NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. --The stars at night were big (and little) and bright and they were both deep from the heart of Texas on Sunday at the Nike Peach Jam.
LONE STAR STUDS
Tommy Mason-Griffin of the Houston Hoops has been the only player in the tournament field that changes the energy in the game when he touches the ball. The odds of something special happening improved instantly when he was in control.
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Clearly, he was the guy to see for the locals as the limited seating was filled before tip and the crowd above was standing shoulder to shoulder. TMG was the hottest ticket in town. Why? How about a 22-point, five assist second half effort and a "get on my back boys, this is going to be fun" type of game he played against the Rising Stars.
Down by double digits in the first half, the Houstonian finished with 24 points, seven assists and four rebounds in the 62-58 win. It seemed like every time he touched the ball, Mason-Griffin either scored on a jumper, drive to the hole or at the foul line. His passing was on point and his leadership down the stretch was top notch.
Two games later, the play of Team Texas forward Roger Franklin inspired his teammates to rise above Team Melo in a competitive match-up. Franklin is one of the best vocal leaders in the country, if not the best.
His play, whether it is scoring with pure grit and hustle inside or stepping out to the three-point line, was huge down the stretch in the second half. He scored three straight baskets and opened the game up to a lead that was just too big for Team Melo to overcome.
OTHER SUNDAY NOTABLES
Few big men have enjoyed a more productive weekend so far than Andrew Fitzgerald of Team Melo. The big man (6-8/250) has quite an array of moves in the post and scored quite often down low.
He's put up impressive numbers in four games of pool play action and in a shrinking talent pool at the big man position, Fitzgerald is gaining popular suitors quite regularly. His effort on Sunday night was a good indicator of why so many programs are looking at him closely.
Marshawn Powell led the charge for Boo Williams with his high-energy and hustle around the basket against Team Odom. The 6-foot-7 banger scored 14 points in a well-balanced attack against the California kids. Powell recently reneged on his commitment to Arkansas.
Teammate Tristan Spurlock played one of his better games in a while. The 6-foot-7 wing knocked down a pair of three-pointers and had some key passes to Powell and Deshawn Painter (14 points in the win). Spurlock said he's looking at Virginia, Wake Forest, Clemson, NC State and Georgetown and would like to decide before the school year begins.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
Overall, it has been a nice weekend of work so far for Jereme Richmond, an Illinois commitment. The versatile wing scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a tough loss to the Hoops but he had roughly five big time basketball moves that left knowledgeable basketball observers nodding their heads in improvement.
Don't judge a four point, two rebound effort as a bad day for Houston Hoops forward Tobi Oyedeji. The incredibly long-armed class of 2010 post is a fine-looking raw talent. Both of his made buckets were the byproduct of good-looking moves on the blocks and he used his length quite well on the defensive end for blocked shots. High-majors are intrigued by him and it's easy to see why.
Team Melo forward Jonathan Graham was impressive in a tough loss. The 6-foot-8 forward made positive plays around the basket and was the recipient of good passes from fellow rising junior Josh Selby. The gangly post is the son of former Maryland great Ernest Graham.
NOTES FROM THE NOTEPAD
Marcus Jordan scored a team high 22 points for the Rising Stars and got caught up in the me versus you battle against Mason-Griffin. Jordan scored but his efforts were subdued in comparison.
Notre Dame commitment Jack Cooley recorded a double-double (13 points and 12 rebounds) on Sunday night.
Point guards Kendall Marshall and K.C. Ross-Miller both ran their respective teams well. The class of 2010 guards patiently ran the offense and chalked up important wins on Sunday night.
California wing Jordan Hamilton, a well-documented elite level scorer, struggled against Boo Williams' depth. Hamilton pumped in 12 points, a low number by his standards, but impressed as a rebounder. He pulled down nine boards.
Stephen Carter, a super athletic guard for Team Odom, was a nice sleeper on Sunday night. Outside of having a ridiculous dunk in transition on a defender, the 6-foot-2 guard from Bakersfield scored a dozen points, grabbed seven rebounds and tossed out four assists. He's not a bad guy to look at for the West Coast mid-majors.