LAS VEGAS -- The opening games of the marathon week of three major tournaments tipped off with a bang at the Reebok Summer Championships on Tuesday. Rivals.com bounced around the eastern side of Sin City and saw a number of great games and intriguing players.
THE BIG SHOW
Rivaling only The Beatles "Love" Cirque du Soleil show at The Mirage, there wasn't a bigger show in Sin City than what was happening inside the gym at Foothill High School on Tuesday.
And the main attraction was the Team Breakdown versus Northwest Panthers. The game was about as good as it gets in Vegas as the four superstars in the game – Kenny Boynton and Brandon Knight of Breakdown and Abdul Gaddy and Avery Bradley of the Panthers – gave the packed house something to talk about.
For the first 16 minutes, it looked like the kids from Tacoma were setting the mood. Bradley was the hottest hand in the gym, scoring 14 points. Two of his points came on a jaw-dropping one on one situation against Boynton. Bradley made a quick jab step to the middle of the lane and saw the open lane. He conversely powered his way to the rim and cocked back for a thundering dunk.
Boynton and Knight had a combined 12 points going into the break. It took a while for the duo to find their game legs as Breakdown got into their rental van roughly 25 minutes before their 12:30 match-up. Oh, and the rental car facility is 16 miles away from Foothill.
Down by 14 at the break, Breakdown responded in a major way in the second half. With only seven points in the first half, Boynton decided he was ready to turn on the jets in the final 16 minutes of play. Boynton scored 27 points in the second half and only missed one shot from the field.
Boynton put on a show and played at a level similar to what Eric Gordon did inside the same gym two Julys ago. The five-star guard scored 36 points and helped his team come from behind to get the victory. Boynton shot 14 of 21 from the field and hit five three-pointers in the process.
Not forgetting their match-up with the Northwesterns at the Reebok All-American camp at the start of the month, Boynton and Knight came back with a vengeance.
Knight was equally impressive in the second half. The five-star rising junior finished with 22 points on seven of 19 shooting from the floor. He scored 17 points in the second half and hit clutch free throws and found his shooting groove during Breakdown's stick the dagger in your heart run.
Bradley finished with 18 points and was a non-factor in the second half of the game. Gaddy finished 26 points and switched the switch to scoring mode instead of being the facilitator. He was good in the scoring vein but it wasn't enough, especially when Boynton was in the kind of zone he was in.
With the bar set extremely high now, the energy at the Reebok Summer Championships is the best of all three tournaments after day one. It will be interesting to see what happens during the rest of the week. The bar was set extremely high on day one.
Clemson commitment Milton Jennings made it look way too easy in his 24-point effort in a Beach Ball Select 81-52 blowout win over the L.A. Rockfish. Jennings shot nine of 12 from the floor and was never really challenged.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Jennings' effort was his work in the post. While having a severe advantage of talent level, the skilled forward looked comfortable with his back to the basket and scored at will in the low blocks. His passing from the post was also a facet of his success.
Houston Superstars guard Raymond Penn knows how to make a nice first impression. The 5-foot-10 guard from the class of 2009 scored 37 points (a tournament high at Reebok on Tuesday) against the Wisconsin Playground Warriors.
The jet quick guard hit five three-pointers and was a blur to the basket. His overall speed was too much for the Warriors to battle with. In a class where college coaches are looking high and low for point guards, Penn did a nice job of writing his name down on the notepads of recruiters.
Southeast Elite big man Luke Cawthorne came up big when it mattered in a tight contest against the Worldwide Renegades Black. Cawthorne attacked the basket at will down the stretch and scored on two huge plays with less than a minute to play. He finished with 29 points in the game and absolutely owned the paint.
"Hey, we had to send a message that we came here to play," Cawthorne said.
Cawthorne said he is hearing from UAB, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Auburn. The 6-foot-8 senior-to-be said he is also off to the Patterson School in North Carolina in the fall.
HI, MY NAME IS…
Full Package guard Matt Vogrich has been a hot name in July thanks in large part to his team's success and playing well at the right times. The 6-foot-2 guard said his team has only lost one game this month and he's riding high on the recruiting wave.
Vogrich said he's picked up offers from Georgia Tech, Wake Forerst, Northwestern, Baylor, Minnesota, Bucknell, Saint Louis, William & Mary, Valparaiso, Colorado, Iowa and Providence. Notre Dame, Michigan, UCLA, Stanford and Virginia are also in the picture. Clearly, he's a guy that will draw a crowd here in Sin City.
Paired against Net Gain Sports, Vogrich scored a quiet 21 points. He had a hot hand in the morning game, scoring five three-pointers and scored 30 points.
A pair of Australian imports - Angus Brandt and Rhyf Murphy - could be a hot duo for coaches to see here in Vegas. Brandt, a 6-foot-9 center, was the most productive guy on the floor for Chicago Elite. The Lake Forest Academy (Ill.) bound post scored a team high 20 points. He's effective in the post and doesn't do anything he's not supposed to do.
Brandt said he has heard from Oregon State (offer) and Sacramento State so far. Not bad for a guy that just arrived to the United States on June 29.
Murphy, a 6-foot-7 combo forward, is more fluid of an athlete and looks like a guy with a reliable perimeter game. Off to Lee (Maine) Academy said he's heard from Oregon State, Cornell and Xavier.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
With nearly all of the attention given to super prospect LaQuinton Ross on the MBA Elite team, Rodney Hood will sometimes get overlooked. He shouldn't. Hood has a chance to be five-star level player in the class of 2011.
He's a fine athlete with great size (6-7). Hood handles the ball with great ease and can score, shoot and pass with the best of them. Hood buried a number of long range threes, several of them in perfect rhythm and off the bounce.
Hood was the best player/prospect on the floor in MBA Elite's 59-56 win over Chicago Elite-Full Package. Hood officially scored 15 points and probably had more than that. He said Duke, North Carolina, Memphis, Mississippi State (offer) and Ole Miss (offer).
Ross was solid. His effort was average by his standards and he gave the crowd some moments to ohh and ahh over. At 6-9, there are few players on the wing that can match his length and versatility. Ross said he has heard from "all of the Mississippi schools" as well as Texas, Florida, Alabama, Memphis and N.C. State.
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy was posted up at mid-court to see the youngsters from Mississippi. N.C. State head man Sidney Lowe also reserved some space on the wall to get a better look. Georgia Tech head man Paul Hewitt also caught a look at Ross and Hood, as well as the Chicago Elite team.
There is nothing better than starting the day off with a game from a talented young man. Class of 2011 prospect Damien Leonard scored 17 points (7-13 FG) for Beach Ball Select in just over a half a game's effort on Tuesday morning at the adidas Super 64 tournament.
Leonard showed off a nice touch off the dribble and a versatile game from the two guard spot. The 6-foot-4 rising sophomore is one of the top scorers in his class in the Southeast and has the makings of a highly recruited player. Leonard said he has heard from Clemson, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Kentucky early in the process. South Carolina head man Darrin Horn was on hand for the game to see Leonard play.
The Pump 'N Run Power 16 and under team has a handful of prospects that drew a nice crowd of coaches at the adidas Super 64 event. Paced by the play of point guard Jordin Mayes, a 6-foot-2 rising junior from Westchester, Pump 'N Run Power was the team's most productive and impressive prospect on the roster.
Clearly playing the part of a high-major prospect, Mayes does a good job of floating between positions quite well.
Also playing well was 6-foot-5 wing Hector Harold. Prior to turning his ankle, the class of 2010 prospect hit a couple of good-looking three-pointers and was the team's primary ball-handler. The turned ankle slowed down his production and didn't play with the same kind speed or craftiness but nevertheless, he's a prospect worth watching.
Even though his Wisconsin Playground Warriors team lost, class of 2010 guard Kameron Cerroni was impressive. The 6-foot-1 guard scored 30 good-looking points. He's a crafty customer with some funk and spunk mixed in as well. A sure-fire mid-level player coming into the event, Cerroni may have played at a level where a high-major could turn up the heat in the near future.
NOTES FROM THE NOTEPAD
Knight, one of the five-stars for Breakdown, said he doesn't have an official list but rattled off a list of Florida, Miami, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Duke, Wake Forest and Kentucky. He said Florida is his only offer. Hard to believe that though. He's clearly one of the most recruited guards by the elite level programs.
Mike McCall, a 6-foot-2 rising junior for Chicago Elite, said he has offers from UNLV and Western Michigan while Marquette, Tennessee, Oregon State and Nebraska are showing interest.
Sam Dower drew full staffs from George Mason and Gonzaga and the 6-foot-9 big man from Minnesota's Net Gain Sports didn't disappoint. Dower scored 20 points and played well in the second half. The rising senior has the tools to be a good program post for a quality mid-level school.
Class of 2010 power guard Lavonte Dority impressed with his aggressive drives to the basket and point guard skills. The Chicago Elite floor general played well in the backcourt as a scorer and a set-up man. Dority said he has heard from Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, DePaul, Wisconsin, Marquette, Nex Mexico, UNLV and Florida.
R.J. Slawson of Beach Ball Select will be a name to watch from the class of 2010 for the mid-level programs. The 6-foot-7 rising junior didn't produce many points (six to be exact) but he rebounded well, played the passing lanes well on defense and ran the floor.
Slawson said he has heard from College of Charleston, Clemson, South Carolina, Wichita State and Virginia Tech to date.