AKRON, OHIO - Leave it to a five-star guard like Derrick Rose to ignite the King James Shooting Stars Classic on Saturday. The Chicago stud went to work with a big time game winning performance as the tournament moves on.
Derrick Rose, Mean Streets Express - It was another wow night for the Chicago schoolboy. The five-star guard is beyond unselfish but when the game is on the line, like it was against the Michigan Mustangs in overtime, Rose wants the ball in his hands for the last shot.
The Mustangs scored on a big three-pointer with 10 seconds to play to give them a steady two point lead as time drew to a close. That's when Rose took over. The speedy guard spilt the defense like he always does and put in a floater with two ticks left on the clock to give Mean Streets Express a big 74-72 win. Rose finished with a game high 32 points and did it with such ease.
Rose is a winner. And don't be naïve to think that his winning attitude will stop at Simeon High School. Rose has the drive in him to be a March Madness hero. He has that kind of big game ability.
UNC was watching. John Calipari has shadowed Rose since he arrived in town. The posturing process is fun to watch from the outside looking in Rose's recruitment.
Austin Freeman, DC Assault - There are few guys that are playing as well as him at the guard position this month. He hasn't stopped his tear at the King James Classic either. The Georgetown bound guard does it all from a scoring standpoint and his scoring is efficient, crafty and smart. His step back jumper is a treat to watch. Freeman finished with 23 points against SYF.
E'Twaun Moore, SYF Players - It was a coaching convention at the morning game and a number of the coaches on hand were there to see the fast-rising guard. Moore said he picked up an offer from Indiana and Cincinnati last week. New IU assistant Ray McCallum was watching him. Bruce Pearl (Tennessee) was watching closely. So was Matt Painter (Purdue), Tommy Amaker (Michigan) and Jerry Wainwright (DePaul). Assistants from Georgia Tech, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kansas and UConn were on hand, too.
Moore's jump shot continues to drop, making him about as complete of a guard as he can be. He was 10 for 10 from the foul line and finished with a game high 27 points against DC Assault.
Teeng Akol, NY Elite - The 6-foot-11 Sudanese native continues to improve at a quick clip. Offensively, Akol bucks the trend of raw international players that make it over to the states. Akol is skilled with the ball and his face up skills and high-arching shot is nasty. He shoots over everything and has good form on his shot. Akol scored 19 points against the Illinois Bobcats.
As good as Akol is on offense, he pays little attention on the defensive end. His thin frame may have something to do with it. He doesn't get physical but that will come.
The class of 2007 big man had a number of head coaches watching including DePaul's Jerry Wainwright, Seth Greenburg of Virginia Tech and Pitt's Jamie Dixon. Assistants from Kentucky, Miami, Kentucky, Syracuse, Providence and Iowa were also watching. His AAU coach Eric Jaklitsch said St. John's, UConn and Maryland are also interested.
Notes from around the gyms
Laron Dendy, SC Celtics - The Clemson bound forward helped his team knock off the host team King James Shooting Stars. He's wiry and hard to defend because he can face up and pull the defense out. Dendy finished with 18 points and strung together a pair of good looking games. When he plays like an ACC prospect, he's as good as advertised.
Kosta Koufos, King James Shooting Stars - In his first action since breaking his foot, the 7-footer is still trying to catch up with the game but he'll have his moments that remind you why he's considered one of the best prospects in the country. The big fella (bigger by about 30 pounds) still has a soft touch and kisses shots off the glass, will pull up from deep (but the shots weren't dropping) and showing off a good post game. Kofous finished with 17 points. Stamina is still an issue with his game right now.
Josh McRoberts had a similar situation in his prep career when he injured his back, added weight and was forced to bring his game into the paint instead of settling for the jump shot that he so loved. Kofous is in the same boat. The added bulk to his body could be the thing that really makes him an attractive player inside.
Tim Flowers, Mean Streets Express - The chatterbox power forward is undersized at 6-foot-5 but he is going to bring it every game inside the paint. He just outworks guys and gives opponents a taste of what Chicago city hoops is all about. He may not be pretty but boy is he efficient and difficult to defend. Flowers gave Josh Southern and a big Michigan Mustangs frontline 25 points. That's saying a lot and Flowers will certainly let everyone know it.
Donte Green, Team Melo - The future Syracuse forward is putting all of the pieces together. He's showing more craftiness with the dribble and pulling big defenders out to the wing to open up his offense. Green is putting it on the floor more and getting to the basket to score. He's shown that he can legitimately be a three man in the Big East this month.
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It's too bad college coaches missed Dejuan Goodwin of the Baltimore Stars on Friday night. His 41 points against Team Final were impressive (especially his 20 points in seven minutes). His 13 points against the Michigan Mustangs wasn't quite the follow up that could have earned a couple of scholarships but he is opening eyes. And as a qualified senior that can score the ball in a hurry, the 6-foot-1 guard from Mt. Saint Joe's could go home with a couple more offers to go along with his lone Marist 'ship.
Darius Johnson-Odom was a key performer for Steve McNeely's South Carolina Celtics team's win over King James. He knocked down a couple of three-pointers and finished with an effective 12 points. Mid-majors should be all over the 6-foot-2 junior guard from Wakefield High School. McNeely said Clemson and Virginia Tech have recently inquired while Appalachian State and College of Charleston are heavily involved.
Odom was scoring from the wing and had some big second half help from Charles Corvin out of the storied Griffin (Ga.) High School. The Peach State product is "on loan" for the weekend and made the best of his time with his new team. In a seven minute stretch, he scored 13 points, including a pair of three-pointers over an outstretched reach of Kosta Koufos. At the end of the day, Corvin is a solid mid-major prospect that will help a team on the blocks.
The SYF Players have the headliners that everyone in the nation surely knows about now. Along the way, Mark Hill is opening the right sets of eyes at the college level. The 6-foot-2 guard is about 10 to 15 pounds too heavy from being as effective as he could be but he's big, strong and can flat out shoot the rock. His coach Wayne Drumm said a couple of high-majors are peeking around.
Daquan Joyner opened a lot of eyes with his play with the D-One Sports team. The 6-foot-6 wing from Goldsboro (N.C.) can shoot the ball well, has good size to score over the top of the defense and get out and run the floor. He is a sleeper right now but don't be surprised to see his recruitment take off next month.
William Buford, D1 Greyhounds 16U - The 2008 brought out the entire Ohio State coaching staff in the afternoon game. Talk about sending a message.
As often the case with any member of the Greyhound AAU program, Buford didn't talk about the schools recruiting him. One of his coaches, Keith McClure, interjected that the young Buford is not focused on recruiting. Fair enough. When he does, there will be a line that goes deep into the Big Ten, Big 12 and beyond.
Buford showed off an array of skills, mostly big time athletic plays in transition but he's long, plays hard, fast and smooth all at the same time. The beauty of his game is the fact his rep came as being a strong shooter. Mixing in the rest of his game is making him one dandy of a high-major prospect.
Darius Miller, D1 Greyhounds 16U - The 6-foot-6 wing from Mason County (Kent.) was another nice surprise in the 16 and under division. Like Buford, Miller is a top level athlete with a good body, runs the floor well and has a world of potential.
Delvon Roe, King James Shooting Stars 17U - Even in defeat, the 6-foot-7 forward from the class of 2008 had a terrific game. He scored 19 points against the South Carolina Celtics and was a difficult match-up for the Palmetto State players. Roe was going to work as a slasher, making things happen around the cup and just seemed to be in the right place at the right time. He's a definite high-major guy in the 2008 class. Make no mistakes about that.
Damian Eargle, King James Shooting Stars 16U - The 6-foot-7 lefty forward had a very strong outing against Florid Elite, rebounding, scoring and making things happen in the paint. He's a good outlet passer, keeps the ball high on the blocks and grinds it out. Eargle screams A-10 and could very well be evaluated by the high-majors later in the process.
Danny McElroy, Spiece Ohio Forces 15U - The 2009 prospects has been touted as one of the top prospects in Ohio in his class by the local eyes. With new Cincy head man Mick Cronin and Ohio State assistant coach John Groce in the house to see a mid-day game, the early compliments for the sturdy 6-foot-6 forward are justified by the amount of eyes that are watching him. He has a body, can play in the post. He might be a bit of a tweener but McElroy is certainly a name to keep an eye on down the road.
Ryan Pearson, Team Odom 16U - It didn't take long for coaches and observers to see what the 6-foot-6 is all about. The class of 2008 lefty forward is a shifty player that rebounded well, scored at will from deep, from the mid-range and around the iron. He plays with a lot of energy and fits the most of every other Christ the King player around. St. John's, Seton Hall, Cincinnati and Pitt are involved with him early on. He had 27 points in defeat to a very strong Family team.
Latiq Agard, Team Odom 16U - Like Pearson, the 6-foot-4 guard can pour the points in a hurry. Likely headed to a prep school, Agard said he is waiting to look at the recruiting picture at the moment. A host of Atlantic 10 schools are looking around.
Terrance Hopkins, The Family - The class of 2008 guard from Detroit is a lightning quick guard that wills his team to victory. He's fun to watch and is looking like the next guard ready for the challenge of leading the Nike-sponsored Motor City squad.
Odds & Ends
Anthony McClain is making the slow transition from being a 6-foot-11 shot-blocker to a center that can turn around and knock down the short jumper. He's coming around slowly but the progression is there. In a relatively thin center talent pool, McClain is doing his part to earn a scholarship here and there.
Timothy Ambrose, a 5-foot-11 unsigned senior guard for NY Elite/Our Savior New American scored 32 points against the Illinois Bobcats. The athletic and built guard said he is holing offers from Stony Brook and Fordham and is waiting for his SAT scores. If he gets the score he needs to qualify, Ambrose is hoping to catch on with a Big East school. Ideally, Ambrose would be a good late get for an A-10 school.