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July 28, 2009

Nationals gets going in Orlando

MORE: Rivers rolls at the Showcase | Lamb gets it done in Orlando | Texas duo impresses in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. - The AAU Nationals got underway at the Milkhouse on Monday afternoon. On the first day of nationals maybe the biggest matchup came between two of the best big guys in the country when Jared Sullinger locked up with Patric Young.

Sullinger and Young do battle

With 12 courts in the Disney Complex, it is not often that anyone has to leave to go off site. However on Monday that was exactly the case when in the pool play of nationals, All-Ohio Red and the Jacksonville Lee Bulls met up.

The big attraction was seeing Sullinger match up with Young. What is so intriguing about the two players is that they are opposites on the floor. Young is a physical specimen who is a great athlete. He does most of his damage by just being stronger and more athletic than people. Sullinger on the other hand isn't a great athlete, but he gets things done by technique, effort, and a high skill level.

What was very refreshing is that the two players went after each other all game long, and there was no need to double. When either player got down low, it wasn't for the faint of heart as there was a lot of banging and fighting going on for position.

Young did have a few moments against Sullinger. He frustrated the All-Ohio big man at times with his length and athleticism, blocking a few shots and altering others. On top of that on offense he was able to convert above the rim off of offensive rebounds, as well as with dunks when he ran the floor in transition.

While Young definitely had some moments, in general it was Sullinger who got the best of the battle. He was able to use his lower body to create angles and root Young out, and with the All-Ohio guards getting him the ball, Sullinger went to work. He scored a ton by simply going over his left shoulder and using his good touch.

Also Sullinger did an excellent job of rebounding both in and out of his area which seemed to wear on Young. As the game went on it became obvious that Sullinger was getting the best of the battle, but Young fought until the end, and had a very solid showing.

With Sullinger leading the way, All-Ohio got the win over the Bulls. For Jacksonville, Stacey Poole had a few impressive moments where he showed off his vast athleticism and strength, but he didn't quite play at the level that he showed during the NBA Camp in June. His shot wasn't falling, and that took away some of his advantage against a very tough Aaron Craft who was defending him.

Along with Sullinger, All-Ohio got a huge lift from Kevin Gray. The 6-foot shooting guard has been on fire during the month of July, and he broke open a four point lead late in the third quarter with a pair of huge threes. With Sullinger inside, and Gray outside, the Bulls simply didn't have enough to mount a comeback.

Super Showcase winners

Along with the nationals getting underway, the conclusion of the Super Showcase took place at the 17 and under level. In the Silver division the Illinois Titans beat the St. Louis Eagles 16's while in the gold division Team Takeover got the win over Each 1 Teach 1.

In the silver championship game the story was how well the Titans did as a team against Bradley Beal. The Titans were very physical with Beal limiting him on the offensive end. Beal didn't have his usual shooting stroke working, and that didn't allow him to take full advantage of his ability to get to the rim and finish with athleticism.

For the Titans the two biggest keys on the offensive end were James Siakam and Bruce Barron. Siakam height wise is an undersized power forward, but he has big time athleticism and extremely long arms. Those two factors more than make up for the fact that he checks in at only 6-foot-6. Barron is a good looking combo guard that is more than capable of scoring or getting others involved.

In the game Siakam was just a force on offense and defense. Though right now his skill is limited on the offensive end, Siakam finishes well in traffic down low, and is always working hard. On defense he can guard multiple positions, and is an excellent shot blocker. His shot blocking presence really limited what the Eagles could do.

Barron for his part controlled the flow of the game and did an admirable job on Beal. He right now is learning to be a pure point guard, but the natural ability is there, and he looks to be showing big improvement.

Other notable performances

For Team Texas Elite, Phil Pressey grabs most of the headlines in the backcourt, and rightfully so, but Daylon Guy is also a very good player. Guy is small, but he can absolutely shoot the lights out, and is also quick enough to get into the lane. Guy led Team Texas with 18 points in a morning blowout victory.

Also playing well for Team Texas in the win was Cameron Clark. Clark used his combination of size and athleticism to get to the rim whenever he wanted to. Also he made a few shots, and overall was someone that couldn't be guarded.

Playing very well for the King James Shooting Stars was Jakarr Sampson. The 6-foot-7 forward is making the transition from power forward to small forward, and things are really beginning to click. Sampson is now very comfortable taking his man off the dribble from the three point line, and also his shot is greatly improved. Adding a new found skill level with his extremely long arms and athleticism, makes him a fast rising commodity.

Also playing well for the King James Shooting Stars was Storm Sanders. The 2010 combo guard plays as hard as anyone, and loves to attack off the dribble. Using his strength, Sanders was able to score 20 points. His jumper still needs work, but in transition going to the rim he is very good.

Along with Sampson, Zach Price is also playing up with the 17 and under squad, but the 2011 center didn't have a ton of success. He runs the floor well and has a great frame, but he has a ways to go skill wise. Price did convert a few times, and had a nice dunk, but on Monday it wasn't one of his best performances.

Be on the lookout for K.T. Harrell. He is a super explosive 6-foot-4 guard for the Alabama Challenge that has been on fire recently. Harrell had the dunk of the day when he pogo sticked up off of two feet and cocked the ball back while dunking on a few defenders. He did more than just dunk, though. Harrell showed a big time ability to hit threes, and also was able to beat his defender off the dribble. Harrell's stock is soaring with his recent play.

Also playing well on the wing for the Challenge was Neiko Hunter. Hunter had it working from three, and he also used his strong frame to score down low. He had over 20 points, and at times was absolutely in the zone.

The final member of the Challenge who had a good day was Ralston Turner. Turner is a 6-foot-6 wing with big time shooting ability and a good frame. He hit several threes, and when his defender began to crowd him, that is when Turner went to the cup and converted.

Adreian Payne is definitely not the most productive player in the nation, but everything he does is memorable. In the win over the Jacksonville Lee Bulls, Payne showed a spin move on the post that was simply unguardable. He needs to make moves more often and be more assertive, but the flashes he shows at times are downright scary.

Class of 2012 West Virginia commitment Elijah Macon is playing up with the 16's and 17's for All-Ohio. Macon, who looks to be near 6-foot-8, is an active forward who plays hard on the block and at times can be dominant even against older competition. He still needs to refine his skill level, but his upside is very high.

When he wasn't on the floor doing pushups because one of his teammates missed a free throw, Amile Jefferson showed signs of what makes him such a good prospect. The skinny 6-foot-7 combo forward has a nice handle in the open floor and a good looking release on his shot. On top of that Jefferson has very long arms and shows a good aptitude for how to play. Once he gets stronger, he will be very difficult to deal with for opposing teams.

For the All-Ohio 16's they have a pair of guards in Trey Burke and Trey Lewis that are really capable of lighting up the scoreboard. Burke is a scoring point man who showed on Monday that he can also get after it defensively. Lewis is more of a combo guard who is at his best in catch and shoot situations. Once he gets hot, it is really tough to cool Lewis down, as he can fill it up in a hurry.

School Lists

James Siakam listed Vanderbilt, Southern Illinois, Purdue, Illinois, Notre Dame, Dayton, IUPUI, Morehead State, Arkansas, Wichita State, Indiana, and Oklahoma State.

Jakarr Sampson has offers from Xavier, Dayton, and Akron. He also mentioned Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Notre Dame.

Bruce Barron rattled of a long list of Oklahoma State, The Citadel, Notre Dame, Missouri State, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Illinois, Dayton, Indiana, Ohio University, Notre Dame, Northern Illinois, and Northern Iowa.

Zach Price has offers from Louisville, Ohio State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Also interest is coming in from Florida, Miami, Florida State, and Illinois.

K.T. Harrell has offers from Virginia, Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, and Mississippi State. Also interest is coming from Boston College, UAB, and Virginia Commonwealth.

Trey Burke says offers have come in from Butler, Ohio, Kent State, Akron, Cleveland State, James Madison, and Stephen F. Austin. Also he is hearing from Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Baylor, and West Virginia.

Daylon Guy has an offer from Texas State, UT-Arlington, and SMU. He also reports interest from Tulane, Wichita State, Oregon, Arkansas, and Alabama.

Trey Lewis has a offers from Cleveland State, Kent State, Akron, Ohio, Miami-Ohio, Penn State, St. Joe's, and Wright State. Also interest is coming from Ohio State, Wisconsin, Butler, West Virginia, and Michigan.



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