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July 29, 2002
Indiana teams making noise
The Class of 2003 is suppose to be a down one in Indiana and many complain that the talent now is spread into too many AAU programs. Whether true or not, one thing is certain, Indiana based teams are making some noise the past few days, first with unheralded Billy Shephard Sports at the Big Time Event in Las Vegas and again here in Orlando this weekend, where three of the final sixteen teams left in the championship bracket are Hoosier bred, including the one that humiliated the powerful Houston Hoops program last night.
The buzz quickly spread around the Wide World of Sports Complex last night. Over on court 6, something was happening that was dropping jaws for those coming by and taking a look at the scoreboard. At one point midway through the second quarter, the score was 31-8 and the pre-tourney favorite, Houston Hoops, was on the wrong end of it. The hurting they were getting was being put on by none other than Spiece Central, a collection of Indianapolis area seniors to be.
Granted Houston Hoops was a tired team after going to the championship of the Super Showcase here last Friday where the fell to the St. Louis Eagles. But Spiece Central had also competed there and made it all the way to the quarterfinals, where ironically they fell to Houston Hoops. In that game perhaps they learned something when they fought back from a big deficit to only trail by four late in the final period before succumbing to the Texans. A couple things they learned might have been that the Houston team doesn't fare to well when playing against a zone and secondly, they have no answer for Mr. Parnell Smith, who is quickly solidifying himself as a high major prospect here in Orlando.
Smith, a 6'6 forward from Indianapolis Pike and younger brother of former Purdue star Rodney Smith, had 27 points the first time against Houston Hoops and 21 points in last night's rematch, won easily by Spiece, 77-61. A score actually closer than the twenty plus leads that Spiece enjoyed throughout the game. Smith scored 13 of his points in the decisive first half. Also helping the Spiece team get off to that flying start was 6'5 Perry Meridian wing Austin Montgomery. Montgomery only had 10 points in the game but they all came in the big first period when the game was decided. Also key for Spiece was strong second half point guard play from Corey Johnson (Anderson Highland) and Zach Decatur (Indianapolis Cathedral). When Houston started pressing, both of those guards took it right to them, and Johnson was especially tough in converting on the break. He had 14 second half points to end up with 20 points on the night.
The nightmare for Houston was most lucid for Mr. Ndudi Ebi, a prime Indiana target. With Mike Davis, Lute Olson and other interested observers looking on, Ebi got into major foul trouble, getting his fourth foul midway through the second period. He sat the rest of the game which contributed to the big, fat donut he had in the scoring column. The fourth foul he picked up was a totally unnecessary one out on the 3-point line and why he was in the game at that particular point was a mystery other than it might have been real panic time already given the huge deficit they faced.
The zone (2-3 and 3-2) employ by Spiece flustered the entire Houston team, especially penetrating guard Tack Minor who repeatedly failed to convert on drives, picking up charges on 2 or 3 occasions. The only thing going for them last night was the outside shot and fine defensive play of Daniel Gibson, who ended up leading them with 18 points.
Another Indiana team up next
Spiece Central now moves on to the round of 16 where they will meet another surprising Hoosier team, the Evansville Basketball Club. Evansville is a well balanced team led by junior all-star Kyle Anslinger. They escaped with a thrilling one point win last night against Martin Brothers (IA).
The other Hoosier team to advance was Team Indiana/Bloomington Black. They beat a team from Memphis last night to set up a tough tourney game this morning against All Ohio Red, the winner of the Nike Peach Jam earlier this month. Team Indiana is led by Sonny Troutman (Brebeuf), Brandon Crone (Frankfort), Errek Suhr (Bloomington North), and some other fine south and central Indiana talent. They have played as a group for several years and placed very highly at nationals each time and could do so again if they can survive All Ohio this morning.
Indiana prospect teams
While Ndudi Ebi's summer is over, another IU target's team did make it through. Von Wafer and the Arkansas Wings have been perfect in the nationals, winning all three pool games and two tourney games, including last night's ten point victory of the North Carolina Hornets, a team that had also been unbeaten to that point.
Later this morning the Wings and Wafer will meet up with the Georgia Stars, a talented team that Coach Mike Davis was watching closely yesterday. The Stars have Patrick Ewing, Jr, the 6'8 son of the NBA star and a player who has mentioned Indiana recently. They also have another tough insider in 6'8 Rashaun Bryant, who had at one time listed Indiana. The Stars won a tough game last night, 79-71 against Monty St. Clair and the always tough Cincinnati AAU Red team. The Cincinnati team led much of the game before collapsing some in the final stanza.
Another prospect here widely mentioned with Indiana is 2004 power forward DJ White. White had a great Super Showcase here and started off the nationals here with a bang, scoring 29 points in his opener for Mobile Challenge. After winning their first two pool games, Mobile appeared to be in good shape to move onto the championship tourney. Ironically they would have moved on if they had not in the last seconds tied up their final pool game with the New Jersey All-Stars and sent it into overtime. Because in overtime they fell apart and lost by enough points (12), such that they got eliminated in the pool tiebreaker since three teams there finished at 2-1 and only two teams to advance. Besides New Jersey, Bloomington White advanced from that group as they had defeated the New Jersey team in pool play and played White and Mobile tough enough in their opener to get the tie-breaker nod. Bloomington White fell in their tourney opener to the North Carolina Hornets.
While Keith Wooden and the KC Nets played here in the Super Showcase, his team returned home this week to play in the KC Hoops Invitational. In their opener this weekend against the Illinois Warriors, Keith had 22 points to lead his team to a 71-58 victory.
But in the tournament yesterday the Indiana curse hit Kansas City as well. The KC Nets were upset, 68-64, in the quarterfinals by SYF Players, a team of northwest Indiana players. SYF moves on to the final four today.
Another big man to take note of
I was impressed this weekend by the play of 6'9 power forward Josh Boone of the Cecil Kirk team. Cecil Kirk went unbeaten threw pool play and lost a tough battle last night against the very talented Boo Williams team. Boone was a big reason why as he was a real presence for Cecil Kirk both inside offensively and other end defensively. Prior to this in other internet stories he had only been listed at 6'8 but in the program here he was listed at 6'10. He might not be that big but 6'9 might not be inaccurate.
Why bring him up? Well the Hoosiers are looking for several big men in this class and Mr. Boone is none other than the high school teammate of incoming Indiana freshman Marshall Strickland. Boone, like Strickland graduated this year from South Carroll HS (MD), but he has elected to postpone college for a year and attend prep school this winter at West Nottingham Academy (MD).
Final 16 Match-Ups
Here are today's match-ups in order
For scores and a printable version of the bracket in a PDF file: Click Here
Billy Shepherd Does Vegas Right
If the performances by the Indiana teams in Orlando wasn't enough, take a look at the run another Indiana team had at the Big Time Event in Las Vegas, the largest tourney of the season. Billy Shepherd Sports, a collection of relative no-names, rolled through a bunch of high talent, high profile teams on the way to the final four of the championship tourney there, before they to the eventual champ New York Ravens.
Along the way they knocked off heavyweights like the Atlanta Celtics and Ft. Sooy Limit. Teams that have five or more players that might be considered high major prospects. Observers from Vegas said that the Billy Shepherd team simply played fundamental basketball, something not often seen in summer hoops.
Two of their players, point guard Peyton Stovall from Lafayette Jefferson, and 6'7 forward Matt Webster of Westfield, made the all-tournament team. Look for both of those players now to be strong Indiana All-Star candidates and get some recruiting interest from Big Ten programs. Whether Indiana is interested may be too early to know, but Indiana assistant coach Ben McDonald did reportedly watch the team closely in Las Vegas.