This is about the time where summer hoops starts to wear on some talented kids who have played a lot of basketball through the last few months. The length of the summer grind has its effects on everyone including the bleary-eyed coaches who continue to fly red-eyes to see as much of the action as possible.
The 17U bracket played the quarterfinals and the semifinals on Monday
with a couple of blowouts and a couple of closely contested games and
there were few Kansas recruits at the forefront of the action.
Each 1 Teach 1 Elite
The day started with a huge blowout against an overmatched Westchester
Hawks team that couldn't find the bucket and it ended with an emotional
comeback led by some highlight reel material from local product Austin Rivers.
The blowout win was a suffocating defensive effort from E1T1
collectively. The 72-50 victory was never in doubt. Trevor Lacey showed
his defensive prowess while Rivers continued his dominance driving to
the basket. It's a contest here at the Milkhouse to see who draws more
and 1's - Beal or Rivers? Both are incredibly good at taking the hit
and finishing. With Rivers I haven't seen much of a midrange game.
Everything is either a drive all the way to the rim or
three-pointer. His ankle-breaking moves break at least one ankle per
game. He had one crossover, shake, and pull from three getting the +1
for a four-point play.
In the semifinals against the Georgia Blazers things didn't come as
easily for E1T1. The Blazers got off to a hot start and late in the
game E1T1 was down as much as seven. But Rivers got on a roll and got
the competitive juices flowing and as a result brought his team all the
way back. Three straight threes by the talented senior-to-be - one on a
sick step back and pull move, another he stepped into, and then another
where again he drew the foul. Rivers was locked down and forced into a
few turnovers early but at the end of the night and the 76-67 win, he
made the moves that folks will be talking about on the drive home.
St. Louis Eagles
An interesting day for the St. Louis Eagles for sure. KU target Ben McLemore had 11 points in the first half against the pesky Long Island
Lightning while Brad Beal struggled at times. For Beal struggling is a
matter of perspective. He had a couple of unforced turnovers and
uncharacteristic misses. Beal ended up spending the end of a
quarterfinal game where his team was down seven on the bench after
fouling out. After back-to-back identical offensive fouls were called
the Eagles forged a comeback without their star.
A three by Shaquille Boga and a hoop inside highlighted the comeback
while "do-everything" utility man Roosevelt Jones hit the two free
throws to provide the 49-46 final margin.
In the afternoon semifinal it was a rematch of the Peach Jam final with
Team Takeover taking on the St. Louis Eagles. Team Takevoer won the
contest in Augusta but less then a minute into the game Mikael Hopkins
went down after rolling over his ankle badly. He attempted to come back
in the game but just couldn't go. Team Takover fought to stay in this
one but in the end the Eagles and Beal were just too much (80-76).
The Eagles will take on E1T1 for the championship of the 17U Gold
bracket tomorrow night.
PPO Basketball Organization
Perry Ellis was watched by Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend in his
final game in the Copper bracket. After splitting time at several
games, I saw the last few minutes of the third quarter and the entire
fourth quarter vs. Sport Univsersity All Stars. Perry did most of his
damage inside at first completing a nice post move and finish with the
left hand. I watched him score 12 points like it was nothing in the 11
minutes of action I watched. It's all just so smooth and effortless for
Perry who is an "easy" leaper. By that I mean he jumps high without
looking like its much work. With under five minutes to play Ellis never
gave up and hit a three to tie the game at 60 from the left corner.
With under a minute left he hit another critical three to cut the lead
to 74-73. But in the end Sports University, though they had no answer
for Ellis, got to the rim way too often in this one and finished with
the win 75-73.
Martin Brothers Select - 16U Nationals
Kansas head coach Bill Self watched both games played by Marcus Paige
as the 16U nationals got underway.
Paige continues to show what a smart player he is and a kid that just
understands and knows how to play the game. Every once in awhile he'll
get bumped off a ball and turn it over but it isn't often. He always
seems to know and understand the best play and completes it. He's not
one for flash, unless its necessary to make the play - he just gets it
done. I've watched him a lot over the last couple of years and it
doesn't get old watching a kid who understand his game and his
teammates so well.
With the half winding down Paige drove hard to his right and with a
hard jump stop, elevated to hit the shot at the half time buzzer.
Martin Brothers won the morning matchup and the afternoon game easily
advancing further in the nationals. Offensively he does have that
pretty lefty stroke and really goosenecks the finish. He is streaky
however but if he keeps focusing on his midrange game it will be tough
to contend with his versatility.
In the early game Martin Brothers played a good chunk of man-to-man
defense and I really love how the 6-1 Paige was able to keep his man in
front of him and with his long arms he makes it so difficult to get a
pass around or over him. I think he has the potential ala Mario Chalmers to be a force on the defensive side of the floor as well.
If you want to watch a team collectively that understands how to play
team ball, watch Martin Brothers play.
Kansas head coach Bill Self watched E1T1's games, both St. Louis Eagles
games, and both of Marcus Paige's games. Kurtis Townsend watched Perry
Ellis in addition to E1T1, and one St. Louis Eagles game. Self will
check out some of the morning action as the 17U nationals begin and
then head out of town Tuesday night. Townsend will stay until Thursday.
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