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July 27, 2007Tyreke Evans, but shining the brightest on a somewhat somber day was point guard Andre Young.
Young and Jones duo do damage in one semifinal
The first of two semifinal games in the Super Showcase pitted the Georgia Blazers against the Westchester Hawks. While both teams do a good job of playing together, it boiled down to individuals stepping up and taking over the game, and in the end, the Blazers had the best player on the floor and won the game.
It is Xavier Gibson who gets most of the attention on the Georgia Blazers, but Andre Young took top billing Thursday night. The Westchester Hawks at first tried to guard Young man-to-man, but it became obvious early on that such a strategy was not going to work.
Young was hitting pull-up threes, getting into the paint, finishing in the mid-range, and getting teammates involved. There was nothing on the court that Young wasn't doing for the Blazers; he even grabbed a few rebounds despite being only 5-foot-8.
When the Hawks tried to zone Young to keep him out of the lane, he simply torched them from the outside. For the game, Young finished with 35 points that included five made three-pointers. His performance had numerous coaches and scouts buzzing, and in the process had Georgia Blazers coaches grinning from ear-to-ear.
According to sources close to the situation the Auburn Tigers were so impressed that they offered Young a scholarship late on Thursday night, and there could be more on the way.
Making Young's performance even more impressive is the fact that he didn't get much help from Gibson, the Blazers big man only chipped in with eight points.
A big reason why Gibson struggled was because of Kevin Jones and Mookie Jones. The duo combined for 46 points, and simply made the Blazers frontcourt look lost. Kevin Jones and Mookie Jones were stepping outside and hitting shots, taking their guys off the dribble, and grabbing boards. There was little more that the duo could have done to keep their team from falling by the score of 88-77.
The loss to the Blazers capped a great tournament of basketball for Mookie Jones. Earlier in the day, he showed no signs of being intimidated going up against Greg Monroe. Jones finished with an incredible 27 points, and did a lot of it against the No. 1 player in the 2008 class.
A Tyreke takeover
The second semi final of the night pitted Team Final against Martin Bros. Select. With the game tied in the fourth quarter, it was Tyreke Evans who absolutely stole the show and propelled his team to a 63-59 win.
Big time players make big time plays at big times, and on Thursday night Evans proved that he is a big timer who can do it all. With the game tied, Evans seemed to just decide it was his time to control the game, and at that point it was over for Martin Bros.
Evans started his run by beating his man off the bounce for an easy lay up, then he hit a three, another three, and made another driving move to complete an individual 10-point run. All the while he also made a steal which set up another hoop and got fouled which sent him to the line.
Before Martin Bros. was even able to catch their breath, they looked at the scoreboard and faced a two possession deficit with under a minute left. That is when Evans showed that he was human and missed a free throw, but made enough plays to seal the win.
Big Cuz on cruise control
DeMarcus Cousins is definitely a talent. But on Thursday, he seemingly put things on cruise control in the Birmingham Storm's playoff loss to Shining Star Sports.
Ohio mid-major big man Walt Gibler was physical with Cousins and seemed to frustrate the Alabama native with his high energy style. Gibler, who stands 6-foot-6, was able to score 15 points, and also grab numerous boards.
That is not to say that Gibler always got the best of Cousins because he didn't. When Cousins was interested in playing hard, he was great. Cousins made two beautiful spin moves that resulted in slams, and even blocked Gibler's shot a few times, but in the end he just didn't have his motor going and that cost the Storm a chance to advance in the tournament.
Playing with a heavy heart
The big news of the day in college basketball involved Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser, but the games went on for everyone, and that included the Georgia Stars. Because of that Al-Farouq Aminu and Tony Woods participated in their 4:30 p.m. game despite the news of Prosser's death leaking out nearly an hour before tip off.
Aminu looked motivated on the court, was playing hard, and showed much of his five-star ability. The future Demon Deacon finished with 16 points in the Stars loss.
On the other hand Woods struggled. The 6-foot-11 center only scored two points, and those came on a dunk, and didn't dominate the game defensively like he is capable of.
Other notable performances
Outside of the big names who had big games, there were several other players who stepped up on Thursday and had nice performances.
After struggling on Wednesday for National Christian, Dante Taylor showed off his talent in the second half against the Pittsburgh Storm. Taylor, who finished with 22 points, could not be stopped on the glass and was simply unguardable for the Storm. He is not yet the most skilled big guy on the circuit, but with his length, athleticism, and potential there is no doubt Taylor is a high-major kid.
Also having a good day was Xavier commitment Brian Walsh. The wing from Pennsylvania showed off his touch and basketball smarts on Thursday. Against National Christian he finished with 23 points and did it in a variety ways. Once and for all Walsh showed that he is more than just a shooter.
Another player having a good day on Thursday was Travis Leslie. The super athlete from the Georgia Stars wowed onlookers with his crazy hops and non-stop motor. His scoring numbers weren't huge, but he did all the little things on the court, and has the athleticism that just can not be taught.
Finally there was Shaquille Johnson of the Jacksonville Lee Bulls. In his team's overtime loss to Georgia Stars-Black, Johnson had a game high 20 points and had all the makings of a high-major player.
Mike Shanahan could be one of the most under recruited players in the nation. The only high-major on Shanahan right now is Michigan. Other schools showing interest include Akron, Vermont, Bowling Green, Lehigh, Bucknell, and Lafayette.
Johnson is still wide open in the process, and doesn't have a list, but he did mention that he has received offers from Jacksonville, Miami (Fla.), Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia Tech, Dayton, Missouri, Tulane, and Central Florida.
New Jersey stud Lance Goulbourne says that Vanderbilt is his leader closely followed by Marquette. Also in the mix are Rutgers, West Virginia, Virginia, and Louisville.
Kevin Jones didn't give a full list, but said that Syracuse is very high on him, but they are not necessarily his leader. Schools besides the Orange watching him included St. John's, Indiana, Ohio State, Connecticut, and Rutgers.
Odds & Ends
With Vegas wrapping up, and fewer games going on in Orlando, finding a seat for college coaches became increasingly difficult on Thursday. Even games without much star power were attracting 50 or so coaches. That of course gives prospects a chance to see their stocks go way up or way down in a hurry.
The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex has installed scoreboards that are color coded. When the clock is running the time is in green, when the clock is stopped the time is in red. The winning team's score is always listed in green while the team trailing is in red. If the game is tied, it is the standard white lighting. Apparently the designers of this scoreboard came to the conclusion that coaches, players, fans, and scouts weren't going to be able to determine which number under "home" or "visitor" was bigger, so they had to color code things.
The throwdown of the day had to go to Leslie. The Georgia Stars wing took an outlet pass and jumped from just outside the lane on the left wing. In mid-air Leslie cocked the ball back and threw down an incredible tomahawk slam. The dunk left one Big East coach wondering what schools were recruiting Leslie.
In an odd scheduling decision, the Super Showcase actually doesn't end until around 3:30 p.m. Friday, but AAU nationals begin in the morning. Had Martin Bros. or the Westchester Hawks won in the semi finals, they would have actually played an AAU Nationals game before they played the finals of the Super Showcase.