SUWANEE, Ga. - Day two at the Nike Memorial Day Classic was excellent. The competitiveness and desire was on full display all day long, and that led to some intense games with super finishes. In the end the one player who might have shined the brightest was Terrence Jones.
T-Jones to the rescue
I-5 Elite played in two excellent games on Sunday, and Jones put his entire game on display both times. First in a matchup with Team Texas, Jones showed every bit of his versatility. Jones proved that he could definitely play small forward or power forward, depending on the system he ends up in, and with that he is such a tough matchup for opposing teams.
Against Team Texas, Jones was simply too much. He scored with his back-to-basket, played excellent defense both inside and on the perimeter, rebounded with authority, and made his teammates better by setting them up. At the moment he really prefers to go left off the drive, but on a few occasions he showed that he is more than capable of using the right to get to the rim and score. With his big frame and solid athleticism, Jones is usually too quick for power forwards, and too strong for small forwards, while at the same time showing an ability to defend both spots.
While Jones was good against Team Texas, he saved his best for last. In an overtime thriller against Albany City Rocks, Jones once again went to work, but this time it was all about his play when the game matters the most. With I-5 Elite trailing by one and time winding down, Jones used a quick and powerful left hand drive to get himself in a position to score. From there he attempted a highly contested mid-range floater, that bounced high off the rim and fell through the net as time expired.
The shot was not only big because it got I-5 Elite into the semi finals, but also it showed that when the game is on the line Jones is someone who demands the ball. That type of attitude is always needed in a star player, and Jones more than proved his worth on Sunday.
Young kids have impressive showings
When the Arkansas Razorbacks received an extremely early pledge from Aaron Ross, they knew they were getting a good player, but they might not have known just how good. After looking like a combo forward last summer, Ross has made huge strides in his game this summer. Now the 6-foot-7 and 210 pound Ross is a legitimate wing forward who can do it all. In a win over the New York Gauchos, Ross hit threes, got to the rim, played solid defense, and rebounded like a mad man. Overall the improvements were on full display, and Ross deserves a lot of credit for the strides he has taken to improve his body and his game.
Ross definitely wasn't the only member of the Arkansas Wings who was impressive against the Gauchos. His teammates Ky Madden and Hunter Mickelson also came to play. Madden is a physical combo guard who at 6-foot-5 provides matchup problems with his ability to get into the lane with his quickness. Mickelson is a legit 6-foot-10 big man who is still on the thin side, but he has a decent touch from the mid-range and is a definite factor on the interior blocking shots. Both players were instrumental in getting the Wings the victory.
Even though the Gauchos fell, wing forward Angel Nunez showed why people in the Big Apple are so excited about him. He is an extremely long armed 6-foot-7 wing who has a sweet shooting stroke, can take his man off the dribble, and knows how to finish both above the rim and with finesse. As his body gets stronger and he begins to fill out, Nunez will see his game go to a whole new level.
There isn't too much more to say about the talent of James McAdoo. Playing with the Boo Williams 17 and under squad he is always in the spotlight, but against Houston Hoops he showed the full arsenal. Facing off of against a bigger man, McAdoo simply faced up at will and either scored with his shot, or took his man off the bounce. When he did miss, he was there to get his own rebound and convert. On the other end of the floor McAdoo was excellent, and despite being at a strength disadvantage held his own. Overall it was an excellent day for McAdoo.
Fans of hoops in the Lonestar State of Texas have a lot to looking forward to, and the 2012 class has a few studs that impressed. None passes the test better than 7-foot center Isaiah Austin. Like most 15 year old big guys, Austin needs to gain strength, but he runs the floor extremely well, has a good looking shooting stroke, knows how to block shots, and has a motor that never quits. Now he does need to be a bit more productive at times, but that will come with seasoning. The sky looked to be the limit for this Team Texas big man.
Joining Austin on Team Texas and during the high school year is Nick Banyard. Banyard has the look of a big time power forward with size and athleticism. He blocked shots and finished above the rim with ease. Banyard will need to diversify his game as he gets older, but for a freshman he already is a productive big man with a ton of natural gifts.
Another very impressive looking 2012 big man hails from the state of Massachusetts, Nerlens Noel. Noel had an extremely impressive showing for BABC in their tournament contest. At 6-foot-8 with long arms and a frame that looks like he will add weight, Noel knows how to score down low, and is a good athlete. His footwork is advanced for a young big guy, and he also showed some skill handling the basketball.
The Georgia Blazers have numerous impressive 2011 prospects, but two that stood out in a big way on Sunday were Kentavious Caldwell and Tim Dixon. Dixon is a long and lean 6-foot-9 big man with big time upside. He is plenty athletic already, and his offensive game is beginning to catch up to his defense. Caldwell is proving to be one of the best scorers in the class, and on Sunday he was nearly impossible to defend. Playing up against the 17's hasn't slowed either player's production in the least.
In their final game against the Arkansas Wings, Brandon Knight and Austin Rivers showed signs of really being able to play in the same backcourt. When they help each other out they are impossible to stop. With Knight and Rivers on the same page, Each 1 Teach 1 came back from a double-digit deficit in the second half to sneak away with an overtime win. In the process Knight had over 30 points, and put the team on his back at times after Rivers fouled out late in regulation.
Will Barton wasn't quite as good as he was on Saturday, but on Sunday he was still one of the top five players in the gym. His scoring barrage continued in a big way in a pool play win against Boo Williams, and it continued through the playoffs. Really there isn't much more Barton could have done for Nike Team Baltimore all weekend long.
Joining Barton on the impressive side was Josh Selby. Selby and Barton have an excellent chemistry on the floor, and it shows in the production. Numerous times Selby would feed Barton for easy layups, or get into the lane and convert for himself. Selby can still make shots at a high, high level, but now he also showing better decision making skills. On top of that he had an absolutely nasty posterization of a defender that made everyone watching go crazy.
Team Texas has a lot of talent, and T.J. Taylor stood out with his play. The combo guard who is bound for Oklahoma scored at will off the dribble, and mixed in the occasional jumper as well. Sunday was some of the best we have seen from Taylor on the floor.
Also playing very well for Team Texas was Cameron Clark. The athletic wing man has one of the highest releases on his shot you will see, and it is very effective. His high release combined with long arms and loads of athleticism makes it hard to contest his shot, and gives defenders a whole lot to be scared of when he gets it going.
Another performer who was nothing short of excellent on Sunday was Andre Dawkins. The future Duke Blue Devil had his shot falling all day long, and made big play after big play for Boo Williams. First it was a three from the corner that proved to be the dagger in a win over Houston Hoops, and then in overtime of the team's final game of the day, Dawkins threw down a ferocious one handed dunk from outside the lane to give Boo a lead with under a minute to go. On top of that he was motivated on the defensive end, and showed solid leadership.
Houston Hoops power forward Tobi Oyedeji faired very well against Boo Williams. He scored 17 points and did it using skill and athleticism down low, but his biggest production came on defense. He used his long arms and natural timing to block shots, and alter several others. Oyedeji looks the part in a big way, and now his production is beginning to match the potential.
It has been a heck of a weekend so far for Gary Franklin. After playing very well on Saturday, he was nothing short of excellent again on Sunday. At times his shot selection can be questioned, but when you are running as hot as Franklin it is tough to pass up open looks. Right now he is shooting the ball at a high level while also getting his teammates involved like a true floor general. Franklin had 27 points in California Supreme's quarterfinal upset of Boo Williams.
Albany City Rocks big man Will Regan had a good day on Sunday. Regan knows what he is good at and plays to his strengths, which in turn limits his weaknesses. He uses his nice shooting touch to face up opponents, while also showing good footwork down low. Despite not being a great athlete, Regan knows how to score, and on defense plays solid and fundamental.
The quarterfinal matchups of the 17 and under division were as entertaining as possible. With all four games going on side by side at the same time, it was impossible to choose which one to watch. Three of them went into overtime (one double overtime), and the fourth game was decided on the final possession with a missed half court shot. The players all weekend have brought a ton of intensity and passion to games, and never was it more evident than on Sunday night.
Will Regan mentioned Arizona State, Stanford, Virginia, Maryland, and Providence
Ky Madden is hearing from Florida, Oklahoma, Kansas, Memphis, Kentucky, Baylor, Arkansas, Texas, and LSU
Texas guard Rickey Scott has the attention of Texas Tech, Kansas State, Memphis, SMU, Baylor, and Missouri
Kentavious Caldwell is hearing from Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Georgia, and Alabama
Tim Dixon has interest from Oklahoma State, Florida State, Auburn, Alabama, Clemson, and Georgia Tech
Victor Oladipo has a long list of Maryland, Clemson, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Xavier, Harvard, Pittsburgh, Providence, NC State, Indiana, Auburn, Stanford, and others.