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May 30, 2010

Tournament of Champions: Saturday

MORE: Drummond stands tall at TOC | EYBL Session No. 3: Saturday

DURHAM, N.C. - The Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions featured a number of big time performances on Saturday as the action went from early morning until just before midnight. One prospect who shined the brightest was California native DeAndre Daniels.

Daniels and Belmont Shore put on a show

Belmont Shore headed by program director Dinos Trigonis has one of the most talented teams in the country on paper, and their biggest star on Saturday was undoubtedly DeAndre Daniels. The 6-foot-8 wing is absolutely loaded with natural ability and his full skill set was on display against Louisiana Future.

Daniels is one of the rare big wings who can bring the ball up the floor and is comfortable being a primary ball handler along with initiating the offense. What makes him special in that role is that he is so comfortable against pressure, and Louisiana Future could do nothing to rattle him when he was running the show.

While that skill makes Daniels unique, what makes him so difficult to deal with is his ability to really score. He is an absolute marksman from three point range and is capable of shooting both off the dribble and off the catch. Also he is good going to the rim using either hand, and once he gets inside of the paint he isn't afraid of contact. Daniels finds a way to finish through contact and then he is an excellent foul shooter once at the line.

Overall there was nothing Louisiana Future could do to deal with Daniels. He is too quick for the big guys, and too big for most normal wings. Even making his 20 plus point performance more special is that he was doing it with a sprained wrist.

Though Daniels shined the brightest, Cezar Guerrero, Grant Jerrett, and Norvel Pelle all also contributed. Guerrero is just an absolute scorer from the guard position. He can shoot it from deep, gets into the mid-range, and can hit contested shots. He doesn't have that elite blow by ability that a small point guard might need at times, but the way he puts the ball in the basket is impressive. Guerrero had two games of 30-plus points on Saturday.

Pelle and Jerrett do the dirty work on the inside. Right now Pelle is an raw but athletic big man who really can be a game changer on the defensive end with his ability to block shots. He has long arms, good timing, and a natural instinct for it. On offense he is a solid offensive rebounder who tries to finish everything with a dunk. Jerrett is a skilled power forward who is working his way to becoming a wing. He isn't the best athlete, but he rebounds well and can shoot out to 16-feet, and it makes him a good looking prospect down the road.

CP3 shows Well(s) in the playoffs

At the 17-and under level the playoffs closed out the night, and a matchup between the CP3 All-Stars and the Connecticut Basketball Club was one to behold. For the vast majority of the game it looked like CP3 was going to win going away, but late in the action things got very tight.

The main reason why CP3 was in control was the play of Dezmine Wells. The explosively athletic wing has always been able to get to the rim at will with his strength and quickness off the bounce, but now he is beginning to add a bit of a jump shot to things. He still has a ways to go in that aspect of his development, but Wells hit one three against CBC and also scored a few times off the bounce in the mid-range. Still it was Wells scoring around the bucket, defensive intensity, and rebounding that were the most noticeable parts of his game, but the jump shot improvement does seem to be coming along.

With Wells doing the majority of the damage for CP3 from the perimeter, Joseph Uchebo was doing the dirty work down low. Uchebo is a load on the block and did a solid job of defending 2012's number one prospect Andre Drummond. The newly minted 2011 prospect, Uchebo, scored with either hand and did a good job of controlling the defensive glass, and that allowed CP3 to get out run after he made outlet pass and after outlet pass.

While Uchebo was solid, Drummond was also impressive against him. The 6-foot-10 forward started out the game with an impressive dunk, and it didn't end there. He had a tip dunk, blocked shots, scored from the mid-range, and even showed some ability to put the ball on the floor. Most importantly Drummond was active the entire game and stayed in the paint where he does the majority of his damage, and is the most dangerous.

Even with a solid performance from Drummond and some struggles with composure and turnovers down the stretch from CP3, CBC wasn't able to come away with the win and the home standing squad advanced to the semi-finals.

The 16 and under CP3 team also got a big win in the first round of the playoffs, and the play of their backcourt was why. The duo of Shawn Lester and Braxton Ogbueze is going to be a major problem for opposing teams all summer long.

Lester is just a dynamic scorer. He is super explosive, but he knows how to harness that explosion and use it to his advantage at all times. Lester can score from deep off the curl without being able to get his feet set, and also has the ability to shoot it off the bounce from deep. He is just wired to score, and with his athleticism he presents a major problem for defenses trying to defend him.

Ogbueze is a pure point guard who also can score, but his game is getting the ball to his teammates. He is super quick and has a strong body which allows him to get into the lane at will, and once in there he has a knack for making the right play. Also he is a capable shooter and a good athlete which gives him the ability to convert from all three levels on the offensive end. In a class searching for point guards, Ogbueze is clearly one who can play at a high level.

Behind the play of those two, CP3 was able to roll in the semi-finals with a convincing win over the Florida Rams.

Other Notable Performances

A 2012 point guard who really showed off his ability was Jevon Thomas. The New York Gauchos guard defines the term "pure point guard" and can make a major impact on the game without having to take shots. Thomas is an excellent passer, does a good job of running his team, and his quick going to his right or to his left. His defensive pressure needs attention, and improving his range will determine the level of his recruitment, but in terms of being a pure floor general, Thomas is one of the best in the 2012 class.

The Gauchos are definitely known for producing guards like Thomas, but their 16-and under team features a very nicely developing young post player in Mike Tobey. The Don Bosco Prep big man needs to add strength, but he has excellent hands, a nice touch around the rim, can turn and face and hit the mid-range jumper. Also works hard to get position, and does a solid job of rebounding the basketball. He needs more refinement, but the addition of strength could help his stock absolutely soar, and it should be fairly high already.

Team Takeover has a solid program at all levels, and the rising star in their younger group is Will Ferguson. He spent his high school season learning from Kendall Marshall, and now Ferguson is showing he can stand on his own. Ferguson is a very quick guard who likes to get into the lane and can also hit shots from deep. In fact hitting shots is what he does best right now, but he is still a genuine point guard.

T.J. Warren is a good looking combo forward who wasn't playing far from home. The Garner Road star was good in a morning defeat at the hands of the Florida Rams. Warren used his strength to go inside and his nice touch to hit from the outside. Overall Warren had the skill set working and looked comfortable working to keep his team in the game.

Playing up at the 16-and under level for the Florida Rams is an excellent prospect in Malik Price-Martin. Price-Martin is a very good athlete who at 6-foot-8 is showing skill on the perimeter as well as an ability and desire to work for position in the paint. He needs to get much stronger, but the skill, athleticism, and size alone make him an easy high-major prospect.

Maybe the 2013 prospect who opened the most eyes was Aquille Carr. He is short in stature, at best 5-foot-7, but he is super explosive, extremely fast, and flat out knows how to finish. Playing down at the 15-and under level there was nothing that could be done to stop Carr. Carr had well over 20 points for Team Melo and scored around the rim at will as well as with the jump shot. While his size is a concern for some, the kid is just a unique talent at the position.

The Ohio Basketball Club 15-and under squad got a measure of revenge against the Eric Gordon All-Stars, and Elijah Brown along with Demonte Flannigan were the reasons why. Brown had it absolutely working from the outside. The long and rangy shooting guard was hot from deep and provided the perimeter scoring punch while Flannigan used his strength and athleticism to dominate down low in the second half. At 6-foot-6 Flannigan will need to grow to continue to dominate his peers, but right now there isn't too much of an answer for him at his age group.

Yet another 2013 stud is Kuran Iverson. I don't know if point power forward is a position, but if it is Iverson is the guy who fills it. At 6-foot-8 and around 205 pounds, Iverson handles the ball like a guard and has the ability to make a ton of plays passing with his court vision or for himself with his athleticism. Iverson has special ability, and running with the Long Island Lightning he showed it in winning effort where he put the team on his back and dominated the game. He is one of the premier talents in his class.

The 2012 class is already loaded with high level big guys, and one of the best is clearly Shaquille Cleare. The Houston Defenders big man plays for The Village School during the high school year, and is an absolute animal down low. He will no doubt draw comparisons to Dexter Pittman throughout his growth as a prospect because of his size, but Cleare is in good shape and can really play. For a 290-pounder, Cleare runs the floor very well, has vice grips for hands, and has excellent footwork. Cleare is more than capable of spinning and hitting a hook over either shoulder, and also has explosiveness to go with it where he finishes even with, or even above the rim. Some of his teammates on the AAU circuit get more acclaim, but Cleare might be one of the premier players in the entire country with his size, strength, and ability to score down low.

Head Coach John Carroll has a heck of a frontline at his disposal with the New England Playaz. For a while he has had Kaleb Tarczewski and Alex Murphy, but now the Playaz have added Kadeem Jack.

Jack, who intends to go to prep school, is a 6-foot-8 forward with a ton of natural ability. He scored in the post using his right hand over his left shoulder off of a spin move, drove the lane and finished above the rim, turned and faced for a mid-range jumper, and ran the floor to convert in transition. Jack would like to become a wing, and while that will likely never happen, there is nothing wrong with what he does at the power forward position already. Originally a 2010 class member, Jack showed he is more than capable of stepping into any college program right now and making an impact.

While Jack was the big man on campus with his performance, Murphy and Tarczewski were also solid. Tarczewski is a big body who is physical and score around the rim due to his height and desire to fight for position. He also runs the floor fairly well for a center, and is developing some more touch out to the mid-range. Muprhy is a multi-talented combo forward who is most comfortable out on the wing where he can use his solid basketball IQ. Also Murphy showed to be a well above average athlete who can finish above the rim. That added athleticism and high skill level has him a very hot commodity.

Team Loaded is showing well for themselves and the duo of Tyler Lewis and Adjehi Baru are the reasons why. Baru is improving every time out on the floor, and with his long arms and strong frame is already a game changer on the defensive end. Now Baru is showing to be more skilled on the offensive end, and while catching and dunking is still what he does best, he can face the hoop a little bit and has some game out to the high post area. The rate at which is improving is what is most exciting about this already highly thought of post prospect.

Lewis is just a big time point guard. He has a lot of flash to his game, but it is effective for him. He makes slick passes, but never turns it over, dribbles the ball between his legs and around his back in traffic, but never gets stripped, and all the while he is dishing dime after dime to his teammates for easy buckets. There just aren't many players who have his sort of skill set, and despite some physical limitations, he makes all of his teammates better and gets wins for his team.

School Lists

Athletic CP3 forward Jacob Lawson had a good day on Saturday and says he is hearing from Miami, Iowa, Florida, Syracuse, Seton Hall, Clemson, Wake Forest, and NC State.

Adjehi Baru mentioned a list of Maryland, Virginia Tech, Xavier, Virginia, and Richmond. All of them have offered a scholarship.

Tyler Lewis has offers from Miami, NC State, Charlotte, Baylor, and Virginia Tech. He is also hearing from Wake Forest and Stanford.

Big man Shaquille Cleare says that Texas, Texas A&M, Oregon, Washington State, Kansas, Wichita State, Marquette, Arkansas, Washington, LSU, and USC are all already active in his recruitment.

Shawn Lester doesn't have an offer which is baffling, but he does have interest from South Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Clemson.

Lester's running mate Braxton Ogbueze holds offers from Clemson, Wake Forest, Virginia, and South Carolina. He says that Texas is also beginning to call on him.

Kadeem Jack says that he plans to attend elite camps at Arizona and Kansas coming up this summer, and also might visit Rutgers next week. Beyond those three schools he mentioned Arkansas, Miami, Syracuse, West Virginia, St. John's, Kentucky, Georgetown, Memphis, and that he has spoken to North Carolina.

Kaleb Tarczewski holds offers from Indiana, Arizona, Georgetown, Kansas, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Michigan, and West Virginia.

Aquille Carr claims offers from Wake Forest, USC, Villanova, Memphis, Virginia Tech, Texas, and Texas Tech. Also he is hearing from Texas A&M, Delaware State, and Massachusetts.



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