ORLANDO, Fla. - With much of the media focus out west in Las Vegas, the AAU Super Showcase got under way on Tuesday morning in the Milkhouse at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex. This year the super showcase has some of the top talent around, though the obvious headliner is the top player in the 2008 class, Greg Monroe.
Five-star prospects show off games
There is no bigger name in the 2008 class than Monroe. The extremely talented power forward out of Louisiana showed why he is considered the No. 1 player in his class by Rivals.com with a strong effort as his Louisiana Select team beat Martin Bros. Select.
With his teammates struggling to get going early on, Monroe was forced to be assertive and take over the game off the dribble. The Martin Bros. gameplan was to single cover Monroe and allow him to try to beat the defense off the dribble. Beat them off the dribble is exactly what he did. Monroe scored his team's first nine points, and connected on four of his six shot attempts in the first half.
However the biggest thing that Monroe did was dominate the game without scoring a ton of points. He did finish with 18, and nine rebounds, but more importantly, Monroe was dishing off assists and getting his supporting cast involved. He was nearly in double figures in assists, and would have definitely been there had his teammates made open shots.
The crowd watching Monroe included LSU head coach John Brady, as well as assistants from Louisville, Georgetown, and Kentucky.
While Monroe dominated the game in a good way by scoring 18 points, that was not the case for Tyreke Evans, who scored that same number in an evening loss. Evans struggled against the Rising Stars Gold out of Illinois. With the lead, Team Final continuously ran isolation plays for Evans, but his typical off the dribble game just wasn't working. The Rising Stars would run help towards Evans, and often times that resulted in either a travel or a charge.
With Evans struggling to finish, Team Final blew the lead in the second half, and then fell by five in overtime.
Two other five-star prospects who had decent days were Tony Woods and Al-Farouq Aminu. The future Wake Forest Demon Deacons helped to lead the Georgia Stars to a 2-0 record in pool play by beating All-Ohio Red and the Tennessee Travelers.
Against All-Ohio, Aminu only scored seven points, but he was grabbing rebounds, playing good defense, and even at times leading the break. Woods on the other hand finished with a respectable 12 points including a pair of absolute highlight reel dunks. Beyond that, Woods make it tough on the All-Ohio front line because of his long arms and shot blocking ability.
The Georgia Stars will face off against the St. Louis Eagles on Wednesday for the pool championship; both teams are 2-0.
Young kids stepping it up
One of the stories of the Super Showcase is how many young kids are playing up with the 17 and under teams. Numerous top class of 2010 kids, as well as 2009 prospects are playing against the best that 2008 has to offer.
Jared Sullinger: It is obvious that Sullinger is not completely back in shape from his foot injury that he sustained at the end of April, but he was still very effective. The Ohio State commitment scored 20 points in a loss to the Georgia Stars, and also showed his trademark intensity on the glass.
DaShonte Riley: The 2009 five-star prospect showed some of what he will be capable of once he gets to college. He needs to get stronger, and is still a little raw on the offensive end, but his upside is through the roof. At 6-foot-10, Riley dominated the SYF Players down low by snatching rebound after rebound, and altered several shots down low. Riley's tremendous potential is the reason that Michigan State head man Tom Izzo as well as Syracuse boss Jim Boeheim were sitting front and center.
Dominique Ferguson: Going up against Riley at times was Ferguson. One of the top class of 2010 players in Indiana, Ferguson was asked to play down low for SYF and contain opposing teams on the glass despite not being very physically strong. With loads of athleticism and a wingspan of well over 7-feet, Ferguson plays taller than he actually is. Once he refines his post moves and mid-range jumper, he could develop into a major player.
Rodney Williams: Williams has always been one of the most athletic players in his class, but now it looks like the perimeter game is beginning to completely come around. Against the Illinois Warriors, Williams hit a pair of threes in the first half, and made defenders cheat to his shot which then created driving lanes. As he continues to develop on the perimeter, Williams will see his game soar.
Juwan Staten: Joining Sullinger on the All-Ohio 17 and under team is Staten. Staten, who was the floor general for the 15 and under national champions, struggled in his first taste of action against the older players. He is quick, but his lack of strength allowed defenders to bump him off his drives, and didn't allow him to create space as he usually does. This should be a good learning experience for Staten.
Russell Byrd: While DeShaun Thomas gets most of the attention from the national media when it comes to class of 2010 players from Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Byrd might not be far behind. Byrd is a dynamic shooter with Rotnei Clarke-like ability to stroke it who gets it done against 17 and under competition. As he gets stronger and more confident in the other aspects of his game, Byrd will become a top-flight recruit.
Odds & Ends
Now playing with the Illinois Warriors, Stan Simpson, dominated down low against Howard Pulley. Simpson made several nice moves over Jared Berggren, and was too athletic for anyone on the front line to handle. Simpson has picked up his play in a big way since the LeBron James Skills Academy.
Making a huge impact on Tuesday was Mookie Jones. With a hoard of coaches in attendance to watch, Jones put on a clinic. He scored 25 points, and did it in every conceivable way. He got to the foul line, hit from three, scored in transition, hit mid-range jumpers, and even converted off of offensive rebounds. There is no doubt that Jones is justifying all of the high-major attention that he is receiving.
In the morning game for the St. Louis Eagles, they went as Scott Suggs went. In the first half Suggs was non existent and only accounted for two points, and because of that the Eagles were trailing. However Suggs picked up the pace and finished with 14 points in the second half to help the Eagles cruise to an easy victory.
Michigan shooting guard Paul Williams has narrowed his list down to three schools. They are Cincinnati, Dayton, and Michigan. All three have offered, and Williams plans to seriously think about a decision once July comes to an end.
Storm Warren has a school list that is all over the map. His schools of interest are USC, UCLA, Baylor, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, LSU, Florida, and Arkansas.
One of the more skilled forwards in the 2009 class is Mason Plumlee. After struggling some in the early part of the month, Plumlee has once again picked up his game to match his recruitment. His main schools of interest are Georgetown, Indiana, Miami (Fla.), NC State, North Carolina, UCLA, Stanford, and Wake Forest. Of that group only the Tar Heels and Bruins haven't offered. Plumlee also mentioned that he has offers from Iowa and Xavier.
The top rated Ohio prospect in 2009 according to Rivals.com is Bill Edwards. The wing player from north of Cincinnati says he is hearing the most from Wake Forest, Michigan State, Miami (Ohio), Miami (Fla.), Xavier, Ohio State, and Dayton. Of those schools, Miami (Ohio) has offered, though he also has an offer from Massachusetts.
Russell Byrd listed Stanford, Iowa, Indiana, and Arizona as his schools. Of that quartet only the Wildcats haven't extended the rising sophomore a scholarship.