With the 17 and under teams beginning to filter in and register for their Super Showcase which begins on Thursday, Wednesday was a day for the younger players to shine. While several players stepped up big, no one shined brighter than class of 2011 standout Mike Gilchrist.
Big Showdown goes to Gilchrist
Very rarely is a marquee match up featuring two potential top 10 kids in a class played in the first round of a tournament, but that is what happened at the 16 and under Super Showcase. Team Final featuring Gilchrist matched up with Austin Rivers and Team STAT.
Both Gilchrist and Rivers seemed to rise to the challenge early on in the match up. STAT jumped out to a quick lead, and Rivers was a reason why. The Florida commitment hit a pair of threes and looked to be locked in. However he and his teammates couldn't hold the lead, and flat out couldn't contain Gilchrist.
Though his jump shot wasn't exactly pure, Gilchrist was still able to do whatever he wanted on the court. With his 6-foot-7 frame and loads of athleticism, Gilchrist got into the lane at will against STAT. It didn't matter if it was zone defense or man-to-man defense, Gilchrist flat out sliced up whoever was in front of him.
Once Team Final took the lead for good midway through the second half, it was all Gilchrist all the time. STAT simply had no answers once Gilchrist put the ball on the floor and attacked. The sure fire five-star prospect finished the game with 27 points.
For Team STAT it was actually James Bell and not Rivers who paced them. The number 76 prospect in the 2010 class used his athleticism and outside shot to finish with 19 points. Rivers did make it into double figures with 10 points, but only four of them were in the decisive second half where Team Final really took control.
Sullinger dominates down low
In the 2010 class the argument can be made that Jared Sullinger is the most productive player day in and day out in the country. On Wednesday the Ohio State bound big man more than proved that during a win over Nike Team Florida.
At 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, Sullinger is an imposing figure in the lane. To make things even worse for opponents, Sullinger knows how to use his size and strength, and plays like a true big guy.
With his All-Ohio team struggling in their playoff match up with Nike Team Florida, Sullinger simply put the team on his back. Nike Team Florida held a 15-8 advantage after the first quarter, and that is when Sullinger went to work.
Despite not getting a ton of post feeds from his guards, Sullinger simply out muscled and out hustled his opponents on the glass. Sullinger is a master at using his backside to seal off defenders and position himself for rebounds. Once he grabs those rebounds, Sullinger keeps the ball high and makes himself big. Often on Wednesday Sullinger drew contact off of second chance points and went to the foul line and converted.
Using a major second half run All-Ohio cruised to a fairly comfortable win, and Sullinger was the game's high scorer with 28 points.
Reinforcements arrive for the Gauchos
The New York Gauchos added a pair of new faces to their 16 and under roster for the Super Showcase. One is former Team Final and Playaz standout Jayon James, and the other is Gauchos 17 and under star Doron Lamb.
With Lamb playing at the correct grade level for the first time all summer, he simply was toying with his opponents. Against the Rising Stars Gold out of Illinois, Lamb was absolutely unstoppable early on. Using his natural ability to create in the mid-range and hit deep jumpers, Lamb proved to be the one person who no one on the Rising Stars could come close to matching up with.
In fact, the Gauchos had a 20 plus point lead in the second half before taking Lamb out of the game. When that happened the Rising Stars kept chipping away at the lead and eventually got the deficit down to seven points. At that point Lamb re-entered the game hit a few clutch buckers and basically secured the win.
James for his part was also solid. The highly skilled forward is able to lead the break as well as make shots. At times James didn't always seem comfortable with his new teammates and new style of play, but not many kids his size show the kind of innate skill that he possesses. Overall it was a solid debut for James.
Also helping the Gauchos advance to the quarterfinals was Shane Southwell and Mohammad Lee. Lee runs the show and did a good job of getting into the lane to help set up Lamb for a lot of his points. Southwell was kind of a jack of all trades on Wednesday. Whatever was needed of him he did, and his role looks to be a valuable one in this re-tooled Gaucho line up.
From the notepad
The D.C. Assault God's Glory squad in Orlando is one of the teams that plays the hardest in the country. They will absolutely get out and defend you. Against the Illinois Warriors, Assault used their scrappiness and tough defense to really limit Warriors star Anthony Johnson. By containing Johnson, Assault was able to advance on to face All-Ohio in the quarters.
The 15 and under Super Showcase finished up on Wednesday and one prospect who was especially impressive at times was Wayne Martin. Currently Martin is raw in terms of his ability to score the basketball, but with his long arms and elite level athleticism, Martin is a game changer on the defensive end at 6-foot-7. Add in hustle on offense and a willingness to attack the glass, and this Memphis product looks to have a bright future.
While All-Ohio Red's 16 team features top 75 players like Sullinger, Adreian Payne, Juwan Staten, and Jordan Sibert, it is the scrappy play of Aaron Craft that has drawn a lot of attention from the college coaches in attendance. No one on Wednesday played harder than Craft, and his hustle and willingness to get floor burns lead directly to several All-Ohio lay ups.
Albany City Rocks looks to have an imposing frontline for the rest of the summer. 6-foot-8 forwards Will Regan and Tobias Harris combined for 31 points in a close win over Memphis YOMCA. With those two providing the size along with Taran Buie on the perimeter, it could be a good run for City Rocks.
While guarding Gilchrist is next to impossible, Queen City Prophets leader Allen Payne did fairly well. Even though the Prophets lost, the 6-foot-6 Payne scored 13 points, only four less than Gilchrist, and was a major factor on the offensive glass along with helping QCP beat the Team Final full court pressure.
Will Regan has a whole host of schools looking at him. Currently the ones after him the hardest are Arizona State, Maryland, Stanford, Duke, Michigan, Syracuse, Providence, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Oregon State, Notre Dame, St. John's, and Fordham.
Five-star big man Adreian Payne likes to keep his recruitment under wraps, but he did mention that no less than 20 schools are showing him significant interest. Off the top of his head he indicated that Ohio State, Xavier, Dayton, Cincinnati, Florida, Miami (FL), Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee, Louisville, and Kentucky are just some of the suitors.
Jayon James has several high profile schools looking at him including Xavier, Syracuse, Clemson, Providence, Fordham, Rhode Island, LaSalle, St. John's, Rutgers, and Seton Hall.
Wing prospect Shane Southwell mentioned that he has interest from St. John's, Clemson, Marquette, Xavier, Miami, South Carolina, and some early inquiries from Memphis.
Mohammad Lee is beginning to really emerge on the radar. Currently Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Fordham, Louisville, St. John's, and Xavier are just a handful of the schools showing him attention.