There seems to be a trend at all of the holiday tournaments. The majority of seniors are taking a backseat to the juniors and sophomores and that was certainly the case at the Academy National Invitational in Houston, Texas this week. Junior point guard Josue Soto took his game to another level while Gary Johnson and Austin Freeman showed why so many are excited about the class of 2007.
Top Players Overall
1. Gary Johnson, Sophomore, 6-7 Power Forward, Aldine (Texas) - Was the story of the tournament, looking great against top seniors Fendi Onobun, knocked out nationally-ranked Kingwood High School and did all he could do in the championship. Had Aldine won the Texas Division, Johnson would have crowned a great week in front of his home crowd.
2. Josue Soto, Junior, 5-11 Point guard, Arlington Country Day (Fla.) - It was the best we've seen of the Puerto Rica native. He did it all by scoring, distributing, defending and responded to an opening round loss to eventual National champs Christ the King.
3. Austin Freeman, Sophomore, 6-4 Shooting Guard, DeMatha (Md.) - This kid is going to be a big timer. Freeman has added some size since the summer and he uses it to his advantage by scoring inside at will. His jumper is coming along strong, too. Those close to DeMatha say he could be better than alum and former Kentucky stud Keith Bogans at this stage.
4. Martellus Bennett, Senior, 6-7 Forward, Alief Taylor (Texas) - The two-sport star was the tournament's leading scorer, fighting inside for buckets and showing off improved range on his shot.
5. Terrel Harris, Senior, 6-5 SG, South Garland (Texas) - Had a quiet but great tournament showing why Oklahoma State is so excited about their incoming class. Harris was consistently good in the three games he played.
1. Martellus Bennett, 6-7 Forward, Alief Taylor (Texas) - Put up huge scoring points but went 1-2.
2. Terrel Harris, 6-5 SG, South Garland (Texas) - Smooth and athletic in every game.
3. David Devezin, 5-11 PG, Ft. Bend Marshall (Texas) - Poised, made the right decisions and shot the ball well all the way to the Texas championship.
4. Mamadi Diane, 6-5 SG, DeMatha (Md.) - On a loaded team, Diane was the quiet leader and did a little bit of everything.
5. Luc Richard Mbaha Moute, 6-7 SF, Montverde Academy (Fla.) - Impressed with his interior game and played tougher than we were anticipating.
5. Jeremy Barr, 6-7 PF, Westbury Christian (Texas) - Played with toughness, showed flashes of good offense inside the paint.
5. Marcus Johnson, 6-6 SF, Westchester (Calif.) - Played very well until the championship game where the L.A. team was just out toughed.
1. Josue Soto, 5-11 Point guard, Arlington Country Day (Fla.) - Without a doubt, the best point guard in the tourney.
2. Darris Santee, 6-8 SF, Ft. Bend Marshall (Texas) - Started slow but had a great championship game and hit one of the biggest shots of the year.
3. Demond Carter, 5-10 PG, Reserve Christian (La.) - Got his points, of course, but really showed some guts in the consolation final against Arlington Country Day, almost pulling off a huge upset.
4. Franck Ndongo, 6-7 SF, Montverde Academy (Fla.) - Really shined on the defensive end and was the clear cut leader as a shut down player. Still raw but has big time potential. The most intriguing prospect in the field.
5. Trent Boone, 6-3 SG, South Garland (Texas) - Really emerged at the ANI thanks to tough play and always seemed to come up with a big shot.
1. Gary Johnson, Aldine (Texas) - No doubt about it - he was the best player here in any class. Was unstoppable in every game and played nearly every minute.
2. Austin Freeman, 6-4 Shooting Guard, DeMatha (Md.) - Poured in the points on a team with at least eight DI guys.
3. Malik Boothe, 5-8 PG, Christ the King (N.Y.) - Numbers wise, he won't stand out but composure, toughness and winning attitude set the tone for CTK.
4. Isaiah Rusher, 6-9 PF/C, Bellaire (Texas) - Didn't get the touches he should have, but showed why high-majors are waiting for him with great seal offs and blocking shots.
5. Jai Lucas, 5-10 PG, Bellaire (Texas) - Offensively, he turned it up another notch. Always a great floor leader. Two losses didn't help though.
5. Kevin Branch, 6-5 SG, Reserve Christian (La.) - In the final game, Branch had a chance to play the one, two and three - his natural spots - inside of inside. He shot the ball well in the consolation final.