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The Gibbons Report: holiday events overview

There are so many post-Christmas high school basketball tournaments and events that it is impossible to even make a complete list, must less attend or cover them all. Rivals.com has provided in-depth coverage of several of the top national events; and we will highlight some of the others from around the nation that featured top-rated prep players. These holiday events are great in that they provide teams and players the opportunity to compete against their counterparts from a broad geographic area, including international teams; and fans, coaches, and scouts can watch outstanding matchups, and players destined to become the stars of tomorrow (and today), including highly acclaimed junior, Greg Oden.
Nowhere is basketball more revered than in The Hoosier State, and the five-game Circle City Classic Challenge of Champions on December 29 in Butler University's Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, was a true basketball hotbed. Five of the top teams from the Indianapolis area were matched against five out-of-state opponents; and the locals swept all five games.
One of the best matchups was Carmel, Ind., High School, with Duke-bound, highly acclaimed 6-foot-10 power forward Josh McRoberts going against Rivals.com's No. 2 rated player in the Class of 2006, 6-foot-9 power forward Brandan Wright, and his Brentwood, Tenn., Academy team. Reportedly, the pairing of the touted big men lived up to the billing, but one of the smallest players on the court, 6-foot junior guard Brett Finkelmeier, was the difference maker for Carmel, scoring 17 points on perfect shooting (6-6 FG, 5-5 FT), to help his team to a 58-43 victory.
McRoberts earned game MVP honors, getting 20 points (11-17 FG), 7 rebounds, 6 steals, 3 assists, and 3 blocks. Brandan Wright had 23 points and 4 rebounds for Brentwood Academy (8-2). Coach Mark Galloway's Carmel Greyhounds improved their record to 9-0.
Another headliner game featured "The Game's Next Great Player," according to his introduction by the public address announcer (and I will not disagree), 7-foot junior center Greg Oden, and his Indianapolis Lawrence North High team, against Romulus, Mich., High School.
Oden did not disappoint, getting the game MVP award with his 22 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks performance to lead Lawrence North to an 86-66 win. Valparaiso signee, 6-foot-1 guard Brandon McPherson, scored 19 points, and 5-foot-11 senior guard Zack Stewart added 14 for Lawrence North. The Wildcats, now 8-1, and rated #1 in Indiana 4A, played without their stellar 6-foot-2 junior point guard, Mike Conley, Jr., who had a "turf toe" injury.
6-foot-1 senior guard Dante Williams led Romulus High with 28 points, hitting 6-14 three-point attempts. Michigan signee, 6-foot-2 point guard Jerret Smith scored 11 points for Romulus.
Indiana's No. 1 rated team, Indianapolis Arlington High School routed Milwaukee, Wis., Custer High 69-37. The relentless, swarming, intimidating defensive efforts of Arlington High, proved that their earlier 70-60 win over powerful Lawrence North High on December 17, was no fluke, forcing 24 turnovers, and leading 24-10 after the first quarter. Arlington was led by highly impressive Indiana signee, and game MVP, 5-foot-11, 188-pound point guard Deonta Vaughn with 15 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds; and 6-foot-2 senior guard Anthony Munford scored 16 points.
Sophomore sensation, 6-foot-3, 180-pound second guard Eric Gordon validated that he belongs to be rated among the best in the Class of 2007, scoring 31 points, including 9 during "crunch time," to propel his Indianapolis North Central to a 60-55 win over Detroit, Mich, Martin Luther King High School. Gordon received game MVP recognition.
In the fifth and final game of the Circle City Classic Challenge, Indianapolis Pike High School trounced Louisville, Ky., Male High School 85-64. 6-2 junior guard/forward Greg Middleton scored 16 points for Pike, and received game MVP honors. 5-foot-8 sophomore guard Douglas Beaumont led Male High with 23 points.
On December 30 in the City Securities Hall of Fame Classic Tournament in New Castle, Ind., Carmel, Ind., High, and their stellar player Josh McRoberts went against Washington, Ind., High School with Notre Dame signee, 6-foot-11 center Luke Zeller. McRoberts was the most impressive in this "duel of big men," and Carmel won the game 54-37. McRoberts had 13 points on 5-6 FG, and 3-4 FT, and 9 rebounds. Zeller finished with 12 points (5-15 FG, 0-0 FT), and 5 rebounds.
The following evening led by 6-foot-1 senior guard Tyler Riddle scoring 19 points, Muncie, Ind., Central High knocked Carmel High from the undefeated ranks with a 49-45 victory in the championship game of the City Securities Hall of Fame Classic. Carmel, now 10-1 on the season, again had a stellar performance from tournament MVP Josh McRoberts with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists.
In the third place contest Indiana State signee, 6-foot-6 power/wing forward Adam Arnold scored 21 points, and teammate, 6-7 senior guard/forward Aaron Richie had 15 points as Decatur, Ind., Bellmont High beat Washington, Ind., High 59-54. Luke Zeller had a game high 24 points for Washington High.
Hardnosed, 6-foot-6 wing forward Danny Green became the second North Carolina signee to earn MVP honors in a major Carolinas holiday tournament, scoring 24 points to lead Manhassett, N.Y., St. Mary's High School to the championship of the 24th Annual Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Green joined fellow Tar Heel recruit, 6-foot-6 guard/forward Marcus Ginyard, who was the tournament MVP in leading his Arlington, Va., Bishop O'Connell High team to the championship of the GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational in Raleigh, N.C.
In the Beach Ball Classic final game Danny Green made 11-17 field goals, had 9 rebounds, and 6 steals as St. Mary's held off Memphis, Tenn., Ridgeway High School 51-45 for the championship. Gifted 6-foot-2 junior second guard Wesley Channels paced Ridgeway with 18 points. St. Mary's did an effective job of shutting down Ridgeway's most productive scorer, 6-foot-8 power forward Pierre Niles, who had averaged over 20 points in his three previous tournament games, but only scored 10 points in the finale.
The Beach Ball All-Tournament Team included: MVP – Danny Green; the Most Outstanding Player - 6-foot-1 senior guard Steve McCoy, New York, N.Y., Frederick Douglass H.S.; Kansas recruit, 6-foot-1 point guard Mario Chalmers, Anchorage, Alaska, Bartlett H.S.; 5-foot-11 junior point guard D.J. Augustin, New Orleans. La., Brother Martin H.S.; 6-foot-6 junior guard/forward Daequan Cook, Dayton, Ohio, Dunbar H.S.; Furman signee, 5-foot-11 point guard Tony Anderson, Greenville, S.C., J.L. Mann H.S.; 6-foot sophomore point guard Edwin Rios, Miami, Fla., Senior H.S.; 6-foot-7 junior forward Jonathan Mitchell, Mount Vernon, N.Y., H.S.; Louisville recruit, 6-foot-5 guard Bryan Harvey, Compton, Calif., Dominguez H.S.; Pierre Niles; and 6-foot-4 second guard Cornell Holmes, Myrtle Beach, S.C., Socastee H.S.
One of the nation's oldest, and best-run holiday tournament is Jim Haley's Kingdom of the Sun Tournament at Ocala, Fla, Vanguard High School. Coach Danny Hurley's Newark, N.J., St. Benedict's Prep team downed previously unbeated St. Petersburg, Fla., Lakewood High, 65-55, in the championship game of the 31st annual Kingdom of the Sun.
Superb junior, 6-foot-8 power/wing forward Lance Thomas was the top player for St. Benedict's with 24 points; tournament MVP, 6-foot-1 junior point guard Eugene Harvey had 14 points and 7 assists. Standout sophomore 6-foot-5 wing forward Corey Stokes, and 6-foot junior guard David Culliban, each scored 10 points for the victors. 6-foot-4 senior second guard Sean Morrison led Lakewood with 23 points, and 6-foot-4 senior guard/forward Mario Telfair had strong game with 21 points.
Led by Louisville football recruit, 6-foot point guard JaJuan Spillman with 15 points, and 6-foot-5 junior wing forward Vincent Crutcher with 14 points, Louisville, Ky., Pleasure Ridge Park High School defeated host Ocala, Fla., Vanguard High School, 72-48, for Third Place. 6-foot-3 senior guard James Naylor led Vanguard with 13 points…Kingdom of the Sun footnotes: Miami, FL, signee, 6-foot point guard Denis Clemente, Miami, Fla., Calusa Preparatory School, led all scorers with 94 points in three games, including a 40-point explosion against Louisville PRP…Pleasure Ridge Park coach Dale Mabrey picked up career win No. 600 in his team's opening round victory…The state of Georgia matchup of talented big men was virtually "a draw," as Georgetown recruit, 6-foot-8 power forward Octavious Spann, College Park, Ga., Banneker H.S., had 23 points; and Georgia Tech signee, 6-foot-10 center/forward Alade Aminu, Stone Mountain, Ga., Stephenson H.S., had 18 points, 9 rebounds.
In tournament director Dale Burns' always outstanding Arby's Holiday Classic Tournament in Bristol, Tenn., an event that attracts teams from around the globe, Atlanta, Ga., Benjamin Mays High School, led by tournament MVP Georgia State recruit, 6-foot-7 power forward Rashad Chase with 22 points and 11 rebounds, edged Provo, Utah, Timpview High School, 55-52 in the title game. The leader for Timpview High was Marquette signee, 6-foot-5 second guard Matt Mortensen with 21 points and 7 rebounds.
In the Third Place contest Meridian, Miss., High School behind 6-foot senior guard Chris Harris with 19 points, and Arkansas signee, 6-foot-9 center Cyrus McGowan with 16 points, 18 rebounds, beat Johnson City, Tenn., Science Hill High School, 81-72. Outstanding sophomore 6-foot-4 guard/forward Omar Wattad was high man for Science Hill with 24 points.
Reston, Va., South Lakes High School led by College of Charleston signee, 6-foot-4 wing guard Ryan Scott with 23 points, defeated Ulm, Germany, Urspring Academy, 56-54, in the Fifth Place game. Urspring Academy featured two phenomenally gifted young players. Remember the name – 6-foot-11 sophomore center Sabian Boeke, a true post player with remarkable back to the basket moves. The speculation is that he will eventually turn pro in Germany. Boeke had 21 points, 12 rebounds against South Lakes. The other young German talent is 6-foot-four second guard Lucca Staiger, a freshman at Urspring Academy, with limitless potential. Staiger had 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in the final game.
Included on the Arby's Classic All-Tournament team were Michigan State signee, 6-foot-5 guard/forward Jevohn Shepherd, Scarbrough, Ontario, West Hill Collegiate School; 6-foot point guard Malik Alvin, Philadelphia, Pa., Simon Gratz High School; 6-foot-7 junior wing forward Cordell Pope, Birmingham, Ala., Parker High School; 6-foot-5 junior guard/forward Jonathan Tavernari, Provo, Utah, Timpview High School; and others.
One noteable all-tournament honoree was 6-foot-4 senior guard/forward Nathan Skinner, Scarbrough, Ontario, West Hill Collegiate, who, reportedly, has received offers from Georgetown, Temple, and Pennsylvania.
In the championship game of the 5th annual Dell Curry/Bojangles Shootout at Charlotte Latin High School in Charlotte, N.C., tenacious Philadelphia, Pa., St. John Neumann-Goretti High School upset previously unbeaten Durham, N.C., Mount Zion Christian Academy, 72-66. Tournament MVP 6-foot-1 junior one/two guard Derrick Rivera, with 16 points, 6 assists, and 4 steals; and hard-nosed 6-foot-5 junior wing forward Earl Pettis, who played on a very sore ankle, and still scored 22 points, were the mainstays in Neumann's hard-fought victory.
Mt. Zion was led by Iowa State recruit, 6-foot-9 center Shawn Taggart with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Highly publicized 6-foot-6 wing forward Brandon Rush could not have made a very favorable impression on the twelve or more NBA scouts in attendance. He did not play with intensity, and made 5-13 FG for 10 points in the title game. And, Rush did not make the all-tournament team.
Dell Curry/Bojangles All-Tournament Team: MVP - Derrick Rivera; Earl Pettis; Shawn Taggart; 6-foot-7 junior forward Kiwan Smith, Laurinburg, N.C., Institute; and outstanding junior, 6-foot-9 center/forward Vernon Macklin, Portsmouth, Va., Norcom High School. Another outstanding senior player in this event was unsigned 6-foot-8 power forward Horace Dixon, of Mauldin, S.C., High School.
5-foot-11 junior point guard Stephen Curry, the son of Dell Curry, was the MVP in leading Charlotte, N.C., Christian School to the championship of the Bojangles Regional Tournament.
Unsigned senior, 6-foot-7 Phillip Buckson had 20 points and 17 rebounds, and earned MVP honors as Gaffney, S.C., High School beat Winston-Salem, N.C., North Forsyth High 69-60 in the championship game of the Frank Spencer National Holiday Classic in Winston-Salem, N.C. Appalachian State signee, 6-foot-5 wing forward Jarvis Jackson led North Forsyth with 22 points and 9 rebounds, despite playing just four minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.
Wake Forest recruit, 6-foot-7 power forward Kevin Swinton scored 24 points, and his talented junior teammate, 6-foot-6 wing forward Robert Graves added 17 points to power undefeated (10-0) Greensboro, N.C., Dudley High to the championship of the of the Little Four Holiday Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
Louisville, Ky., Trinity High School, led by twin brothers, MVP 6-foot-3 2G Kyle Saxton, with 18 points, and 6-foot-3 one/two guard Brett Saxton with 14 points, captured the Lexington Catholic Holiday Tournament in Lexington, Ky, with a 58-34 win over Falmouth, Ky., Pendleton County High School. Belmont recruit, 6-foot-5 guard/forward Keaton Belcher had 15 points for Pendleton County.
Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith attended the event to watch developing big man, 7-foot-2 center Jared Carter of Georgetown, Ky., Scott County High School. However, Carter was injured and unable to play. Carter did make an early visit to Boston College. And, reportedly, is now being recruited by The Eagles, along with Cincinnati, Nebraska, Colorado, Pepperdine, and others. But, according to our sources, if Kentucky offers him, that is where he wants to go.
Perhaps no state has more teams participating in holiday tournaments than does Illinois. The main event in Illinois this year was the Proviso West Holiday Tournament in Hillside, Ill. Hot-shooting 6-foot-4 guard Jonathan Peoples hit for 30 points, and tournament MVP, Iowa recruit, 6-foot-1 point guard Tony Freeman had 18 points, to give Westchester, Ill., St. Joseph High School a 71-59 win over Chicago Julian High School for the Proviso West Tournament championship. St. Joseph (12-0) had only eight turnovers in the game.
This was veteran coach Gene Pingatore's first Proviso West Tournament championship since 1989. "We really wanted to get this one for coach," said Jonathan Peobles.
Impressive 6-foot-8 sophomore center Mack Koshwal paced Julian with 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Wyoming recruit, 6-foot-1 point guard Brandon Ewing had 12 points, 6 assists.
Kansas recruit, 6-foot-8 point/forward Julian Wright had 21 points, 14 rebounds, to lead Flossmoor, Ill., Homewood-Flossmoor High School to a Third Place finish over Chicago Von Steuben, 71-60. 6-foot combo guard Angel Santiago had 22 points for Von Steuben.
6-foot-2 junior combo guard Will Walker scored 28 points in Bolingbrook High School's 76-68 win over East Aurora High School in the championship game of the East Aurora Holiday Tournament. Walker also had 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5 steals. The tournament MVP award went to East Aurora's 6-foot-2 senior wing guard Tyrone Evans, who scored 29 points in the title game.
According to Chicago Sun-Times writer Michael O'Brien many observers at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament thought that Southern California signee, sharpshooting 6-foot-4 second guard Sead Odzic, Skokie, Ill., Niles West High School, should have been the tournament's MVP. Instead, that award went to Illinois State recruit, 6-foot-1 point guard Dodie Dunson, whose Bloomington High School team won the tournament. Odzic averaged 27.5 points in the tournament.
In an exciting, down-to-the-wire championship game, Illinois State signee, 6-foot-3 second guard Brandon Holtz hit a 16-footer with :04 on the clock to give Bloomington a 58-56 win over defending tournament champion Chicago Simeon High School. The scoring leader for Bloomington was outstanding sophomore 6-foot-3 wing forward Justin Bocot with 18 points. Dodson and Holtz each scored 12 points. Simeon played without their best player, highly-rated 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Derrick Rose, who sprained his ankle in the semifinals. 6-foot senior guard Tim Green had 23 points for Simeon in the final game.
Chicago Westinghouse High School claimed the championship of the Pekin Holiday Tournament for the third time in the last five years. Unsigned 6-foot-8 center/forward DeAndre Thomas was the MVP.
The Chicago Sun-Times picks as the consolidated (the best from all the in-state tournaments) Illinois Holiday All-Tournament First Team: Tony Freeman, Julian Wright, Sean Odzic, Derrick Rose, De Andre Thomas, and 6-foot-6 junior power forward Joevan Catron, Harvey, Ill., Thornton H.S. The consolidated Second Team All-Tournament selectees: 6-foot-5 junior second guard Jon Scheyer, Northbrook, Ill., Glenbrook North H.S.; Marquette signee, 6-foot-3 wing guard Jerel McNeal, Country Club Hills, Ill., Hillcrest H.S.; 6-foot-10 sophomore center Brian Carlwell, Maywood, Ill., Proviso East H.S.; 5-foot-11 junior point guard Sherron Collins, Chicago Crane H.S.; and 6-foot-5 sophomore forward Tim Flowers, Chicago Simeon H.S.
In a matchup of two regional rivals, Irving, Texas, High School defeated Fort Worth, Texas, North Crowley High School, 64-55, in the Orange Division (large school) championship game of the 42nd annual Whataburger Basketball Tournament in Haltom City, Texas. Boston College signee, 6-foot-3 second guard Marquez Haynes of Irving High was the tournament MVP, scoring 17 points in the title game. 5-foot-11 junior point guard Allen Williams was the leading scorer for Irving with 18 points, including four three-pointers; and 6-foot-4 senior forward Tommy Moffitt finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds.
The top players for North Crowley High were 6-foot-4 senior guard/forward A'Daeron Duncan with 15 points, 9 rebounds; and 6-foot-3 senior wing guard Donald Guy with 12 points, 5 rebounds. Duncanville, Texas, High School defeated Hurst, Texas, L.D. Bell High School 67-64. Unsigned 6-foot-2 senior sharpshooting guard Alan Voskul was outstanding for L.D. Bell High.
The nation's all-time winningest high school coach, the venerable Robert Hughes, was not successful in his bid for a fourth consecutive, and tenth overall tournament championship. After winning 13 consecutive games in the Whataburger Tournament, dating back to the 2000 championship game, Hughes' Fort Worth, Texas, Dunbar High team lost to Duncanville High 73-55 in the quarterfinals. "I don't know who the guys were that got off the bus," said Hughes. "Our team never did show up."
North Texas signee, 6-foot-7 power forward Harold Stewart had 21 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 3 assists to power his Crowley, Texas, High School team to a 73-54 win over Fort Worth, Texas, Southwest High School in the White Division championship game of the Whataburger Basketball Tournament. Stewart went head-to-head against 6-11 junior center Luke Tauscher, who had an impressive game for Southwest High with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots. Tauscher has made an early commitment to Coach Neil Dougherty's T.C.U. Horned Frogs.
Now rated as the nation's No. 1 high school team by USA Today, Mouth of Wilson, Va., rolled over Hillsboro, Ore., High School, 98-54, in the championship game of the Nike sponsored Les Schwab Holiday Invitational Tournament in Portland, Ore. Coach Steve Smith's Warriors are now 15-1 on the season.
Unsigned 6-foot-four second guard Jamont Gordon was the top scorer for Oak Hill in the championship game with 18 points. Sensational 6-foot-9 junior forward Kevin Durant, and Syracuse signee, 6-foot-3 wing guard Eric Devendorf, each had 17 points for the Warriors.
Tournament director John Olive has one of the nation's largest events at his Torrey Pines, Calif., Holiday Prep Classic. Unheralded Spring Valley, Calif., Steele Canyon High School, led by stellar 5-foot-9 combo guard Richie Williams, who just recently committed to San Diego State, came away with the tournament championship.
Williams scored 36 points as Steele Canyon High defeated Los Angeles Fremont High in the quarterfinals; and had 24 points in his team's semifinals upset over then No. 1 rated Jersey City, N.J., St. Anthony High School. Tournament MVP RickyWilliams scored 25 points to lead Steele Canyon High to a 74-60 victory over Lake Forest, Calif., El Toro High School in the title game. St. Anthony High School defeated Oakland, Calif., Bishop O'Dowd High School for Third Place.
Currently rated No. 2 nationally by USA Today, Etiwanda, Calif., High School beat Los Angeles Loyola High School 65-49 for the championship of the Desert Heat National Invitational in Palm Springs, Calif. Now rated as the top senior player in California by one noted West Coast prep expert, UCLA-bound, 6-foot point guard Darren Collison, hit 11-13 shots for 26 points to propel Etiwanda High to the championship. Collison continued his streak of tournament MVP awards, receiving his third during December at this event. Etiwanda teammate, Arizona State recruit, 6-foot-9 center/forward Jeffrey Pendergraph, had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Coach Gary McKnight's perennial powerhouse Santa Ana, Calif., Mater Dei
High defeated Orange, Calif., Lutheran High School, 67-60, in the championship game of the Orange Holiday Classic at Chapman College in Orange, Calif. Future UCLA player, 6-foot-7 sophomore wing forward Taylor King, who is having a phenomenal season for Mater Dei, had 18 points in the final game, and was the MVP. 6-foot-1 sophomore guard Kamyron Brown had 14 points and 6 assists for Mater Dei.
Another UCLA early commitment, 6-foot-9 junior power forward James Keefe, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., Santa Margarita High School, had a most impressive performance throughout the tournament.
UNLV signee, 6-foot-7 wing forward Davon Jefferson scored 21 points to help his Lynwood, Calif., High School team defeat Compton, Calif., Centennial High School, 67-54, for the championship of the West Coast Challenge in Lynwood. Jefferson was selected the tournament MVP. Arizona State recruit, 6-foot-4 point guard Seketoure Henry was the top scorer for Lynwood with 26 points. 6-foot-3 junior wing guard Tyre Thompson, and 6-foot-6 junior forward Jervaughn Johnson, both from Centennial High, made the all-tournament team.
Others who played very well included: 6-foot-4 junior second guard Patrick Christopher, Lakewood, Calif., Mayfair High, whose stock is climbing, and he really likes North Carolina; unsigned 6-foot-2 guard Kelvin Wilson, Gardena, Calif., Serra High School; Pepperdine recruit, 6-foot-8 power forward Chris Oakes, Oakland, Calif., Castlemont High School; unsigned 5-foot-11 point guard Brian McTear, Los Angeles Crenshaw High School; and 6-foot-5 sophomore guard/forward Drew Viney, Villa Park, Calif., High School.
And, that's all folks!
Happy New Year