FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.- Players got a one game tuneup at the one of the spring's most prestigious events, The Real Deal on the Hill, before the college coaches roll in on Saturday to evaluate the action. Here is a recap of some of the players who caught Rivals.com's eye.
Indiana Elite 72, World Wide Renegades 60
DeAndre Liggins set the tone for Indiana Elite's 12-point win over the World Wide Renegades with six of his game-high nine assists coming in the first half. Standing at what looks to be 6-foot-6, he both passes over his defender and works his way into the lane to set up shooters. Liggins also picked up five rebounds and snagged three assists. The downside of his performance, however, was his reluctance to shoot the ball. His only attempts from the field were two lay-ups, and his three turnovers were a result of looking solely to pass when penetrating the lane.
The bottom line is that Liggins has the size, strength, just enough quickness and unbelievable court vision to be a five-star point guard in this class if he were to become at least a moderate scoring threat. It will be interesting to track his development this summer in that department.
As for his recruitment, a hoard of Arkansas players, who are presently without a coaching staff, were on hand to recruit Liggins who is considering Arkansas, Illinois, Memphis, Purdue, Miami and Wake Forest. The old coaching staff at Arkansas had offered a scholarship, along with Illinois and Memphis.
Tyler Zeller pumped in 16 points in the game and was a prime beneficiary of Liggins' passing ability. With a quick pivot and release on his turnaround moves, Zeller scored consistently over his smaller defenders without putting the ball on the floor. Rivals.com had him for only one missed field goal on seven attempts. He does have room to improve as a rebounder, however, as he snagged only a couple rebounds in the game.
Emmanuel Negedu gobbled up most of the rebounds for Indiana Elite with a conservative seven boards by Rivals.com's count. An undersized man-child down low, Negedu is this class' version of Duke Crews. Perhaps he is a little more skilled away from the basket than Crews, but that did not result in any type of production for him on the perimeter. All his damage took place in the lane to the tune of eight points.
Walter Offutt, an Ohio State commitment, had a hop in his step and showed some athleticism slashing to the basket in the second half. His floor game, however, was erratic, with some errant passes off the dribble and a reluctance to shoot the ball from the outside. He did make a number of plays in the lane on offense and in the open court on defense, though.
Taariq Muhammad of the World Wide Renegades had little success shooting the ball from the outside as did the rest of his teammates. Nonetheless, he consistently worked his way into the lane and found open teammates.
Lorenzo Brown didn't log the minutes that his talent would seem to command, but he did show flashes of his ability on some strong drives to the basket and athletic plays primarily from the wing position.
Teondre Williams played as if he is still in the process of figuring out his game. As unfortunately is the case with a lot of athletic slashers, Williams had the misfortune of making his first three-point attempt and continued to let them fly. He could not connect on another three-pointer throughout the game. However, there is no denying his high-major athleticism and ability to score in the transition game.
Dequan Jones, who is another athletic slasher for the World Wide Renegades stayed away from the long ball and provided some offensive punch through his offensive rebounding and in transition.
In other action
Oklahoma State commitment Keiton Page led his Tulsa PWP squad to a win with 24 points. Although he has limited foot speed, Page is crafty with the basketball and has an uncanny ability to stroke it from deep off the dribble.
Former Arkansas commitment Jenirro Bush has reclassified to 2008 and was in action with the Columbus Titans. A combo guard at around 6-foot-5, Bush looked a little out of shape, but displayed all the skills that had him ranked as a four-star in the 2007 class. He scored 18 points in the game.
Bush is wide open again in his recruitment and is considering Connecticut, Virginia, Oklahoma, Baylor and Oregon.
Bush's teammate Rashanti Harris put up 18 points, including the game winner. Fighting fatigue as well, Harris controlled the boards, but struggled to move his feet on defense.
Malcolm White, who recently committed to Ole Miss, had scored 11 points in the first half of his game.
Scotty Hopson, a five-star wing who is committed to Mississippi State, did not live up to his ranking with uninspired play in his game.
On the other hand, B.J. Mullens and Yancy Gates played with energy for the Cleveland Basketball Club. Gates ran the floor well and was active, while Mullens controlled the action around the rim.
Terrico White is favoring Clemson and Georgia Tech, but has not received offers from either yet. Ole Miss (offer), Tennessee (offer), Memphis and Valparaiso are also on his list.
The Pump N Run squad with Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson, Victor Davila, Nelson Reeves, Travis Wear and David Wear appear to be one of the favorites to win this event. They cruised out to a 50-24 lead at half in their opening game.
Holiday looked impressive as usual. Anderson did a fine job distributing the ball, and Travis Wear stood out.
Tim Watts and Mark Reeves contributed to his report.