Illinois Fire won. Nate Minnoy took home MVP honors. Also on the team were Jeremy Pargo, Tony Freeman, DeAndre Thomas, Robert Eppinger and Jeremiah Bryant. In the final four of their division, they beat the favorite, Spiece Indy Heat with the national No.1 junior-to-be Greg Oden, poitn guard Mike Conley, and outstanding Ohio players Jaequon Cook and Aaron Pogue. They beat Indy by one point, avenging a 20-plus point loss they suffered to Indy Heat in pool play Saturday morning. In the Fire's revenge win, they actually changed strategy to help nuetralize the dominant Oden and they used high pick and rolls with the man Oden was guarding to bring him away from the basket. When Oden and the other big guy guarding him (usually 6'8 350lb DeAndre Thomas) freed up the Fire shooters, Nate Minnoy was the beneficiary of the open looks and knocked down all kinds of jumpers en route to the MVP honor.
Interestingly, in my opinion, the most impressive team was Seattle Rotary Select, who beat Julian Wright, Josh Tabb, and Angel Santiago's Illinois Warriors in the other half of the seniors-to-be division's final four. They were to meet the Fire in the finals, but they forfeited (NOTE: due to scheduled flights), so the Fire won the Championship by default. I think Seattle would have taken them, but that's just speculation. Seattle had stud Marcus Williams, and nationally ranked players Terrance Williams, Alex Tiefenthaler, and Richie Moore. They were extremely long and extremely athletic.
The junior-to-be finals featured King James Hoops from Ohio vs. Ferrari from Illinois. I did not see the finals or know who won.
Individuals of Note:
Dominic James - Can you say quick??? He isn't even 6' tall, but he completely controls the tempo of the game with his aggressive style. He can take anyone to the rack and finish. Very explosive with good ups. Didn't get to see his jumper too often as he was distributing from the point or driving. A true point. Would be a great pickup for Purdue. Very confident. Never showed any negative emotion.
Julian Wright - This is the first time I saw him in person and after hearing all the great things I had regarding this top 20 national recruit, I came away a little disappointed. The guard skills are there in a 6'8 package, but he is one of those players that seems to disappear at times. If he asserted himself, he could be amazing. Potential-wise, he's deserving of his lofty rankings, but he was not the best player on his team this weekend, in my opinion. The Tabb kid going to SIU was nice.
DeAndre Thomas (6'8" 350+) - I do not care what he's "listed" at, this is closer to his true weight. He is a very skilled big man. And much like a Robert Traylor or Oliver Miller, he would be even better if he were in better shape. He's not fat looking, but rather built like an NFL tackle. Not a good leaper, but uses body well and has a soft touch. Very competitive and always encouraging teammates to step it up -- vocal. Would be a good player in the right system D-1.
Daequan Cook - The best player I personally witnessed this weekend. On Spiece Indy Heat. He's a junior from Toledo Dunbar and he is a 6'5 195lb wing from the Ray Allen mold. HUGE ups. Finishes everything off with an emphatic slam and hit the three regularly as well as played very heady throughout the tourney. BIG TIME recruit.
Greg Oden - Best national prospect, regardless of class, in the USA. 7'0...dunks almost everything in sight. In the first game vs. Illinois Fire, had about five dunks in traffic. Very raw, but his upside is limitless. If he goes to college, it will be a miracle.
Mike Conley Jr. - Son of 1996 USA Olympic gold medalist and Spiece Indy Heat coach, Mike Conley. Quite simply, the most heady player there. He absolutely does not turn the ball over and always runs the offense to a tee. His numbers will not knock you out, but others must recognize his greatness as he is generally regarded as a top 50 national recruit in his class. VERY SOLID.
Marques Johnson - Blessed IJN star from FW Snider is right there with Conley in the maturity dept, axcept he has a long, chiseled 6'5 195lb frame to go with. Runs the point, scores in traffic, hits the "j". Rumors swirling he may be off to a prep school. He will be hard to keep in-state in college as a 5-star recruit. Simply better than his competition.
Carl Swanigan - Former Lafayette and current Salt Lake City bigman was in attendance. Now, unlike Thomas, he is 350lb and it is fat. At 6'9, he is very skilled and Louisville is all over him (they must see something WAAAAAY deep inside of him). He had a move on another big man at the top of the key that consisted of a series of hesitations and crossovers and burned his man one on one on the way to the rack. He was fouled on the conversion, but it showed a glimpse of what he's capable of. Otherwise, he is a big project, in my opinion.