Jason Clark, John Shurna impressive in Vegas
LAS VEGAS -- The first day of action in the Reebok Summer Championships was a hot as the temperature in Las Vegas. The tournament features 224 teams, and the eight top-seeded teams compete for the RBK Create or Finish Cup, creating the unique opportunity for a team to win two championships in this tournament.
In the first quarterfinal final game of the Cup, King of the Court defeated LA Dream Team, 61-54, behind the efforts of Michigan State-bound F Delvon Roe (Lakewood, Ohio). He scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. The unheralded but talented 6-8 PF/C Tom Pritchard (Lakewood, Ohio), a high school teammate of Roe, added 14 points and eight rebounds for the victorious team. Roe was matched up in this game with LA Dream Team's Renardo Sidney (Artesia, Calif.), widely hyped as the top-ranked prospect of the Class of 2009. The 6-9 Sidney disappointed with his effort and energy, finishing with 12 points (4-13 FG) and 10 rebounds. At one juncture during the game, with the score knotted at 50 and 2 minutes left on the clock, Sidney found himself on the bench, atypical for a player billed as the best in his class. His sub-par has left doubts about his status as the nation's No. 1 junior.
In the second quarterfinal, the well-coached, team-oriented Illinois Wolves downed Southeast Elite by a score of 70-57. A dynamic duo of prospects heading to Northwestern, 6-8 PF/WF John Shurna (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) and 6-5 shooting guard Nick Fruendt (Batavia, Illinois), led the Wolves. Shurna scored 19 points and displayed his deft ball-handling skills for a big man while Fruendt led the Wolves in scoring with 20 points. 6-1 point guard John Moran (Algonquin, Ill.), who is a steal for Northern Iowa, notched 14 points to go along with eight assists for the Illinois Wolves. 6-8 Mississippi State commit Romero Osby (Meridian, Miss.) led Southeast Elite with 21 points and nine rebounds. 5-11 point guard Courtney Fortson, who will be attending the Patterson School (N.C.), chipped in with 15 points.
The third quarterfinal game pitted Belmont Shores against the D1 Greyhounds, with Belmont Shores getting the win behind the scintillating performance of 6-2 Arizona commit Brandon Jennings (Los Angeles), who scored 30 points. Jennings' future Arizona teammate, 7-0 center Jeff Withey (San Diego), notched a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. 6-5 Ohio-State bound William Buford (Toledo, Ohio) led the Greyhounds with 21 points, going 9-15 from the field. 6-7 WF Darius Miller (Maysville, Ky.) and Xavier commit 7-0 Kenny Frease (Massillion, Ohio) did not mange to turn in their best efforts in this game. Miller scored 13 points but did not have his typical performance, and Frease only managed to score two points.
The fourth quarterfinal game saw DC Triple Threat defeat Texas Blue Chips Elite, 58-54. 6-4 SG Maurice Creek (Oxon Hill, Md.) led a balanced scoring attack with 14 points, while 6-4 Georgetown-bound combo guard Jason Clark (Arlington, Va.) chipped in 12 points and five assists. 6-7 WF Eric Frederick (San Antonio) scored 20 points in a losing effort for Texas Blue Chips Elite.
The Illinois Wolves trounced the King of the Court by a score of 79-55 in the first semifinal. Moran led the balanced scoring for the Wolves, tallying 18 points. Shurna and 6-3 SG Danny Barnes (Oak Park, Ill.) each netted 13 points for the winners. Roe, who has an Antawn Jamison style of play, scored 14 points for King of the Court.
The second semifinal saw Triple Threat defeat Belmont Shores, 82-71. Belmont Shores had just six players due to injuries. Triple Threat was led by the Georgetown-bound duo, PF Chris Braswell (Hyattsville, Md.) and Jason Clark. Braswell dominated with 24 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. Clark delivered another brilliant performance with 22 points and 15 rebounds to go along with five assists. 6-7 WF Renaldo Woolridge (North Hollywood, Calif.), son of former NBA player Orlando Woolridge, led Belmont Shores with 20 points. Jennings, our pick as the top player in Las Vegas and as well as in the Class of 2008, again dazzled with 18 points (10-12 FT), 13 assists and six steals. Jeff Withey, despite playing on tired legs and being physically manhandled by Braswell, still managed to score 13 points and grab six rebounds.
The best game of the day saw Playaz Basketball Club Gold defeat Pump-n-Run Elite in the Adidas Super 64 at UNLV's Cox Pavilion, 90-88 in overtime. Rutgers-commit SG Mike Rosario (Jersey City, N.J.) turned in a superlative performance, scoring 30 points. 6-0 PG Pittsburgh recruit and Rosario's St. Anthony's high school teammate Travon Woodall scored 16 points and seven assists. Pump-n-Run was led by the future backcourt for UCLA, 6-4 SG Jrue Holiday (North Hollywood, Calif.), who scored 18 points while 6-3 PG Jerime Anderson (Anaheim, Calif.) had 13 points. Class of 2009 prospects twins David and Travis Wear, both from Santa Ana, Calif. impressed with their play, as did North Carolina-recruit 6-2 PG Larry Drew Jr. (Woodland Hills, Calif.), son of former NBA player and current Atlanta Hawks assistant Larry Drew.
After the first day of action, the top six players that we observed were: Brandon Jennings, Mike Rosario, Jason Clark, Jrue Holiday, Delvon Roe and John Shurna.
Antonio Williams is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc.
Bob Gibbons is the editor and publisher of the All Star Sports report and is widely regarded as the recruiting guru of college basketball. Drop Bob a line in his mailbag.