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July 26, 2007

Super Showcase: Day Two

ORLANDO, Fla. - Day two at the Super Showcase meant the beginning of tournament action as well as some special performances. With more coaches making their way down to The Milk House to watch the action, the quality of play stepped up, and some big names really showed off their stuff.

Big name stars have big games

At the end of the summer, things can sometimes get sloppy and the guys with big time reputations don't always bring it. But on Wednesday at the Super Showcase that was not the case, as many players played to their potential with the coaches looking on.

It hasn't necessarily been a smooth ride this summer for Xavier Gibson, but there is no doubt that he is healthy and is beginning to play better. Gibson, who has been mostly a finesse player in the past, is beginning to play tougher down low.

Not only has Gibson gotten physically stronger, but also he doesn't seem to be allergic to playing in the paint like he was at times last summer. With his height, athleticism, and body if he continues to play hard and aggressive in the paint then he will be someone who is extremely tough to guard.

The 2008 class is not deep when it comes to point guards, and while Andrew Steele isn't a pure point, he showed that he is capable of playing the position in an evening loss to BABC. Steele led the Alabama Challenge with 16 points, but also showed that he can handle the rock and get into the lane and create for others. He is still at his best playing as a complementary ball handler, but as he grows as a player he could see more time as a floor general. If he eventually is able to run the show, watch out, he will be special.

While he isn't the flashiest player in the world, Kevin Jones is no doubt one of the most effective. In an evening win over the South Carolina Ravens, Jones was hitting shots from three, from the mid-range, and doing his typical damage on the glass with put backs.

Maybe the best thing about Jones is the way he sees the floor and how he is always making the right choice with the basketball. He hardly ever forces shots, and instead of trying to make the spectacular pass that ends up as a turnover, he makes the smart pass that results in a bucket.

That intelligence, combined with skill is the reason Bob Huggins, Jim Boeheim, Norm Roberts, Fred Hill, and assistants from Indiana, Ohio State, and numerous others were tracking Jones all day long.

Eshaunte Jones displayed his ability to make shots and put points on the board. In a comeback win over Nike Team Florida, Jones made pull-up threes under pressure, and helped bring Blessed IJN to a tie at the end of regulation before winning in overtime.

Jones does take some bad, contested shots on occasion, but he can shoot a team into any game once he gets going.

More young kids doing their thing

After a big day for several kids in the 2009 and 2010 classes on Tuesday, the theme of youngsters stepping up did not change on Wednesday.

There are numerous big-time talents at the point guard position in the 2010 class, and despite his size, one player that needs to be talked about more is Phil Pressey. Pressey is generously listed at 5-foot-9, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in smarts, quickness, and heart. The son of Paul Pressey is a master with the ball. He changes speeds so quickly and knows how to keep defenders off balance.

With that he is able to beat his man off the bounce and get into the lane. Once inside, Pressey knows how to finish. He is also more than capable of getting inside and dishing to a teammate for an open look. BABC really made a strong run against the Alabama Challenge behind the play of Pressey.

Not to be outdone by Pressey against the Challenge was his teammate Jamal Coombs. The Connecticut pledge started off the day slow, but came on late. He was making shots and getting to the line to help BABC move on. For the game, Coombs finished with a very important 15 points.

Even though Howard Pulley lost to The Family in the night cap, Royce White showed that he is a heck of a player. White made several nice post feeds to Jared Berggren that led directly to buckets. Also White scored 11 points in the game, but some came outside and some came inside. Because he is a bit of a 'tweener, that is going to be important.

Big games come from under-the-radar players

Though the big name players tend to get most of the love and draw the most attention, there were several noteworthy performances by players without the big-time reps.

Wilbur O'Neal is never going to be a superstar, but the wide body for National Christian plays hard and knows how to finish down low. Against the Florida Prospects, O'Neal was tough on the block, ran the floor, and rebounded the basketball. He could make for a great mid-major pivot man.

The Charlotte Royals started the summer with Catalin Baciu and J.T. Thompson, but with neither in Orlando, other players had to step up. One of those who did that on Wednesday was Lakeem Jackson. Jackson is a 6-foot-4 wing with big time athleticism and a motor that never quits. He was attacking the rim with a purpose and threw down a pair of big dunks. He still needs to refine his perimeter game, but Jackson showed that he can be very tough to guard in a game against Team Georgia Elite.

Completely off the radar in Florida is a guard who is showing some promise. His name is Dominick Robinson. Playing with the Florida Prospects, Robinson is a 6-foot-3 guard with a tight handle, long arms, blow-by ability, and he can hit a jumper. No one on National Christian was really able to stop him despite the fact that he was the only real threat on his team to score.

Another player who is seeing his stock rise is Mike Shanahan. Coming into July, Shanahan was known more as a football prospect than a basketball player, but make no doubt Shanahan is at least a mid-major, who should even get high-major looks. He scored 17 points in the Pittsburgh Storm's playoff win, and showed off his good athleticism and advanced basketball skills in the process.

Odds & Ends

Though he wasn't great against Spiece Select, Scotty Hopson did seal the game with late buckets. He finished with 15 points and helped to keep the Midstate Ballerz alive in the silver division.

Even though they came back to beat Nike Team Florida, Blessed IJN probably took the highest volume of bad three pointers late in the game. At one point, they had an opportunity for a wide open lay up, only to pull up for a three when down with a minute to go.

The dunk of the night had to go to Kevin Drew of the Westchester Hawks. Drew took an outlet pass and dribbled to the right side of the lane before rising up. When in the air Drew cocked the ball back, and with a pair of South Carolina Ravens defenders below him threw down a vicious slam. In the process of posterizing two defenders, Drew was fouled. One courtside observer said it reminded him of the way Rex Chapman could elevate and throw it down back in the day.

The dunk not only got his teammates fired up, but it also made some coaches search through their rosters to look up his name.

While Paul Williams isn't the most talented player in the 2008 class, the kid is just a winner. Whenever The Family needs a big bucket, they go to Williams. Whichever school is lucky enough to get his signature is going to win games, Williams is just that type of player.

School Lists

It is still early for 2009 stud DaShonte Riley, but he mentioned Michigan, Michigan State, Kansas State, Kansas and Georgetown. Riley noted that all of the schools had already offered him.

Mookie Jones said that he is hearing from nearly everyone in the Big East as well as ACC schools like Miami (FL), and even some SEC schools are talking to the New York product.

Dominick Robinson was recently visited by Arkansas, and he could see some more attention if he continues to play well.

While Julian Mavunga did not have a great game to end his Super Showcase, he has had a big AAU season. He rattled off a long and diverse list of Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Dayton, Purdue, Miami (OH), Wichita State, Indiana State, George Mason, Loyola and Butler.



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