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July 26, 2007

Las Vegas: Day Four

LAS VEGAS - Wednesday's action was spent at the younger division again as we continue our look at the up and coming players in the 2009 classes and beyond.

Young Celtics sneak past DC Assault

The 16 and under action at the adidas Super 64 was great and had the intensity you'd expect to see in the last days of the Vegas tournaments. The Atlanta Celtics and DC Assault went toe to toe for 32 intense minutes and it came down to the final second to settle the back-and-forth battle.

With the scored tied at 71, the Celtics had the ball at the top of the key and waited for the right moment to attack the basket. Point guard Ryan Fleming drove to the baseline and found teammate Terrance Shannon under the left side of the basket for an uncontested basket with a second to play.

The Celtics moved on and the Assault are now playing the role of the spectator.

Shannon was a beast down low as a scorer and was an intimidating force inside the paint as a defender and shot-blocker. His intensity and relentlessness absolutely froze out four-star forward Wally Judge. Shannon scored 15 points while Judge had one.

Although he's only 6-foot-7, Shannon plays so much bigger than his height because of his quick springs, long arms and that unbridled energy. If high-majors had any wonders about his ability at that level, and odds are there are fewer now than ever, Shannon has erased them this summer with his strong play.

Leading the Celtics in scoring was Manny Atkins, who quietly poured in 19 points. He connected on four three-pointers and his size matched up well with DC Assault's big wings. Atkins, a 6-foot-6 wing from Tucker (Ga.) High School, has consistently been one of the top scorers for the loaded Celtics squad this summer.

Andre Malone hit a key three-pointer with less than a minute to play, which put the Celtics over the hump and gave them a chance to win. The 6-foot-4 guard scored 13 points in the game.

Slowly but surely Shawn Kemp, Jr. is turning into an impressive prospect. Kemp has obvious bloodline traits, moreover his overall size and size 19 shoe, but doesn't posses his dad's freaky athleticism. The younger Kemp is a pure prospect and he's making baby steps along the way.

The game also provided onlookers with a glimpse of the future. A number of top-level class of 2010 players had key moments in the game. Perhaps the two brightest stars were Josh Selby of the Assault and Trae Golden of the Celtics.

Selby, a 6-foot-3 combo guard, came off the bench for his new team and wasted little time making an impact. Selby scored on a couple of pull up three-pointers and played like a free safety that loved to sacrifice his body on defense. Selby's growth will continue this season at DeMatha Catholic this fall. He transferred to the D.C. area school after a year at the John Carroll School in his native Baltimore.

Golden was playing well for the Celtics, knocking down a trio of triples in the first half. When he was in the game, the Celtics played with more control and had a lead. Early in the second half, Golden went up for a high pass and tangled up with a defender and made an ugly fall on his ankle. He was quickly taken off the floor for medical attention and didn't return to the game.

The Assault had little production inside the paint so it turned to wing Rodney McGruder for help. The 6-foot-4 guard continues his consistent play this AAU season and has proven himself as a high-major prospect. McGruder scored a team high 19 points in the win.

The kids are alright

We made our way back to the Main Event 15 and under games for the morning games and came away impressed with a handful of kids.

Keep an eye out for class of 2010 point guard Frantz Massenat from Trenton (N.J.) Catholic High School and Team New Jersey ABC. The 6-foot-1 prospect is a thinker. On several occasions, he saw plays long before they happened and perfectly executed passes for points. The lefty roughly had seven assists to go along with his 13 points in a blow out win early on Wednesday morning. Massenat has good explosion to the hole and showed that he can shoot it with a couple of threes to open the second half.

Rider recently offered the youngster while Villanova and Florida have sent some correspondence already. Ohio State snuck out and saw him play early in the week here in Vegas.

Massenat isn't alone on his team in terms of Division I prospects. Fellow point guard Dondre Whitmore is a jet with the ball and flew up the floor. Teammates with Massenat at Trenton Catholic, Whitmore was a great compliment in the backcourt. The 5-foot-8 guard scored a team-high 19 points.

Markese Tucker and Wayne Newsome are both worth charting for the next three years in high school. The duo both had important plays for Team Jersey ABC. Tucker, a 6-foot-5 forward also from Trenton Catholic, put in 17 points and went to work on the glass. Newsome is a long 6-foot-5 forward from Piscataway High School and played the role of the tough guy. Both showed glimpses of good things to come.

The D.C. Blue Devils have a couple of point guards worth watching in the class of 2010. Maurice Williams, a 6-foot prospect from Bishop O'Connell, has great ball-handling skills and good body control. He broke down the defense time and time again en route to the cup or pull up jumpers. Williams found guys in stride and never seemed out of control despite playing at a high speed.

The Blue Devils had the luxury of having a pair of point guards that could equally play a major role in the backcourt. Louis Young, a 6-footer from Good Counsel High School is a fast decision maker and more of a scorer that Williams. Young is a good shooter with a body that allows him to challenge more in the paint that Williams as well. Together, the duo will be highly charted in 2010.

Staying in the D.C. area, we caught a glimpse of 2009 guard Erick Green of Triple Threat 16 and under. The 6-foot-2 guard scored 28 points for his squad in a competitive game in the Main Event's 16U tournament bracket. A long and lanky point guard, Green put on his scorer's hat for his team's game against the Southwest Celtics.

Currently a hot regional mid-major prospect, it wouldn't surprise us to see him blow up a little further this season in high school. Green said he has an offer from George Mason, who was on hand to watch him play, while Virginia Tech, American and St. Francis are showing interest as well. His coach added William & Mary and Virginia Commonwealth are also interested.

Action heats up at Main Event 16U

There might have not been a better playing in the 16 and under division at the Main Event that got to the basket faster and more often than Chicago guard Chris Colvin. The Whitney Young product scored 16 points by using his speed and power to get into the paint whenever he wanted. Colvin broke down the defense with his handles and opened up the floor for the rest of his teammates. Currently boasting a number of mid-major offers, Colvin has done a fine job of establishing himself as one of the top targets in the Midwest for the high-majors this summer.

Teammate Jack Cooley was a monster against the Iowa Barnstormers. The 6-foot-7 strong-as-an-ox big man scored 26 points against a team that matched his size and natural strength. Cooley isn't flashy but he's good at what he does. He'll find a home at a good mid-major program and be a contributor.

Class of 2010 Illinois commitment Jereme Richmond showed a couple of flashes of brilliance as a wing defender. He's much longer than most 6-foot-7 wings and because of that, he blocked a couple of jump shots when in one-on-one situations. His length was a major factor on the defensive end. On the offensive end, Richmond pulled up for three and converted. He's a player that produces now and will only be better once his body fills out.

Georgia Stars forward Kenny Hall is steadily improving. The 6-foot-8 forward from Redan High School has put in the work and has his confidence at an all-time high. Paired against the SYF Players, Hall scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a 69-63 late night win.

Hall is a scorer around the cup and can step out to 12 feet and knock down shots consistently as a face up guy. His length and bounce allow him to play above the rim and he's good around the cup on offense. Defensively, he gives up a little and didn't crash the boards as well as he is capable of. Nevertheless, he's rolling right now and high-majors are certainly taking notice.

Teammate Jordan Callahan is having a good tournament. The 5-foot-10 point guard is constantly scoring 20 points. In the nightcap, the Blessed Trinity High School guard scored 15 points and handed out six assists. The class of 2009 guard is consistent and gets better every time we see him. Callahan is carving out a nice spot for himself with a mid-major.

SYF boats a couple of players worth noting. Derek Elston, a 6-foot-7 forward from Tipton (Ind.) High School, scored 11 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against Hall, a future four-star forward.

Elston has the look of a big-timer. He's long, chiseled, runs the floor and plays with a grimace of a guy that will take over at any moment. However, he never seemed to find his groove in this one. Sources indicate that Indiana and Purdue have recently offered. Purdue also offered his teammate Kelsey Barlow, who showed a flash here and there but never seemed to get rolling like he's probably capable of.

Odds & Ends

Georgia head coach Dennis Felton was on hand to see the Atlanta Celtics and D.C. Assault. So were assistants from Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Kennesaw State, West Virginia and Iowa State.

The crowd for the Rising Stars JG-Iowa Barnstormers 16 and under game at the Main Event was assistants from Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Northwestern, Purdue, Oakland and Valpo. Matt Painter and Kelvin Sampson both checked out the action.

A number of the same coaches, including Painter and Sampson, stayed over for the Georgia Stars-SYF game to close out the night. Felton also returned to see Hall and company. North Carolina snuck in for a half as well.

Justin Young is as senior writer for Rivals.com National Basketball Recruiting. He can be reached at jyoung@rivals.com.



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