Jordan Brand Classic Regional Game Recap
They may not be All-Americans, but they sure can ball.
by Franklyn Calle
The 8:00pm game of the Jordan Brand Classic is the main event. It attracts many celebrities. On Saturday night, Spike Lee, Akon, Fat Joe, Irv Gotti, CC Sabathia, Kevin Durant, DJ Augustin, the Netss Kiki Vandeweghe, Yi Jianlian and Chris Douglas-Roberts among others were in attendance to take a look at the stars of tomorrow. It was broadcasted live on ESPN2. But the game that takes place before the main event it’s not so bad either. It features the top seniors from New York City against the top seniors from the suburbs. Although these aren’t any McDonald’s All-Americans and aren’t being televised live on national television, the players that were on the floor for the 5:30 game are not to be overlooked as some of these guys will be making a major impact in their respective collegiate programs in the fall.
Just last year, this regional game featured West Virginia guard Darryl “Truck” Bryant and forward Kevin Jones. Although Bryant only finished with 8 point and 3 rebounds while Jones had 15 points and 11 rebounds, both were huge contributors to Bob Huggin’s squad this past season. Especially Bryant who was the starting point guard for most of the season after taking over for Joe Mazzulla in the Mountaineers’ backcourt at arguably the toughest conference in America. Bryant played more like an experienced senior instead of a freshman, averaging 9.8 points per game including a season-high 22 point performance against Marshall. He finished scoring double-figures in 21 games. But his stats won’t give you a complete sense of how good he was, how well he ran the team was what impressed the most. Jones averaged close to 6 points and 5 rebounds per game coming off the bench.Last year’s MVP, Ryan Pearson, finished with 36 points. Now finishing up his freshman year at George Mason, Pearson averaged 7 points coming off the bench. For the suburban team, Marcus Morris, who averaged 7.4 points per game for the Kansas Jayhawks this past season, finished with 20 points and 8 rebounds that night. This year’s game was no different, as I expect to see many of those players making big contributions at the next level.
The game started off sloppy as both teams were trying to do too much at “The World’s Most Famous Arena.” There were a whole lot of turnovers as guys were forcing passes and trying to look a bit too good while on the break. Guys were missing dunks and shot selection was poor. But then again it was an all-star game, so what else could I expect. After a while, both teams slowed down and they began to make better use of their possessions. With 4:21 to go in the first half, The City team found themselves down by 9. But they then went on a 18-9 run to finish off the half knotted at 53 a piece. Syracuse-bound, Brandon Triche, was just unstoppable with the ball. Although he is a guard, at 6-4 and 210 pounds, Triche possesses the body frame of a forward. He was just too strong for any of the guards in the city team to stop or even contain. He played smart with the ball for the most part and took advantages of the mismatches. He went into the locker room at halftime with 18 points shooting 6-10 from the floor and 5-7 from the free throw line. Fordham-commit Lance Brown was also going to work in the first half. He scored 10 points, with 8 of them in a 3 minutes and 17 seconds span.
For the City squad, Omari Lawrence was having a pretty good homecoming party as the NYC native, who played his senior year at South Kent in Connecticut, was looking good in his return to the city. Lawrence, a St. John’s recruit, was getting to the basket with ease as his 15 first half points played a big role in erasing an earlier 9 point deficit.
Each team had 10 turnover heading to the locker rooms.
The City team came out renewed in the second half as they never trailed again. It seemed like everyone just got hot simultaneously. This time they were led by Russell Smith. The 5-11 point guard out of Molloy HS, scored 21 points in the second half after only putting up six points in the first, with four of them being free throws. Smith hasn’t committed yet and already has said he does not intend to attend college in the fall. Instead he wants to physically get stronger and do a year of prep school at South Kent. He is being followed closely by a numerous of Big East and ACC schools. Rice HS forward James Stukes began to dominate the paint in the second period and added 16 points. He has also confirmed that he will be attending South Kent as well. Christ the King’s shooting guard Sean Johnson also turned it up as he contributed 16 points in the second half, shooting 6-8 from the floor including a three-pointer.
Lawrence continued to get to the basket with little effort and showcased his hops on a couple of nice high flying dunks as part of his eight second half points. West Virginia-bound center Dan Jennings got all of his 5 rebounds in the second period, with most of them leading up to put backs and adding eight points to his stat sheet.
For the Suburbs, Triche continued to dominate and provide mismatches for the City defensive set. But his 15 second half points were sort of meaningless since unfortunately for him the opposing team had over four players on fire after coming out from the halftime break.
The game officially got away from the Suburban team when the City squad went on a 18-5 run in less than 3 minutes to put themselves up by 20, at 112-92 with over 5 minutes remaining in the contest. The Suburbs followed that run with a 10-0 run of their own to cut the deficit in half but that is as close as they would get. Both teams would finish the game trading baskets for the last couple of minutes. In the end, the City came away with a 129-120 victory, avenging last year’s loss to the ‘Burbs.
The City had four players that finished with more 23 or more points. Smith led the way with 27 points and two steals to take home MVP honors. Lawrence finished with 25 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Stukes added 24 points and 5 rebounds while Johnson contributed 23 points and 4 steals. Jennings chipped in 12 points and 5 rebounds.
The ‘Burbs were led by Co-MVP, Triche, who finished with a game-high 33 points along with 4 rebounds 2 steals and 2 assists. No one else finished with more than 20 for the suburban squad. The second high scorer was Rice-bound Tamir Jackson, who added 18 points. Brown contributed 17 points while Robert Morris-commit Karon Abraham chipped in 15.
Put some of these names on your memory bank as they will be making some major contributions in the fall in a campus near your.
Stay tune later this week for a feature story on Brandon Triche as he embarks on a journey to pick up the load for the ‘Cuse now that Flynn, Harris and Devendorf enter the NBA Draft.
Also, checkout Justin Walsh’s write up on the All-American Game.