The April evaluation period will close out with a bang this weekend as the King James Shooting Stars Classic finishes the month of tournaments in Akron, Ohio. Six of the top 10 players in the class of 2007 will take to the court in the field and the championship game will be nationally televised on Fox Sports. Talk about star power.
Introducing the King James Classic
Every year a number of spring tournaments spring up and on rare occasion can they live up to so many other established events like the Boo Williams, Charlie Weber and the Kingwood Classic.
The King James Shooting Stars Classic looks like it has some staying power long before any of the first games tip off. Tournament organizer Dru Joyce II, James's former high school coach, spearheaded a fantastic field of the nation's top AAU teams and players.
The Akron area will be taken over by 321 teams from the 17 under division to the 10 and under division. 48 gyms will be used. Tournament organizers are anticipating over 200 college coaches to attend the loaded event.
Fox Sports will televise the 17U championship on a national broadcast at 2 p.m. on Sunday from University of Akron's Rhodes Arena.
Strong at the top
The high school basketball scene has anointed O.J. Mayo as the next LeBron James for some time. This weekend, Mayo will take his game to James's hometown to show whether or not those comparisons are warranted. Only the people of Akron will it best.
Mayo, the top ranked player in the class of 2007, will rejoin his D1 Greyhounds team this weekend after a surprise trip to Houston with the Miami Tropics for the Kingwood Classic. His welcome back gift is a loaded pool schedule.
Pool L pins the nation's top three players - Mayo, D1 Greyhounds teammate Bill Walker and D.C. Assault forward Michael Beasley - in the same pool. Rounding out the pool are the SYF Players from Indiana, one of the hottest teams on the AAU circuit.
Mayo and his mates will have their hands full on Friday night right off the bat. The D1 Greyhounds play the D.C. Assault at 7:20 p.m. at the House of the Lord gym.
The Assault were the runner's up at the Real Deal on the Hill. Beasley, the No. 3 ranked player in the class of 2007, is the heart and soul (and mouth) of the team. He's an incredibly difficult player to defend. His match-up with Walker, the No. 2 ranked player in the class of 2007, will be fun to watch.
Beasley has help from his backcourt in Georgetown bound Austin Freeman, one of the superstars from the Real Deal and Duke bound combo guard Nolan Smith. Smith's known for his defensive presence and will be challenged like never before with Mayo.
Keep an eye on William Buford for the Greyhounds. The 2008 prospect has received high praise this year. A pair of near 7-footers will tangle inside the paint as D1 center Keenan Ellis locks up with Anthony McClain of the Assault.
D1 will play the SYF Players to close out the night. Wayne Drum's team is loaded at every spot. Spring surprise Scott Martin continues his tear on the AAU circuit. E'Twaun Moore, a terrific defender, will lock horns with Mayo and Co. Robbie Hummel, one of the more versatile players in the country, will find his spots to do some damage.
Top ten talent abound
Herb Pope was named MVP of the Pittsburgh Jam Fest last weekend and he and his strong Pittsburgh JOTS team are ready to follow up the championship run in Ohio. Pope, the No. 7 ranked player in the class of 2007, is one of most versatile players in the rising senior class. Even as a player in the top 10, Pope is oftentimes overlooked nationally. That will probably change this weekend.
Derrick Rose, the No. 8 ranked player in the class of 2008, is back in action with his Mean Streets Express club. A match-up with Chris Allen (Michigan State) and J.J. Hickson, is the featured game at Akron's Rhodes Arena on Friday night at 7:20.
Kosta Koufos, the No. 10 player in the class of 2007, returns to the hardwood for the first time since fracturing his foot in January. Koufos's team, the King James Shooting Stars, is the host squad. An intriguing match-up against future Syracuse big man Donte Green follows the D1 Greyhounds-DC Assault game.
Youth on display
Tyreke Evans, one of the top prospects in the class of 2008, leads the way in a strong sophomore class field. He'll suit up with Team Final at the event.
The Cleveland Basketball Club 16 and under team are the only team playing up a classification in the tournament. Mike Duncan's team isn't lacking for talent either. Yancy Gates and B.J. Mullens (Ohio State) lead the charge for the team.
Triple Threat has one of the top big men in the class of 2008 on it's roster in Chris Braswell of the famed DeMatha program in D.C. Braswell has help in the form of 2007 Maryland commit Jeff Jones.
The schedule allows coaches, evaluators and fans time to watch a number of the talented 16 and 15 and under teams in the field. Expect a good amount of young surprises to be uncovered this weekend.
The Illinois Wolves could surprise some people, especially with Demetri McCamey and Evan Turner on the squad. Chris Wright of the Queen City Prophets will be tough to beat in the athlete department. Although point guard Johnny Flynn of the GC Ballers will argue with that.