LAS VEGAS, NEV. - The drive to Centennial High School is scenic and long. The reward for those that make it out to the gym sitting at the base of the mountains were treated to a number of shows put on by Jerryd Bayless and others on the first day of the adidas Super 64 tournament.
Bayless wows with new team
Jerryd Bayless is playing with a new AAU team, EBO from California, and he played like it for the first half against Compton Magic. The five-star guard had a quiet six points to start the game and was content with setting his new teammates up and saving his energy for something down the road.
At halftime, the game was close and looked like things were going to be a back and forth battle. Then something happened. Bayless took over and gave a quick introduction to his new squad. The athletic guard went to work, scoring 18 points in the second half and every bucket drew a glowing compliment with each score.
Whenever he wanted to score, he'd score. It was that simple. Actually it's that simple every time he plays. Bayless has made himself into an elite scorer and continues to add facets to his game. His mid-range game played a key role in EBO's quick strike with five minutes to play and eventually took all of the momentum out of Compton Magic's sail. After scoring on a couple of midrange scores in the lane, Bayless beat his man to the basket and threw down a ridiculous dunk in traffic. That slammed the door shut and put the nail in the coffin for Compton.
Don't be surprised to see a lot of this kind of Bayless this week in Vegas. Next time, it probably won't come in the second half alone.
OTHER TOP PERFORMERS FROM OPENING DAY
As good as Bayless was in the second half in his game, Jrue Holiday was even better in his first half. Holiday scored 24 of his team's 46 points in the first 16 minutes. It wasn't all about the points either. The stud from the class of 2008 grabbed five rebounds, snatched four steals and delivered one assist. That's called efficiency folks.
Holiday did whatever he wanted, hitting four three-pointers in the game all the while powering his way into the lane for scores right at the rim. If Holiday found a spot to score, he scored. If he found a way to get into the lane on the defensive end to grab a rebound, he did just that. Defensively, he has reacts quickly and plays tight on his man. Physically, Holiday has a body that will be chiseled at the next level.
Holiday finished with 40 points in the win to go along with his 10 rebounds, six steals and four assists. Most of all, he was instrumental in the victory. Talk about a complete effort.
Jeremy Jacobs of Dallas Slam did his very best to trump Holiday's Herculean effort with a giant effort of his own. Jacobs, a Louisiana native, scored 29 points. Offensively, he controlled the game for his squad and helped his team overcome a second half 18-point deficit.
Jacobs was outstanding in getting to the rim and scoring right at the rim. The 6-foot-6 wing scored a majority of his buckets 12 feet and he gave Double Pump Elite fits from the wing and in. Jacobs will be a very nice player for a high-major program.
Want athleticism? Check out Arizona bound Jamelle Horne. He's a freak and in basketball Vegas, that is a good thing. The bouncy 6-foot-7 will shine in the Pac-10. There is no debating that. He flies up and down the court and has a frame and bounce in his step that Arizona has had in former players (ala Richard Jefferson) and will have (ala Chase Budinger). Horne's skill set isn't at that level yet but he has tools that few have in the 2007 class. It will be fun to watch his game grow while in college.
Horne's teammate Matt Simpkins is trying to figure out a couple of things. 1. What position he will be the most successful at in college? 2. What prospect class he will be in - 2007 or 2008? There is no question about his talent though. Simpkins is certainly a good looking prospect. The NorCal native showed flashes of why he is such a hot commodity with high-major programs.
When he is posting up and working the paint, Simpkins is at his best. He's utilizes his athleticism nicely around the basket. Then there are times when Simpkins floats away to the wing and puts up jumpers, looking a lot like Shawn Marion but not having quite the same success as the NBA star. Make no mistake about it, Simpkins is a prospect but there are still a lot of things to improve upon.
At face value, Larry Drew may not look like a prospect that has garnered the attention the elite high-majors from coast-to-coast. He's 5-foot-11, maybe not the fastest or most athletic guy around either. Here is what he does do: Drew controls the game with a mature level of thinking for a player in the class of 2008. He never seems to get rattled and maintains a sense of confidence throughout the game like a guy that has seen it all before.
If Drew wasn't executing great pick and rolls, he was scoring on the perimeter. He connected on five three-pointers en route to 19 points. Unofficially, we tallied him for seven assists in the 80-70 victory over Hunting Park.
Coming off the bench and relishing in the reliever's role, Drew Viney played a key role in Pump 'N Run Elite's victory. Viney didn't take a lot of shots and scored on the majority that he took. The Villa Park (Calif.) prospect knows how to play and does a great job of catching, shooting and scoring. Viney scored 13 points and grabbed about five boards.
Austin Daye did his best Steve Novak imitation in the victory. The Gonzaga-bound forward was automatic from deep in the early game against Hunting Park. He connected on at least four three-pointers.
Defensively, Daye is going to give the West Coast Conference fits simply because of his incredible length. Daye will be one of the longest players the conference has seen and he makes it extremely difficult to shoot over. In the morning game against Hunting Park, Daye made it look like night on the perimeter because he blacked out a couple of three point attempts.
Smooth and scary were two of the words thrown out by college coaches when describing James Harden. The future Pac-10er makes it happen on the perimeter and did it in a way that can float under the radar if that is at all possible for a guy like Harden. He scored quietly but won big.
Jerryd Bayless, 2007 - Since de-committing from Arizona, the five-star guard has looked around a little. He said Arizona is still in considering the Wildcats as well as Texas, Georgia Tech, Washington and Kansas.
Drew Viney, 2007 - Arizona State, Arizona and California are the three leaders for the smooth shooter from Villa Park.
James Harden, 2007 - It's down to two schools for the four-star guard - Arizona State and Washington. He said he would like to get to Washington in August for an unofficial visit. He has already visited Arizona State. Harden said he is no rush to decide.
Terrell Bell, 2007 - After having a huge adidas Superstar camp, the 6-foot-6 wing from Stone Mountain (Ga.) High School is reaping the rewards of good play. Georgia, Virginia Tech and Tennessee have all offered and look to be the strongest. Bell said he is "still open for anything" while he is waiting to hear from Florida State. Georgia State has offered and watched him like a hawk this month.
Larry Drew, 2008 - The California floor general said he is holding offers from Stanford and UCLA while interest for him is spread out across the country. Drew said he is hearing from Clemson, Illinois, North Carolina, UConn, Georgia Tech, Washington, Florida and Miami.
Jeff Withey, 2008 - The 7-footer said Washington, Arizona, Kansas, Boston College and Louisville while Texas is showing a significant amount of interest as well
Luke Babbitt, 2008 - Reno, Nevada's finest said he is hearing the most from UCLA, Duke, Arizona (offer), Washington (offer) and Gonzaga. Babbitt said there is a possibility that he could "make a decision this summer but more than likely I'll wait until after the season." There is an unofficial visit in the works, too. Babbitt said he will be at the Texas-Ohio State football game in Austin. The Longhorns have offered as have Illinois, Michigan, Syracuse and Nevada.
Cashmere Wright, 2008 - The fast scoring guard from Savannah, Ga., is listing offers from Wake Forest, Florida State and Georgia. Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Florida round out his list.
ALL EYES ON ME
Gonzaga's Mark Few watched Daye, one of his three Rivals150 commitments in the class of 2007, against Hunting Park.
Ben Howland (UCLA) and Paul Hewitt (Georgia Tech) put a set of eyes one Drew, one of the top 2008 point guards in the country. Howland and a pair of assistants rolled back over to Centennial to see Jrue Holiday do his thing. UConn head coach Jim Calhoun took a look at Holiday, too.
Lorenzo Romar was on hand to see Harden, as were Arizona State assistants Mark Phelps and Archie Miller. Kentucky assistant Scott Rigot was on hand to see the Morris twins of Hunting Park. Tom Izzo checked out Wisconsin guard Korie Lucious in the night game.
The KC Pump 'N Run duo of Tyrel Reed and [db]Travis Releford[/db] drew a huge crowd in their game against Stay in the Game. Head coaches included Skip Prosser, Paul Hewitt, Steve Alford, Mike Anderson, Lon Kruger, Jeff Capel, Gregg McDermott and Tubby Smith and assistants from Texas, Illinois, Kansas, Arkansas, Cincinnati and Louisville all caught a look.
HI, MY NAME IS
Outside of Carmel, Ind., and in basketball offices in the Atlantic 10, MAC and some Big Ten schools, [db]Jake Kelly of Indiana Elite isn't a familiar name in the recruiting world. He might be soon. The smooth 6-foot-6 wing had a strong game against the NE Playaz with 17 points in a 50-46 win. Kelly scored the ball from the wing, put the rock on the floor and attacked and dished out assists. He had a host of mid-majors watching closely. Penn State was in the house, too. The Big Ten school has offered, as has Xavier. Iowa head coach Steve Alford was also there to see Kelly as well as 2007 Hawkeye commitment Dariese Gary.
ODDS & ENDS
Brian Bouchie of Indiana Elite is an intriguing prospect. He showed flashes of good things in the post and just a knack for making good plays. At 6-foot-8, he'll be a hot commodity later in the game because big guys go faster and finding guys that understand how to play becomes more of a chore as summer closes out.
Darshawn McClellan scored 15 points, mostly in the first half, for EBO and was the scoring punch for the team before Bayless turned it on in the second half. McClellan, a sturdy 6-foot-5, 225-pound forward, is a solid West Coast mid-major prospect.
Jim Harrick won a National Championship when he was at UCLA. Now he is coaching a team that is a contender for the adidas Super 64. Harrick is the head coach of the Double Pump Elite team.
Good thing the basketball is going well. Life at the blackjack table has not treated us so kindly. The first sign of trouble was the dealer's name, Sirender.