Live Blog: Brandon Jennings Invitational

by Ben Osborne / @bosborne17

For the second straight year, SLAM is in the building reporting live from courtside at the Brandon Jennings Invitational in Milwaukee, WI. After an successful inaugural showcase, which featured the likes of Duke standout Austin Rivers and West Virginia’s Aaron Brown, and judging from today’s scheduled match-ups, this promises to be another great day of basketball.

Some highlighted names in this year’s event include Aquille Carr, who to the surprise of many actually verbally committed to Seton Hall just yesterday only hours before catching a plane to the invitational and who’s arguably regarded as the nation’s most exciting and entertaining player to watch at the high school level. Joining him at Marquette University High School will be Michigan-bound Glenn Robinson III (son of former Milwaukee Bucks star Glen “Big Dog” Robinson),  UNLV commit DaQuan Cook, BYU recruit Nick Emery, Brooklyn sophomore sensation Isaiah Whitehead, and Tar Heel-bound wing JP Tokoto, among the many other rising stars. For a more extensive breakdown of today’s match-ups, check out the preview piece we ran on the event earlier in the week, if you haven’t done so already.

Next week, we’ll be running articles from the very dope 30-page program SLAM put together for Under Armour’s 2012 Brandon Jennings Invitational, so be on the lookout for those as well. We hope you join us throughout the afternoon for an intense qunituple(!) header of hoops.

GAME 1: Memphis (TN) Melrose vs. Baltimore (MD) St. Frances

The “hometeam” Wildcats out of Memphis, are off to a 20-14 lead early in the second quarter.

Quick note on the scene this year in the event’s second go round. In short, it has gotten even better. As Under Armour grows into it’s basketball business (see DeAndre Jordan for the increasing relevance at the pro level), they’ve also continued to grow into high school. And with more teams and more gear, there’s more to show off. I’ll drop some pics into this post shortly of some of the shoes (UPDATE: that’s the Under Armour Brandon Jennings Invitational SMU at right) and uniforms (UPDATE: Lincoln’s is below at left) teams are rocking today, which are on display just off the lobby of the gym.

Meanwhile, on the floor, the teams look crisp and are trading buckets. 26-24 St. Frances with three minutes left in the half. Should be close throughout.

St. Frances, led by 9 points each from Tevon Saddler and Maurice White, takes a 31-30 lead into the locker room. Melrose is being led by sophomore Jamerrio Jones’ 15 points.

For a 12:30 start between two teams with no league status or rivalries at stake, I’m really impressed with the intensity and quality of play. Speaks to the pride kids have in being part of an event like this. BTW, a bucket by aforementioned St. Frances star Cook, who is committed to UNLV, gives the Panthers a 35-30 lead midway through the third quarter.

After three quarters, St. Frances from Baltimore is up 47-40 and slowly taking control of this game.

I may have spoken too soon…49-47, St. Frances with 4:25 left.

For obvious travel-related reasons, these two teams don’t have a lot of their own fans in the building. Hope they’re reading along here though!

St. Frances gets some tough stops and skillfully milks the clock on offense to hold on for a 63-55 win.

White finishes as the Panthers (and the game’s) leading scorer with 24, while Markel Crawford tops Melrose with 19. St. Frances’ Saddler, a 6-4 junior who has loads of mid-major scholarship offers already and may well be solid high-major DI signing when the time comes, is named the game’s MVP.

Game two tips off shortly.

Game 2: Brooklyn (NY) Lincoln vs. Highland (UT) Lone Peak

A fascinating match-up for demographic reasons as Lone Peak is located in Highland, UT, a not-event-that-close suburb of Salt Lake City, while Lincoln is in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn. Guessing these kids have different trips to school.

What they’ve got in common is some serious basketball players, though. Look forward to seeing what happens in this one.

Lincoln and Lone Peak trade buckets early, with their highly touted guards Isaiah Whitehead and Nick Emery, respectively, trying to get warmed up. A Whitehead three gives Lincoln a 10-5 lead halfway through the opening quarter.

Lone Peak, which is fresh off a win at the Beach Ball Classic, has started raining in threes and is up 18-10 after closing the first with 13 unanswered points.

Apropos of this event and all the mid-major talent on display is my memory of one of last year’s best Lincoln players, Shaquille Stokes, who signed with—and is playing quite well for—Hawaii. I just think it’s dope that a Brooklyn kid went all the way to Hawaii to play DI hoops.

Meanwhile, Emery, a big-time DI talent in his own right (a junior, he’s already committed to BYU), is just bombing threes on Lincoln now. With him leading the way Lone Peak is now leading at the half, 34-25. Almost nothing but threes in this one.

Lone Peak’s sharpshooting ways continue in second half; the Knights are up 42-27 just three minutes in.

No fault with Lincoln’s effort today, but Lone Peak is just too good for them. Good defense and awesome shooting. Now up 51-33 as third quarter winds down. Emery isn’t only great shooter on this team, either. Lone Peak is getting lots of good play from Emery’s fellow junior guard Connor Toolson, whose father, Andy, played at BYU.

Trying not to go too cliche-crazy in here, but Lone Peak is really running on a clinic on these Brooklyn guys. And Lincoln’s good! Started the season 9-0. Guess this is why Lone Peak is the top-ranked team in Utah (and the defending state champs). LP is now up 60-36.

Up 84-54 with a minute and a half left, Lone Peak empties its bench. So much so that the PA guy here says, “checking in for Lone Peak…a whole bunch of guys.” Well played.

Lincoln’s Ian Vasquez gives the Railsplitters a couple highlight-reel buckets of their own before the clock runs out, but really this game has been all about the Knights, who take a 90-63 W.

Emery (at right; photo by Kelly Kline) finishes with a game- and team-high 31 points, and a very shiny MVP trophy. He made eight(!) threes, and his team made 16. Lincoln’s top scorer was senior forward Travis Charles with 21.

Game three coming soon…

Game 3: St. John (IN) Lake Central vs. Menomonee Falls (WI) High

The star of this match-up should be Menomonee Falls’ star forward JP Tokoto. The UNC-bound player was one of my favorite guys to watch at last year’s event. Meanwhile, Lake Central features Glenn Robinson III, son of former Bucks’ great Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson. Glenn III will be a Michigan Wolverine next season.

Sure enough, Tokoto makes four athletic plays in the first three minutes of the game. Lake Central is unfazed as a team though. Big dunk by GRob III makes it 9-3 Lake Central. Speaking of acronyms, has anyone in this state ever been hip (or old, I must admit) enough to use the headline MF Doom in reference to a story about Menomonee Falls?

Lake Central up 12-5 as first quarter winds down. Raggedy game so far.

Your trusty live blogger needs to leave the gym for a bit…enjoy the college hoops or NFL Playoff games you’re watching and check back in a bit. I should be back by third quarter of this one.

And, with the day of hoops officially half over (5 of 10 quarters complete), Lake Central is up 33-19 on MF.

Tokoto and MF far from done, though—an inside hoop by the future Tar Heel makes it 32-42.

Robinson and Tokoto pretty much living up to all the hype, dunking—or trying to dunk—whenever possible (but within their teams’ offenses, I swear!). UPDATE: that’s Robinson throwing it down on our homepage image. Sick.

Lake Central up 51-37 after three quarters. Slight blowout potential in the 4th if MF isn’t careful. Lake Central up 65-46 with two minutes left. A fun near-blowout, though.

71-47 win for Lake Central.

Robinson scores 33 explosive points for Lake Central to take MVP honors, while Tokoto notches 28 for Menomonee Falls.

Game four coming soon.

Game 4: Philadelphia (PA) Roman Catholic vs. Milwaukee (WI) Marquette

Sorry folks, had some technical difficulties there. (A SLAMonline live-blog tradition, as the old heads know).

Anyway, this fourth of five games offers the relatively unsung hosts of this event (this entire high school is very impressive, by the way) a chance to play a long-renowned national program in the visitors from Center City Philadelphia.

Talk in the media room before the game was that Roman, led by highly touted sophomore guard Shep Garner, might have their way in this one. After a slow-paced first half, however, that is far from the case. Roman and Marquette just went to their locker rooms tied at 19.

Better-played second half, especially by the hosts. Some big threes by Marquette junior swingman Andy Kreuger have helped the Hilltoppers to a 39-32 lead halfway through the fourth quarter.

No quit in the Philly kids though. 41-41 with 1:26 left in the game. Oddly quiet crowd for this game considering Marquette is the only true home team today. Guess these fans prefer dunks.

After a Marquette basket is called off for an offensive foul (good call, actually), we go to overtime. Adding to the lots-of-basketball vibe. Still 41-all.

This has been a fun day of good hoops, but this is NOT the game anyone wanted to see go to overtime. With a malaise settling in on and off the court and 50 ticks left, Marquette leads 44-43. Aquille Carr needs to energize this crowd pronto in the next game!

Wow. Great ending at least. Marquette guard Alex McBride, who goes all of 5-11, put back a miss by his teammate (and game MVP) Donnell Cegers to win the game for the hosts, 46-45.

Marquette was led by Kreuger’s 11 points, while Britton Lee led Roman Catholic with 14.

The fifth and final(!) game about to tip off.

Game 5: Baltimore (MD) Patterson vs. Los Angeles (CA) Price

The marquee matchup by the organizers thinking, this game features the much talked-about 5-6 Aquille “Crime Stopper” Carr leading his Patterson team against a solid opponent out of L.A. led by big man Skylar Spencer. Carr is just a junior but he’s lit up YouTube with his highlights and committed to Seton Hall yesterday. Spencer is a 6-8 shot-blocking senior who will play at San Diego State next season.

Pretty lively first period. Carr definitely getting in the lane, but Price has some big bodies that can slow him down. A nice corner three from Price’s Chance Murray (a junior getting Pac-12 looks) gives the “hometeam” a 17-10 lead.

Carr’s end-to-end speed is outrageous. One of his patented up-and-under finishes ties up the game at 29 with three minutes left in the first half. No doubt dude is fun to watch. The PA guy insists on calling him A-Kil-i Carr (like the old Bengals QB), but the announcer is definitely enjoying the game.

Another impressive player on the floor is Price’s Khalil Johnson, a 6-7 senior forward who tells me is getting looks from Cal-State Northridge and Hawaii.

With Carr relentlessly pushing the pace, Patterson gets some easy buckets and takes a 39-31 lead into the half.

One of the recipients of Carr’s fastbreak dimes has been forward Shakir Brown, who I knew seemed familiar…that’s cause he was MVP of a game here last year when he played for St. Frances. I’ll say the same things about him this year I did last year: very smooth game and a mid-major in the mid-Atlantic should be very happy to have him.

This Spencer kid for Price might have 10 blocks. Patterson keeps pushing, though. The Charm City representers are up, 47-36, with 5:30 left in the third.

Carr is faster with the ball than anyone out here without it. Looks like it would be exhausting to guard him. It’s kind of exhausting just watching him, honestly (this being the fifth game of the day might be a factor my exhaustion as well.)

Patterson’s 6-10 Leonard Livingston beats the third-quarter buzzer with a dunk to give his team a 62-51 lead.

Price is forcing some turnovers and creeping back into this thing: deficit down to 62-66 with 5:45 left.

Lot of good passing in this game. Also a lot of awful free throw shooting.

Sadly, a very fun game has fallen apart thanks to the refs calling EIGHT MILLION FOULS in the second half. Both teams deep into the double bonus, and the fastbreaks and blocked shots have ground to a halt.

Patterson’s players maintain their composure and hold on for a 85-76 win to cap off a looong but fun day of hoops for Under Armour. If the tape delay version edits out some of these ridiculous foul calls it will be very fun to watch on tv so remember to check your local listings for the Fox Sports broadcast on Monday, Jan. 16. I’ll post some stats from this last one in a sec.

Carr got MVP after his, in the words of the PA guy, “19-point and some shifty moves” performance. His balanced Patterson team was actually lead by Brown’s 21 points. For Price, Spencer had 14 points and by my unofficial count, 12 blocks.

And that’s a wrap. Thanks for reading. Check next week for a photo gallery of the event and hopefully some video highlights too.