FT. WAYNE, Ind - The Bill Hensley Memorial Run 'N Slam came to a close without a major pop with a great performance in the title game, but still it was memorable. Indiana Elite came home with the title at the 17-and under level, and they were led by Cody Zeller.
An Elite run to the title
Coming into the weekend many pegged Indiana Elite as the team to beat, and they proved many of the pundits to be correct with the way they performed all weekend long. Indiana Elite used a balanced attack, but still down low Cody Zeller proved to be too much in the championship.
St. Louis Gameface had already beaten Indiana Elite once while in Denver, but they couldn't do it twice with all the chips in the center. Indiana Elite slowed the game down and worked it inside and out with Zeller and Jeremiah Davis.
Zeller, who had an excellent weekend overall, put his versatility on display. Last year he was mostly a kid who scored 10 feet and in, but the 6-foot-10 prospect hit two three point jumpers to extend the defense, and then attacked the glass as always making plays down low. With Zeller asserting himself, that opened up driving lanes for Davis.
Davis did just that. He attacked the rim at will, and finished many shots around the bucket. His three point jumper wasn't falling in the championship as it had earlier in the weekend, but still he controlled the pace. Davis only finished with eight points in the finals, but he created for his teammates and took care of the ball dishing out numerous assists for the well balanced attack.
Also showing well was 2012 point guard Kevin Ferrell. Ferrell is super quick with the ball, and he was able to penetrate into the defense and create plays for himself and his teammates. He showed his dynamic pull up jumper, and also he was a pest on defense harassing the Gameface guards with his ball pressure.
The win was a big one for Indiana Elite and gave the program its first championship in a major tournament this spring. Also it marked a bit of a repeat, as Indiana Elite came home with the 16-and under title last year at the same event.
Young takes over
While St. Louis Gameface fell in the finals, their semi-final win over Seattle Rotary is one for the ages, and it was the scene of the best performance of the event. Gameface guard B.J. Young not only went toe-to-toe with the talented Rotary trio of Anthony Wroten, Gary Bell, and Anrio Adams, but he got the best of them.
Young is no doubt a talent, and has been for some time. The 6-foot-3 combo guard can really shoot it from deep, he is creative going to the rim off the dribble, has an ability to make his teammates better, and is a well above average athlete. Consistency has sometimes been in question, and a lack of basketball playing experience, but Young put it all together on Sunday.
Going against three talented wings, Young took on the challenge full steam ahead and quite simply showed during that one game that he was the best player on the floor.
Young abused the Rotary defense off the dribble all game long, had it working from distance, and made some big time passes to set up buckets, especially to big man Dantiel Daniels.
Then with Rotary up two, and under three seconds left in overtime, Young took the ball nearly the length of the floor and launched a floater from 15 feet with .1 showing on the clock, and nailed it to send the game into double overtime.
Once in double OT it was all Young. He simply took over the final part of the game, and finished with 42 points to help Gameface advance to the finals. Overall it was the performance of the tournament, and a bit of a coming out party for Young.
Other notable performances
Got our first look at 2013 prospect Alex Foster on Sunday. The 6-foot-7 power forward has received a lot of praise from the Windy City pundits, and he showed some serious potential. Foster has long arms, is a good athlete, and looks to be growing still. He was able to finish around the rim fairly well, and has a developing skill level. While not a phenom, Foster definitely has the potential to be one of the better players in his class.
Also showing well in terms of 2013 prospects was Brenton Scott. Scott hasn't gotten as much attention as his twin brother Bryson, but Brenton had it working on Sunday. Brenton was really hitting from three, and also played hard attacking the rim. If his jumper continues to fall like that, Brenton will have no problem at all gaining a lot of attention from college coaches.
Charles Tucker is a Lansing, Michigan point guard with long standing connections to Magic Johnson, and he is trying to become the next great floor general from the city. In leading his All-Ohio Red team to the tournament title, Tucker was great. He attacked off the dribble, played with great pace, and is excellent finishing at the rim through contract. A deceptive athlete, Tucker showed himself to be one of the better point guards early on in the 2013 class.
Joining Tucker was frontcourt mates Nigel Hayes and Marc Loving. Hayes is a bruising power forward who is trying to get more skilled, but his combination of strength and athleticism is nearly unmatched at the 15-and under level. Loving is a skilled small forward who can really shoot it, and also is capable of scoring off the dribble. The two of them put points up all weekend, and had a huge part in the run to the title.
One of the best rebounders in the country is DeJuan Marrero. While he is undersized to be a power forward, it simply doesn't matter. Marrero attacks the glass with a non-stop motor, and then knows how to finish over and around taller defenders. Without Marquis Teague this weekend, Spiece Indy Heat needed big time production from Marrero, and nearly every time out he managed to get a double-double. He does need to improve his outside game, but when it comes to cleaning the glass, few do it better than Marrero.
While Anthony Davis is the player that drew all the praise and attention early on for Meanstreets, and rightfully so, the boys from Chicago got huge performances from two guards in their win over Spiece Indy Heat. Point guard Julius Brown was great using his athleticism to beat his man off the dribble, and also he scored from the outside with a great looking jumper. The knock on Brown has always been decision making, but all day he made the right play with the basketball. Joining Brown was scoring guard Phil Greene. Greene is a big time scorer who is just wired to get buckets. He scores outside and from the mid-range. Greene is a good athlete with a strong frame, and someone who just knows what it takes to be lethal with the ball in his hands.
A 2012 power forward who flashed a ton of potential was Jordan Hare. The Saginaw, Michigan native suited up with the King James Shooting Stars this weekend, and formed a great one-two punch with Jakarr Sampson. Hare right now is a bit more prospect than producer, but he has excellent hands, is a legitimate 6-foot-9, moves well, and has good touch around the rim.
While Hare was new to the King James crew, Sampson was the reliable scorer. After spending the first two years of his career as an inside guy, Sampson now is a big time driver from the perimeter where he uses his length and athleticism to finish once in the lane. Currently he does almost everything going right, but Sampson was the biggest force in King James' run to the silver bracket championship.
One of the best games of the day came in the semi-finals of the 16-and under level where Ohio Basketball Club topped Indiana Elite. While OBC came out on top, it was D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera who stole the show with 28 points, almost all of them when his team needed him.
Smith-Rivera is a ball dominant combo guard who is a very good passer, but quite simply he is at his best going to the rim and getting buckets. There might not be a player at his age level who does a better job of getting to the foul line, and once he got there Smith-Rivera kept hitting one clutch free throw after another. Add in that he made threes, and the hard working Indianapolis native is beginning to prove some of the doubters wrong about his game.
One of the better 2012 prospects in Chicago is Aaron Simpson. The combo guard is a big time athlete, and has the ability to really finish around the rim. Right now he needs to do a better job of being a floor general, but the athleticism, quickness, and tight handle are all there to be recruited at an extremely high level.
Julius Brown has an offer from Tennessee State and interest from Missouri State, Western Michigan, and Cal Poly.
Jordan Hare claims heavy interest from Louisville, Kentucky, Memphis, Kansas, Ohio State, USC, and Michigan State.
Aaron Simpson has interest from Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Ohio State, and Florida