Commentary

P.J. Hairston anchors surprise win

Updated: August 8, 2010, 3:39 PM ET
By Joel Francisco | ESPN Recruiting

HILLSBORO, Ore. -- Team USA Midwest and Team Canada appeared to be on a collision course for the championship, but somebody forgot to tell USA South and its relentless perimeter attack. Led by 6-foot-5 P.J. Hairston (Greensboro, N.C./Hargrave Military Academy), 6-6 Adonis Thomas (Memphis, Tenn./Melrose), 6-5 Kentavious Caldwell (Greenville, Ga./Greenville) and 6-2 Shannon Scott (Norcross, Ga./Milton), USA South dismantled a talented Canadian squad 113-99.

Although 6-7 Khem Birch (Fitchburg, Mass./Notre Dame Prep) had another awe-inspiring performance for Canada with 23 points (10-of-12 shooting) and 11 rebounds, Canada could not slow down USA South's transition game. In addition, Kyle Wiltjer (Portland, Ore./Jesuit) struggled from the field (15 points on 6-of-19 shooting) thanks to the strength and quickness of USA South.

Standout players

P.J. Hairston
2011, SG, 6-5, 225 pounds | Team: USA South
The future Tar Heel has been outstanding in this event. Hairston is a physically imposing wing type and a relentless competitor. He attacks the basket with his strength and has shown the ability to knock down 3-pointers with consistency (7-of-12 from beyond the arc). Defensively, he has been a solid weakside defender and a tremendous shot-blocker, especially in transition. He takes some ill-advised shots but overall is arguably the MVP of the tournament heading into the championship game against USA Midwest.

[+] EnlargeBirch
Kelly KlineKhem Birch is the No.3-ranked player in the 2012 class.

Khem Birch
2012, PF, 6-7, 185 | Team: Canada
Birch is definitely making a name for himself here in the Pacific Northwest. The quick leaper can change the complexion of the game at both ends. Whether it's filling the lane and putting down one of his many spectacular dunks or just hovering around the paint swatting away shots, his impact on the game is immense. He plays with great energy at both ends, and his approach never changes. His offense is still in its infantile stage, but he can turn over either shoulder and convert, despite his slight frame. Overall, he looks to be one of the top five prospects at this event.

Surprise player

Zach Price (Jeffersontown, Ky./Jeffersontown)
2011, C, 6-8, 230 | Team: USA South
Price, who is committed to Louisville, has been very solid in the middle for USA South. The long left-hander plays with a blue-collar mentality and knows his limitations. He is most comfortable turning over his right shoulder and gets good extension on his half-hook. He also has the strength to drop-step and hammer it down with authority. Defensively, he is a solid shot-blocker despite not being a quick leaper. USA South is blessed with a plethora of perimeter players, but Price has been just as important in his team's run to the championship.

Notes

James McAdoo, a 6-8 UNC commit out of Norfolk, Va./Norfolk Christian, continued to struggle from the field but contributed in many other areas. He ran hard in transition, rebounded with authority and used his length and timing to block shots.

• Recent Syracuse commit 6-9 Rakeem Christmas (Bryn Athyn, Pa./Academy New Church Boys) has been a decent presence on the defensive end. Overall, though, he doesn't make nearly the impact he could if he played with more urgency. In addition, he needs to learn how to snatch the ball while rebounding instead of continually tipping at it.

• USA West received solid performances from 6-2 Nick Johnson (Henderson, Nev./Findlay Prep) and 6-9 Johnny O'Bryant (Cleveland, Miss./East Side). Johnson drained four 3s and had a spectacular one-handed dunk over a would-be defender, while O'Bryant controlled the middle with his rebounding as well as a variety of finishes around the rim.

• USA Midwest lost its two bigs -- Amir Williams (Birmingham, Mich./Detroit County) and Anthony Davis (Chicago/Perspectives Charter) -- to injury early on, but it didn't matter, as USA Midwest beat France comfortably. Jahii Carson (Gilbert, Ariz./Mesa) and Dom Pointer (Winston-Salem, N.C./Quality Education Academy) led the way.

Both Team Asia and France were unable to contain Carson off the dribble, and Pointer impacted the game with his athleticism and energy.

Joel Francisco is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting.

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