LAS VEGAS, NEV. - The younger division of the Main Event has some hidden gems peppered about the field of teams. Rivals.com strolled out to Green Valley High School and checked out talented class of 2008 prospect Samardo Samuels and uncovered a couple of guys that are emerging on the national scene.
Elite 2008 big man shines
Life for Samardo Samuels in the last year has been interesting. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound center from Jamaica left his homeland and moved to the New York area. Since then, he's attended the Nike Hoop Jamboree and the Nike All American and shined.
Here at the Main Event Samuels did what he does best for Team Odom. The big man dominated the paint on both sides of the ball. He was showing off great post moves, using his body to power over and through defenders and has incredibly soft hands. Samuels played with Jamaican National team last year and his time spent against guys much older than him and it shows. Not bad for a class of 2008 prospect that's getting used to the American style of play.
Samuels will play at St. Benedict's in New Jersey this coming school year. Coaches start sending your literature. He's a high-major kid. Samuels said he's hearing from Connecticut, Pitt and "so many others, I just don't remember." St. John's was in the house for the morning game to see the big man go to work.
Samuels had 16 points and double digit boards against the D.C. Blue Devils. The game got ugly and didn't live up to the billing but it was good seeing just how good Samuels is and getting an idea on just how good he can become.
Props to American assistant Jason Williford and St. John's assistant Fred Quartlebaum for finding the best obscure game on paper on Monday. They were at the Team Odom-D.C. Blue Devils game from start to finish.
Colorado trio come up big
Anytime you walk by a class of 2007 prospect and he's 6-foot-9, 250-pounds and has that look of a major player, you reevaluate your travel plans this time of year. We're glad we did. Scratching a drive across the city in 100-degree plus weather was a good move. Thanks Martell Jackson for walking into the gym as we were headed out.
Jackson is a commanding presence inside the paint on the 16 and under trail. He's one of the biggest kids in the Vegas field and he knows how to use his big 'ole body effectively. The lefty kissed a couple of shots off the glass, he has a soft touch off the glass and he positions himself nicely to get rebounds.
Not overly athletic but deceptively quick, Jackson does things that most guys his size doesn't. The rising junior from Brighton High School in Denver, Colo. is on the early radar for a number of schools.
Kentucky, Iowa State, Stanford, Colorado State, Wichita State, Valpo and Gonzaga have all shown an early interest, he said.
Jackson had some help from the rest of his Colorado Hawks team. Stephen Franklin, a 6-foot-6 forward from Aurora (Colo.) Central High had 14 points in the afternoon win over the Arizona Cagers. He made plays inside and out and has a body that will make you look twice. Franklin is hearing from Denver University and Colorado State early on he said.
Devin Aguilar played inspired basketball in the morning game. The 6-foot-2 point guard from Mullen High School in Denver made plays all over the court. He's an aggressive penetrator that can pull up and shoot it from deep. On the defensive end, he uses his length to block shots, snatch steals and gets into his man in the half court. Colorado, Colorado State and Iowa State are all sending him letters, he said.
Other Odds & Ends from the 16U Main Event bracket
Even though Kosta Koufos barely got any run in his afternoon game, he had his usual crowd of coaches in the house. Assistants from Ohio State, Michigan and Pitt stopped by for some face time. Too bad the 6-foot-10 forward didn't get more playing time to show what he does well. The Canton, Ohio native has not been playing like the guy that shined at the individual camps not to long ago.
With Koufus on the bench, Delvon Roe had a chance to show off his stuff. The 6-foot-7 class of 2008 forward finished with a team high 22 points and did a good job of finishing around the basket. High-majors will certainly look a little longer on him.
The Wisconsin Playground Warriors lost a close on to the Arizona Stars-Richard Jefferson squad thanks in large part to the shooting of Nick Markovich. The class of 2009 prospects was lights out from deep to the tune of 22 points and he had six three-pointers.
Small forward Justin Johnson is an intriguing prospect as well for the Arizona club. The 6-foot-6 small forward has a great feel for the game and made play after play. He also poured in 12 points. He's a mid-major plus guy in the class of 2007.