FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. - With just two sets of games to watch on Friday night, finding the gems in the 16 gyms around town was a surprisingly difficult task to do. Eric Gordon and Anthony Randolph provided the fireworks on opening night. The five-star performers help kick off the second annual Real Deal on the Hill.
Eric Gordon will only play in two games at the Real Deal on the Hill because of his junior prom back in Indianapolis. Gordon made the most of his first go round on Friday night. The future Illinois guard scored 24 points in a 63-60 win over the Jacksonville Lee Bulls at Fayetteville High School. Gordon did his usual damage, scoring on the wing with his net popping jumper. He muscled to the hole with power dribbles and scored on the big front line of the Lee Bulls.
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Gordon is counted amongst the top guards in the class of 2007 for a reason. In his first showing at a major event, the likely McDonald's All-American made a lasting impression on Friday night.
Five-star forward Anthony Randolph is starting the AAU season strong. The gangly 6-foot-10 junior from Dallas (Texas) Woodrow Wilson High School scored a game high 23 points in a 67-54 win over Louisiana Future.
There are few players that have the length, athleticism and hops in the 2007 quite like Randolph. He is incredibly long and uses that to his advantage on both ends of the floor. Quick off the floor, he is a solid shot-blocker and creative offensive player when he gets into the air.
Randolph curled off a screen and buried home a high-arching three-pointer. The lefty showed off a step back three and an ability to give the fans something to talk about in the open floor.
Too many times, though, he would leave the ground and be higher than anyone around him and at the rim but would resort to making a difficult pass while in the air with nowhere to go.
He is all about potential right now. Randolph will have a number of possessions that will make the high-majors drool over his future skills at the college.
Randolph said he is wide open and holds offers from a number of schools including North Carolina, Memphis, Louisville, Texas, UCLA, USC, Baylor and others, he said. Never one to show any favoritism to any particular school, Randolph maintained his openness to schools.
Other key performers
The Spiece Central Stars won a number of major events last year and this year's team could make some noise at the Real Deal this year. A fundamentally sound team with shooters, size and balance, the Stars have a number of guys that can be the go-to guy on the team.
On Friday night, the go-to guy was 6-foot-4 guard Nate Blank. The junior poured in 22 points in a variety of ways. He has good size for a two guard and knows how to dial it in from deep. Blank should be an attractive mid-major prospect this weekend. He is already holding offers from Missouri State and Indiana State.
Blank had help from Matt Howard, a 6-foot-8 junior forward. Howard had a big stretch against DTA Wisconsin. Howard skied for a big dunk over former Seton Hall forward Quincy Owens and then on the next possession, he raced down the floor and blocked an Owens shot.
Keeping an eye on the '08 class
Talk to any basketball follower in Chicago and they will all tell you that DeAndre Liggins is the guy from the Windy City to follow in the loaded 2008 Chicago class. On Friday night, he was just okay. Liggins tallied four points but handed out eight assists with his new team Indiana Elite.
The 6-foot-6 prospect has been offered by Iowa and Virginia, according to Washington assistant coach Tommy Dobson. Illinois, Clemson and Arizona are also showing interest in the intriguing prospect from Chi-Town.
From the time Korie Lucious stepped onto the scene as a freshman, the expectation to perform game in and game out has been there. Now a junior to be, the sub 6-footer doesn't look like the elite level guard that everyone has touted him to be. The Milwaukee native is a good scorer but lacks the point guard skills to be an elite floor general. He was one of the few bright spots in DTA Wisconsin's 19-point loss to the Spiece Central Stars. Lucious tallied 18 points in the defeat.
Former LSU star Brandon Bass would be proud of his little brother Chris Bass. The younger Bass is a 6-foot-1 guard from the sophomore class and will attend Millersburg Institute in Kentucky next season. He did just enough to catch an eye here and there. Bass will be a guy for the mid-majors to keep an eye on early but the high-majors could be a player later in the game.
Dante Anderson, a wiry 6-foot-2 guard for the Jacksonville Lee Bulls, opened some eyes with his ability to knife to the hole and utlize his speed against Indiana Elite. The Gainseville (Fla.) Eastside product was confident with his shot and showed off a solid all around game in the backcourt.
JaJuan Johnson will probably be a guy that the high-majors take a long look at over the weekend. At 6-foot-8 and athletic, he's full of potential. On Friday night, he looked the part of a potential kid. Johnson said Wake Forest, Purdue, Xavier, Miami and Southern Cal dot his current list.
Brockeith Pane of the Dallas Mustangs said Tennessee, Texas A&M, Baylor and Texas Tech have offered scholarships while Illinois and Wake Forest are also keeping tabs, he said.
Brian Bouchie, a 6-foot-8 forward from Washington (Ind.) High School rattled off a list of Iowa, Indiana, Purdue, Clemson, Illinois and NC State/Arizona State. Herb Sendek and staff are now looking at him for the Pac-10 school, he said. Bouchie's father, Steve, played at Indiana.
Kyle Pressley could very easily pass for 2006 Illinois signee Richard Semrau. Pressley looks like Semrau both physically (around 6-9) and on the court. Pressley does work around the basket but can take his man away from the basket as a jump shooter. The Fort Wayne (Ind.) Concordia product rattled off a list of Iowa, Clemson, UConn, Florida, Missouri, Illinois and Notre Dame. His only offer is from Valpo, he said. Pressley said he is "wide open."
Claude Britton, a mammoth 6-foot-10, 260-pound center from Baton Rouge (La.) Southern Lab is hearing from LSU, Mississippi State, USC, Ole Miss and number of SEC schools, according to his Louisiana Future coach Titus Randle.
Spiece Central Hawk Zach Hahn is an efficient point guard. The class of 2007 prospect has Butler, Ball State and Miami.
Odds & Ends
Louisiana Future head coach Titus Randle told us he has the next Tyrus Thomas on his team. Mind you, Randle is a Baton Rouge guy. So when "the next Tyrus Thomas" a.k.a. Malcolm White comes out in the first half with six offensive boards, eight points and a couple of offensive rebound put back dunks over a Dallas Mustang opponent and teammate, you tend to perk up some.
White, a 6-foot-6 Baton Rouge native from the 2007 class, will play at Millersburg Institute next year in Kentucky. He could walk away from this weekend with a list that is much bigger than his list of today. The highest school on it is Southern Cal.
For the low to mid-majors looking for a big man, a guy like Gertavian Blake of the Jacksonville Lee Bulls might be a guy to get a look at here in Fayetteville. Blake tallied at least eight blocks against Indiana Elite. Blake clogs the lane and redirects a lot of shots because of his long 6-foot-9, 250-pound frame.
Coaches come out tomorrow
A number of college coaches have found their way to Fayetteville and are gearing up to see their top targets. The games start at 8 a.m. around town.