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July 30, 2008

AAU Nationals: Wednesday

ORLANDO -- A match-up of two five-star big men highlighted the day's action while the 16 and under crown has been awarded at the AAU Nationals at Disney's Wide World of Sports on Wednesday.

STAR POWER

The AAU Nationals haven't provided many great one-on-one battles so when DeMarcus Cousins and fellow five-star prospect Alex Oriakhi matched up, there was some buzz in the gym.

Cousins won the individual battle in a big way but it was Oriakhi's team that brought home the victory.

Cousins scored a thundering loud 26 points, hitting for a trio of triples and scored at will on the low blocks. His offensive game is mind-blowing and that has been well-documented on this site for years.

Defensively, his length and strength was a factor in holding Oriakhi to two points in the game. Cousins matched the physical play of his foe, something that very few can do in the class of 2009. Overall, it was one of the best games Cousins has played all summer.

His passing skills were on full display, too. Trying to defend Cousins is almost laughable at this level. The big man is closing out his career on the AAU circuit strong and not leaving anything behind.

While the two brutes went at it in the post, point guard Phil Pressey showed why he is one of the best point guards in the class of 2010. The mighty mite floor general scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, including three three-pointers.

His play was the difference maker as he scored and directed the offense in the great win for BABC, no strangers to trips deep into tournament brackets this year. His résumé is pages long of accolades and it doesn't look to be shrinking any time soon either.

ALL OHIO, ALL THIE TIME

The powerful All Ohio Red 16 and under team has only lost one game all year long this AAU season and going into the halftime break down by two to the New York Gauchos, the kids from the Buckeye state were up against the wall.

The wall crumbled about 10 seconds into the second half.

All Ohio knocked it down with a couple of swift punches and never looked back. For the second year in a row, All Ohio won the championship at the AAU Nationals.

Like always, the attack for All Ohio is balanced and hard to stop. Jared Sullinger and Juwan Staten both scored 19 points in the 85-61 victory.

The only players that may have slowed Sullinger down may have been on the football fields on Disney's Wide World of Sports land behind the Milk House. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are holding summer training camp there. From a physical standpoint, that's about the level of player that could match the future Ohio State stud. Sullinger had his way all week long.

Staten continues to look like the biggest steal of the 2010 commitments. The energetic and fast on fast point guard more than held his own against the Gauchos, a team known for point guards and physical defensive basketball. Staten made the tone of the game his and didn't look back.

J.D. Weatherspoon came off the bench and scored 13 of 15 points in the second half. Eight of the points came off of athletic dunks. The 6-foot-6 interior player plays like he is on a pogo stick Jordan Sibert pumped in 13 points while Aaron Craft added nine.

Doron Lamb led the Gauchos with 15 points but he simply ran out of gas. The Rivals100 guard has played well all week in Orlando. Not bad for a guy that is doing double duty. He's on the floor for both Gauchos clubs (16 and 17).

ON POINT

Wednesday night was the night for point guards inside the Milk House. Two of the better floor generals in the Nationals were paired against each other and it came right down to the wire.

Birmingham Ice's Eric Bledsoe and the Arkansas Wings' A.J. Walton traded blows in a great back and forth match-up. Bledsoe scored eight points and made important plays for his team when it matter. Not bad for a kid working on a bum ankle and playing in front of UAB's Mike Davis.

Walton was just as impressive in the contest. He scored a team high 18 points and was the calming force for his club throughout the game. Walton is looking like one of the better uncommitted point guards out there. He had Arkansas's John Pelphrey sitting courtside to see him.

A game later, Team Florida floor general Ben Eblen was a passing machine in a night game. The mid-level point guard knows how to facilitate the offense and should be a major help for a NCAA level program.

HI, MY NAME IS…

Philly Pride earned a big win over the Rising Stars program out of Illinois thanks in large part to Tyrone Garland, a class of 2010 combo guard, and Rahlir Jefferson, a 6-foot-6 rising senior.

Garland scored a team high 20 points in the win and used his speed and Philly toughness to find his way through the defense and all the way to the rim. The rising junior said he has offers from Nebraska and LaSalle while Temple, St. Joe's, Virginia Tech, Marquette, Providence and Penn State are interested.

Jefferson, a Chester (Pa.) product, chipped in with 19 points and roughly 11 rebounds in the win. He's a position-less player and that's okay. He's a producer at the high-level and is a factor in every game he plays in.

Jefferson said St. Joe's, Temple, Providence and Villanova have offered while Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Columbia are in the picture.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the week has been Charles Hankerson Jr. for Gulf Coast. The strong-bodied wing from Miami plays like a football prospect with a basketball jersey on. The 6-foot-3 rising junior showed off his shooter's touch from deep. He hit a couple of three-pointers in a big win against Team STAT.

Hankerson has the size of a high-major kid and he's talented enough to know that there is still plenty more in the tank. The first impression was a good one and it will be interesting to see how his recruitment takes off, because it certainly will.

Rod Rucker of the Smyrna Stars was a nice surprise. The 6-foot-4 wing from Elbert County scored 15 points in a win over the Georgia Ballers. He's a sneaky athlete that was good on the glass and fluid on the wing.

Western Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, Stetson and Florida State have made early introductory shout outs. It's early and he's starting to make his way onto the radars of the mid-level schools in the south.

NOTES FROM THE NOTEPAD

  • Team Florida big man Kyryl Natyazhko caused quite a stir at the Nike Peach Jam with his offensive game and size inside the paint. The big question, though, was just how good of a rebounder is he? He looked like a pretty good one on Wednesday night. The fast-rising big man scored with ease for his club and worked hard on the glass. Don't be surprised to see his recruitment become a dog fight in the fall.

  • The roller coaster ride that Garner Road Elite wing Garrius Adams has been on this month has been interesting. After shining earlier in the month, Adams has been hot and cold here in Orlando. On Wednesday morning, Adams was hotter than the Florida humidity.

    Adams hit for 25 points and six three-pointers. With his scoring and leadership, Garner Road picked up a big win over Memphis YOMCA. Miami head coach Frank Haith and South Carolina's Darrin Horn have week long passes for Garner Road.

  • Smyrna Stars forward Kadeem Batts is a guy that the mid-level schools would love to get their teeth into some more but they might have to fight off a host of high-majors. The 6-foot-8 forward said Indiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Providence, Wake Forest, Rhode Island and others are in the mix for him. Only Pittsburgh and St. John's were on hand to see him play of the high-majors. The mid-majors were stacked deep to see him in action.

  • Georgia Ballers center Daniel Miller has tools to work with at the highest level. His hands are outstanding. He can flat out block shots and he knows how to use his size well in the paint.

  • Another day, another good day of work from Martin Brothers wing Nate Hutcheson. The 6-foot-6 rising senior scored 16 points in an overtime win against Florida Elite.

  • Florida Elite guards Sheldon Cooley and Greg Gantt have been hot names with the southern low to mid-levels. Both have been good in Orlando and have produced in every game.

    East Tennessee State, Houston and Tennessee Tech have offered, Cooley says, while
    Colorado State, Florida Atlantic and Central Florida are interested.

    Florida Atlantic, Jacksonville, Liberty, Holy Cross, Coastal Carolina and Ohio have tendered scholarships, Gantt said, while Central Florida, South Florida and Florida State are sniffing around.

  • Georgia Stars forward Terell Barnes has take advantage of a bigger role at the Nationals. The 6-foot-7 forward said Central Florida, Tulane, Tennessee Tech, Morehead State and Murray State are in the mix for him.

  • There is no more wondering. Marcus Jordan is a high-major prospect. The powerfully built guard is making it too hard to keep him out of the highest level with his play this month. Jordan scored an efficient 20 against Philly Pride. He's a pure scorer that can power through just about any strong defensive line that tries to step in front of him.

  • All Ohio Red 16 and under went 69-1 this AAU season. Not too shabby.

  • The school list for Lenzelle Smith is about as long and expansive as you'll find in the class of 2010. The Illinois native said he has offers from Illinois, Marquette, Virginia, Northwestern, Indiana State, DePaul, Boston College and Southern Illinois. Notre Dame, Florida, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Indiana, Miami, LSU, Kentucky, Southern Cal, Stanford, Oregon State, Ohio State, Purdue, Baylor and Texas A&M were also mentioned.


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