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July 20, 2007

Future stars collide in Las Vegas

With four major tournaments in an eight-day span, finding a top-flight grassroots basketball game will not be hard to do in Las Vegas this week.

Nearly 600 teams with virtually every major prospect in the country are set to compete.

Their presence ensures that Division I coaches will flock to Sin City. The coaches' odds of finding a player are much better than they are of hitting a jackpot.

GBOA starts the race

The inaugural GBOA Challenge of Champions is a collection of 24 of the top grassroots teams in the country.

New York Gauchos, winners of the Arizona Cactus Classic and most recently the Nike Peach Jam, are one of the featured teams. The dynamic backcourt of Kemba Walker (Connecticut), Jordan Theodore (Seton Hall), Darryl Bryant, Chris Fouch and Durand Scott has yet to back down from any challenge this year.

Pump 'N' Run has been just as good as the Gauchos on the circuit this year. Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson and Larry Drew are a difficult matchup. Pump 'N' Run won the Take 5ive Classic in Cincinnati at the beginning of the month.

EBO, a Fresno, Calif.-based club boasts a talented roster with of a number of 2009 prospects, including Brendan Lane and Jerry Brown. DC Assault, winners of last year's adidas Super 64, fields a team with Jamar Samuels (Kansas State) and Kris Joseph (Syracuse).

The Playaz have a great backcourt in Mike Rosario (Rutgers), Jarrett Mann (Stanford), Travon Woodall and Jiovanny Fontan (Fordham). Grassroots Canada, winner of the Pittsburgh Jam Fest, is deep with Olu Ashaolu, Devoe Joseph, Junior Cadougan and 2010 prospect Tristan Thompson.

Las Vegas Event Schedule
July 20-21
GBOA Challenge of Champions (Las Vegas)
July 22-26
Main Event (Las Vegas)
Reebok Championship (Las Vegas)
adidas Super 64 (Las Vegas)
Team Breakdown of Florida will lean on Kenny Boynton and Eloy Vargas. There is a good chance that 2010 stud Brandon Knight and 2009 forward David Loubeau also will be with the team for the GBOA event.

Other notable teams in the field include: Metro Hawks, Arkansas Hawks, New York Panthers, Spiece Indy Heat, Belmont Shore, Albany City Rocks, Oakland Soldiers and Richmond Squires.

The event is held at the Centennial Hills YMCA in northwest Las Vegas. For more information on the event, go to www.gboahoops.com.

Forecasting the Reebok Championships

Reebok has gone away from the Big Time title and is called the Summer Championships this year. The tournament boasts 224 teams from 39 states. The tournament has eight pre-seeded teams for a mini-tournament that will run through the event's first two days.

The eight seeds are: D1 Greyhounds (Ohio), Southeast Elite (Ala.), King of the Court (Ohio), Texas Blue Chips Elite, Triple Threat (Md.), LA Dream Team (Calif.), Illinois Wolves and Belmont Shore (Calif.).

The Greyhounds boast William Buford, an Ohio State commitment, Darius Miller, a highly coveted wing, and Kenny Frease, a Xavier commitment.

Southeast Elite has a nice trio of prospects in Mississippi State commit Romero Osby, Courtney Fortson, a guard with lots of high-major interest, and Varez Ward.

King of the Court will put Michigan State-bound forward Delvon Roe and Ohio State-bound guard Anthony Crater on the floor. Texas Blue Chips Elite boast intriguing forwards Quincy Acy and Brandon Moore.

Triple Threat has a Georgetown flavor with future Hoyas Chris Braswell andJason Clark. The LA Dream Team features the nation's top-ranked 2009 player in Renardo Sidney.

The Illinois Wolves are one of the best overall teams in the country and shine with unselfishness and team play. Belmont Shore will lean on the 1-2 punch of five-star guards Demar DeRozan and Brandon Jennings.

For more information on the Reebok Summer Championship, log on to www.reebokchampions.com.

Forecasting the adidas Super 64

In terms of getting the most bang for your buck on the first two days of action, the adidas Super 64 event might be your best bet. Tournament organizers have the top teams separated into four-team power pools, and each of the tournaments top teams is guaranteed three games against other top-flight teams.

The top pool boasts four of the most successful teams on the circuit this year in Indiana Elite, Pump 'N' Run Elite, Atlanta Celtics and Playaz. All four teams have won events this year, and all four teams will play each other in pool play.

Indiana Elite has the services of five-star center Tyler Zeller, five-star wing DeAndre Liggins (Kentucky), freak athlete Emmanuel Negedu (Arizona) and a host of other high-level players.

The Celtics are loaded in the frontcourt with Derrick Favors, Georgia-bound forward Howard Thompkins, Chris Singleton and Delwan Graham. Noel Johnson and Trae Golden, both underclassmen, will hold down the backcourt.

The Pump 'N' Run Elite and the Playaz will continue on after the GBOA Challenge of Champions.

Also in the power pools and playing at UNLV's Cox Pavilion are such teams as EBO, Las Vegas Prospects, Ohio Basketball Club, KC Pump 'N' Run, Florida Rams, NE Playaz, DC Assault, T-Mac All-Stars, Juice All-Stars, Compton Magic, M33M, DTA Wisconsin, Hunting Park, Team Philly Elite, Texas Select, Michigan Mustangs, New Orleans Jazz and Seattle Rotary.

Players of note include: Luke Babbitt (Nevada) and Olek Czyz of the Las Vegas Prospects; Yancy Gates (Cincinnati) and B.J. Mullens (Ohio State) of the Ohio Basketball Club; Travis Releford (Kansas) of KC Pump 'N' Run; Florida commitments Kenny Kadji and Ray Shipman of the Florida Rams; Troy Gillenwater, Terrell Holloway and Erik Murphy of the NE Playaz; Elliot Williams of M33M; Korie Lucious (Michigan State) of DTA Wisconsin; and Maalik Wayns (Villanova) of Team Philly Elite.

There are 96 teams in the field for the adidas Super 64 in the 17-under division. For more information on the tournament, go to www.adidassuper64.com.

Forecasting the Main Event

The biggest and busiest tournament is the Main Event. How big? Try 256 teams in the 17-under field.

There is no bigger or better team than the New York Gauchos. And there is no better single player in the field than Team Texas guard Willie Warren. Both parties will draw a crowd.

Keep an eye on Houston Hoops with Stanford-bound guard Jeremy Green and big men Anthony Jones and Keith Gallon.

The Meanstreets teams is always tough. Its top two players, Michael Dunigan and Matthew Humphrey, have both committed to Oregon and are playing well. Josh Crittle provides a big body down low.

Baltimore's Team Melo will lean on Sean Mosley, while the Carolina Raptors look to guards Demarquis Bost (Mississippi State) and Damier Pitts. California Supreme has the best overall young player in the field in Jeremy Tyler. The team consists mostly of 2010 and 2009 prospects. They will test themselves in the 17-under division.

Coaches and scouts certainly will be able to find some sleepers in the 16U and 15U divisions, too.

Rivals.com will be in Las Vegas beginning Friday. Our coverage from Sin City closes out a long, busy year on the grassroots circuit. Jerry Meyer, Mark Reeves and Justin Young will have updates and information throughout the week.



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