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June 21, 2007
Overtime thriller in night cap
Tucked away in the back practice gym, away from the bright lights of the majestic John Paul Jones Arena's main floor, two teams went at it in one tremendous back-and-forth overtime battle. But if you saw the first 10 minutes of the game, it would have been hard to believe it.
The game was not pretty to start from the tip, as the deficit reached 14 points early. With a running clock, it is hard to get the game back to that level.
It took some time to cut the game close again but Scott Suggs of Washington (Mo.) High School had it rolling from the perimeter. He hit four three-pointers in a 10 minute span, including three in a row. All four of his makes popped the bottom of the net and went down with little trouble. He was flowing confidence on the wing. If it weren't for the five for five mandatory substitutions at the 10 minute mark, who knows what else he could have down. Suggs was rolling.
Enter teammates Tony Mitchell and Nick Williams. The Southerners picked up the scoring spark that Suggs left. Mitchell, a long and bouncy wing from Swainsboro (Ga.) High School, flew up and down the court and put on an air assault. He scored in transition, converted tough baskets in transition and when he saw a hole to the basket, he exploded to the rim for dunks and a couple of pretty floaters.
Williams, a Marquette pledge from LeFlore (Ala.) High School, was Mr. midrange. The 6-foot-4 shooter knocked down simple jumpers and converted an important three-pointer in the final minute of regulation to keep the game tied.
Then Brandon Jennings simply shut the door. The Arizona bound guard took over in the final overtime period. He came out with a pair of key assists, scored on a baseline drive to reverse lay-up and scored in traffic. The Oak Hill point guard made it look easy.
When he is making the simple, easy passes, Jennings is the perfect maestro in the half court. He finds scorers, the right scorers mind you, and appreciates those that run the fundamentals (i.e. pick and rolls, slashing on the baseline). It was just another big win and game for the five-star guard.
The game had plenty of star moments in it but we'd be hard pressed not to talk about the workmanlike effort Frank Otis gave his team. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward from Oakland (Calif.) McClymonds High School made an otherwise lackluster first half seem important to his teammates. His hustle, rebounding, high-low work in the post and simplicity helped his team come out to an early lead.
Another game, another strong performance
Walk around long enough at the NBA Players Association camp and get with ear shot of some of the former players and it is fun to hear their commentary on the current group of players.
One conversation held this line: "I would have loved to have played with that kid."
That kid was manchild Samardo Samuels.
When the old-timers are saying that about a new school player, consider that the ultimate compliment. The recently committed Louisville Cardinal was great in the second session of games.
Samuels doesn't do anything fancy. He plays with composure, stays highly motivated, pushes people around, scores the easy buckets with power and runs the floor. No wonder the pioneers like his game. Samuels was simply too hard to contain for Ty Walker.
Perhaps even more impressive was DeQuan Jones, who continues to shine in the camp setting. The Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler product ripped the rims down on Wednesday night. He roughly had a half dozen dunks (maybe more) and these weren't your average throw downs. Jones reportedly scored over 20 points and did it was a loud stamp each time.
Odds & Ends
Chicago area center Michael Dunigan may not blow observers away a lot of glitz and glamour with his game. In fact, that's not his game. He's a nuts and bolts guy. And all packaged nicely in a frame that will only get bigger, stronger and nastier in college. He plays with a mean streak (what else would expect from a kid that plays for the AAU team Mean Streets) and uses his size well. A couple of pro players commented about his size fitting in nicely at their level.
Think Ray Shipman is serious about separating himself from the pack at the camp? After a brief stop at the dinner line, the Floridian was back on the court by himself for an individual form shooting session. He was the only player on the court.
Georgia rising junior wing Richard Howell did the same thing. While an impromptu dunk contest, a good one at that, broke out after dinner, Howell found an espace in the practice gym to work on "The Gun" for 30 minutes. He was back there by himself for a good while.
Talk about a self-starters.
Top 35 forward Angel Garcia said he is looking at a decision come summer time. He's down to Indiana, Memphis, Louisville and Florida. The 6-foot-10 shooting forward said he is hoping to visit with the Gators some time this summer (probably more near the end of the summer) before he decides.
Elliot Williams said he will narrow down his list after the NBA Players camp to four or five. Duke, Tennessee, Memphis, Virginia, Texas, Vanderbilt, Clemson, North Carolina and Georgia Tech are in the mix.
College coaches are always looking for that guy that lies under the radar. Quintrell Thomas could be that guy. The 6-foot-7 forward from St. Patrick's is a blue collar forward that knows how to play his position. Maryland has offered and is in there strong. So is Pitt and Rutgers. He's visited Maryland, Seton Hall and Rutgers. He added Kansas and Florida have also made contact.