Now that the 2004 Tournament of Champions is in the books, RivalsHoops.com National Recruiting Analyst Justin Young looks back at the top five 2007 players he witnessed at the event.
O.J. Mayo - The much publicized class of 2007 superstar lived up to the hype at the Tournament of Champions. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound shooting guard from North College Hill High School displayed a scoring touch that could not be stopped. He averaged 27.3 points for his D-One Greyhounds squad and was the third highest scorer in the 17 and under bracket. Mayo is composed, confident and collectively good. He is a smart player that rarely forces the issue and keeps his game under control. While Rivals.com does not have a ranking list for the class of 2007, rest assured Mayo will contend for the top spot for the duration of his high school career.
Jarryd Bayless - Not far behind Mayo is the 6-foot-2, 175-pound guard from Phoenix (Ariz.) St. Mary’s High School. The class of 2007 elite player led the 16 and under pool in scoring, putting in 25.3 points a game. Bayless is ultra-athletic and scores in a variety of ways. In fact, outside of Mayo, Bayless is most likely the best scorer in the entire rising sophomore class. He has a scholarship offer from Arizona already and don’t be surprised to see him receive more in July. Schools must get in early with the Arizona Magic star. If they don’t he could be scoring on them one day.
Eric Gordon - In terms of sheer numbers, Gordon won’t be talked about in the same light that Mayo and Bayless were. But in talking about winning and hitting clutch shots in big games, Gordon takes the prize. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound combo guard from North Central (Ind.) High School was the key factor in the Tournament of Champions 17 and under championship game. He scored 20 points amidst two No. 1 players (Tasmin Mitchell and Gordon’s teammate Greg Oden). Gordon’s jumper is textbook and he rarely shoots below .500. Look for his name to be mentioned with Mayo and Bayless when discussing the class of 2007.
Edwin Rios - Rounding out the quartet of elite guards from the class of 2007 is the 6-foot guard from Miami (Fla.) Senior High School. In his Team Breakdown’s game against the New Orleans Jazz, Rios put his team on his back and rallied them from a 20-point deficit. In only his first go round with the Breakdown boys, Rios played cautiously with his new teammates but when he saw the opportunity (and need) to take the game over, he did. And he did a valiant job of it, scoring 20 second half points with a great looking pull up jumper and confident penetrating layups against an imposing Jazz frontline. Consider Rios one of the top scoring threats in his class.
Al Graham - Playing along side Monta Ellis at Lanier (Miss.) High School and the Magnolia Stars AAU program, it is easy to sometimes overlook Graham, a promising 6-foot-3, 185-pound point guard. Physically, he’s bigger and stronger than nearly every guard in his class. He is patient in an offense and know how to find his hot hand in the offense, which 99% of the time is Ellis. Offensively, Graham isn’t nearly as advanced as the aforementioned group, but in terms of running a high-octane offense, Graham is your man.