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July 26, 2008

Las Vegas: Day Four

LAS VEGAS -- Chalk up another wow moment here in Sin City. One of the nation's top class of 2011 prospects had his outstanding trumped by one amazing comeback at the adidas Super 64.

WROTEN'S ACE GETS CRACKED

Anthony Wroten Jr. held pocket aces all game long and like a great poker player, he let the opposition just feed him points while holding the best hand. However, Grassroots Canada caught the river and finished the game with a full house.

In Vegas, there are bad beats. And that is what happened in the third round of bracket play at the adidas Super 64 on Friday night.

Up by 11 points with roughly two minutes left to play in the second half, Seattle Rotary looked like they were in the driver's seat. A couple of controversial calls went in favorite to the Canadian kids and the stellar guard play of Jason Calliste and Junior Cadougan changed the entire game.

Calliste made a monster defensive play that resulted in a score for Canada. The 6-foot-2 combo guard was outstanding in the match-up. He scored 22 points in the win and was a major factor in the victory.

"Hey, I'm used to it. That same kind of thing happened to me last year here," Calliste said. "You have to keep your head…We just wanted to show that the Canadian boys can play."

"We never gave up because the game wasn't over. There was still time on the clock," Cadougan said. "Coach told us that the game was never over."

No it wasn't and Cadaougan and Calliste certainly played until the final whistle blew. Cadaougan

The Marquette bound guard hit two of the three free throws with 0.4 seconds left to play and sealed the 77-76 victory. He finished with 24 points, six rebounds and five assists.

"This is the best summer I've ever had," Cadaougan said. "I've improved a lot. I've spent a lot of time trying to get my weight down. Honestly, this is the best I've felt since grade nine. I'm back."



Calliste, a class of 2009 guard, said he has an offer from George Mason while Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Colorado are also in the picture.

Wroten was on another planet for 29 minutes of action. The future five-star scored a game-high 31 points (11-16 FG) and handed out a half dozen assists. Wroten scored it in every which way possible, including several threes and a couple of mind-blowing baseline drives to dunks.

He nailed five three-pointers, passed like a NBA point guard and drew some comparisons to Dwayne Wade. Wroten's effort was the best so far at the adidas event and only rivaling performances from Kenny Boynton and Avery Bradley in the best overall game of the week. Not bad for a kid that has three yeas left in high school.

There were so many storylines in this game that the anticipated match-up between 2010 studs Tristan Thompson and Josh Smith, two of the top four players in the nation, could get looked over.

Thompson finished with 11 points and six rebounds. He was quiet in the first half but played a role in the comeback. There moments that drew some wows but overall, he let the guards do the work.

Smith scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked six shots. You won't find a big man in the class of 2010 with a softer touch than the big fella. He's a gentle giant with the ball and every bit of one of the true elite players in the class. Wroten's game was so good that Smith's effort was tempered by the compliment givers. Smith's game was big time as well.

STAR POWER

Taking the stage after the outstanding Grassroots Canada-Seattle Rotary game, Derrick Favors didn't let the spotlight go out early. The five-star big man did what he does best: protect the rim, frustrate the opposition with his size and touch and raise the level of play in the game.

Favors is a tremendous passing big man and he seems to make every right move in the post. One noted assistant coach and well-known post expert was salivating at the mature post game that Favors plays.

"I would love to just coach him. He wants to be coached. Just look at him. Just look at him!"

Favors can do that to people. The quiet and humble star makes it look too easy. He did against a post-deficient Playaz team to the tune of 24 points, 12 rebounds (roughly) and at least 10 blocks.

The Playaz were paced by Georgia Tech commitment Brian Oliver. The sweet-shooting wing hit eight three-pointers in the afternoon and picked up his hot touch against the team from his future hometown.

Oliver can put the ball in the basket with the best of them. However, few can make the ball drop through the next at such a consistent rate like the Rivals150 prospect can. He's going to keep scorekeepers busy wherever he is playing.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

Atlanta Celtics 16 and under guard Jordan McRae loves the spotlight. And he loves to shine in it even more. The long and agile Rivals100 prospect played with as much as swagger as a show performer down on The Strip.

McRae simply makes it looks too easy. He scored 33 points in a highly competitive game against the Michigan Mustangs that went into an overtime period. McRae scored most of his points in the midrange and loved to kiss the shots off the glass.

His team lost but there was little debate as to who was the best player on the court in this match-up.

The best prospect on the Michigan Mustangs 16 and under roster in Vegas is big man Alex Gauna. The class of 2010 prospect didn't have his best game but the talent is most certainly there and he'll likely be playing for a NCAA tournament quality team. The 6-foot-9 post has some go to post moves as well as the ability to pick and pop for a three ball.

Gauna said he is looking for his first offer and the chances are it will be coming soon. He has Purdue, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Xavier and others looking at other programs, too.

Carolina Raptors forward Melvin Tabb could do no wrong inside the paint against the Georgia Pony Express. The 6-foot-8 big man owned the offensive boards and was a one-man wrecking machine around the cup.

He was just too strong and too aggressive to contain. As soon as he corralled the rebound, he was straight back up for the easy score at the rim. Chances are he went for 20 points and 10 rebounds (probably more) in a win. The ACC has a number of assistants on watch for his performance.

College coaches love the term: "He's got a chance." Class of 2011 guard Bishop Daniels was usually the he in that statement on Friday. The heady 6-foot-2 rising sophomore for the Raptors started the game against the Pony Express on fire, scoring with a quick strike. His power dribble down the sideline, jab step and pull back jumper was one of the best basketball moves of the day. So yeah, suffice it say, Daniels has a chance.

NOTES FROM THE UNDERCLASSMEN NOTEPAD

Juwan Howard, Jr. hit a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to give his Michigan Mustangs team an emotional overtime victory over the Atlanta Celtics.

  • In a game that featured 67 total fouls, you had to dig deep to find some positives in the Atlanta Celtics 15 and under game on Friday morning. They were few and far between.

    Kevin Ware, a class of 2011 combo guard, has been a hot name on the team this week and even Florida'a Billy Donovan stopped by to get a look at him. Ware scored 19 points in the foul fest. He's been a popular player with the high-majors. He said Kansas, Georgia Tech, Texas, Clemson, Memphis, Georgia and several others have shown interest so far.

  • D.C. Assault is one of the most streamlined programs for talent year in and year out. The 15 and under teams are stacked deep like a wholesale club. Take your pick as to who the best prospect is between the Gold and the Blue clubs. At this stage of the game, big man Jordan Goodman might be the sure bet out of the bunch. He's a big 6-foot-8 and bouncy and crafty to boot.

  • Class of 2012 guard Kyle Anderson of the Playaz 15 and under team will be a stud to watch develop over the next four years. He's a long 6-foot-5 and plays like a point guard. His basketball IQ was on full display in the morning game of bracket play. His passing was outstanding and he always made positive plays.

  • Playaz point guard Myles Mack scored the ball very well for his 15 and under team and looked like a guy that is always ready for some good competition. He's a class of 2011 kid to keep an eye on.

  • Atlanta Celtics forward Marvel Harris plays in the same region as 2009 workhorse and fellow Celtic Terrence Shannon. And like his central Georgia counterpart, Harris is an energy hound that pounds the boards, blocks shots and loves to throw his body around. Harris, a 6-foot-6 post from the class of 2010, will be a fine mid-level post player when his college days arrive.

  • The Atlanta area is also stocked deep with sleepers. And you can usually find them at powerhouses like Columbia High School. After producing nearly ten Division I over the last four years, the next star to come out of the school is guard Jershon Cobb. He's been on a tear in July with the Georgia Pony Express. The 6-foot-4 combo guard helped his club win the Peach State Summer Showcase and he was the team's best player in Sin City. The class of 2010 prospect is a do-everything guy that is turning the corner from a mid-level guy to a must see and must see often prospect for the high-majors.

    IN THE HOME STRETCH

    The marathon week is almost over. The action ends on Saturday at all three events. Eight teams are left at the Reebok Summer Championships. Four teams remain in the hunt at the adidas Super 64. The Main Event is down to the final four.

    Reebok Summer Championships

    Houston Elite vs. Upstate Basketball Club
    Worldwide Orange vs. D-One Sports
    DC Triple Threat vs. Arizona Metro Elite
    Northwest Panthers vs. Team Breakdown

    adidas Super 64

    Atlanta Celtics vs. Compton Magic
    Pump 'N Run Elite vs. Grassroots Canada

    Main Event Platinum Championship

    Houston Hoops vs. Drew Gooden Soldiers Blue
    Mac Irvin Fire vs. California Supreme


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