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Eddie Jones All-Star Game Notes--(April 19,1998)

Ok, so before we completely crash tonight, thought we'd at least let everyone know what happened.

The West v. USA game was stopped with 7:00 remaining due to a serious injury sustained by Korleone Young, who had to be taken off the floor on a stretcher.

The incident occurred as several players went up for a rebound, including Young and David Bluthenthal. Apparently in reaching for the ball, the players collided and Young received a gash across his forehead. While it was difficult to tell what had really happened from our vantage point on the floor (since we--Mike Miller, Jason Day, Tracy Pierson, me, and several other webbies and/or hoop junkie types-- were on the far side of the court from the injury), it simply appeared that Young went down; he tried to get up and then stumbled into the padded portion of the backstop which supports the basket, hit it very hard, and then hit the floor; he tried to get up again, but appeared to collapse, where he lay motionless for what must have been about 10-15 minutes while the paramedics hovered and ran around looking for the proper equipment to treat him. After they brought the stretcher out and placed him on it, the announcer finally had the good sense to call the game, given that it was already 9:25 p.m. on a Sunday evening and play had been stopped for what must have been about 15 minutes.

The West was ahead at that point, but not by more than 5 or 7 points. Actually, the score mattered very little at that point, and while we did not see any blood, we were told by several players, including Tayshaun Prince and David Bluthenthal that it was a pretty nasty cut which Korleone Young took, and apparently there was a lot of blood on the floor which had to be cleaned up. We want to offer our most sincere and heartfelt best wishes to Korleone and wish him a speedy and complete recovery. Under the circumstances it was a bad enough way to end what had been a marvelous game; it would be a shame if it in any way jeopardized his plans for the NBA draft.

Some random stuff:

SoCal All-Star game was at 5:30. First, the leading scorer of the game was Jerry Green of Pomona who recently signed with UCI, who had 19 points. But the real star of the show was David Abramowitz, who once again had the crowd ooohing and ahhhing over his dishing and blindingly fast and fancy passes. Man, that guy can play.

I talked to David Abramowitz a bit before the game, and he told me that he's going to go to Israel this summer to play on another Israeli Maccabi league team, and is greatly looking forward to it. He might even drop in on Detroit this summer for the Maccabi Youth games (which he and Bluthenthal attended two years ago as members of different teams).

Also had a chance to talk with Chris Jeffries from Washington Union High in Fresno who will be going to Arkansas next season. Chris broke his ankle in what turned out to be WU's next to last game against Manual Arts in the Southern Regional State semifinals; WU then lost to Walton's and Abramowitz' University of San Diego High team in the Southern Regional finals.

Chris was there at the Forum, having made the drive from Fresno for this game, even though he wasn't going to play in the game. His father told me that the cast is coming off tomorrow, and that Richard feels terrible about not being able to play, but expects he'll be at full strength for the season at Arkansas, where most likely he'll play the 2 spot.

Tony Bland was wearing the infamous red and white horizontal "cat-in-the hat" knee-length socks again. And Tony, ever the funster, managed to play the foil for Doug Wrenn in the slam dunk contest. First Richard Jefferson performed what everyone thought was one of the coolest dunks going, by flying over a chair (no, not using it as a step, but going over it) and making a spectacular tomahawk dunk, only to end up standing on the press row railing--just inches from turning my computer into little tiny pieces of useless plastic. So Wrenn decides he'll top it. He doesn't use a chair. Nope. Instead he decides he's going to jump over Tony Bland, all 6'-4" of him. And of course he does it, which sends the crowd into a frenzy. But then Tony decides he can top that, and actually he got the bigger round of applause as he slammed the ball into. . . the bottom of the rim. A very funny bit. Guess you had to be there.

Bluthenthal played great. Korleone Young, prior to his injury, played only so-so, or at least it seemed that way, and even though the announcer told the crowd at the conclusion of the aborted game (which consisted of two 25 minute halves, running clock, or at least in theory running clock) that Korleone had 29 points, I find that hard to believe. Wesby, yes, 29 easily, but Korleone Young, nope. We want to wish Korleone well in his great NBA adventure, but we have to say that unless he absolutely won't qualify for college, we would have to recommend at least a couple of years in the college ranks for him before turning pro. At least that's our view.

Luke Walton played just ok, not scoring more than 4 points, and he was not in the starting lineup, or in the second wave of subs.

Some notable no-shows: On the West All-Stars: No Ray Young. He was not even in the program, so we must not have gotten the word that he wasn't coming. Rickey Anderson was there, but in street clothes, telling me that his ligaments in his ankle were still bothering him, but reassuring anyone who asked that he'd be fine. So, all in all, that was three not on the West who were supposed to be there: Ray Young, Rickey Anderson and Richard Jefferson.

On the USA: Interestingly, no Jaron Rush either. We were told that he overslept and missed his plane (Jim Downs was very skeptical about that one--nice way to start off in LA Jaron), and that despite efforts to get him on a later flight, he just couldn't be there. And even though the program noted that Anthony Glover (6'-5" Sr. F) from Rice in New York (see our articles on the Reebok Holiday Classic in December 1997) was supposed to be there, he wasn't.

But the guys who did show up, came to play. Tony Bland was phenomenal, dishing, driving, shooting, and unlike most all-star games, actually playing defense. Thanks Phil Gatton for telling these guys to actually contest shots. A pity this game was not televised, since it really put the McDonald's game to shame in that respect.

Senque Carey got off to a slow start but midway through the first half, he caught fire, making spectacular dunks, driving layups, and generally playing great. As we said, David Bluthenthal played great, perhaps the best we've seen him play in a long time. And then there was the man, Schea Cotton. What a great player. At one point West Coach Russell Otis had the "almost-UCLA" team out on the floor: Cotton--who was all but in at UCLA before SAT-gate, Tayshaun Prince who said he wanted to be a Bruin but turned it down for Kentucky, Tony Bland and David Bluthenthal--both of whom would probably have been Bruins had they been asked--, and Richard Jefferson, who flipped a coin (literally, he swears it's true) to decide whether to attend UCLA or Arizona.

Matt Barnes wowed everyone with a few spectacular dunks, and generally showed everyone what they can expect for the next four years at UCLA from this great incoming freshman. He's got size, quickness and natural athletic ability, and a real nose for the ball. He told me that his surgery on his foot involves grinding away some bone spurs, and he will be fully recovered (he hopes) by the middle of the summer. He'll be operated on in a few weeks he told me tonight.

David Hamilton was, as usual, his typical streaky self, making some great plays and dropping or mishandling some inside passes. Hamilton generally needs to play with focus and intensity, and an all-star game which doesn't count seems like hardly the environment designed to bring out his game. He ended up clowning around, and at one point even looked over at me winked, and said "I guess I better put on a show". Er, yes David. But it's also ok to play hard for the folks in the stands too. David is a great kid, and he'll do very well at Auburn, and it will be interesting to see what happens to him when the stresses of living in Compton and the distractions of a major urban area like LA are removed, or rather he's removed from it to a slower pace and style of life. It should serve him well.

Richard Jefferson has to be one of the nicest, most sincere and intelligent young men we've had the pleasure of meeting over the last few years. We realize that he told Tracy he decided on schools by flipping a coin, and he swears he wasn't kidding, and we believe him. Richard hit some great shots from inside and out, and some great dunks too (both in the game and the contest). Lute Olsen is a pretty lucky fellow to have been able to keep this kid at home. He'll be an immediate impact player.

Freddie Jones is a very nice player, smooth, can drive inside, rebound well, and in general had a good time and a good game. Tayshaun Prince, we're sure, was the high scorer for the West, and we counted at least 28 points by the time the game was stopped. I dont' care whether people say he's too skinny or not, they don't know what they are talking about. Tayshaun is the man, can fast break, hang, drive, shoot the three, take a man off the dribble, and in general there's not much he can't do. Tayshaun told me after the game that he'll probably head out to Kentucky early this summer to get settled and check things out. Good luck Tay, we wish you well, but would also have wished you were still here.

Luke Walton we already commented on, but it's fair to say that he must have been either tired or just having a bad day, because no matter how many times Bland tried to get him the ball, it really just never clicked for him; he was getting the easy rebounds, but having some difficulty adjusting to playing in what was really more of the showboating style that all-star games tend to be. And Doug Wrenn, well, this was our first time to get a look at him in more than a year, and he's still got it, and it's getting better. While there were some folks sitting next to us (who will go nameless, but who coach ball here in LA at the JC level--actually someone very well known, so you'll have to guess) who was alluding to the "fact" that Wrenn "wants out" of his LOI with Washington. Untrue, vile and viscious gossip. Amazing how these rumors start. We talked to Doug directly, and he's absolutely 100% committed to Washington

Russell Otis did his best to sit on the West Bench not looking bored, and made some credible substitutions; as we say, the only one that seemed strange was keeping Walton on the bench during the first 15 minutes of the first 25 minute half.

For the USA All-Stars, several names jump right out for their outstanding performances: Rasual Butler, Dennis Gates, and above all, Alex Wesby, the biggest surprise of all; he hit from inside, from outside, and was just a great force for the USA team. Jerome Moiso (pronounced "Mo-ee-so", or as Richard Jefferson calls him "Moosey"), proved that if anyone should be going pro it should be him; and he may yet do that because he's going to have a lot of difficulty qualifying. Moosey is a big, strong, muscular player. If UCLA lands him and either Gad or Nowitzki, look out. Speaking of NBA bodies, Lonnie Baxter should be going pro if anyone on the Hargrave team is thinking about that seriously. Anthony Grundy, Myron Piggie, Jr., Altron Jackson, and USC bound Sam Clancy, Jr. all played very well.

Well, that's it for now. We'll have more tomorrow, including the highlights of the 5:30 pm game.

The Swish Award
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