LAS VEGAS- The Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas tipped off Friday morning and the action, like the weather, was at a torrid pace. The opening day was highlighted by several of the top players and teams being showcased at the Foothill Main gym. Ohio State commitment Greg Oden and 2007 standout O.J. Mayo met in a battle of basketball present and future while leading their squads into an epic battle.
Battle of the Goliaths
In what could be labeled a battle of basketball present and future, Greg Oden, led his loaded Spiece Indy Heat onto the floor for a battle against class of 2007 top player, O.J. Mayo and the D1 Greyhounds.
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Mayo came out cold and never really got into a groove until late in the game when he knocked down a couple of 3-pointers that got his D1 squad back in the game in the closing minutes. The 6-foot-5 point guard scored 22 points but only connected on 9 of 24 shots from the field while turning the ball over three times to his one assist.
Future Ohio State center Greg Oden also didn't enjoy his best game, though his presence inside was felt throughout the contest. The 6-foot-11, 240-pounder had several strong post-ups where he sealed his defender in the paint and finished with massive dunks but he didn't show off his entire offensive arsenal. Instead he chose to make his biggest contribution on the boards. He finished with 10 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.
Spiece held on for a 69-67 win.
Other players of note
Spiece: Mike Conley 11 points, Eric Gordon 16 points and 5 rebounds
D1: Bill Walker 15 points and 9 rebounds, Alex Tyus 15 points and six rebounds
Love finds a home with the SoCal All-Stars
When 2007 big man Kevin Love skipped the Nike All-American camp in favor of being on the same stage as Mayo and Oden at the ABCD Camp earlier this month it caused quite a ripple in the AAU basketball world.
As might be expected, the fallout was drastic and eventually led Love to leave his former team the Portland Elite Legends and join the star studded SoCal All-Star team that counted Chase Buddinger, Taylor King and Brandon Jennings among their top players.
"I love the Nike, adidas and Reebok camp. I respect all the shoe companies, but I wanted to compete against Greg Oden, Derrick Caracter and Cole Aldrich," Love said. "I had already played against Spencer Hawes, Brandan Wright, Kevin Durant and the other Nike big men."
The recruitment of Love (6-8, 240), has picked up with the recent passing of the NBA age limit, and the Oregon native has a list of schools that are in the lead for his signature.
"North Carolina, Arizona and UCLA are my three favorites," Love said. "UConn just started recruiting me a month ago."
Duke, Kansas and Washington also were mentioned among his top seven choices.
West Coast big man narrows list
Seattle power forward Spencer Hawes is the nation's top available big man along with Brandan Wright. This week the 6-foot-11, 215-pounder narrowed his list from a lengthy list of eight down to his top five choices.
"North Carolina, Washington, UCLA, Stanford and UConn are my final choices," Hawes told Rivals.com this afternoon. "There is no definite thing which separated these schools. Those were just the five that I felt could develop my strengths the best academically and on the court.
"I'm going to start setting up visits when I get back, and I'm really looking forward to having the chance to analyze and look at the schools more in-depth."
Hawes is in Las Vegas playing in the Main Event with his Friends of Hoop squad.
Georgia combo guard becoming hot commodity
Georgia Hurricane combo guard Jodie Meeks is enjoying a strong summer showing including a standout performance last week at the Showtime National Championships. As a result Meeks, 6-foot-4, 185-pounds, has seen his list of offers continue to grow with four in the last week.
"Boston College, Georgia, Notre Dame and Florida are some of the schools who offered me last week," Meeks said. "There are some more that saw me play the last couple of weeks and might end up offering as well. I don't think a lot of the major schools had a chance to see me last year so it's nice to be recognized for my hard work."
Meeks, who occupies the No. 38 spot in the Rivals150, indicated that while he has yet to narrow down his list of schools to a final list he plans to do so soon.
"I wanted to just concentrate on my game during the summer so I haven't worried about recruiting too much. I knew it was an important time for me and a good chance to impress the college coaches," he said. "But after AAU is over I'll sit down with my parents and we'll decide on which schools to visit. After the visits I'll make my decision.
"There are a few schools I'm more interested in than others. Alabama is one who has done a great job recruiting me and they were there from the beginning."
Quick, fast and in a Hurry
The rumor around Foothill gym was that New York power forward Derrick Caracter was closing in a decision with Louisville the likely college destination for his services. In his afternoon match-up against Kevin Love the 6-foot-8, 275-pound big forward was 3 of 7 from the field while totaling 10 points, 9 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Shooting guard Chase Budinger was 10 of 22 from the floor and led SoCal team in scoring with 28 points in addition to his 10 rebounds with Lute Olsen and Ben Howland watching from the stands.
Meeks struggled from the field Friday afternoon, hitting only 6 of 20 shooting but the powerful 6-foot-4 athlete got to the free throw line 12 times, knocking down 11. He finished with 23 points with Mark Gottfried, Jeff Lebo and a host of assistants in the stands.
Lance Thomas was a surprise addition to the NY Panthers team this weekend and the 6-foot-8, 200-pound small forward put on a show for his new teammates while leading them to a victory over the SoCal All-Stars. On the day he totaled 27 points (10 of 17 from the field), 13 rebounds with nine of them coming on the offensive end and was the deciding point in a tight game.
Point guard Jerryd Bayless led the Arizona Magic to an opening win with 27 points and seven assists. Arizona, North Carolina, Texas, Kansas, Illinois and Indiana have all offered and make up his list of schools. Rick Barnes, Lute Olson, Mike Davis and Bruce Weber were watching intently.
Michigan point guard Tory Jackson is favoring USC, Florida, UConn and Michigan. The Gators and Wolverines are his top two but keep and eye out for the Huskies if they extend an offer.
Alex Legion currently has a lengthy list of Wake Forest, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, UConn, UCLA (offer), Michigan (offer), Michigan State (offer) and Illinois (offer). This afternoon he was held to eight points.
2007 wing guard Zane Johnson has an impressive offensive performance while knocking down four of his six 3-pointers for the Arizona Magic. Arizona State, Oregon State and Tulane have offered with UCLA, Arizona and Illinois also showing interest. Johnson's top 2 schools at this point are UCLA and Kansas.
Mississippi small forward JeJuan Brown showed up with the D-1 Greyhounds and was one of the stars of the day with a nine point, seven rebound, five assist and three blocked shot effort. The 6-foot-6, 210-pounder is being under-recruited but currently favors Vanderbilt, West Virginia, Purdue and Mississippi State.
Alex Tyus also showed up on the D-1 roster and after re-classifying to the 2007 class looks to be one of the nation's top 50 prospects. Tyus was a high energy guy and seemingly was always around the ball. Currently Syracuse has offered and he also likes Arizona, Miami, North Carolina, Texas and UNLV.
Considered one of the top scorers in the nation, Lawrence Westbrook currently has offers from Memphis, Washington, Oklahoma, Illinois, Syracuse. Georgia Tech, who has not offered, is also on his list. He has already visited Memphis and a trip to Norman, Okla., should happen in the next couple of weeks.