N. AUGUSTA, S.C. - The final session of pool play at the Nike Peach Jam gave college coaches, particularly the staffs of North Carolina, Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri, the match up that they had been waiting for all week. Top five prospects Tyler Hansbrough and Richard Hendrix went at it in a classic battle.
Heavyweights square off
With Roy Williams (UNC), Mark Gottfried (Alabama), Bill Self (Kansas), Tubby Smith (Kentucky) and Missouri assistant Marcus Perez sitting on the sideline, and all together no less, Hansbrough and Hendrix battled in front of coaches from the schools involved in their recruitment. Those recruiting Hansbrough, all but Alabama, were not disappointed with the outcome.
The 6-foot-9, 230-pound Hansbrough went to work right away, scoring bucket after bucket inside the paint. He is the most active post player in the class of 2005 and didn’t shy away from attacking the hoop each time he touched the ball. Hendrix, even with his great wingspan, couldn’t stop his Missouri counterpart inside with his 6-foot-7 size. Hansbrough finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds while Hendrix, who was plagued with foul trouble, ended with 13 points and five boards.
Hendrix had a difficult time getting touches and didn’t have a chance to set the tone early because of three early fouls. He eventually fouled out of the game. His teammate, 6-foot-10 Yamene Coleman did a respectable job defending Hansbrough and scored 10 points and collected seven rebounds in the loss.
With the two big boys fighting it out inside, the real story of the game was the game itself. The Alabama Lasers led for the majority of the game but a late rally, led by Hansbrough and his younger brother, Ben, the St. Louis Eagles took the game to overtime and eventually won 68-63. It was the second time in as many games where the boys from the Gateway City rallied from behind to get the win.
What home court?
The Georgia Stars did not make it out of pool play for the first time this AAU season thanks to the Houston Hoops. Even with a brilliant performance by Louis Williams (30 points, 11 assists, six rebounds), the boys from the Peach State couldn’t get past the pin point shooting of class of 2006 Arizona recruit Nic Wise and hard fought game by Fendi Onobun, another Wildcat pledge. The Hoops moved on with the 82-77 victory.
Wise may be playing his best event of the AAU season, as he scored 21 points, including three big threes. He is taking smart shots and more than held his own against the talented backcourt from Georgia.
Onobun, who took a nasty spill early in the game on a flagrant foul, rallied back and played his usual all-or-nothing play, putting in 17 points and five rebounds. He has been consistently strong on both the AAU trail and the individual camps. He gets better each time out. Arizona head coach Lute Olson was all smiles throughout the game with the play of his future small forward.
He may not get much ink but guard JerMichael Finley deserves every word printed with his great play at the Peach Jam. The two-sport star is one of the best rebounding guards in the event and, in fact, he’s been one of the best rebounders overall. The wide receiver has great hands and loves to get above the rim. He insists he’ll play both sports at the college level. Houston and Arizona were his top two schools.
Outside of Williams, the Stars had a difficult time finding an offensive outlet. Their early departure is a bit surprising to some but without a major post presence, it’s not a shocking development.
Miles Ahead of the Game
Team Texas’ C.J. Miles was one of the most-followed players at the event and for good reason. He’s not an overly aggressive offensive player but when he’s at the top of his game, he’s tough to stop. The Dallas native had an effective 17 point, four rebound, four assist performance his team’s 78-74 victory. The 6-foot-6 wing made the engine run for Team Texas.
Rising junior Darrell Arthur looked good and the stat line proved that to be true. The 6-foot-10 well-built put in 20 points and eight rebounds, including a nasty alley-oop dunk over Kevin Love.
Love was equally tough, putting in 25 points and 12 rebounds. He’s going to be one tough sucker over his career. The 6-foot-8 power forward took a while to get going but once he did, he looked big time.
Stay tuned to Rivals.com for recaps from tonight’s first round of tournament play and tomorrow’s finals updates.