way he organized his teammates and communicated on defense.
Philip Jurick, the four-star power forward out of Chattanooga, Tenn., came out a little timid against the talented Atlanta Celtics squad, but found his stride after hitting a couple jump hooks and blocking a host of shots. There is no doubt that Jurick has an animal in him. He just needs to figure how to unleash it on a regular basis. A first step technique-wise would involve a concerted effort to play with his hands above his waist on a more regular basis.
Jurick finished with eight points, six rebounds and seven blocks against the Celtics.
Howard Thompkins had a strong day for the Celtics. Against the Jurick's Tennessee Mavericks, he totaled 15 points, six rebounds, 2 blocks and a handful of impressive assists.
Although Thompkins is not an overwhelming athlete, he has a genuine feel for the game and a skill package to make all the essential plays.
Derrick Favors, although not as productive as Thompkins, had outbursts of brilliance during the day. He made a lot of heady plays on defense and did a good job of stabilizing the middle for his team.
Jordan Hamilton put up 21 points and six rebounds in a Lamar Odom-I Can All Stars' win over the Arkansas Hawks. Known as a sharpshooter, Hamilton hit a couple threes but was more impressive handling the ball in the open court and finishing at the rim.
Michael Sanchez countered with 19 points and six rebounds, a lot of which came from the free throw line. He does an excellent job using his physicality to get into defenders.
Clarence Trent came up with 16 points in support of Sanchez. Most of his points came in the mid-range area, and Trent is blending quite well with his new team with his unselfish play and hustle around the ball.
Dream Team Louisiana also has a talented 6-foot-9 post player in Terrance Henry who is also a promising prospect. On back to back possessions the left hander scored in the post on Renardo Sidney and was consistently active on the boards.
2009's to keep an eye on
Jacksonville Lee Bulls big man Waverly Austin didn't get a lot of run but he showed signs of being a high major post player on the next level. Hovering right around 6 feet 9 and possessing a frame that can carry more than the 210 pounds he sports now, he is fluid and smooth. He has to get stronger but he runs the floor and gets after it on the boards.
Another post to watch is I-Can All Stars Greg Smith who at 6-foot-8, 225-pounds is a five foot and in guy who likes to bang and doesn't mind mixing it up. Smith is more advanced on the defensive end and will have the high majors watching closely as his offense develops.
Emmanuel Negedu said he is very unsure when it comes to formulating a list, but did say he has interest in Arizona, Tennessee, Indiana and Miami. All four have offered.
Travis Wear and David Wear reiterated that they will attend the same college. Right now they are most interested in UCLA (offer), North Carolina (offer), Arizona (offer), Washington and Stanford.
Victor Davila has offers from Wake Forest, Miami and Clemson. He is also interested Virginia Tech, VCU and Charlotte.
Tyler Zeller, who is open in his recruitment, has offers from Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, Illinois, Iowa State, Arizona State. North Carolina and Kansas are showing interest as well.
Courtney Fortson, who plans to attend Patterson Prep next year, has been getting interest from Kansas, Texas A&M, Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky and Arkansas-Little Rock.
Varez Ward, a high school teammate of Fortson who will also be attending Patterson Prep, has interest from Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and Kentucky.
Josh Crumel of the Southeast Elite is getting interest from Alabama, Illinois, Missouri and Ole Miss.
Romero Osby is still wide open but did state interest in Texas, Kansas, Florida, Memphis, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama. All but Florida have offered.
Michael Sanchez has decided to reclassify and attend Findley Prep in Las Vegas. At this moment, he is listing Wake Forest, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Kentucky and Arkansas.
Greg Smith is interested in UCLA, Washington, USC, Oregon State and Arizona State.
Jordan Hamilton has interest from USC, Florida, Arizona State, Texas, Oregon, Arizona, North Carolina and NC State.
Tim Watts and Mark Reeves contributed to his report.