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July 15, 2011

Summer Jam comes to exciting end

Mequon, Wis. - The final day of the Under Armour Summer Jam presented by NY2LA couldn't have been more action-packed. There was physical play, lost teeth, tense moments and Shabazz Muhammad going for 42 in the championship game. But SYF Players took out Dream Vision 72-67 behind Mitch McGary's team-high 25 points and 11 rebounds to win the 17-and-under division.

Friday Summer Jam standouts

Mitch McGary, C/PF, SYF- What a total animal this guy played like on Friday. First, the five-star big man broke Texas PRO in the first half with his ill-tempered length-of-the-court drives and rebounding, and he was able to rest himself for the championship after racking up 14 points and 16 boards. Then, looking as fresh as he would if he was playing his first game of the summer, he went out and dominated the paint in SYF's win over Dream Vision in the championship game. Bottom line, McGary is a competitor with a non-stop motor, great hands, great skill and even greater will.

Glenn Robinson III, SF, SYF- Thanks to a strong summer, the Michigan commitment has ascended all the way up to No. 46 nationally. The truth is that he may not be ranked high enough. A sharp-shooting wing who has all of the sudden developed explosive athleticism, Robinson was efficient and productive. He shoots with range, finishes from the sky on the break and is really filling out his frame. His 18 and seven in the final were a perfect complement to McGary.

Shabazz Muhammad, SF, Dream Vision- Still working himself into shape after being on the shelf for about a month with tendinitis, the nation's top-ranked player was incredible in the finals. He went for 42 and they came in every imaginable way. Deep jumpers off the catch, dunks in traffic or transition, stickbacks, free throws and drives to his right and left. Simply put, Muhammad played like a man possessed. Of those recruiting him, UCLA's Ben Howland and UNLV's Dave Rice hung in there until the bitter end while Kentucky was represented by assistant Orlando Antigua.

Willie Cauley, C, MoKan- Those trying to judge Cauley based on where he is now are missing the point. It's all about his potential and where he can end up as he learns the nuances of the game. As it is, the near 7-footer was playing at a high level on Friday as he withstood plenty of assaults on the basket and rejected shot after shot, hit the glass, ran the floor and scored where he could. His fluidity, length and athleticism remind of a young Tyson Chandler. Cauley is also a super passer for a big man. Kansas State's Frank Martin and Alabama's Anthony Grant followed him pretty much every step of the way for the past few days.

Isaiah Austin, C, Texas PRO- His 31-point outing against Team Loaded was perhaps the best game we've ever seen him play. Then, in the semifinals it was a good sign to see him not give in during the second half after McGary had gotten the better of him. Most impressively, Austin committed himself to playing within 12 feet of the hoop and he used every bit of his length and skill to make good things happen while also playing with some physicality. People want him to be a banger because they see a 7-footer, but that's never going to be his game and on Friday he proved that a lack of strength doesn't equal a lack of toughness.

More Summer Jam notables

Clayton Custer, PG, MoKan- The rising sophomore point guard was solid as a rock and impressive with his decision making all day long. Opponents try to overwhelm him physically and he needs strength, but his high skill level allows him to make plays. He's a leader who gets guys the ball where they need it.

Benny Parker, PG, KC 76ers- There wasn't a tougher person in the building than the product of Kansas City, Kan. He isn't the biggest guy, but he sure plays with a lot of heart and it was everything MoKan could do to contain him off the dribble during a intense grudge match between two Kansas City teams. He hit some tough pull-up jumpers and led his team even though they fell short in a triple overtime classic. He doesn't yet have a Division I offer but that should be changing very soon.

Danuel House, SF, Texas PRO- Austin was so good against Team Loaded that House's impressive performance almost got lost in the shuffle. Rarely missing on jumpers or transition finishes, the lengthy and athletic wing was economical while amassing 19 points. Once again, he's just scratching at the surface of his capabilities and looks to be a legitimate five-star.

Adonis Filer, PG/SG, SYF- A post-grad year at Brewster Prep should do wonders for the physically strong and athletic combo guard. His nature is to attack the bucket and he does so well. He's not currently ranked in the Rivals150 for the class of 2012, but he's definitely going to be in the discussion the next time we update.

Tyler Lewis, PG, Team Loaded- Playing with a heavy heart and little rest after the recent death of his grandfather, the N.C. State commit left it all on the line. A terrific playmaker in transition, he's a flashy passer and plays with all of the heart in the world. He made some mistakes he won't usually make and missed some shots, but that's really irrelevant because he's a worker who earns the respect of his teammates and opponents each and every time out.

Kendall Stephens, SG, Illinois Wolves 16's- It's always risky to accept a really early commitment, but Purdue is looking good with the thin and lengthy 6-foot-4 four-star. He looks to be in the middle of a growth spurt, has a high basketball IQ and is armed with an absolute rifle of a jump shot that is accurate to great range. Strength will come with maturity and make him even better as a driver, but this kid can play.

Josh Brown, PG/SG, Sports U/Team Izod 16's- A long and quick combo guard with good size at 6-foot-3, the lefty was terrific for his team as it defeated the Illinois Wolves in a tight 16-and-under finale. His game is about getting to the rim and he did a good job of finding teammates and not letting opportunities for himself or others go without conversion.

Hallice Cooke, SG, Sports U/Team Izod 16's- The wiry two-guard really seems to be right on the verge of taking his game to the next level. A potential high major prospect, he's got good length, can shoot the ball and shows promise as a creator via the bounce. He's one to watch over the next few years as he matures physically.

Final notes from Summer Jam

For the second day in a row, Winston Shepard made a lot of plays for Dream Vision. He thrives in transition where he's a dual threat as a finisher or passer, but he also made some plays in the half court and played with toughness on both ends. He's playing as strong as ever. ... Shavon Shields had himself a very good week at the Summer Jam. A 6-foot-5 wing who can shoot, the rising senior - and son of surefire NFL Hall of Famer Will Shields - is also physically strong and not afraid to mix it up. He knocked down some timely shots and played smart on both ends of the floor. ... On the floor is exactly where a handful of Shields' MoKan teammate Semi Ojeleye's teeth ended up after a brutal mid-court collision and face-first fall into the ground. It's too bad that his week had to end on such a play because the four-star rising junior had been hooping at a high level. One of the most physically strong wings in his class, Ojeleye had been getting himself going by doing damage on the interior before stepping out to make some jumpers or score in transition. ...

Nobody could have stopped Austin during Texas PRO's quarterfinal win over Team Loaded, but wiry 6-foot-7 power forward Gregory Graves did all he could to provide some interior help. Long and athletic, he made plays on the offensive glass and in transition thanks to his activity level. ... Even though he didn't score huge points, Jelon Hornbeak provided some tough minutes for Texas PRO against Team Loaded. The athletic wing has had his ups and downs this travel season but he gave a great effort on Friday morning. ... Also giving a huge effort on the defensive end for Texas PRO was off-guard Branford Jones. He really made anybody he was lined up against work and also had a few nice takes to the bucket. His team is stacked with high-level players but mid-majors would do well to start hitting him up. ... The Wisconsin Playmakers made a nice run to the quarterfinals thanks to unselfish play, steady offense and sharp shooting from deep. It's hard to single out one guy for the team but slender combo guard Jordan Poydras caught our eye with plays both times we watched the Playmakers. He can create off the dribble, doesn't seem afraid of a little contact and had one of the best plays of the event with his chase down and clean block of Muhammad on a breakaway dunk attempt that is sure to find it's way to YouTube soon. ...

Event coordinator Antonio Curro deserves some praise for putting on a heck of a tournament. Also, a tip of the cap to those coaches who hung in there all the way until the final buzzer. Howland, Mark Gottfried and Rice were the three head coaches that we saw at the final buzzer of the 17-and-under championship game. Meanwhile, assistants from Kentucky, North Carolina, Marquette, Purdue, Tennessee, Western Michigan, Fresno State, Missouri, Saint Louis, Michigan, Indiana, Texas Tech and DePaul all hung on until the bitter end. Apologies if we missed anybody.


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