SAN DIEGO, CA - The first annual adidas Phenom 150 is in the books and Dexter Strickland made sure the final chapter closed with a bang. The New Jersey native put on a show while Darryl Traynham and Trey Zeigler kept things interesting in the class of 2010 all-star game.
Class of 2009 all-star game dazzles
Simply put, Dexter Strickland was on another level on Sunday. The stud guard from St. Patrick's (N.J.) High School proved that his first two days of action were legitimate. Not that anyone had any questions to begin. The 6-foot-3 combo guard was the best player at the camp from start to finish and claimed MVP honors after his dazzling 24 point effort in the top 20 all-star game for the class of 2009 participants.
Strickland just made it look too easy when he had the ball in his hands and even easier when he moved without it. He plays within himself and within the flow of the game. Smooth. He's just smooth.
Strickland blew by defenders with the dribble, attacked the glass as a rebounder, made plays with the pass and exploded to the basket on back door cuts. It was all clicking. He led the way in his team's 109-97 victory in a very competitive contest.
The class of 2009 is shaping up as a nice looking group and based on the early efforts by Strickland this spring and summer, he is contending for high honors amongst his classmates. There has even been some chatter about whether or not he is a better prospect than New York phenom Lance Stephenson. It's a worthy argument that will certainly be tossed around in the metro area. It would be nice to see the two play against each other.
As Strickland went out of the game, his squad received a huge lift from the play of Sacramento (Calif.) High guard Chase Tapley. The sturdy combo guard provided a huge lift for his team, scoring 10 of his 16 points in a quick stretch.
Tapley did just a little bit of everything but used his size to his advantage to get into the lane and scored on the difficult shots. His handles are strong and that helped in his success in getting into the paint time and time again. Tapley was the biggest surprise of the all-star game.
Houstonian Joey Brooks was another nice surprise of the camp and he justified his all-star selection with 16 points in an impressive manor. The lanky 6-foot-5 wing from Strake Jesuit High School scored on the wing, off the dribble and on pull up jumpers. He'll be a guy to watch closely for the high-majors over the next couple of years in the Lone Star State.
Alex English (no relation to the former NBA player of the same name) was the big play performer for the East team in the second half when the game was tied in crunch time. The Kansas City native was the most athletic player in the game and thundered home four dunks that shifted the momentum back to his squad. It was his step back three that gave his team the lead that stuck, too. English finished with 13 points. Because of his physical and athletic skills, English will be watched by the high-majors.
Stephan Van Treese had eight points in the win but the big man from Indianapolis made a bigger impact on the defensive end. He blocked a number of shots at the rim and rebounded and started the break in a hurry. Athletically, he is better than most bigs in his class and uses that to his advantage on defense. Van Treese is a priority guy for the Big Ten, the conference he will probably play in.
Point guard Michael Dixon dazzled once again on Sunday. He is a jet with the ball and scored on the high degree of difficulty shots, drawing oohs and ahhs from the onlookers. The Kansas City floor general is going into July on a strong note after this camp.
Tamir Jackson had little trouble getting to the rim and that was the reason why he scored 10 points in the victory. The St. Benedict's (N.J.) guard also found Strickland on a couple of fantastic back door passes.
Others shine in all-star game
Despite tying the game late in the fourth quarter, the West team couldn't get over the hump to claim the victory.
Bill Edwards of Ohio did his part in the all-star game though. The 6-foot-6 forward capped off a great weekend with a team high 14 points. Even though he is built for the grind down low, Edwards stepped out for a pair of good looking three-pointers and used his athleticism for other buckets.
D.J. Byrd drew the difficult task of defending Dexter Strickland and he gave it a good effort. Needless to say, Strickland got the better of Byrd. But Byrd won't be defined by that. Instead, he showed that he has some offensive firepower up his sleeve, too. Byrd let 'em fly from deep, way deep sometimes, and connected on a pair of long balls. You'll never see him take a play off and that serves him well around the basket for boards and scores.
Demetrius Walker, the bally-hooed kid from Fontana (Calif.) High School, started the camp off with a big time performance on Friday night. He struggled with consistency on Saturday and Sunday but still managed to find spots to score and produce in the all-star game, scoring a modest nine points.
Dominic Cheek, a good looking prospect from St. Anthony's, had it dialed in from deep, connecting on a couple of three pointers to the tune of 10 points.
Big man Brendan Lane had his hands full with Van Treese, the best big man in the camp and the 6-foot-8 Californian had his strong moments. Lane finished with eight points and five rebounds in the all-star game. He's an athletic rebounder and scored in bunches.
All-Star game odds & ends
Philly guard Jesse Morgan didn't tally a lot of points but he had an impact in the game. He has good size and a good knack for scoring…Stevie Rogers of Houston didn't score a bucket but scoring wasn't of his concern. He directed traffic and looked very good doing it…Wisconsin forward Jeronne Maymon had to leave early for a flight back home. It's too bad. He was one of the top five players at the camp and received an invite to the adidas Superstar camp in Atlanta in July…Connecticut guard Tyrone Gardner would have also made the game had he not left early for a cross-country flight.
2010 game goes back and forth
Washington D.C. area guard Darryl Traynham was one of the smallest players on the court but he came up with the biggest game en route to a MVP performance. The 5-foot-7 point guard was fun to watch as he knifed through the defense and straight to the cup for a number of reverse layups. He knocked in a couple of three-pointers and raced past anyone that tried to defend him on the wing. That was the story with his game all camp long.
Claiming MVP honors for the West team was Trey Zeigler. The 6-foot-3 wing used his strong frame to snatch rebounds and scores around the cup. He scored upwards of 20 points. Ziegler, the son of UCLA assistant Ernie Ziegler, just made plays. That was the motto the seemed to follow him around this weekend. Ziegler knows how to play and never seemed to let up.
Jarell Eddie, a 6-foot-6 forward, was the best big men in the class of 2010 group. He's too quick off the floor, too skilled and too talented to debate that amongst the other big men that played at the camp.
Josh Selby is athletic as all get out and certainly looked to show that aspect of his game off. The 6-foot-1 guard from Baltimore connected on a couple of rainbow three pointers to boot.
Jay Canty, a 6-foot-3 guard, was active, athletic and alert. The North Carolina native was one of the top players in the all-star game and the camp.
As one of the few players from the class of 2010 with some national reputations Tony Chenault could have easily commanded the attention and made sure he got his in the all-star game. He didn't. Instead, he set up his teammates and made sure everyone had touches.
Augusta, Ga., native Jason Morris impressed on Saturday and Sunday and capped it off with a strong all-star game performance. The 6-foot-4 wing showed off a great knack for creating off the dribble and scoring from the wing. A move to a prep school in Connecticut is next on his list of things to do this year. The 14-year-old is just starting to tap into his potential.
One of the surprises of the all-star game was point guard Corbin Harris. The 5-foot-9 point guard played incredibly hard, perhaps harder than anybody in the all-star game. He plays at a fast pace but also in control and looked to push every time he got the ball in his hands.