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May 17, 2007

Cactus Classic is best in the West

There is a new power tournament in the west. The second annual Arizona Cactus Classic at the University of Arizona tips off this weekend and tournament organizers have every top name in the west in the event.

Tournament organizer Jim Storey and his staff have secured 32 teams for the 79-game event this weekend in Tucson. After last year's successful event, this year's field looks deeper and just as exciting.

West coast powers highlight pools

Last year's champs, Pump 'N Run Elite, is one of the 25 west coast teams in the tournament field. The nation's No. 2 overall player, Jrue Holiday, anchors the team. Point guard Larry Drew looks to lead his squad to a back-to-back championship. Arizona fans are happy to see him in Tucson, too. The Wildcats are high on his list.

UCLA commitment Jerime Anderson has enjoyed a fine spring with the team. He, along with 2009 forwards David Wear, Travis Wear and Reeves Nelson make for a versatile frontline.

The Oakland Soldiers will certainly give opponents a challenge. Forwards Drew Gordon, a recent UCLA commitment, and Matt Simpkins will be smiling a little more than usual. The big men have Brandon Jennings running the show for the weekend. Like Drew, Jennings has Arizona on his short list.

Belmont Shore could surprise teams with a lineup consisting of USC commitment Dermar Derozan, Oklahoma State pledge Troy Gillenwater, four-star wing Renaldo Wooldridge and 2009 guard Roberto Nelson.

Every major prospect on the West Coast will be in attendance and it should make for great basketball as regional rivalries are played out on a national stage.

Youth group

The tournament is also deep with talented young players. With the likes of 2010 star Jeremy Tyler and his California Supreme club in the field, the bar is certainly raised. The 6-foot-8 San Diego native emerged at the Cactus Classic last year on the national scene.

He's not alone on his team. Gary Franklin, Tyler Lamb and 2010 USC commit Dwayne Polee are all on the same team.

The Wisconsin Playground Warriors boast top 10 sophomore Jamil Wilson. K. Hollis Thompson of the West Coast All-Stars is another eye-catching youngster.

Compton Magic lists Kentucky commitment G.J. Vilarino, Daniel Orton of Oklahoma and California youngster Xavier Thames on it's roster. All 2009 prospects are ones to watch.

Texas D-1 Ambassadors have a pair of 2009 prospects, John Henson and Corey Jefferson, on the roster. Both 6-foot-9 post players impressed with their potential at the Jayhawk Invitational two weeks ago.

The Houston Hoops have a strong 2009 backcourt of Tommy Mason-Griffin, a LSU commit, and Elijah Johnson, a Las Vegas native.

Arizona native Matt Carlino is just an eighth grader but has a mature feel for the game. He'll be talked about with his young Arizona Premiere team.

There are number of others in the field and the tournament provides an opportunity to "break out" nationally. Rivals.com will certainly be watching.

Others from around the country

Non regional teams include the New York Gauchos, M33M Magic, Wisconsin Playground Warriors, T-Mac All-Stars, Houston Hoops, Houston Elite and the Texas D1 Ambassadors.

The Gauchos have a deep backcourt, highlighted by Kemba Walker, Jordan Theodore and Durand Scott. M33M Magic leans on the play of Elliot Williams and D.J. Seely in the backcourt.

T-Mac boasts a talented roster filled with Rivals150 players. The Texas based program is deep with players like Anthony Jones, J'Covan Brown, Phillip McDonald, Steve Tchiengang, Will Brown and others upping the talent pool.

Rivals.com will have a full staff on hand for daily reports, match-up breakdowns and plenty of recruiting news.


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