HOUSTON –The Kingwood Classic got off to a rousing start on Friday night with a classic double overtime thriller and some impressive individual performances.
Game of the night: Team Jones, led by Brad Tinsley outlasted Belmont Shortes 87-86 in double overtime despite a stellar 32-point effort by recent USC commitment DeMar DeRozan.
Tinsely finished with 25 points and converted the decisive three-point play with just seconds left in the second overtime to give his team the victory.
Although he is primarily a shooting guard, Tinsley dished out six assists and was a stabilizing force for his team all evening.
The 6-foot-3 Tinsley has offers from Cal, Pepperdine and Nevada and is also being recruited by Stanford, Gonzaga and Tennessee. The former three-sport standout, who recently made the decision to not play football this fall, is still entertaining the option of playing baseball on the collegiate level, likely in sophomore year.
Tinsley got a large amount of help from Oregon All State point guard Paul McCoy, who also scored in the twenties. More important than his points, though, was the steady ball handling throughout the game and lockdown denial defense on key possessions down the stretch. Word in the stands is that McCoy is an even better football prospect and has Pac Ten offers for the gridiron.
The majority of DeRozan's points came in the second half as he dominated action from his wing position. Not only did the 6-foot-5 DeRozan display a nice mid-range game, he also was able to connect from beyond the arc and drive to the basket and score on the interior. A natural scorer and exceptional athlete, DeRozan has the makings of a potential five-star shooting guard in the 2008 class.
He does need to improve on the defensive side of the ball but there is still no denying his tremendous upside and potential to follow in the steps of former Trojan standout Nick Young, who recently declared for the NBA Draft.
Another Belmont Shore player showing potential was Renaldo Woolridge, son of former NBA standout Orlando Woolridge. At 6-foot-7, Woolridge, who netted 20 points Friday, is much more of a finesse player than a power player at this stage of his development. Not only did he hit several key 3-pointers, he also scored off one foot when going both to his left and right. His game will reach another level as he develops more physical strength and his overall feel for the game improves.
Arizona State and Marquette have been to Los Angeles to see Woolridge workout this spring. He also name Maryland, Wake Forest and Pepperdine (offer) as schools of interest.
Belmont Shores has a couple other impressive prospects in JP Olukemi and sophomore point guard Darius Morris. Olukemi, a long powerful 6-foot-6, specializes in bullying opponents on his way to physical scores in the lane. He did look very reluctant to shoot the ball from the outside, however. He was also impressive on the defensive end moving his while guarding the ball.
Looking a little too much like a youngster down the stretch of his tight game, Morris needed to be more physical and aggressive coming to the ball on some key possessions. Instead he deferred to older teammates. Nonetheless, he has the skills of a high-major prospect. He scored at all three levels and distributed the ball. At least 6-foot-1, he has the body type that looks as if he is still growing.
The Late Show
The game that drew the most interest Friday was the last game of the evening as the Georgia Stars took on the highly-touted Pump-N-Run squad.
In a game loaded with high-major talent, the most impressive player on the court was Al-Farouq Aminu, who brought his "A" game against the talented 2009 forwards of Pump-N-Run. Perhaps most impressive from Aminu was his play on the boards as he grabbed 13 rebounds to go along with his 18 points. Those points primarily came off dribble moves to the basket and inside jumpers and as always Aminu jump-started the fast break with his open-court ballhandling after defensive rebounds.
Wesley Witherspoon was another Georgia Star player that impressed. Witherspoon is a prototypical wing scorer who made several contested 3-pointers and showed a lot of his poise in his team's victory. Poised and confident, Witherspoon was effective all over the court and had a signiture play when he ripped Larry Drew at midcourt and followed it up with a authoritative dunk. A probable top-50 prospect, Witherspoon is not sure on all his offers at this point but is drawing interest from George Washington, Florida, Florida State, Kansas State, Auburn, Clemson, Bradley, Penn State and Tennessee.
Holding down the middle for the Georgia Stars was the ultra-athletic, 6-foot-11 Tony Woods. Looking the part of a future NBA center, Woods spent most of the game playing above the rim, blocking shots and flushing down dunks. His skills still need some refinement, namely free trow shooting, but Woods is a intimidating presence in the post. He had nearly every Pump N Run player thinking twice in the lane.
The backcourt of the Stars was no slouch either. 6-foot-5 shooting guard Kevin Murphy hit some big threes and guarded Holliday well when the Stars went man. Athletic wing Travis Leslie was solid and made some key plays. And sophomore point guard Mfon Udofia is a very promising prospect.
The talented Pump-N-Run squad simply struggled against the more athletic Georgia Stars. They never got in a rhythm against the Stars' extended 1-3-1 zone and did not match the physical intensity of the Stars. Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson and Reeves Nelson had their moments, but the Stars were clearly the better team on this night.
Evals and school lists
Athletic forward Terrence Jennings, originally from California who is now prepping at Mount Zion (N.C.), says his top four schools are Cal (offer), Maryland (offer), UCLA and Oklahoma.
Toby Veal scored 26 points in a matchup against Drew Gordon and Matt Simpkins. His top five is FSU, Florida, Clemson, Auburn and North Carolina. Veal claims offers from all but North Carolina.
Future top 100 2009 prospect Victor Rudd showed nice athleticism from the wing. Rudd currently lists USC as his leader with Gonzaga, Louisville, Arizona State and UConn also showing interest. USC and Gonzaga have already been into watch the talented Rudd workout this spring.
Michael Harthun is running the point for his new Oregon Rebels team but his natural position is off-guard and that is where we expect him to play in college. He is a little too right-hand dominant on the dribble but Harthun specializes in the quick pull-up jumper off the dribble. Right now, Harthun has offers from Washington State, Oregon State, Montana and Pepperdine with Oregon showing interest of late. Harthun is getting attention from most of the Pac-10 schools with Arkansas and Clemson also involved.
Dwight Miller the very well-built 6-foot-7 interior player for the Houston Elite, is a beast on the boards and he aggressively uses his athleticism. He has the body and athleticism to attract high-major coaches. In a half of action we didn't get ample time to analyze his skill level though his defense on the post and the perimeter was impressive.
Garlan Green, a 2009 prospect and the younger brother of current Boston Celtic Gerald Green, has a silky-smooth shot reiminiscent of his brother. At 6-foot-4, Garland Green does not have the size or athleticism of his older brother but does show the promise of developing into a high-major wing shooter.
Houston Elite sophomore point guard Stevie Rogers did a nice job working his way into the defense against the zone and then dumping off to waiting scorers. Althouth a small presence on the court, Rogers did a quality job harassing and pestering the ball as a defender. Rogers is a player to keep an eye on but with his lack of size – he stands about 5-9 – he'll have to be legitimate threat behind the 3-point arc to be a high-major prospect.
Patrick McCollum did a nice job passing the ball up the court from his point guard position. A few times he forced it into the lane and didn't have the athleticism to finish some plays. We caught the second half of his team's blowout win so we had limited time to watch and evaluate.
Mark Reeves contributed to this report.