The Memorial Day Classic in New Orleans, Louisiana kicked off Saturday morning and one of the tournaments top games was played during the first session between the Metro Hawks from New York and Houston Hoops from Texas.
The Hoops roster is loaded with small forward Rashad Woods (No. 25), Arizona commitment Fendi Onobun (No. 32), point guard David Devezin (No. 85) and two-sport star Martellus Bennett (No. 101) who recently committed to Miami.
The Hawks countered with one of the top front courts on the AAU circuit led by power forward Tyrell Biggs (No. 48) and 2006 standout John Mitchell (No. 37) who teamed for 31 points and did a great job on the defensive boards against the active and athletic Hoops big men.
The game itself was a seesaw battle that resulted in a 67-67 tie at the end of regulation. The Hawks guard play in overtime was the difference in a 77-74 victory.
Bennett led the Hoops with 22 points including several off the offensive glass. Devezin did a nice job of controlling the tempo and chipped in 14 points. Woods scored 11, despite foul trouble, and Onobun rounds out the leading scorers with eight.
2006 standouts on display
While most of the talent is at the Alario Center, where the 17 & under tournament is being held, several of the nation's top underclassmen are scattered around downtown New Orleans playing in the younger age divisions.
The 16 & under 11:00 a.m. game between the Murfreesboro Stars and Houston Hoops at Ehret High School featured Rivals.com No. 2 ranked prospect in the 2006 class Brandan Wright for the Stars versus Chris Roquemore (No. 26), Darris Santee (No. 64) and Arizona commitment Nic Wise.
Wright, 6-foot-9, 190-pounds, was the most impressive player on the floor. Showcasing excellent size for the small forward position and a nice outside shot, Wright also moved well without the ball. He was solid on the boards, pulling down double figure rebounds and blocking eight shots to go along with 17 points.
Wise ran the point for the Hoops and several times showed his excellent court vision with nice passes to teammates. However, sometimes he is careless with the ball which resulted in unforced turnover. When his outside shot didn't fall he drove to the basket with a couple of impressive finished in traffic.
Santee, like Roquemore, is a long, slim athlete who runs the floor well. He has a nice mid-range game and gets after it on the glass. He led the team with 12 points.
Roquemore is more of a post player and although he has to get stronger in order to finish he has solid post moves.
The Stars were up by 10 at the half and the second half saw the Hoops fall apart losing 73-54.
No. 2 prospect in 2006 focused on five favorites
Brandon Wright will be one of the nations most sought after prospects in the 2006 class but the versatile small forward has already narrowed his list to his five favorites.
"Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana in no particular order are the schools I like the most," Wright said. "I'm looking for a school with a coach who can help me reach my potential. I just want to be around good people and enjoy my time in college.
"All of my favorites have what I'm looking for and a rich basketball tradition."
Wright admits that a jump straight to the NBA is a possibility.
"I hope I'm good enough to go straight to the NBA but I've got a lot of work to do in order for that to be a possibility," Wright said. "Right now, college is leading because I don't think I'm ready."
Arkansas forward has plenty of options
Arkansas Wing big man Michael Washington, ranked 51st in the 2005 class by Rivals.com, has offers from his five favorites and is in the process of setting up his visits.
"Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss are the five schools I'm looking at the hardest," Washington said. "I don't have an overall favorite and won't until after my visits.
"I take the SAT in June and after that I will officially visit all five and try to narrow things down from there."
Illiois star trims list to six
Julian Wright from Chicago (Ill.) currently has six schools who sit at the top of his list. However, the 6-foot-8, 200-pound small forward is planning to trim his list further later in the summer.
"I like Arizona, DePaul, Illinois, Kansas, Indiana and Duke. All have offered beside Duke," Wright said. "But sometime in August I'm going to knock my list down to my three favorites and take my visits.
"My visits will ultimately determine where I go to school. I have to make a commitment before my senior season so I can concentrate on improving and not my recruitment."
Stay tuned to RivalsHoops.com for continuous coverage of the Memorial Day Classic throughout the holiday.