SoCalHoops College Recruiting News
Classic: An Abbreviated
And Late Report--(April 27,1998)
This was a fun event, but given that it was the "last" of the "Big Time" All-Star events, and featured many of the same players as the Eddie Jones All-Star Classic, it was not the type of game that made one want to sit up and record each and every play, dunk or great defensive move (yes, there was actually some defense played), nor did it really even inspire us to keep track of stats or scoring. It was just a lot of fun to watch.
We spent the first half of the game next to Dave Hopla, who continued to regale us with his witty repartee about this player or that player and whether they would make it to the NBA or not. No names, please. We want to protect the innocent, and don't want to inflict anything on the guilty. The second half we spent sitting with Gilbert Arenas, and got his view of this player or that. Again, no names, please.
In the house: Coach Cameron Dollar, some of the UCLA guys, some of the USC coaching staff, Bob Gottlieb from Branch West Basketball Academy, Phil Bryant (and his tireless wife) who puts this stuff together for the Pumps, and a bunch of other notables, including Mark Borgeson (who was there sheparding Jed Hall around, while sitting with Jed's girlfriend during the game), lots of high school coaches. Missing: Pat Barrett (a Nike guy anyway) and most of the other Dominguez players, at least the freshmen types who were at the AAU Nationals qualifying games which were taking place on Saturday in Riverside--ARC won and so did Southern California All-Stars, and assuming they win next Saturday, they will probably face off for the finals on Sunday. . . but that's a different story).
There were about 3,500 to 5,000 people present. We got there just as Michelle Greco, Ndidi Unaka, Kelli Kobayashi and the rest of the girls all-stars were wrapping up their game.
There were a few roster changes. Ruben Douglas (6'-5" Sr. PG/SG) from Bell-Jeff who was earlier listed as playing in the first set of rosters, was actually back in Kentucky at the Derby Classic, where he scored 16 points in 21 minutes, a very workmanlike effort.
So here were the rosters with some general impressions:
Chris McMillian (5'-9" Sr. PG): Chris, who is going to Wyoming even without former coach Shyatt, played his usually good game, pushing the ball up and distributing it well. He made some pretty good passes, but we don't actually remember him scoring. Maybe he's still thinking about the Wyoming problem, maybe he was just trying to have fun. After all, it really didn't count for him.
Daniel Bobik (6'-6" Sr. SG): Bobik will be going to BYU and he played a fine game, starting for the North squad. He blocked a couple of shots, played fine defense, and scored about 10 or so points, mostly from the perimeter. Nothing stellar, but pretty fine play in this company.
Senque Carey (6'-4" Sr. SG): Carey was probably the leading scorer, and we informally counted at least 30 points for him. He was everywhere: inside, outside, showing his athleticism, and quickness. Washington is very lucky, and he will give many other Pac-10 schools some major headaches next year and thereafter. If he wasn't the MVP, he sure deserved to be. Actually, he was named the MVP, and he scored 29 points on the evening, not 30.
Albert Miller (6'-3" Sr. SG): Albert, who is bound for WSU, played very well, had a couple of dunks, some nice outside shots, didn't star, but also didn't embarrass himself at all. A great person and one of the best "pure" athletes out there, it was great to see him playing as well as he did, even if it was against Brandon Granville, Tony Bland and David Bluthenthal, who were on the "South" Team. At least it wasn't like the Eddie Jones where the coach of the "USA" team started his entire starting-five (including Korleone Young) from Hargrave Military Academy. Albert did get to play for Ed Azzam, but that was about as far as it went.
Caleb Girvin (6'-1" Sr. SG): Is Caleb the "most underrecruited" player on the west coast? We don't know. He's still not picked up anywhere yet, and like Miller, he didn't play especially great, but he also didn't really embarrass himself either. Based on his performance, I don't know that he will automatically go to the top of anyone's list, but clearly he was playing like he belonged with this group. Running well, shooting allright, and playing good defense, it may have been our imagination, but it seemed like he was really trying to impress. We hope somebody signs him, because he is a mid to high D-1 player, no doubt about it.
Brandon Armstrong (6'-5" Sr. SG/SF): Brandon was a late entry, coming down from Vallejo. He will be playing at Pepperdine next season, and he showed that he's a very physical, talented player.
Matt Barnes (6'-7" Sr. SG/SF): UCLA. Need we say more. Matt will be an impact player from day one if his foot heals up. It was bothering him, and he told us he will go in for surgery next month. He had some great slams, some very quick transition baskets, and he even played good defense, guarding Bluthenthal at times, and other times Vincent Okotie. A great player. He had 13 points, achey feet and all.
Andrew Gauldin (6'-8" Sr. F/C): Andrew is bound for New Mexico and he will give them an immediate boost. He had some very nice spin moves and some good dunks, and even blocked a shot or two. No idea how many points he actually scored.
Myron Epps (6'-6" Sr. SF): The San Diego State team for next year was out in full force, although the Pumps thought it best to break them up for this game. As a result, we only got to see Berokoff and Okotie play together, against Epps. And no David Abramowitz--too bad, man would we have liked to see him play again. Epps didn't do anything really flashy, nothing spectacular. Just good solid play.
Ronnell Mingo (6'-8" Sr. F): Too bad Ronnell isn't going to qualify academically. He'll probably end up at one of the local JC's (guess which one). He played very well, dunking with authority, blocking shots, and rebounding well. He's a big, strong player, not as big as David Hamilton, but still pretty big. Had a good game.
David Hamilton (6'-8" Sr. PF/C): The man with the hands of stone must have stayed at home in Compton, because this was the other David Hamilton, the one who doesn't drop passes, the one who can shoot, block, and score almost at will. The one who has fun, but doesn't clown around. Maybe it was because the Compton High School band was there to provide the entertainment. Maybe it was because it was close to home. Maybe he just tried to have fun, and believed he belonged out there on the court. Anyway you slice it, he was one of the better players on the floor Saturday. If this is the same guy who shows up at Auburn, they'll be in for a great season.
Lionel Benjamin (6'-3" Sr. SG): Lionel was a late addition, but a good one, he's fun to watch, although not as spectacular as some of the other guys. He went to Lakewood High, and as of this writing, we have no idea whether he has signed or even if he's qualified, and since we were having so much fun just watching the game, we actually forgot to ask him. Oh, well.
Tony Bland (6'-4" Sr. SG/PG/SF): Tony, who as the announcer kept reminding us, is "Syracuse-bound" or "is on his way to Syracuse" (actually the announcer did that with everyone, at least those whose names he didn't mis-pronounce, and it really got annoying after the 120th time), was just great. He plays with such energy and has so much fun doing what he does that it makes it just that much more fun to watch. He started for the South team, and it seemed played all but about five minutes. He scored a few, mostly slam dunks, including this one in the second half where he carried the ball behind his back, took off from the free throw line, threw it up over his head and slammed it into the hoop, all in one fluid and pretty motion. Oh yeah, he travelled too, but what the hell.
Brandon Granville (5'-9" Sr. PG): Brandon, who "is on his way to USC", didn't score a ton, except about three three's in a row, and made some spectacular passes, was almost as much fun to watch as Tony, especially when he combined with Bluthenthal on their patented alley-oops. Granville's got that move down, and it's a real crowd-pleaser.
Deandre Moore (5'-9" Sr. PG): For about the last 10 minutes of the game, Vonn Webb had both Brandon and Deandre in together, and it was like twins on the court: Speed, passing, driving, and mostly dishing, both have a great ability to penetrate, but Deandre has to work on his ooping: He threw a lob up for Schea Cotton just before the half, and lo and behold, it went straight up, and came down in the basket; now that's an alley without the oop. Vanderbilt-bound, he had about 8 or 10 points too.
Jeffrey Berokoff (6'-3" Sr. SG): Jeff played well, his usual hustling and tough defense and offense. Scored a bit, and with Okotie played a great game. Don't remember his totals, but like Bobik on the North squad, not the best player out there, but certainly didn't embarrass himself either.
Mike McIntyre (6'-3" Sr. SG): Mike, who is going to Hawaii, played a gredat game, hitting a bunch of outside shots and playing very good defense. A fun player, but not much that was truly legend making, just a fun guy having a fun time.
Schea Cotton (6'-6" 5th yr. Sr. PG/SG/SF/PF): If Schea isn't the best prospect to come out of SoCal this year (or last), then we really don't know who is, from a pure basketball point of view. Amazing that he was overlooked for the McDonald's All-American game (and Corey Hightower too, but that's another story), Schea did everything Saturday night: He scored from outside, way outside, hitting for at least 4 threes, inside slamming, jamming, driving and generally was, in our humble opinion, the best player out on the floor, even better than Senque. And did we say he had signed with UNC--we don't remember saying that, but if we did, here's a big ooops: It's NC State, as in the Wolfpack. Hope he qualifies, because he deserves to play next year and get an education in the process. But if he doesn't, there's no doubt he can make it in the NBA. If Ellis Richardson can, Schea certainly can. Scored 27 points. Not the MVP, but damn close, and certainly the sentimental crowd favorite.
Damon Jackson (6'-4" Sr. SG): Can you say "three-point shot"? How about 5 in a row. Damon is not a really spectacular player, but Saturday, he had some very productive minutes, and he's a great athlete. He's bound for Fresno State. No jokes about bail-bondsmen or samurai swords, please. Damon will be an immediate impact player as a Bulldog. Scored 22 points.
Vincent Okotie (6'-7" Sr. F): Who said that San Diego State needs a "big guy"? They've got Vincent, and he's pretty good. This was really one of the few times we've had to watch him this season, and he's gotten bigger, stronger and better, almost reminds us of a slightly shorter version of Moiso.
Walter Small (6'-6" Sr. F): Walter was the only guy on the floor who wouldn't wear the adidas shoes which the Pumps gave to the players: He was wearing his Nike Paytons, and seemingly proud of it, ever the good Nike-guy (Dominguez is a "Nike School"). We hear he kept the adidas shoes, but just wouldn't wear them on the floor. Walter was also one of the few players on the floor who hasn't either decided on a college, or who isn't getting any looks. We prefer to believe the former, because he can play, but may be having difficulty qualifying. Scored a little Saturday, played very well. Walter is a big, strong, wide-bodied and very buffed-out guy. He should get some serious looks from high to mid D-I schools. NBA? Why not declare, what's he got to lose?
David Bluthenthal (6'-8" Sr. F/C): David did what David does best, scored in bunches, slam-dunked, blocked, and rebounded well. It seems as the pressure of "team" games lessens and these all-star games become more "just for fun" that David plays better and better. He and Granville could, if they're allowed to play together next year at 'SC, be a really potent weapon for Bibby. At the very least, they will bring some enthusiasm and life to the program that's been lacking and will fire up the rest of the other local guys at USC. Not sure how many points, but he had a lot of fun.
Jed Hall (6'-7" Sr. F): Jed must be having a crisis of identity; looking at him on Saturday, it almost seemed like he was asking himself "Do I really belong out here with these guys? With Schea Cotton?" The answer to that is "Yes", but somebody's got to make Jed believe the obvious. He was tentative, seemed stiff, almost like he was too shy and reserved to be out on the court. The result was that even when he was open under the basket, he couldn't get anyone to pass him the ball, and he seemed to struggle on defense. A fine player who will be in a position to set some records at Azusa Pacific next year, it's probably a shame that some D-I school didn't pick him up. He's got the size to be a combo player, like a "point-forward" type, and is pretty mobile, he just needs to mature a bit.
Derrick Benjamin (6'-3" Sr. SG): Derrick, from Fontana, was another late addition to the roster, and frankly, while he looked good on defense, we really don't remember anything in particular about his offensive game. One of the only other "unsigned" players on the floor, he should be qualified for a D-I program, and believe me, you could do a whole lot worse. Can hit the j from out to about 20', quick, good hands, what more could you want.
That's it for now. Oh, the "South" beat the "North" by a score of 127-114.
Great game, great players, big-time fun. Get a new announcer. But real fun.
And, just to prove that Michael Miller and Tracey Pierson aren't the only guys who really know "how to live", a bunch of us went over to Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n Waffles after the game. Mmmmmgood.
©Copyright SoCalHoops 1998
All rights reserved
Questions? Comments? Need Information?