MEMPHIS- The action at the Battle at the Bluff heated up with the highly anticipated match up of the Memphis Magic and the MBA Hoops. LaQuinton Ross had a big game as MBA Hoops came away with a one point win on a controversial last second shot.
MBA Hoops led by as much as eight points in the first half behind the hot shooting of Ross and the inspired playmaking of sensational 2011 point guard Deville Smith. Down 42-36 at half, the Memphis Magic came back early in the second half to control that period until Joe Jackson, who scored a team high 18 points on 8-16 shooting, fouled out with 6:11 left in the game and the Magic up 65-60.
The Magic still had the game in hand until a series of missed free throws in the closing minutes which allowed Smith to hit a game winning pull up 17-foot jumper which was allowed despite leaving his hands after the buzzer sounded giving the MBA Hoops a 75-74 win. Smith was one of the standouts in the game scoring 12 points, but much more significantly, handing out nine assists to four turnovers compared to zero assists and seven turnovers from Jackson.
Although not the scoring threat from midrange and deep that Jackson is, Smith made a large imprint on the game with his explosive drives into the teeth of the defense where he either finished deep or kicked the ball out primarily to Ross for threes.
Ross, who is poised to take the No. 1 ranking at the end of the summer in the 2011 class, fired in 30 points on 9-18 shooting including 3-9 from three. A sharp shooter from deep who is approaching 6-foot-9, Ross also has a creativity and smoothness with the ball that conjures up images modern small forward stars like Kevin Durant, Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant.
In the past year Ross has also added a more physical element to his game where he is able to attack the chest of the defense when finishing his drive. The result was 12 trips to the free throw line including two and-ones.
Christian Watford, for the Memphis Magic, was also one of the top players in the game. Scoring repeatedly on power spins around the basket off the drive, Watford finished with 17 points on 6-14 shooting while making his sole three-point attempt. For a large part of the second half Watford posted on the left wing and attacked the middle with strong drives.
Watford's stat line also included five rebounds and a block while Ross snagged three rebounds and blocked three shots.
The game also included a talented supporting cast of Sampson Carter (Memphis Magic), Tarik Black (Memphis Magic), Mardracus Wade (Memphis Magic), Demarco Cox (MBA Hoops) and Rodney Hood.
Carter, who appears to be headed to prep school, scored 15 points and did an admirable job defending Ross.
Black, a 2010 prospect, was a beast on the boards while also scoring 10 points. A physical athlete with a great motor, Black is every bit of a four-star prospect.
Wade is another promising 2010 prospect. A combo guard with more size than Jackson and Smith, Wade defended Smith in the second half and slowed him down somewhat after his torrid first half. Offensively, Wade attacked the basket and hit from outside for a total of 12 points.
A 2010 post prospect, Cox is limited athletically but knows how to use his wide frame to get position inside. He scored 14 points and was aggressive on the boards.
Another 2011 prospect, Hood did not look out of place in this high powered game, which was watched by Ole Miss' Andy Kennedy and Arkansas' John Pelphrey. At around 6-foot-7, Hood is a skilled left handed wing player.
More from the class of 2010
Four-star prospect Casey Prather broke open a tight game to give the Nashville Celtics a win over Team Rameybasketball.com. Down the stretch Prather scored 11 straight points on creative and powerful drives to the basket. He finished with a 25 point performance in front of Kevin Stallings of Vanderbilt.
Prather stated that he is very open in his recruitment but that his top three schools are Vanderbilt, Virginia and Alabama, with Vanderbilt at the top of the list.
"Vanderbilt sticks out the most right now because they have been recruiting me the hardest and longest," said Prather.
Meyers Leonard of Team Rameybasketball.com 16-under squad isn't a high production player at this point, but his length and mobility make him an intriguing prospect. He presently has offers from Indiana, Iowa, Purdue and Southern Illinois. Ohio State, Florida, Illinois, Virginia, Kentucky, Louisville and Miami are also on his school list. Bruce Weber of Illinois and Chris Lowery of Southern Illinois were both in Memphis tracking Leonard.
News from 2009
Both Ole Miss commitment Reginald Buckner and five-star prospect Latavious Williams were out of action with knee injuries. Buckner will likely be out through July while Williams is expected to play next week in Las Vegas.
Williams, who is unsure of which prep school he will attend this year, is listing Marquette, LSU, Xavier, Mississippi State, Baylor, Kansas State, Connecticut, Auburn and Alabama. He noted that LSU, Mississippi State, Kansas State and Auburn are the four schools recruiting him the hardest.