Las Vegas, Nev.-The adidas Super 64 played its way down to a championship match up of DC Assault and Pump & Run Elite, and two of the top players in their respective classes Michael Beasley and Jrue Holiday were on top of their games.
In a morning sweet 16 match up of the DC Assault and the Atlanta Celtics, a focused Beasley spearheaded an eventual romp for DC Assault after being down 47-44 at halftime. A couple buckets and a steal that led to an assist by Beasley gave DC Assault the led that they would only continue to build upon.
For the game, Beasley scored 28 points, along with 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 assists, 1 block and not a single turnover. Aggressive and alert on defense, Beasley defended well on the perimeter, coming up with impressive steals where he used his quickness to get into passing lanes. His 28 points included a three-pointer on his one attempt, and he also get buckets on mid-range fall aways off the dribble, spin moves in the post and put backs off offensive rebounds.
Much of the media attention here in Vegas has been focused on Kevin Love at the Big Time with his impending and eventual commitment to UCLA, but this morning, Beasley demonstrated with his foot speed on defensive, his ability to score and pass off the dribble and his overall athleticism why he is a better long term prospect than Love. Where Love has the advantage right now is with the consistency of his effort, focus, and therefore production. Beasley, however, has made huge strides in being a more consistent performer. Playing for the USA U18 team in late June seems to have enhanced Beasley's mental game.
Beasley tweaked his knee in his final eight game and sat out DC Assault's semifinal win, but he is expected to play on Wednesday.
Best guard in 2008?
Equally as impress today was Jrue Holiday of the Double Pump Elite. In a morning win (79-75) over the Florida Rams, Holiday scored 25 points. Then in an final eight game against Johnny Flynn and the GC Ballers, Holiday scored an efficient, yet explosive, 26 points on 11 of 16 shooting from the field and 2 of 3 shooting from the arc.
What stands out about Holiday as a scorer is his ability to score in so many different ways. In this game, he hit a three both on the dribble and the catch. He blew by defenders in the open court with change of speed moves and scored against contact in the lane with both hands. He hit mid-range jumpers off the dribble in the half court attack. And he posted up and scored on fade away jumpers.
As a player, it is his well rounded game that is so impressive. A tenacious defender with strength and an explosive lateral burst, Holiday frustrated Flynn and kept him out of the lane when matched up on him. And offensively, Holiday, unlike so many guards on the circuit, knows how to play without the ball. He is patient, clever and explosive coming off down screens.
Battling foul trouble in his team's semifinal loss to DC Assault, Holiday never got in a scoring rhythm, getting 12 points on 4 of 10 shooting with three of his makes being three-pointers. But he did assert himself as a playmaker. He registered 6 assists and clearly showed that he is a legitimate combo guard who is capable of playing the point at the next levels.
Holiday has a top four of UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State and Washington and all have offered.
Austin Freeman-scored 16 points and grabbed 6 rebounds versus the Celtics. Freeman started out on fire, making his first five field goal attempts which included three three-pointer and a slashing and/one bucket.
But in DC Assault's semifinal win over Double Pump, Freeman was off the charts with 34 points on 15 of 24 shooting from the field.
Such a natural and explosive scorer, Freeman is just a notch behind Eric Gordon in that he does not have the ridiculous burst to the basket on offense or the lateral quickness on defense that Gordon possesses. Nonetheless, Freeman is explosive and he has the most polished mid-range scoring game in the class. Look for him to be a star at Georgetown and to play ball for a while at the highest level.
Nolan Smith-passed the ball well in DC Assaults win over the Celtics, but did not shoot well from the field. He was also solid defensively against Senario Hillman, forcing him into a poor shooting game. Agaisnt Hillman's pressure full court defense, Smith had to grind the ball up the court, lacking the foot speed and sure handle to face him up and get by him, but he did not turn the ball over.
In his semifinal game, Smith defended J'rue Holiday well and supported Freeman with 16 points, while only missing 4 shots. He also grabbed 6 strong rebounds and had 3 steals and 3 assists to only 1 turnover.
Julian Vaughn-stroked three three-pointers but did not standout around the basket against the frontline of the Celtics. Vaughn could really stretch the defense as a trailer on the secondary break in college.
Howard Thompkins (2008)-scored 12 points on 6 of 6 shooting from the field and did not turn the ball over against the DC Assault. There is no telling what he could have done if he had gotten more touches. Not an explosive athlete, Thompkins is more of a skilled big man who is poised and confident with the ball. He can put it on the floor and has touch shooting on the move or shooting the spot up jumper.
Martavius Adams-scored 12 points on 5 of 11 shooting from the field. Most of those field goals were 17-footers behind the free throw line. Perhaps fatigue set in as Adams missed his last five shot attempts. Nonetheless, Adams has steadily worked himself into better physical condition over the summer.
Senario Hillman-Hillman played good aggressive basketball early in the game, scoring 7 of his 11 points right off the bat. That early success might have gotten him playing too fast as he ended up shooting just 5 of 16 from the field, which included a stretch of 9 straight misses. He did apply steady pressure to the ball while guarding Smith.
Johnny Flynn-had a tough time against the defense of Jerime Anderson and J'rue Holiday, but still managed 13 points on 6 of 12 shooting, but turned the ball over 5 times to only 2 assists. When Flynn did get to the basket, some loose referring did not help him out. However, Flynn's play over the summer has him under strong consideration to earn a fifth star.
Larry Drew-really knows how to play the game and really executes the high ball screen. At times his lack of strength is a problem, but most of the top point guards in the 2008 class have the same issue. Drew and Anderson don't have the explosive athleticism of Jennings, but Drew is closer to Jennings than Anderson because of his better feel for the game. Anderson, however, is a better defender than Drew.
James Harden-smooth and long with a build similar to Tyreke Evans. Harden is smooth, skilled and heady with the ball. It will be interesting to see if hitting the weights in college enhances his game.
Austin Daye-looks like Tayshaun Prince and will probably play in the NBA, but Daye is much more offensive oriented. He provides little presence on defense and that is probably more mental related than physically related right now. Daye is a natural scorer who can shoot the lights out and has a feel for spin moves. He also makes the quick pass and the pass off the spin mover well.
Korie Lucious-caught the first half of his team's final eight loss to Utah Pump & Run, and Lucious had 13 points on 6 of 14 shooting. He can get a shot and with his bouncy athleticism is good at following his shot. Without the ball on offense, he spent too much time standing between the circles without being a scoring threat instead of spacing out to the slot and spotting out on the arc. On defense, he applied intense pressure on the ball full court.