This report was provided by www.hoopsreport.com

By: Nathan McCauley

Nashville, TN-Athletes First, led by Xavier Henry and Kyle Hardrick, squeezed out a one point victory over the New York Gauchos to win the 2008 Bobby Hussey- Nike Memorial Day Classic.

17U Championship Game Recap

Kyle Hardrick scored 22 points and Xavier Henry added 17 as Athletes First beat the New York Gauchos, 71-70, to take home the championship trophy in 17U division. 

Athletes First jumped out to an 8-0 lead to start the game behind a pair of 3-pointers from Xavier Henry and Daniel Orton and a dunk by Terrence Boyd, but in what would become the story of the game, the New York Gauchos fought back with a 13-4 run to take a one point lead late in the opening quarter.

The teams continued to trade baskets before Athletes First forward Kyle Hardrick, an Oklahoma recruit, took the game over.  He scored eight straight points during one span and 16 total in the second quarter and just like that Athletes First had an 18 point lead at 37-19.

Luckily for the New York Gauchos, they had a secret weapon of their own in (rising) senior guard Sean Johnson, who got hot and scored the final 10 points of the half for his team to cut the Athletes First lead to 12 (41-29) at halftime.

Johnson stayed hot and scored a quick seven points to start the second half and by the start of the fourth quarter the he had helped the Gauchos cut the lead to single digits. 

The Gauchos continued to fight back and with just a couple of minutes left in the game, Durand Scott made two straight baskets to make it a one possession game at 67-64.

But Terrence Boyd and Kyle Hardrick scored on back-to-back possessions to put Athletes First back up by seven with less than a minute to go. 

That’s when things got real interesting.

With 50 seconds left, Gauchos guard Russell Smith banked in a 3-pointer to get his team to within four points at 71-67. 

After Athletes First came up empty on their possession, Durand Scott rebounded a teammate’s missed shot and got fouled as he finished an acrobatic shot in the lane with 17 seconds on the clock.  He sunk his free-throw to make it a one point game (71-70).

On the ensuing inbounds play, Terrence Boyd got called with an offensive foul which gave the ball back to the Gauchos with 15 seconds left on the clock and a chance to win the game.

But the Gauchos had trouble finding the look they wanted.  With one second left on the clock, the ball finally made it into the hands of Doron Lamb who calmly sank a 15 foot jumper, but the refs ruled that the ball released his hands after the buzzer had sounded and waived off the shot. 

The final score was Athletes First 71, New York Gauchos 70.

Kyle Hardrick led the winners with 22 points, while Xavier Henry finished with 17 and Terrence Boyd and Daniel Orton combined for 27.

Sean Johnson led all scorers with 24 points while Durand Scott added 17 for the Gauchos.

Semifinal Scores

Athletes First 65, Wisconsin Playground Elite 62
New York Gauchos 76, Houston Hoops 71

Quarterfinal Scores

Athletes First 61, Boo Williams 58
Wisconsin Playground Elite 103, Georgia Stars 77
New York Gauchos 76, Illinois Warriors 73
Houston Hoops 65, Team Final 52

17U Player Evaluations

Xavier Henry (6’6 SG Athletes First 2009)- Henry was easily the best player in the tournament this weekend and capped off his impressive showing with 17 points in the championship game.  There are a number of people that we have spoken to that believe he is the nation’s top player and with the resume he has put together over the past few years we are not going to argue with anyone that holds that opinion.  He already has NBA size for his position and the skill-game to go along with it.  He is one of the best outside shooters in his class and is very hard to stop when he takes the ball to the hole.  Plus he handles, rebounds, passes the ball extremely well and has a great understanding and feel for the game.  Simply put this guy is one of the most well-rounded prospects out there and he has one-and-done written all over him.

Daniel Orton (6’10 C Athletes First 2009)- In a class devoid of many true center prospects, Orton stands out as the most promising prospect in the country at his position.  He already has a pro body and the athleticism to back it up.  He’s a top-notch shot blocker and has a soft touch around the basket and range out to the 3-point line on his jumper.  It’s a big “if”, but if the mental part of his game catches up with his physical gifts, Orton could be the #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft someday.  He has that kind of upside.

Kyle Hardrick (6’8 PF Athletes First 2009)- Hardrick is a quality pickup for Oklahoma to say the least.  He’s not overly strong or athletic, but has plenty of skill and does a good job of picking his spots on the court which allows him opportunistic put-backs and key buckets.  He led Athlete’s first with 22 points in the championship game, 18 of which came in the first half.  He’s as solid of a top 100 prospect as your going to find.

Durand Scott (6’4 SG New York Gauchos 2009)- Despite playing with an injured hand, Scott was one of the most dominant scorers in the tournament.  He’s a tough New York City guard and when he attacks the basket there is no stopping him.  His go-to finish was a floater, although he also finished a number of acrobatic layups, as well.  Nearly all of his points came off of dribble-drives so we didn’t get a good feel for how his jumper is coming along, but he’s showed us in the past that he can knock down shots.  We have also been extremely impressed with his ability to rebound from his position.  He is very active on the offensive boards and was good for a few put-backs in every game we watched.  The biggest knock on him this weekend is that he hasn’t shared the rock, but when your scoring like he is (and your team is winning games), what’s the point?  We’d also like to see him drive to his left more, but his left hand is injured so we can’t really hold that against him at this point.  He also has a little trouble against stronger, more physical guards (such as Terrence Boyd) so he’s only going to get better as he puts on weight and gets stronger.  Having said all that, Scott is looking more-and-more like an All-American every time we see him play so don’t be surprised if he cracks the top 25 when we redo the class of ‘09 rankings.  Memphis, Pitt, Miami, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Wake Forest, Virginia, and West Virginia are among the teams that have already extended scholarship offers.

Sean Johnson (6’1 G New York Gauchos 2009)- Johnson had the hot hand on Monday and played a big part in the Gauchos comeback against Athletes First in the championship game when he scored his team’s last 10 points of the first half and seven of their first 11 in the third quarter.  He finished the game with 24 points.  Johnson is a mid-major (plus) caliber guard that plays a similar role to the one that Chris Fouch (Drexel) did on last summer’s Gauchos squad.

Doron Lamb (6’4 SG New York Gauchos 2010)- Lamb didn’t have a monster tournament by his standards, but he was a key part of the Gauchos’ run to the championship game nonetheless.  He has a great feel for the game for a player his age and is a smooth operator that can create off the dribble, finish at the basket and knock down the open shot.  Lamb has done nothing but back up his top 25 ranking (class of 2010) this spring and it’s easy to see why schools such as Louisville, St. John’s, Rutgers, and Georgia Tech have already offered.

Kendall Marshall (6’3 PG Boo Williams 2010)- When you give an early verbal commitment to the University of North Carolina, all eyes are going to be on you and everyone wants to see if your really “that good”.  And Kendall Marshall proved once again this weekend that he is “that good” by leading Boo Williams to the elite eight before falling to Athletes First (who went on to win the championship).   Kendall isn’t a dynamite athlete, but he has a big-time basketball I.Q. and plays like a veteran despite playing against older competition.  As anyone that knows the Boo Williams AAU program will tell you, when an underclassman is starting point guard on the 17U team, he’s got to be pretty damn good… and  Kendall was their starting point guard last summer (as a rising sophomore).  He’s a smooth lead guard with an excellent handle that is deadly off the dribble.  He rarely makes mistakes and almost always knocks down his open shots (although he doesn’t have much elevation on his jumper).  He’s not a great on-ball defender, yet, but he comes up with his fair share of steals by patrolling the lanes, etc.  We currently have Kendall top-5 in the class of 2010 and while his upside isn’t as great as others in that class, you’d have a hard time finding five players that are better than him, right now.

Tommy Mason-Griffin (5’9 PG Houston Hoops 2009)- Mason-Griffin has been playing in the 17U division of Nike tournaments for years, and now that he is finally on an even playing ground and playing against kids his own age (and younger), he is beginning to separate himself from the other guards on the circuit.  Let’s get the height issue out of the way: Mason-Griffin doesn’t have ideal height for a point guard, he’s only about 5’9, but once you can get past that, you’ll see a kid that he has plenty of strength, speed, and “know-how” to be a big-time point guard at the next level.  Not to mention his ball-handling, passing and shooting are second-to-none.  He led Houston Hoops to the championship of the Cactus Classic earlier this month before helping them to the Final Four of this event proving that he can help his team win games.  Mason-Griffin will have a spot in the top 50 (once again) when we update the ‘09 rankings.

Austin Rivers (6’3 SG Team STAT 2011)- Austin, who is the son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, created quite the buzz on Saturday.  Despite the fact that he is one of the youngest players in the tournament, he has been among the most impressive.  He is the go-to guy for Team Stat and you can tell that he has studied the moves of NBA players like Kobe Bryant and others as his scoring game is extremely developed (he’s deadly off the dribble and hits big shots like a veteran) for a player his age.  You’ll have a hard time finding a better two-guard in the class of 2011.

Glenn Bryant (6’7 F The Family 2009)- After a stellar high school season playing for Oak Hill Academy, Bryant has continued to impress this spring.  He could have the best vertical athleticism of any prospect in the country and those hops were on full display on Saturday when he had the nastiest dunk of tournament (in which he jumped off two feet and ended up eye level with the rim before throwing down a two-handed flush) and numerous impressive blocks.  He’s still very raw, but his skill game is definitely improving as his jumper is becoming more-and-more consistent (his handle isn’t as developed, yet).  Right now, he’s a face-up four man, but he should be recruited as a combo-forward that could develop into an athletic three man.  Memphis, Virginia Tech, Oregon and Syracuse are leading for his services.  Expect Bryant to move well into the top 75 when we update the class of 2009 rankings.

Hollis Thompson (6’7 W Portland Legends 2009)- Thompson backed up his top 25 ranking by scoring 24 points (including 17 in the first half) in his team’s win over Team Texas on Saturday.  We’d like to see him tighten up his handle so he can be more effective off-the-dribble, but he has a great feel for the game and his jumper is near-automatic.  Georgetown fans should be excited that Thompson is heading there way next fall.

 

16U Results
 
The Illinois Warriors beat Alabama Challenge, 76-70, to take the 16U championship.  The winners were led by 6’3 wings Anthony Johnson and Vander Blue, who combined for 39 points.  6’5 shooting guard Ralston Turner led Alabama Challenge with 20 points.

Rodney Williams (6’6 W Howard Pulley 2009)-   Williams may not get as much press as his highly touted teammate, Royce White, but he could be the better long term prospect.  Long arms, good size for his position, a good feel for the game and an honest shot are just some of the qualities that make him special.  He also had some eye-catching dunks on Saturday that had the crowd buzzing.  We spoke to his father, Rodney Sr., and he told us that Minnesota, Iowa State, and Kansas are among the schools showing the most interest.

 

15U Results

Houston Hoops came back from 19 points down to beat Memphis YOMCA, 76-73, to win the 15U championship.  The winners were led by 5’8 sharpshooter Shai Fields’ 24 points.  Memphis was paced by 5’9 Chris Jones, who scored a game high 25.

 

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