ORLANDO, Fla. - The field is beginning to thin at the AAU Nationals in Orlando, Florida. With bracket play beginning, the list of teams is now down to 32 who are still alive. Even with a limited number of games being played on Sunday, the event still produced some classic matchups. The game above all, though, was the championship rematch from last year between the D1 Greyhounds and Boo Williams.
D1 and BWSL do battle again
Last year it was O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker putting a hurting on Boo Williams, which was led by Patrick Patterson in the finals of AAU Nationals. Because of an upset in pool play, the re-match of that game took place in the second round this year, and the game was an absolute classic.
It was an intense game from the opening tip. Both coaching staffs were animated, and the players, many of whom had been in cruise control, were re-energized and came out with a purpose.
For Boo Williams, early on it was Ed Davis carrying the load. Davis scored a few early buckets, and looked like he was ready to assert himself as a dominant force. However after those scores, Boo Williams decided to go almost exclusively to an isolation offense for Davis. That, in the end didn't work. Davis tried posting up Kenny Frease, and Frease's strength and size bothered Davis on the block, and that slowed Davis down, and at times even shut him down.
On the offensive end, D1 was led by William Buford. The silky smooth guard was on fire for the Greyhounds. He finished with a game-high 29 points, and he did that on only 17 shots. The most impressive thing about the point total is how he scored. Many of his points came off shots where he would run full speed off a screen, catch the ball and rise and fire all in one motion.
Complementing Buford was Darius Miller and Damon Butler. Butler did a good job of running the show and keeping things under control. Also, the diminutive point guard was able to get into the lane and hit his floater. Miller once again was able to be effective without scoring.
He did finish with 15 points, but he did all the little things. He played defense, he rebounded, he set up teammates, and he set screens. Overall he did everything that the team asked.
In the end the game came down to the final possession where Kendall Marshall had a chance to win it with a three pointer. The shot was on line, but just long and the Greyhounds came away with a two point win and sent Boo Williams to the consolation bracket much earlier than anyone anticipated.
Against the Queen City Prophets, Powell was just a beast. He scored inside at will, and when he had to, he was able to face up his man and take him off the dribble. He showed that he is capable of scoring over bigger players, and also he showed that he can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim with ease.
Allen Payne and Kenny Knight: With Queen City trailing the Boo Williams 16 team by 10 points, the Prophets looked to their pair of young kids to step up and carry the load, and that is exactly what they did.
Knight was good down low, grabbing boards and also being the last line of defense on the QCP full court press. At the same time, Payne was hitting shots inside and from the mid-range as well as being the point man on the press.
In the end it was Payne's shot at the end of regulation that sent the game into overtime, but he didn't stop there. The rising sophomore then made the game-winning shot in overtime with less than three seconds left on the clock.
Tevin Baskin: The 16 and under Gauchos aren't at full strength this week, but one player who has come to play is Baskin. He is long and lean with good athleticism, and all tournament long he has been going to the rim and making plays. On Sunday against First Team, Baskin made several big plays which directly led to his team being able to pull out a tough overtime win.
Delvon Roe: Once again, Roe proved to be a one-man wrecking crew. Roe was hitting some shots from outside the lane on Sunday, and once that happened, it freed up his game on the interior. Roe and company were easy winners over the TriState Grizzlies.
Odds & Ends
The JG Rising Stars 16 and under squad's best player is Jereme Richmond who is committed to Illinois, but he isn't alone in terms of big-time talents. Michael Jordan's youngest son Marcus is also on the team. With their Sunday game winding down and the Rising Stars trailing by one, Jordan had the ball in his hands, and like his father did so many times, he delivered. After making the game winning shot, Jordan, with a smile on his face, jokingly said, "It's in my blood."
The Alabama Challenge advanced through to the third round, but they had a surprisingly tough time with All-Ohio Red. As usual Jamychal Green was excellent, but the Challenge didn't have their normal swagger and killer instinct about them.
If the D1 Greyhounds are going to win another national title, they are going to have to earn it. They already beat Boo Williams, but odds are they will still have to take out the Westchester Hawks and Alabama Challenge just to make it to the final four of the tournament.