SUWANEE, GA. - It's tough to stop a train that's been rolling on full steam. EBO played extremely well and battled through a tough Charlotte Royals team to claim the adidas Showtime National Championships title.
EBO 67, Charlotte Royals 57
With a roster deep with Division I talent, the Fresno, Calif., based program is always a favorite to win any tournament they play in and the EBO guys got everyone's best game. On Friday afternoon in stormy metro Atlanta, the team had a balanced attack to claim the tournament title.
With the score tied around the six minute mark, EBO got a huge three-point shot from Joe Hardin, a 6-foot-7 forward from St. Mary's High School. It was his only shot of the game but it gave his squad a lead.
"This was my first year with the team so I'm still getting into the flow of the game but with that three, I just felt good and I hit a big shot to give us the lead," Hardin said.
With the Lopez twins struggling to get it going inside, the guard play stepped up and had huge moments as the game went along. A three-pointer from Willis shortly after Hardin helped EBO ride an eight point cushion for the remainder of the game.
Pondexter said this tournament championship will help the team focus as they gear up to defend their adidas Super 64 championship that the team won last year in Las Vegas.
"This gives us a lot of momentum now," Pondexter said. "We always feel like we're the best team out there and that we can compete with the best. Give us any of the top teams on the summer circuit and we feel like we can beat just about anyone because we'll work so hard."
Brandis Raley led the Royals with 19 points. Gabriel Blair chipped in with 16 points and Deven Seaford had 12 points.
Columbus Blazers 42, Georgia Hurricanes 39
Chalk up another big tournament victory for the Blazers, the 16 and under Blazers on the 17 and under open division of the tourney. Not bad for a team full of rising juniors, sophomores and freshmen.
The game wasn't a pretty one but it a win is a win and the Blazers have been chalking them up since April. The squad won the 15 and under title at the Boo Williams event in the spring.
Leading the way for the Blazers was blazing quick point guard Andre Young who led the way with 15 points. The 5-foot-9 guard from Deerfield Windsor High School in Albany, Ga., can stroke it from deep and get by anyone with his ball-handling skills.
Xavier Gibson, the 6-foot-9 rising sophomore star from Dothan, Ala., had a sensational week at the adidas Top Ten camp but struggled in the championship game with just six points. Georgia head coach Dennis Felton and assistant Desmond Oliver were sitting on the baseline for the entire game. They watched Gibson as well as Georgia Hurricane Zach Graham.
Graham was the top Peach State player at the ABCD camp last week and his play helped propel the Hurricanes 16U team to the championship game. He's a physical force that dominates in the paint and does his best work around the cup. What position does he play at the next level is a question that always surrounds this promising prospect. He's a player. And a darn good one at that.
Memphis Celtics 74, Indiana Elite 65
With the two 17 and under championship games going on, we didn't make it over to the 16 and under game but it's important to note Randy Culpepper, who was named MVP with his 43 point performance. The 5-foot-10 guard isn't afraid to put up the shots and he's pretty good at getting them to go in.
Other games of note
One of the biggest surprises of the day came from California shooting guard Brandon Dowdy, a 6-foot-4 prospect from Redlands East Valley High School. The class of 2006 prospect was a money ball shooter against Memphis Pump 'N Run. He sank five three pointers and scored 22 points. He also had 15 against D.C. Assault on Thursday.
Dowdy said his lone offer is from San Diego and he's got interest from Washington State, Colorado State, Wisconsin, Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine.
As good as Dowdy was, he wasn't the best player on the floor in his IEBP's huge win. Thaddeus Young had his best showing at the adidas Showtime Nationals with 27 points. He knocked down three ball, attacked the rim and did his usual damage above the rim.
Billy Donovan and assistant Anthony Grant were in the gym in the early hours to see Memphis Pump 'N Run. So was John Calipari and a pair of assistants. UNC, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Arkansas had assistants in the gym too.
The son of former NBA player Dell Curry, Stephen Curry is growing into one of the nation's top sleepers. The 6-foot-2 point guard from Charlotte (N.C.) Christian/Carolina Miners AAU scored 25 points in a 74-69 win against the D.C. Assault 16 and under team. The baby-faced rising senior has improved each year since we've seen him two years ago at the tournament bearing his father's name.
"I think I did well here and took advantage of the opportunity to play in front of scouts," Curry said. "I feel like I didn't back down from anything and rose to any challenge that came along."
His recruitment will certainly take off after his play at the Showtime Nationals. His only offer is from Davidson and there is interest from Virginia Tech, Florida, James Madison and Garner Webb.
Curry's teammate Charles Dewhurst said he is holding offers from South Carolina and Wake Forest. He said location is not a factor but rather academics.
For D.C. Assault, Terrence Boyd showed why so many people are looking forward to seeing him evolve into an elite high-major prospect. The 6-foot-3 scoring guard is one of the toughest players to defend in the Open Division of the tournament because of his explosive first step and strong penetration skills. The class of 2009 prospect had a team high 17 points in the loss.
Get to know the name Donnell Dotson with the D.C. Assault younger team. The long 6-foot-5 guard is a great shooter with a long frame. He struck for five threes in the game. He's in the class of 2007 and plays Roosevelt High.
Skip Prosser, Billy Donovan and an assistant from West Virginia took a look at Patrick Patterson, a 6-foot-7 power forward from Huntington, W.V. The Demon Deacons have offered the class of 2007 prospect.
Coming into the summer Matt Heramb was holding one offer from Wofford. Since the summer began, his name has jumped onto a number of must watch lists for some high-majors. The 6-foot-8 forward with the Georgia Hurricanes is hearing from Georgia, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Clemson, George Washington and Tulane.
Pondexter, the star of the championship game for EBO, Washington's Lorenzo Romar watching closely and Memphis head man John Calipari was also on the sidelines. Pondexter said the two aforementioned programs and Arizona, Oregon, Kansas, Connecticut, Memphis, Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Texas are also on his list.
Chicago guard John Peoples played well on Friday morning, doing a little bit of everything in the backcourt. He's your typical tough Chi-town guard that challenges all comers. Peoples said Wisconsin, Xavier, Dayton, UNLV and Nebraska have all offered. Illinois, Iowa, Georgia Tech, Cincinnati and Miami are also on his list.
Robert Eppinger said he's got a top five and holding two offers. The 6-foot-8 power forward said UNLV, Iowa, Purdue, Minnesota and Seton Hall. The Gophers and Pirates have offered and he hopes to visit Minnesota in August.
Stanford's Trent Johnson was on hand to see the Lopez twins, the prizes of his 2006 recruiting class, in action. He also had a chance to see Hardin, who mentioned Stanford in his list of favorites along with Southern Cal, Notre Dame, St. Mary's College, UC-Santa Barbara, Washington, Washington State and Oregon.
Atlanta Celtic LaShun Watson said his top five includes Florida State, Wake Forest, Auburn, Tennessee and LSU.
D.C. Assault point guard Raymond Brewer said he'd love to play in the Conference USA. George Mason, Charlotte, South Florida, Clemson and Rhode Island are all looking, he said.