Hampton, VA - While it wasn't a tournament like in years past, the final day at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League in Hampton was still impressive. There were numerous standout performances, but one that really opened up eyes was the display put on by Oakland Soldiers guard Jabari Brown.
A blowout with military precision
There was no doubt coming into the tournament that the Oakland Soldiers were going to be tough, real tough to beat. However most didn't anticipate the performance they put on against Spiece Indy Heat.
From the very beginning it was obvious that Spiece was in a world of hurt. Brown got going early with a jumper, and once the first one went in, all sorts of problems were coming Spiece's way, and Brown was the main contributor to those issues.
The 6-foot-3 powerfully built guard has a shooting stroke that is absolutely pure, and when he is feeling it, there is simply nothing that can be done to stop him. Brown did nearly all of his damage from beyond the arc in the first half, but he did it in different ways. He hit off of screens, scored off the bounce, and also knocked in shots off the catch. The performance Brown put on was just amazing in the first half. Brown was 9-10 shooting to put the Soldiers out in front by double digits.
While the lead was in double figures for the Soldiers, Marquis Teague did his best to keep Spiece within striking distance. The consensus best player in the gym the first two days was once again a stud on day three. Teague got to the rim when he wanted, hit a few threes from deep off the bounce, and was the only thing keeping Spiece in the game.
However things would go bad for Spiece when Teague went down with an injury early in the second half. That injury put the complete nail in the coffin for Spiece, and it opened up the flood gates for Brown and company.
After halftime Brown really didn't cool down, and showed his athleticism with an above the rim play and an impressive floater in the lane to go along with his dynamic shooting stroke. There was just no doubting the way that he played for the Soldiers.
Brown clearly was putting in work for the Soldiers, but at the same time he had a lot of help. 2012 big man Brandon Ashley was too much for Spiece to handle when in the game, and with his new found strength and height, Ashley is going to be a tough matchup for most anyone on the circuit.
Also Nick Johnson was his typical solid do it all self playing solid defense and scoring going to the bucket, Kyle Wiltjer converted inside and out, Josiah Turner looks to be a big time combo guard with athleticism and a nice touch from deep, and for good measure 5-foot-8 Kiwi Gardner was a pest with his defensive pressure and contributing a few threes as well.
Overall before it was all said and done, the Soldiers went for over 100 on Spiece, and dished out the biggest beat down of the tournament.
Point Guard dual
There is a little debate as to what position Ky Madden projects best at, but point guard was definitely his spot on Sunday. Going up against fellow five-star prospect at the position, Shannon Scott, Madden brought his game.
Scott was his typical self. He beat his man off the dribble, showed great feel for how to pass when getting into the lane, and even got his jumper working a little bit. For some reason the Wings decided that Scott could only dribble with his right hand in the second half, and Scott put that scouting report to rest real quickly with numerous lefty drives and buckets. After struggling some on Saturday, Scott was much more aggressive with his own game, and it showed on Sunday. There was no answer for Scott when he was going forward, and that meant buckets for him or his teammates.
While they didn't defend each other, Madden also got it going when Scott did. After looking sluggish during the first half of the eight o'clock in the morning game, Madden took over the second half for the Wings. Madden used his smooth athleticism and size to overpower the Southern Kings guards, and then he used his perimeter shot to add the dagger. Behind the strong play of Madden, the Wings were able to rally late in regulation and get the win in overtime. Overall it was one of the best performances Madden has put forward in quite some time.
Other Notable Performances
One of the highlight performances of the day was Austin Rivers against Bradley Beal. Before Rivers officially opened up his recruitment earlier in the week, this would have meant two future Florida Gators going after each other. The two of them came out firing, and Rivers especially was hot early. However Beal got it going late, and he helped propel the St. Louis Eagles to the win. Overall Beal was ridiculously efficient scoring 37 points on only 21 shots while Rivers ended it with 34 points on 25 shots. Both were good, but at times it turned into a one-on-one game instead of a five-on-five game, which took away from things a little bit, but still it was good to see two of the premier scorers in the country go right after each other.
Alongside Beal is a good looking wing in Ben McLemore. McLemore has exploded lately on the recruiting scene, and he showed some of that potential. McLemore has a ton of ability with a smooth shooting stroke and big time athleticism, but he needs to do more creating for himself off the bounce. Still no doubt he had the look of a high-major player.
Give Henry Brooks of the Southern Kings some credit. Brooks stepped up big on Sunday. Though his numbers weren't huge, Brooks contributed solid points and rebounds at key times, and looked more like the highly thought of player last summer than the mildly productive player that he showed himself to be during the high school season.
Though Spiece got blown out by the Oakland Soldiers, A.J. Hammons closed out his strong weekend. Hammons did a good job of blocking shots and rebounding the ball. Also he had a few buckets down low. Once Hammons continues to refine his body he is going to be a difference maker on the low block.
The Arkansas Wings got a big lift from David Rivers. The 6-foot-6 wing has long arms, decent athleticism, and a nice looking shot from the perimeter. Now he needs to get a game off the dribble and add strength.
King James saw Zach Price get off to a good start against Louisiana Select. The Louisville commitment showed good hands and converted several shots down low. He then disappeared for a while, but there is some definite potential in there.
Making the biggest impact for King James was Jakarr Sampson. The 6-foot-7 combo forward is dynamic going to the rim with his right hand, and also has good range extended out to 18 feet. He had some good production though his team fell in defeat.
Stevie Taylor got loose for All-Ohio during the final session against the Oakland Soldiers. Taylor and All-Ohio stunned the Soldiers, and he was the biggest reason why. The diminutive floor general had over 30 points in the upset win.
Ben McLemore says that Kansas leads Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Purdue, Tennessee-Martin, Illinois, Providence, Missouri State, and Southern Illinois. According to McLemore all have offered.
Jakarr Sampson says Xavier leads Cincinnati, Dayton, Kentucky, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Tennessee. At this point the Volunteers and Wildcats haven't offered.
David Rivers has offers from UAB and Baylor with interest from Nebraska, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Iowa State.
Surprisingly Brandon Ashley says that no one has offered him, and that will change, but he did mention interest from the entire Pac-10.
Jabari Brown indicated that Washington, California, and Arizona State lead for him right now with Arizona, UNLV, Texas A&M, Maryland, and Stanford all in the chase.
After not paying much attention to his recruitment during the year, Nick Johnson says Arizona, Arizona State, Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Wake Forest, Ohio State, and others are staying heavily involved.