Sin City Sensations
A recap of the Las Vegas AAU summer tournaments.
College coaches, players, media and fans alike will tell you that the Las Vegas AAU tournament week is one of the longest, but also most exciting of the entire year. With games running from 9 in the morning until 11 at night, hoops junkies can catch just about every top prep phenom that the country has to offer at one gym or another. Unfortunately, this also leads to many nights with only a few hours sleep, a ton of trips to various drive-thrus, and some serious mental exhaustion.
This year, there were five AAU tournaments all going on simultaneously in Sin City. With Nike pulling its sponsorship of the Main Event, the teams were a bit more spread out than in year’s past. You had the Star Vision Sports Center Stage, adidas Super 64, Reebok Summer Championships, GBOA Challenge of Champions, and then the Main Event all going on at the same time. We only had enough man hours to make it to the first four tourneys, and here are some of the top PUNKS we caught.
Star Vision Sports Center Stage
With Nike pulling its sponsorship of the Main Event, the majority of swoosh teams opted to head to Center Stage on the UNLV campus. For being a first year tournament, Star Vision Sports did astoundingly well at getting some marquee Nike to jump ship and head with them. Portland’s I-5 Elite took home the 17-U crown in the inaugural year and, not coincidentally, had one of the top players that we’re going to take a look at.
Perry Jones | 6-10 | PF | LBA Seawolves | 2010
Jones showed more NBA potential than anyone else here in Sin City. He led his team to the final four, even though they didn’t have anywhere near the talent of the majority of the squads they went up against. Jones is the next in the long line of Dallas hybrid forwards, following Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge and Anthony Randolph. Their games are quite similar in that Jones loves to hang out on the perimeter, shoot jumpers and handle the ball in the open court. What’s even scarier is that he’s more athletic than the three guys from the League. Jones is taking his game to Baylor, though his tenure there may be very short as he’s got as good of a shot as anyone to bolt to the League after his freshman campaign.
Tony Wroten | 6-5 | PG/SG | Seattle Rotary | 2011
While he’s becoming one of the more hated on players as of late by recruiting gurus in the Class of 2011, Wroten continues to get it done on the hardwood and show why he got so much love at such a young age. Seattle’s finest had his full repertoire on display in Vegas, giving you an appetizer of his nasty court vision to go with an entrée of his natural scoring ability. Sure, he needs to improve upon his outside J and sure, he’s not a pure point guard. But there’s no denying how special of an offensive talent this junior is.
Wayne Blackshear | 6-5 | SG | Mac Irvin Fire | 2011
Aside from Perry Jones, a case could be made for Blackshear as one of the better long-term NBA prospects in Las Vegas. He’s got the size, length and athleticism that you dream of in a prototypical 2-guard. The Chi-Town kid had no problem creating his own shot on anyone, no matter if it was getting to the rack, pulling up from mid-range, or bombing a three. With that said, it’s easy to see why he’s receiving interest from just about every big time program the NCAA has to offer.
Terrence Jones | 6-8 | SF/PF | I-5 Elite | 2010
Jones has arguably the most chiseled body of any of the players that we’ve featured, to go along with some serious game. He’s getting looks from just about every high major program in the country now after leading his team to the championship. The lefty can get it done from beyond the arc or in the post, and shows serious potential of making the transition to small forward by the time it’s all said and done.
adidas Super 64
While other shoe tournaments opted to place their respective main gym locations in more suburban areas, adidas opted to go with a city feel by placing their event in the metro Rancho High School. There were a number of interesting sights en route to each day at the gym, but nothing uncommon of what you’d see in any major inner-city. Here was a major shortage of college coach’s packets (which double as media guides), and we were warned by the lovely lady working the media table that it was “a federal offense to photocopy any of the rosters,” which is ironic because the higher-ups at adidas did it for us. We just can’t let her know, or I’ll be doing fed time.
Josh Selby | 6-3 | PG/SG | Baltimore Assault | 2010
Selby is a SLAM reader’s dream in that he’s got serious talent with a bit of a streetball flair to his game. He’s got nasty bounce (as seen by the between the legs dunk that he landed in a game), can bomb out to NBA three, and can get to the rim on just about anyone. Simply put, he’s a nightmare to guard offensively. Selby is more of a scorer than a pure point guard at this point, but he does have decent vision when it comes to distributing the rock. After recently de-committing from Tennessee, rumors are flying around that he will be the next elite guard to land with Coach Cal at UK.
Joe Jackson | 5-11 | PG/SG | Memphis Magic | 2010
Perhaps the sickest pure scorer that we caught was the diminutive Jackson, who never scored less than 25 points in any game we took in. He can straight up get to the rack on anyone, combining blazing speed with a nasty handle. In his bag full of tricks, he can kill you with outside jumpers, teardrop floaters in the lane, or strong takes to the rim. Passing is certainly not Jackson’s favorite thing to do and he has no conscience about when or when not to put it up. A straight scorer, he will likely land at a program where he has the ball in his hands and is the numero uno scoring option.
Fab Melo | 7-0 | C | Florida Rams | 2010
The Fabulous one had some up and down performances, but anyone who has seen a JV basketball game can tell the type of potential that he has. He’s a legit 7-footer with a huge body and massive wingspan. Think DeSagana Diop, Oak Hill Academy days. Similar to Diop during his prep days, he shows flashes of dominance mixed with long periods of inconsistency. Let’s just hope he doesn’t follow the path of the man who has more career fouls than points.
Adonis Thomas | 6-6 | SF | Memphis Magic | 2011
The guy has the body of an Adonis to go along with downright sick athleticism. He straight up put the clamps on people on the defensive end and was arguably the top defender in all of Las Vegas. Thomas shows flashes of being able to knock down the three from time to time, but then will follow with an awful miss. He’s also going to have to improve on his ball handling before he hits the NCAA, but there’s no doubt how good of a player he can become down the line.
Reebok Summer Championships
The Reebok Summer Championships was one of the tournaments hurt most by the talent being dispersed more this summer. They were often able to snag a number of regulars from the Nike and adidas tournaments, but things were far different this year. Going from what used to be the strongest tournament in Vegas, the losing finalist of this year’s tourney (D-One Sports) got spanked by the Center Stage Champions (I-5 Elite) by a whopping 58 points! There were definitely still some really nice players on hand, and here’s a look at a few of them:
Quincy Miller | 6-8 | SF | D-One Sports | 2011
Miller has a similar body to NBA star Kevin Durant gives off a little bit of a Durant feel to his game. He’s a lanky 6-8 forward who can bomb from deep, but also give you the business inside. Like KD, he’s long, athletic, and has tons of potential down the road. Now he’s nowhere near as polished as the former rookie of the year was his junior year, but there are certainly a number of similarities. Like many kids, the Chicago native bounced to a North Carolina prep school and reclassified a couple of years, so he’s a little older than his pals in the Class of 2011.
Dominique Ferguson | 6-9 | PF | Team Detroit | 2010
The one-time Kentucky commit is one of the more versatile players in the senior class, able to kill you both inside and out. He’s got a wiry frame that’s got plenty of room to fill out and nice hops to go with. Ferguson helped Team Detroit win the ‘ship and although he wasn’t the leading scorer on the team throughout the tourney, he helped his team across the board more than anyone else in our eyes.
Keala King | 6-5 | PG/SG/SF | California Supreme | 2010
King continued his reign of terror on the AAU circuit, slaying foes with his crazy versatile style of play. He can seriously play all three perimeter positions equally well, mixing in the ability to run a team with the ability to slash to the rim with the best of them. King’s ability to post, rebound the ball, and see over defenses separate him from most other guards. As long as he improves the consistency of his jump shot, he should likely be a “burger boy” when this spring rolls around.
GBOA Challenge of Champions
Breaking all shoe boundaries was the GBOA Challenge of Champions, drawing the top teams in Vegas regardless of shoe affiliation together for a one-day shootout. The gym was filled with every legendary college coach that you can imagine, including Coach K, Roy Williams, Bob Huggins, and fresh on the job Isaiah Thomas. The event did not go without controversy though, as college coaches were told to stay away from the dinner fundraiser. Throughout the turmoil, there was still a ton of good hoops being played and here are a few of the top ballers:
Tristan Thompson | 6-9 | PF | Grassroots Canada | 2010
Thompson was one of the top talents that the event had to offer, but wasn’t one of the top players in the game that we saw. He looked like he gained a bit of weight since we last saw him and looked like he didn’t care too much about being on the floor. You can’t take away the package of size, skills and athleticism that the Texas commit offers though, and he should make an impact right away when he hits Austin.
Josh Smith | 6-9 | C | Seattle Rotary | 2010
As has been the norm throughout his career, Smith had a very up and down performance in Las Vegas. Against the Memphis Magic, he struggled mightily and looked like he could care less about being on the floor. Then in the other games that we saw him, he was a monster setting screens, caught everything, and finished with ease at the rim. The Seattle native has the softest hands of any big in the class and is super nimble and athletic for a player approaching 300 pounds. Think a smaller Eddy Curry, and you have Josh Smith. Let’s just hope he rebounds the ball better than the man who averages a hair over 5 boards per game for his career.
Tarik Black | 6-8 | PF | Memphis Magic | 2010
Black got the best of the more heralded Smith in their head to head matchup, simply outworking the Seattle big man on both ends of the floor. He runs the floor well, is a nice athlete, and can finish at the rim with either hand. Throw in the killer body that dude has and it’s easy to see why virtually every school in the SEC has put an offer on the table for him.