by Ben Osborne / @bosborne17
Greetings from the Time Warner Cable Arena in Uptown Charlotte. I—and the whole SLAM fam; can you believe how well we have this ish covered?!—know all about the NBA Playoffs being the focus today, but I think it’s fun to look into the future, too.
To that end, I’m here with some other SLAM folks (Sean Brown, David Cassilo, Rodney King and David Schnur) for the Jordan Brand Classic, where the National Game will feature a bunch of players who you all will be watching in the NBA Playoffs for the next decade.
As anyone who follows AAU ball, regular high school hoops or recruiting knows, this is a very good class of players. While guys like Michael Gilchrist and Austin Rivers have been talked about for years and form the base of the class, you also have relatively late risers like Anthony Davis and Brad Beal to make it extra special.
We’ve been down here since Thursday and have loved watching these kids practice and hang out. It’s a good group of kids who know and respect the game.
Just watch tonight; where All-Star Games of years past have tended to turn into dunk fests, it says here that this game will be like the last ASG we liveblogged, the McDonald’s Game, which was entertaining and hard-fought throughout. That’s a credit to these kids, who should be going all out tonight in their last high school game.
Before the main event got started, there was the International Game and the Regional Game. The International Game, played between the “Black” team and the “White” team, was sorta sloppy, but it was close throughout. The most impressive player, by far, was a 6-7 small forward out of Canada named Andrew Wiggins, who scored 21 points (including a sweet dunk) and grabbed 10 to lead the White team to a 70-63 win. The Black team was led by 6-10 center Dusan Ristic of Serbia, who scored a game-high 22 points along with 12 rebounds.
Game 2 of this triple-header is the Regional Game, featuring a bunch of Carolina kids (from here or played HS ball here) divided into “East” and “West” teams.
Some of kids I was most excited to watch were Quincy Miller‘s teammate, Deuce Bello, and future Duke Blue Devil Marshall Plumlee. With the arena slowly filling up, all these local kids put on a pretty good show that, like the International Game, was close throughout. Deuce had a great dunk, and Plumlee some big rebounds, but neither was the most impressive player. The MVPs, deservedly so, went to Dezmine Wells from the East and Bernard Sullivan from the West.
Balling out for the East team, which won 98-95, Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military’s 6-5 Wells (who will be attending Xavier next year) scored 21 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and had 3 assists and several highlight-reel plays. His teammate, 7-0 NC State-bound Joseph Uchebo, grabbed 21(!) rebounds.
The Clemson-bound Sullivan, meanwhile, scored 17 for the West while grabbing 12 rebounds. All around, an entertaining undercard.
Main event coming in about 30 minutes.
For the record, Time Warner Cable Arena is sweet. All brick outside, which gives it a Conseco feel. Classy blue seats inside. Great food choices. Nice team store. I’m impressed, obviously. No disrespect to Madison Square Garden, but I think bringing this game here was a great idea.
I don’t want to jinx anything, but this arena also has the best wireless of any I’ve been in.
Pic on homepage is of Michael Gilchrist, while the one in this post is Brad Beal. Those two are definitely amongst the handful of best players who will play tonight.
John Wall in the building, sitting baseline. DJ Augustin is behind one of the benches. Also, we saw Dante Cunningham and Gerald Henderson at Waffle House today and they said they’re coming. So…NBA players well repped.
MJ’s here also, though he’s been in the shadows so far. Doubtful that he’ll make his presence public.
Crowd filling in pretty nicely. Upper-deck is gonna be a struggle, but the lower bowl looks good.
Jadakiss here, too. No shock since he’s been around all weekend.
Both teams wearing the Jordan 2011s, which is cool. Funky color selection, though. The West team, wearing black and red jerseys, is rocking blue and white shoes. The East team, wearing blue and white jerseys, is sporting red and black kicks.
National Anthem sung by Anthony Hamilton. Dope.
West team announced by Chris Paul (via scoreboard), while the East team is announced by Carmelo Anthony.
A+ for production so far.
All UNC signees getting huge applauses. Duke signees getting booed.
Tip-off…to the dunk by the East’s Rakeem Christmas.
Next time down East gets a fallaway from James McAdoo…then Rivers fouled shooting a deep 3. Make/make/make gives East a quick 7-0 lead.
The one threat to these guys playing hard all night? A blowout. And right now it’s 16-2 East. Yikes.
At first timeout, East leads 22-10.
True West Coasters Jabari Brown and Tony Wroten bringing their team back. East lead cut to 24-16.
Obvious nickname for 6-9 Khem Birch is “Tree,” no?
With 10 minutes to go in the first half, the East is leading, 32-23.
A couple missed oops from the West or this could almost be tied.
TV timeout with 7+ minutes left. 34-27, East leads. Austin Rivers just caught a nice two-handed throwdown.
Stephen Jackson in the stands, too. Crowd pretty lively, especially when a Duke or NC kid is involved. I’m actually surprised there aren’t more Kentucky fans, here. Sure, it’s far from UK, but with four big-time recruits playing in this game, and knowing how rabid (and far-flung) Wildcat supporters are, I kind of expected a bunch of them to be here.
Beal with the sweet backdoor cut and two-hand flush. Then Davis gets a break-out dunk. West staying in game, now down 40-35.
Florida-bound Beal heating up. He’s got 10 points and the West is within one, 43-42. East led by Austin River’s 11.
Nice and-one by the mohawked and brilliantly named Sir’Dominic Pointer gives West the lead! 49-48.
Rakeem Christmas notches his 11th and 12th points of the game for the East, but Brown answers with a three for the West. Once on verge of getting blown out, West now leads, 56-53.
Halftime…Late three by McAdoo makes it 56-all. Should be a great second half.
Notable halftime stats. Tony Wroten 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor. Khem Birch 8 points on 4-of-5 shooting plus 2 blocks.
Back to live action at the Time Warner Cable Arena….Some quick buckets by the West’s Anthony Davis push their lead to 62-60.
Sloppy stretch. Couple missed FTs by Gilchrist and a missed alley-oop. Future Tar Heel McAdoo staying focused, though. Hits a three to put east up, 68-66.
TV timeout with 14:14 left in the game. 70-all.
Gilchrist, playing hard like usual, with a great finish down low. East up, 75-72.
This kid PJ Hairston will pull from anywhere. Birch with the dunk to push East lead to 80-72.
East taking control like at beginning of the game. Mike Gbinje’s and-one gives them 85-72 lead.
Birch with a monster follow-up dunk. The Pitt signee has been a beast in the paint all game. Gbinje with a breakaway dunk. East up, 92-80.
Timeout on the floor, SLAM ad dominating the JumboTron. We’ll take it!
Score is 94-84, East, with 7:30 left in the game.
Anthony Davis has been awesome for the West. 23 points so far along with great work on the glass. Keeping his team alive, too. Lead at 96-91 with 5:30 left.
Thankfully it took 36 minutes of game action to happen, but this game is now a dunkfest.
East up 104-97.
Davis’ 29 points already the second-highest total in JBC history. LeBron had 34 in ’03.
1:00 left and East leads, 110-103. Wrap city.
Whoa! West scores 6 straight points. 110-109 just like that.
East holds on, though. Final score: 113-109. I had an MVP vote and didn’t have to think too hard to choose James McAdoo and Anthony Davis. Let’s see if rest of media agrees…
It’s official. McAdoo and Davis are MVPs. J.Cole taking centerstage for a post-game concert.
That should do it for this liveblog. Thanks for reading. Stay locked to SLAMonline.com for the best Playoff coverage and some amazing All-American coverage over the next couple weeks.