Super Showcase Day 3

Adam Woodbury

Disney's Milkhouse and various other sites around the Orlando area were busy with plenty of hoops on Thursday. The 17U Showcase kicks off Friday, and but the 15U group wrapped up bracket play on Thursday evening crowning a new champion.

A quiet day around the Milkhouse at Disney on Thursday concluded with the loudest statement coming from the Garner Road Bulldogs who took the 15U title. The Bulldogs were able to put away a talented Martin Brothers Select squad to take home the trophy (59-50) in Thursday night's final.
 
This was not the same Martin Brothers Select team that played the first two days of competition. The passes weren't quite as crisp, the ball movement not as precise, and it resulted in a disappointing loss for the Iowa-based AAU team.

The Bulldogs were the aggressor from the start in this one led by Terry Henderson's perimeter shooting, and the tough play of 6-5 Mario Nixon. Conversely, Martin Brothers Select looked sluggish all day. Select was up in the first quarter of the final but you could tell the same zip just wasn't there.

Marcus Paige – 6-0 Point Guard – Martin Bros. Select (2012)
Marcus Paige who spent a majority of the first two days decimating defenses with his dribble penetration and pinpoint passing surprisingly settled for a lot of jumpers today especially from long distance. Unfortunately for Marcus his shot was a bit off. Paige probably had more turnovers in today's games than the first two days combined. It could've been stiffer competition or maybe even just tired legs, but make no mistake about it the kid is still a big-time player.

Paige quietly notched 15 in the final but he will probably remember the two wide open looks from three he had with under a minute to play the most. Twice at the top of the key Marcus had a clean look and missed both with his team down six, 56-50. You could see the frustration as he clapped his hands together in disappointment because he knew he had missed an opportunity.

Once his body fills out and he possibly grows a couple of inches he will be even tougher to handle and by then a ton of schools will be knocking at his door. In this day and age where players love to pound the pill without purpose at the top of the key the ball never sticks in this kid's hands. He makes things happen.

In the early afternoon game vs. Team Stat, Paige handled a physical defense where he was face-guarded, but again, he took a lot of outside jumpers and managed just 10 points. Paige's highlight of the day from the perimeter came at the halftime buzzer of this game when he hit an off balance three that gave Martin Brothers a four-point lead at the half.

In the semifinals against BABC, another team that really dug down to guard him, he scored 12 points.

Mike Gesell -6-0 Guard – Martin Bros. Select (2011)

If you were headed to the courts and there was a group of people and you were choosing sides, just by sight, Gesell is certainly not going to be the first one selected but by the end of the games, I guarantee you he'd be one of the most talked about. He's not going to wow you with length and appearance but he will impress you with how smart he plays the game.

What a tough kid that simply gets it done in every area of the game and has sneaky great ups. He can shoot it from three and when you try to close out he'll go by you and pull up for a mid-range J with a powerful hop-stop-and pop in the lane.

When Paige is out of the game he can adequately handle the point, he is a terrific position defender and a heady kid.

Gesell kept Team Stat at bay in the early game with his free throw shooting. Against BABC he put back a clutch hoop down the stretch and made a couple of key free throws. He scored 18 in the final and really was one of the bright spots for this team.

If you're coaching you want the ball in this kid's hands as much as possible. Good things happen.

Adam Woodbury – 6-11 Center – Martin Bros. Select (2012)

Another player KU is keeping a close eye on Woodbury is tall and slender but lacks polish right now.

The good news is that when he gets the ball, he makes a quick move. The bad news is it is so quick he rarely knows where he is on the floor. He's a lefty that can make a nice move and hook at times. He just needs repetitions and to realize where he is in relation to the low block. At times he tries the hook but he's too far out or too far on the baseline. He has potential though and you can see why KU is keeping tabs on him.

He is a pretty good rebounder and with time and added strength that will be a real plus in the next couple of years.

Dominique Bull – 6-2 Guard – BABC (2012)

Bull drew plenty of attention against Martin Brothers for sure. He was the focus of a box-and-one defense that really ended up doing little to slow him down.

He is a powerful driver of the basketball but can also punish you from three-point range. He's a strong kid who simply seems like a winner and wants the ball in his hands. BABC didn't make the final but it surely wasn't because of a lack of effort from Bull who attempted to take the team on his shoulders and lead them to the gold medal.

16U Notes:

- Once again key prospects for the Arkansas Wings and Alabama Challenge sat on Thursday. We'll try again on Friday.

- DC Assault took on Florida Elite Vikings in the first round of gold bracket play. The warm ups in this one watching DC Assaults' big-time athletes do some serious dunking above the rim was super entertaining. When the whistle blew though, the game didn't quite measure up. The score was 9-7 after one and this one was very physical. Both teams got sped up and it made for some sloppy basketball. After DC Assault opened up a 26-13 lead at the half they got sloppy and made a game of this.

You just can't keep your eyes off Tion Barnes. At 6-4 he is still one of the best finishers in this age group. He's got a jumper too but you really love to watch him play above the rim. Christian Leach is another high-flyer who is guaranteed to make the highlight real at least once a night. He had some serious hang time on a layup tonight after showing off a Jordanesque reverse on Wednesday. Bryan Akinkugbe plays well above the rim too and has oven mits for hands.

17U Showcase Preview:

KU prospects expected to be in action Friday – Doron Lamb (NY Gauchos), Brad Beal (St. Louis Eagles), and Rakeem Christmas (Team Final), rosters also say Josh Selby and Roscoe Smith for Baltimore Elite though I thought they were in Vegas so we'll see.

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