LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Kyle Anderson
and Myles Mack
have played basketball together since the age of seven, starting with the Playaz Basketball Club, then Paterson Catholic (Paterson, N.J.)
. Next fall the partnership will continue at St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.)
Their ties go far beyond the court.
"I think of him like a brother," Anderson said of Mack. "He is one of the few guys I could argue with and be best friends with after the game. We have a very close relationship."
Despite that relationship, they are miles apart when it comes to figuring out how many times they have taken the floor together.
"Way over 400 I would say, probably," said Mack, a 5-foot-9 point guard.
"That's a tough one," said Anderson, a 6-7 guard. "I'd say in the thousands."
That's about as far as the disconnect goes. The two combined to help Paterson Catholic pile up a 28-1 record last winter and spent much of the season near the top of the national rankings. The highlight was a tournament victory at the prestigious City of Palms Classic in Florida. The Playaz were dominant in Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League this summer with a 13-1 record in pool play.
And there they were again Sunday at the Fab 48 tournament in Las Vegas, leading the Playaz to a semifinal appearance before bowing out.
"They know each other's tendencies," Playaz coach Jerome Smart said. "It does help in close games and when we are playing the better teams.
"I don't think they have ever been on a losing team. They have always been winners. That rubs off on the rest of the team."
Mack posted 14.8 points, 2.9 assists and 2.4 steals per game as a junior at PC, while Anderson added 10.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists during his sophomore campaign.
But they received a jolt just weeks after the season when it was announced the school would close its doors following the 2009-10 academic year.
"I was devastated," Anderson said. "Paterson Catholic was like home. Even school was fun. I never took a smile off my face."
"I was speechless. I didn't know what to do," Mack added.
Now it's on to St. Anthony where they will play for legendary Friar head coach Bob Hurley, a disciplinarian known for his direct approach with players.
"He is pretty tough, but I am tough too on the inside so whatever he says to me I'm going to take it in and keep it moving to the next level," Mack said.
Louisville, Miami, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest are among the new schools showing interest in Anderson this week in Las Vegas. He expects to make a decision around this time next year.
Mack's leaders include Boston College, DePaul, Fordham, Providence, Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. John's, and West Virginia. Expect a decision from him in early September.Soldiers march to U16 and U17 finals
They weren't quite able to pull off the sweep, but the Drew Gooden Soldiers of Oakland, Calif., pulled off an impressive double at the Fab 48.
Led by tournament MVP Jabari Brown
, the under-17 squad crushed the Iowa Barnstormers in Sunday night's final, 86-66, to cap a dominant run at the event.
The under-16 Soldiers were on the other end of a championship game blowout as Team Philly sent them back to the Bay Area with an 81-47 loss.Barnstormers make a run
After overcoming a 16-point deficit against Seattle Rotary on Sunday morning, the Iowa Barnstormers put on a clinic against Rafer Alston's New York Panthers in the semis to reach the finals.
While the Barnstormers don't have any Top 100-rated talents (yet), making the Fab 48 championship game shouldn't be too much of a surprise. Cedar Rapids 6-8 forward Jarrod Uthoff is already committed to Wisconsin and at least four other players will probably end up at the Division I level.
Uthoff could be dynamic if he can add some bulk to his upper body.Josh Oglesby
, a 6-5 guard/wing also from Cedar Rapids has plenty of high-major options on his plate already, but don't be surprised if even more come his way after his play at the Fab 48.
He is mulling offers from Arizona State, Boston College, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Northwestern, but isn't entirely ruling out other high-major schools.
"If I opened up coaches' eyes and they call me, that's great, but if not have my six schools that have offered and I will choose from them," Oglesby said.
Oglesby twisted the knife with just over two minutes remaining with a steal and behind-the-back pass to teammate Josh Montague for a dunk.
Oglesby's teammate at Washington High School
, guard Wes Washpun
, is grossly underappreciated. He showed he can put the ball in the basket at times, but his ball-handling, defense and hustle were even more valuable for the Barnstormers.
According to Washpun, North Dakota and South Dakota State have offered and Northern Arizona, Northern Iowa and Santa Clara watched him play in Las Vegas.Under-16 division standoutsSavon Goodman and Amile Jefferson, Team Philly:
This duo should have been playing up – Team Philly's under-17 team could have used the help. Jefferson has some filling out to do so his presence in the division was more understandable, but Goodman was dominant in leading the Philadelphia squad to the title.Deonte Burton, Terry Porter Elite:
One of the more pleasant surprises of the week, Burton is a 6-5 power wing that gets after it on both ends. He is headed for the prep ranks at Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.)
after playing at Vincent (Milwaukee, Wis.)
as a freshman.
"He is a good ballplayer," Terry Porter Elite coach Bryan Johnikin said. "He works real hard. A couple of years ago he was a true center. Now he is trying to get perimeter-oriented. He is a great athlete, great student. He wants to be good. He wants to be real good."
Burton scored 19 in the under-16 division semis against Team Philly and made onlookers take notice in a game that also featured Goodman and Jefferson – not easy to do.
According to Burton, Iowa State and Maryland have shown interest. He mentioned Duke or North Carolina as dream schools.Maika Ostling, Team Jones/Oregon Stampede:
Part of a dominating small-school team in Oregon, the 6-10 post had a nice week in front of curious coaches eager to see how he would fare against elite competition.
"It's really exciting. I've never seen so many college coaches," said Ostling, who had Montana, Oregon, Portland, Washington State, Washington and West Virginia tracking his progress.
It was an important opportunity for the Beaver State big man as not many coaches are making the trek to tiny Dayton (Dayton, Ore.)
to see him play.
"It's pretty much the country," Ostling said. "It's out there. It's a little town and then right when you get out of town it is farmland."Gathers back at itRicardo Gathers
couldn't lead his D-1 Ambassadors of New Orleans past the Playaz in the quarterfinals, but there wasn't much he didn't do in trying.
He gave the Playaz such fits it prompted one fan of the New Jersey team to scream loud enough for everybody in the gym to hear, "Somebody please get in front of him."
Hop out of the crowd and try it yourself, buddy.
The 6-7, 240-pound "Bayou Bull" is a matchup nightmare at this level, even looking very comfortable in stepping out and knocking down a 3-pointer Sunday. He might be most effective when facing up at the elbow and charging, a move he finished on one occasion with a nasty tomahawk.