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April 21, 2013
GARDEN GROVE, Calif. - Sunday marked the final day of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League at Next Level Sports Complex, but the competitive fire and breakout games didn't stop as the first stop on the EYBL tour came to a close.
The Oakland Soldiers had a tough first weekend in the EYBL circuit. After defeating Mac Irvin Fire in their first game on Friday night, the Soldiers dropped three consecutive games to close out the tournament, including a 63-52 loss to BABC early Sunday morning.
The Soldiers, who are led by five-star, class of 2014 Arizona target Stanley Johnson, and the top-ranked player in the class of 2015, Ivan Rabb, fell behind big early, 26-6, against BABC and were not able to recover.
The Soldiers trailed 29-19 at half after cutting into the deficit, but coming back from such a large margin proved to be too much on the third consecutive day of competitive hoops.
Rabb finished with another double-double, pouring in 19 points on 9-of-14 shooting while pulling down 13 rebounds.
If you take away the scoring production of Johnson and Rabb, the rest of the Oakland Soldiers shot just 4 of 22 from the field, and if you take away the rebounding of the two five-star players, the rest of the team had just nine boards.
After focusing on key Arizona recruits for the first two days, I ventured out into the unknown to really get a sense of how much talent there was in the EYBL field this time around, and the talent was plentiful.
I made six-minute rounds to a few players whom I have heard a lot about and felt like more intel was needed.
The first player I wanted to see was 2016 7-footer Thon Maker of Boo Williams. Maker is, without a doubt, 7 feet tall, and he is very skilled on top of it. The Boo Williams squad had him in the post, which makes sense because of his height, but also was a bit surprising because they didn't get him the ball on the block enough during the time I watched him.
Despite being outweighed by 50 pounds, Maker was able to get deep post position on multiple possessions, but didn't see the ball. Maker finished with nine points on 3-of-7 shooting while grabbing eight rebounds in 26 minutes of play.
Maker has a ceiling that never ends, but needs to figure out whether he needs to add weight and become a post player, or work on his ball-handling and jump shot to make his way as a prodigious 7-foot forward combination.
After Kameron Chatman's 1 for 13 performance against the Texas Titans on Saturday, I was hoping to see a resurgent performance against Wisconsin Playground on Sunday.
Chatman finished with a double-double, but was ineffective on the offensive end yet again. The four-star, class of 2014 recruit shot just 4 of 14 from the field for his 12 points, while collecting 10 rebounds.
My focus was solely on Chatman until a guy wearing No. 20 for Wisconsin Playground stole the show and my unofficial Most Valuable Player of the tournament award. That player was five-star, class of 2014 wing Rashad Vaughn.
Vaughn proved why he is the sixth-ranked player in his class, scoring 31 points on 13-of-20 shooting, while adding five rebounds and seven assists. Vaughn unleashed an arial attack on ICP Elite that led to a 78-63 victory.
Local Southern California product Ajon Jefferson of ICP and Gardena (Calif.) Serra High played well in the loss, scoring a game-high 34 points on 15-of-25 shooting.
Arizona target Emmanuel Mudiay struggled from the field in Texas Pro's 62-57 win over Baltimore Elite, but the five-star prospect was solid in every other aspect of the game on Sunday.
Mudiay is a natural point guard at 6-5 who has good handles and makes good decisions more often than not.
Nearly every head coach in the gym was on hand to watch Mudiay, but the Dallas native shot just 3 of 15 from the field for his 11 points. He also had four rebounds and six assists, but turned the ball over seven times against Baltimore Elite.