NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. –
“Super Pool” play in the adidas Super 64 event made Rancho High School’s main gymnasium the hot spot Wednesday as four days of basketball – expected to include over 600 teams – tipped off in and around Las Vegas.
Defending adidas Super 64 champion Canada Grassroots Elite was the story of the day, defeating a talented Atlanta Celtics J-Smoov squad in the morning and California-based Pump-N-Run Elite in a highly-anticipated showdown that packed Rancho’s auxiliary gym in the evening.
Not even a late arrival for the Pump-N-Run Elite game (showing up at 6:23 p.m. for a 6:20 p.m. tip) could stop the Canadian powerhouse.
“We have a target on our back because we won it last year,” Canada Grassroots Elite guard Myck Kabongo said. “This is what basketball is about. We want the challenge.”
Using their inside length provided by 6-foot-10 Dwight Powell and 6-9 Texas pledge Tristan Thompson, and the guard trio of Kabongo, Cory Joseph and Brady Heslip, the Canadians were impressive in both contests, particularly on the defensive end.
“Defense wins games. It’s true what they say. We don’t worry about offense, anybody on our team can score,” Kabongo said.
“Defense wins championships,” Canada Grassroots head coach Ro Russell said. “We have to get stops and we got stops at the end.
“We are here for one thing – to repeat. We never die and step up in crunch time and make plays and do what we have to do to win.”
Looking at the day as a whole, there weren’t many signs of the stereotypical travel ball pitfalls – selfish and unstructured play, lack of defensive commitment and flat atmospheres in empty gyms. Not with a who’s who of college basketball coaching in the stands, a throng that numbered near 100 during several games.
“It’s definitely a plus,” Compton Magic Black coach Bryan Beard said of the college coaches in attendance. “The kids know what it is. They are out here trying to earn a scholarship, but our kids played the same way during the dead period in April. We try to teach them to play hard no matter who is watching.”
Blue chipper Keith Appling of Detroit’s Pershing High School may not have as many coaches following him intently as in the past due to his commitment to Michigan State, but insists motivation isn’t an issue.
“Stay in shape, get better for the next level and hopefully try to win something (is my motivation),” Appling said.
Appling spent much of Wednesday’s Super Pool game against Team Philly Blue trying to contain rising junior Juanya Green, a player with an already-impressive offer list and an obvious hunger to see it grow. Green’s play helped Team Philly pull off a bit of an upset against the Michigan Mustaings.
“The better the players I go against the tougher it makes me,” Green said. “It makes me want it more.”
MaxPreps’ coverage of the adidas Super 64, Reebok Summer Championships and Vision Sports Main Event continues Thursday from Foothill High School in Henderson, the site of Reebok’s event.
More from Wednesday’s action at Rancho High School;
Teams we saw: Canada Grassroots Elite, Compton Magic Black, D-Harris Superstars, Indiana Elite Fox, Houston Swoosh Select Black, Las Vegas Prospects, Michigan Mustangs, Minnesota Pump-N-Run, Pump-N-Run Elite, Team A.C.C.E.S.S., Team Philly Blue, Urban DFW Elite Varsity.
Head coaches in the crowd: Steve Alford (New Mexico), Rick Barnes (Texas), Randy Bennett (St. Mary’s), Mike Bray (Notre Dame), Jim Calhoun (Connecticut), Jeff Capel (Oklahoma), Johnny Dawkins (Stanford), Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh), Cameron Dollar (Seattle), Billy Donovan (Florida), Anthony Grant (Alabama), Pat Knight (Texas Tech), Lon Kruger (UNLV), Phil Martelli (St. Joseph’s), Josh Pastner (Memphis), John Pelphrey (Arkansas), Herb Sendek (Arizona State), Tubby Smith (Minnesota), Gary Williams (Maryland).
Keith Appling, 6-2, G, Michigan Mustangs: Appling blew up on the high school scene last winter, capping his junior campaign with a 49-point performance in Michigan’s state championship game. The Mustangs aren’t the most cohesive unit in Las Vegas despite an abundance of talent, but Appling provided several snapshots of what has Michigan State so excited about his arrival.
Carlos Emory, 6-6, F, Minnesota Pump-N-Run: Emory has already graduated from Jefferson High School in Bloomington, Minn., and is headed to Howard Junior College in Texas this fall. Baylor and Southern Illinois were in the mix for this ultra-athletic wing/forward playing with Pump-N-Run in an effort to make sure coaches don’t forget about him at the junior college level. Although he has plenty to work on, the athleticism and hustle he displayed in a hotly-contested win against Urban DFW Elite Varsity will help ensure that they don’t.
Alex Gauna, 6-9, F, Michigan Mustangs: Displayed his athleticism and pop right away against Team Philly Blue by swatting a shot with authority on the first trip down the court. Never really got on track after that, but after sneaking up on people with his commitment to Michigan State, he looks the part of a solid contributor for Tom Izzo’s Spartans.
Juanya Green, 6-3, G, Team Philly Blue: Good-looking 2011 guard that helped spark Team Philly’s victory over the Michigan Mustangs. Maryland, St. Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova have already offered with Pittsburgh also in the mix, according to Green.
Myck Kabongo, 6-2, G, Canada Grassroots Elite: Kabongo, a Texas verbal who plays for New Jersey’s St. Benedict’s Prep, was as impressive as anybody on Wednesday, standing out on a team full of Division I prospects that packed the gym with on-looking college coaches. “I still think I have to impress Coach Barnes. When I get to Texas as a freshman I want to be an impact player. Every time I come out here I still try and showcase what I’ve got.”
Terrell Stoglin, 6-1, G, Pump-N-Run Elite: Maryland is getting a good one in Stoglin. The Santa Rita High School (Tucson, Ariz.) guard kept Pump-N-Run in the game against Canada Grassroots Elite when it looked like things could get ugly. Stoglin drilled four big 3-pointers, teamed up for the play of the day on an alley-oop to teammate Erik Swoope and never let the defensive pressure of the Canadians take him out of his game.
Compton Magic Black: Coach Bryan Beard’s unselfish squad hustled, pressed and ran past a fairly talented Houston Swoosh Select Black squad, 88-67. Southern Californians Derek Brown (6-2, Sr., G, Chino Hills), Allan Crabbe (6-6, Sr., G, Los Angeles Price), Kareem Jamar (6-4, Sr., G, Los Angeles Westchester), Bryce Jones (6-6, Sr., W, Woodland Hills Taft) and Richard Solomon (6-9, Sr., F, Los Angeles Price) were all part of the initial onslaught, which included a 15-3 run to start the game. Oak Hill Academy standout Pe’Shon Howard came off the bench in his debut with the Magic and had some nice moments. CMB’s full-court pressure gave star 2011 guard Jamal Branch fits. The frustration spilled over to the Houston team’s bench as an assistant was hit with a technical in the second half. Crabbe was deadly from the outside, drilling three shots from NBA 3-point range.
Former Oak Hill Academy star, NBA slam dunk champion and Atlanta Hawk Josh Smith was on the bench helping with the Atlanta Celtics “J-Smoov” squad, which features a trio of highly-touted guards in Trae Golden (McEachern / Powder Springs, Ga.), Ryan Harrow (Walton / Douglassville, Ga.) and Jordan McRae (Liberty County / Midway, Ga.). … Juwan Howard, featured in this MaxPreps story last week, was on hand to see his son, Detroit Pershing High School wing Juwan Howard, play with the Michigan Mustangs. … Former UCLA head coach Jim Harrick, who led the Bruins to a national title in 1995, continues in his role as the head coach of Pump-N-Run Elite. …The media table at Rancho High School’s main gymnasium took an absolute beating Wednesday suffering at least three violent collisions with hustling players. Insignificant? Not at all. Players were locked in and competitive throughout the day with the horde of high-profile college coaches looking on.