ORLANDO, Fla. - Right near the top of the class of 2010 rankings you will find Will Barton and Kyrie Irving. In a game on Tuesday, the two of them locked horns in an epic contest in which each player did their best to out do the other. That however wasn't the only fun part of the second day of AAU Nationals.
Two of 2010's best put on a show
Though they played with different teams at the AAU Super Showcase, both Barton and Irving stuck around for nationals. Barton suited up with the Baltimore Stars, and Irving did the same with the New Jersey Roadrunners.
In the first half Barton seemed to be out of synch with his new teammates. Though Syracuse commitment, C.J. Fair joined him on the Stars for the tournament, Barton wasn't his usual self, and managed to only score two points.
By contrast, playing with his normal team, as usual Irving was a stud. Irving showed the same form against the Stars that he did earlier in the week when he led his squad to upset wins over All-Ohio Red and Team Final.
Irving was getting to the rim, hitting shots from deep, and quite simply making every single one of his teammates better. Behind the strong play from Irving, the Roadrunners were able to control the action in the first half.
Things however changed in a big way in the second half. While Irving stayed the same, Barton came alive. In the third quarter the two of them, while not guarding each other, basically matched each other shot for shot, and possession for possession.
Barton would make an athletic play through the lane to score, and Irving would come right down and match him. Irving would hit a three, and Barton would answer with a deeper three. The two of them were absolutely in the zone, and with that the game began to tighten up.
In fact with only seconds remaining, the score was tied with the Baltimore Stars inbounding under their own basket. The Stars inbounded the ball to Barton who took a few dribbles to about 26 feet away, and he then launched a slightly off balance three. From the moment he released the shot it looked good. Barton actually banked home the three ball as the buzzer sounded giving the Baltimore Stars the big win.
The three gave Barton 21 total for the game, 19 coming in the second half. Irving himself had 39 points, and continued to show why he is performing as well as anyone in the country right now.
Rivers was on fire
His team lost in the finals of the Super Showcase on Monday, and apparently all that did was make Austin Rivers mad. The Each 1 Teach 1 guard flat out had it working on Tuesday morning against Carolina Flight.
In the first half Rivers was absolutely on fire. He hit pull up three, after pull up three, after pull up three. In fact for a while it looked like Rivers was simply not capable of missing a shot. For the half Rivers checked in with six threes made, and he only missed a few shots.
Halftime did nothing to slow Rivers down. With Each 1 Teach 1 dominating, Rivers continued to go to work. He hit another four threes in the third quarter before coming out of the game.
For some they can question his shot selection because a few of the shots he takes wouldn't be considered high quality looks, but when a player has it working like Rivers did, it is tough to tell him that he isn't open. The 10 three balls led to Rivers scoring 34 points, and he didn't even step on the floor in the fourth quarter.
While they got blown out by Rivers and company, Anthony Gill and Reco McCarter of the Carolina Flight showed well for themselves.
McCarter is a big wing with a lot of athleticism. He is definitely a capable shooter out to three point range, but he looked to be at his best going to the bucket and scoring, or dishing off to a teammate. Gill is a grinder of a power forward. He doesn't do anything flashy, but at the end of the game he just produces.
Other notable performances
Keep a close eye on 2011 prospect Tyrone Johnson. The 6-foot-3 combo guard out of Plainfield, New Jersey is having an excellent summer and that continued at nationals. Johnson showed that with his strength he is a load to handle going to the rim, and also he hit a three. Beyond that the big time quarterback prospect also has nice court vision, and is capable of really setting his teammates up.
Johnson's backcourt teammate with Team New Jersey Elite is Derrick Gordon. Gordon is a commitment to Western Kentucky, and it looks like the Hilltoppers got a good one. Gordon is a long scoring guard with good athleticism and the ability to shoot. He needs to get more aggressive, but he definitely showed some nice potential.
Facing off with Johnson and Gordon was Trevis Simpson. Simpson is a super athletic wing from Georgia. He showed that he has plenty of bounce of the floor dunking home a few nice ally-oops. Also he had decent touch into the mid-range. His perimeter shot looked suspect, but there are definitely some tools for Simpson to work with as a player.
For the 17 and under Jackson Tigers it was an odd win. They brought the wrong jerseys, so they actually were down 7-0 due to free throws before the game started, but once the game did start they took control.
Point guard Andre Stringer was excellent for the Tigers. He showed he can score, as usual, with 19 points, but he also did more than that. Stringer did a solid job of getting his teammates involved, and even showed quick hands on defense. If he continues to improve defensively, Stringer will see his stock go up.
On the receiving end of many of Stringer's passes was athletic wing, Rashad Perkins. Perkins threw down a few nasty dunks, and scored off of drives as well. He did miss a few shots from the outside, but Perkins is an excellent athlete off the wing who knows how to finish in traffic.
Coaches pack the seats courtside of Florida Rams games, not only to get a look at Fabricio de Melo, but also his very talented teammates. Like usual Melo had some impressive moves and the way he runs for a human being his size is very impressive. However that is expected of Melo who is a known quantity.
Two of his teammates on Tuesday were very impressive. Will Sheehey is a 6-foot-5 off guard with a good handle, long arms, and decent bounce off the floor. Also Sheehey showed that he is a capable shooter. The play of Sheehey on the outside was important as it opened up things on the interior for Melo and fellow frontcourt player Cady Lulane.
Lulane is a long and lean power forward who plays with a high motor. At this point Lulane isn't someone who is ultra skilled, but he knows how to finish around the rim, can block shots with his length, and showed an ability to rebound as well. He is a very good complement to the big and burly Melo.
Ole Miss has a good one in 2010 point guard commitment Dundrecous Nelson. Nelson is a super athlete with a lot of strength and quickness. His jump shot has been improving, though at the moment it isn't consistent. The bottom line however is that Nelson showed he is very difficult to stop off the bounce, and once in the lane he does a good job of deciding whether to pass or shoot. Also with his strength and quickness, Nelson has the potential to be a lockdown defender.
In the night cap the story was the play of Damontre Harris. The Carolina Force big man continues to get better and better. At a legit 6-foot-9 with a good frame and long arms, Harris is just now figuring out how good he can be. Harris is more than willing to finish inside with a dunk, but also he showed an ability to hit the mid-range jump shot. Beyond that he blocked a few shots, and ran the floor very well. The progression he has made since the NBA Players Association Camp in June is impressive.
Harris and his Force team lost, though, to Houston Hoops. For Hoops Brandon Peters had a big game. The freaky athlete once again showed his improved shooting range by nailing some threes, and also his handle is coming along nicely. For the game Peters finished with 24 points.
Joining Peters for Hoops was J'Mychal Reese. Reese had 19 points of his own. He did finish a few times with athletic moves around the rim, but for the most part Reese was hitting from deep. With a hoard of coaching looking on, the 2012 prospect wasn't rattled in the slightest and showed his impressive all-around game.
Reco McCarter said that Wake Forest is his leader despite not having offered. Joining Wake on his list is Florida, VCU, NC State, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma.
Tyrone Johnson explained that at the moment he is focused on basketball, and will worry about football once the summer is over. Right now basketball wise he has offers from Rutgers, Villanova, Georgetown, Indiana, UNLV, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. Also he is hearing from Kentucky and West Virginia.
Andre Stringer says the five schools standing out at the moment are LSU, Alabama, Miami, Marquette, and Mississippi State.
Will Sheehey has offers from George Washington, Bucknell, Tulane, William and Mary, Northwestern, American, and Holy Cross. Also he is hearing from Virginia and Stanford.
Cady Lulane reports offers from South Carolina, Ole Miss, and VCU. Also he is getting attention from Miami, Auburn, George Mason, UCF, Jacksonville, and South Florida.