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July 25, 2009

Texas duo impresses in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. - The AAU Super Showcase got underway on Friday at the 17 and under level, while the bracket play really got cranked up for the 16 and under squads. Throughout the day at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex there was impressive play, including a strong effort from a couple young Texas prospects L.J. Rose and J'Mychal Reese.

Future is bright for Houston Hoops

In the final game of the day Houston Hoops faced off with the Charlotte Royals, and it gave a chance for their underclass backcourt to put on a show. The duo of L.J. Rose and J'Mychal Reese showed why so many colleges are so excited about them. Along the way the youngsters also got a ton of help from Tobi Oyedeji and Brandon Peters.

It is tough to find true point guards, but more and more Rose is looking like one. The calm and cool 2012 prospect just flat out knows how to play the game. Despite not being a huge scorer, he makes an impact on the game is so many ways. First and foremost he knows how to get his teammates involved.

With a pair of strong interior players like Oyedeji and Alex Kirk, Rose knows to throw them the ball down low, and on top of that he also knows when to make the pass for his perimeter mates to be in a position to make plays.

When Rose wasn't distributing on Friday night to a teammate, he was knocking down open shots. He didn't shoot it much, but when he did more often than not he went in. As he continues to get bigger and stronger his game will develop, but already he is more than holding his own at the 17 and under level.

While Rose is the calm and steady leader, Reese is the one capable of lighting up the scoreboard. Because he has so many other options on his team, Reese can at times defer, but he was able to get to the rim at will against the Royals, and showed the ability to finish against older and stronger post players. Overall it was a very impressive performance for Bryan, Texas native.

Rose and Reese have all the potential, but the two biggest stars for the Hoops in the winning effort were Peters and Oyedeji. Peters started things off right when he dunked over the 7-foot-1 David Nyarsuk. That is nothing new for Peters who might be the best leaper in the country, but after that explosive score is when he really impressed. Peters followed up the dunk with two three point jumpers, and then for the rest of the game he was in attack mode. He finished with a team high 20 points, and closed things out in style with a very impressive windmill jam. As Peters continues to show improved range, the questions about his offensive ability will begin to die down.

Oyedeji was also very impressive. The Texas A&M pledge had it working on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. At 6-foot-8 with long arms and a lot of bounce, Oyedeji blocked shots and cleaned the glass on defense. At the same time on offense he scored on a few jump hooks, rebounded the ball well for second shot opportunities, and even hit in the mid-range. His 14 points were huge in the victory.

16 and unders came to play

With a trip to the semi-finals of the Showcase on the line, the 16 and under squads were showing a lot of desire. In a game between Caron Butler Team Takeover and Memphis YOMCA a pair of young power forwards absolutely stole the show.

Darion Atkins of Team Takeover and Wayne Martin of Memphis YOMCA absolutely went after each other. Atkins is a bouncy power forward who has a big time motor and can erase shots in a big way down low. He alone seemed to take the post scoring game away from YOMCA, and when he didn't block shots, he altered them and grabbed the rebounds. Also he ran the floor like a deer and converted around the bucket on offense. He didn't show too much of a face-up game, but with good hands and a solid touch to eight feet, the tools were definitely there.

Martin is a 6-foot-7 combo forward who is an absolute matchup nightmare. When guarded by a bigger player Martin would take him to the rim. When it was a smaller player guarding Martin, he would either go to the post and score or shoot over him. Overall Martin was the best player on the YOMCA team, and Takeover had virtually no answer for him.

While those two were clearly the biggest stars, they were far from the only factors in the game. Takeover also got a very solid contribution from A.J. English. The number 77 player in the country showed what he is capable of after a slow start. With long arms and good quickness, English really attacked the rim. He got to the foul line at will in the second half, and converted from there on his way to 15 points, many of them in crunch time. Also post man John Manning had some solid moments for Team Takeover. He is still a work in progress, but he has good hands a nice idea of what to do when he catches the ball on the low block.

Highly touted Andre Hollins was very difficult for Takeover to deal with. First he got it going from deep, and then when crowded, he would attack off the bounce. With his athleticism and quickness he was nearly impossible to guard at times because the defense had t respect his outside shot. Hollins rode a strong second half to finish with 19 points.

Also Nino Johnson provided a rugged presence down low for YOMCA. He gives YOMCA a nice complement to Martin in the frontcourt, and Johnson did all the scrappy things. He rebounded, played defense, and set screens. Also he found a way to get 14 points without being flashy.

Other notable performances

In a game against the Long Island Lightning, All-Ohio 16 and under star Trey Lewis absolutely exploded in the second half. The 5-foot-9 guard caught fire, and there was simply nothing that could be done to stop him. He scored off the catch, off the bounce, and from the foul line. For the game he finished with 27 points in a losing effort.

The reason All-Ohio lost was because of the strong play from Kimari Murphy and Davontay Grace. Grace started out his game by showing why some compare him to a young Levance Fields. The stocky floor general has the ball on a string, and when he was hitting his pull-up jumper, it was over. There was nothing that could be done to defend him. Grace however cooled off and the second half, and that is when Murphy took over. Murphy is a bouncy combo forward who scored inside and out. Also he used his height to control the glass against an undersized All-Ohio squad.

After a solid showing at the King City Classic, Jamail Jones didn't miss a beat coming to Orlando. The 6-foot-6 solidly built wing was a scoring dynamo for Hoop Planet. He had his outside shot working, and on top of that he used his strength at times down low. More often than not though, Jones just pulled up from behind the arc and it was pure almost every time he released it. In the first half alone Jones had 18 of his team's 23 points, and the scoring was much of the same in the second half.

Under the radar Baltimore Stars big man Jonathan Arledge showed some nice upside on Friday. He is a big body with good hands, and he runs the floor well. Arledge is still looking for a go to post move, but he has a lot of tools to work with. He battled consistent double teams all game long, but still managed to get his points and clean the glass both on offense and defense.

With future head coach Trent Johnson looking on, Matt Derenbecker showed very well for himself against the talented wings from the CP3 All-Stars. Derenbecker was shooting the ball very well early on, and finished with a strong 17 points. Joining Derenbecker in the upset win for Louisiana Select was St. Joseph's pledge Langston Galloway. Galloway racked up 24 big points, and a lot of them came down the stretch as CP3 was trying to make a comeback.

For CP3 Reggie Bullock had 21 points, but those points came on a lot of shots. Bullock showed why he is so highly touted with drives to the bucket and a barrage of three pointers in the second half, but he didn't take over the game like his team needed. Also credit Jay Canty of CP3. With some of his teammates going through the motions, Canty was consistent energy. Canty showed his athletic ability scoring around the hoop, and also he was dynamite on defense.

As always for Nike Baltimore Select Will Barton was good, but it was teammate Jonathan Graham that made the biggest play of the game in their win over the Georgia Stars. With Baltimore Select down one and under five seconds to go, Barton drive and attempted a floater in the lane. The shot fell off, but Graham tipped the ball in as time expired to get the win. The tip in gave Graham 12 points for the game. Not to be out done, Barton was his usual offensive machine with 22 points.

School Lists

Jonathan Graham mentioned that he is hearing from West Virginia, Maryland, VCU, Drexel, Providence, Seton Hall, and Georgia Tech.

L.J. Rose has offers from Memphis, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Texas. Also he has received interest from Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Baylor, Mississippi State, LSU, and New Mexico.

Jonathan Arledge has offers from George Mason, Temple, Penn State, Vermont, Tulane, Siena, Providence, Fairfield, Niagara, and Vanderbilt. Also interest is coming in from Xavier, Boston College, Michigan, Michigan State, James Madison, VCU, and Georgetown.

Kimari Murphy rattled off a long list of Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Oklahoma, St. John's, Rutgers, Providence, Auburn, Hofstra, and St. Joseph's.

Darion Atkins has offers from Virginia Tech, Maryland, George Mason, and George Washington. Also he is expecting one shortly from Wake Forest. Beyond those schools, Georgetown, Xavier, and Wisconsin are also in the mix.

A.J. English has offers from George Mason, Xavier, VCU, and Niagara with Virginia showing him significant attention.


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