HAYWARD, Calif. -
The odds a team could go through a rugged 20-game Elite Youth Basketball League
season undefeated were long and wide.
There are too many variables, such as new venues, long travel and just plain bad shooting games.
And then there's the mean street factor.
The AAU Mean Streets, based out of Chicago, is coached by former NFL star Tai Streets and they take their defense seriously.
It more than showed as they clamped down on the nation's top-ranked sophomore
(Huntington Prep, W.V.
) and shut down just about everyone else too – including Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year Tyler Ennis
and 3-point bomber Xavier Rathan-Mayes
(Huntington Prep) – in a 66-49 win over the previously unbeaten CIA Bounce at Dream Courts on Friday night.
The loss was CIA Bounce's first after 14 straight wins in this, the final four-city EYBL series stop. The Mean Streets improved to 13-2 and hope to at least catch the Bounce in the round robin standings which concludes Monday.
The top five teams in the four 10-team divisions – plus four at-large squads – advanced to the EYBL finals at the Nike Peach Jam next month in South Carolina.
While most of the spectators came to see the multi-talented 6-foot-7 wing Wiggins, the best player on the court this game was Kendrick Nunn
, a strong and fluid 6-3, 180-pound junior guard from Simeon (Chicago)
Ranked No. 53 on the MaxPreps Class of 2013 Top 100, Nunn had a game-high 22 points to go along with seven rebounds. Jubril Adekoya added 12 points for the winners, who took a 31-19 halftime lead and never trailed.
"Wiggins is a great player – he can get to the basket pretty much any time he wants," Nunn said. "But we did a pretty good job on him. We could have done better, but we got the win.
"Most AAU teams don't play much defense. It's pretty much run and gun. But our coach preaches defense and it paid off tonight."
Nunn had plenty of help from his Simeon teammates Jaylon Tate
(6-2, 175) and Kendall Pollard
(6-5, 200), who did a lot of the defensive work on Wiggins, who finished with 17 points but had to earn every one of them. CIA Bounce made just 14 of 40 shots (35 percent) and missed 11 free throws. No one other than Wiggins had more than 7.
Tate said Mean Streets had been pointing to this game for weeks.
"We had a point to prove not only to them but to ourselves," Tate said. "We just tried to match their intensity, get out and run and just play defense. Our philosophy on Wiggins was to make every one of his shots contested and let the other guys beat us."
CIA Bounce coach Tony McIntyre, whose team was beaten soundly on the boards, said it was just one of those nights.
It didn't help that his squad started travel at 5:15 a.m. EST Friday, arrived in Oakland at 3:30 p.m. PST and tip-off was 9 p.m. PST. That's midnight EST.
The Mean Streets got into town on Thursday.
"It was a little bit of everything (that contributed to the loss)," McIntyre said. "We didn't play well. We missed a lot of layups and free throws and they hit everything. It happens.
"We knew they we're going to come at us. They have very good guard play and we didn't react well to any of it. But we'll be back tomorrow."
Soldiering the load
The hometown Oakland Soldiers, minus their top two injured players Aaron Gordon
(broken right toe) and Jabari Bird
(tendonitis in knee), overcame a double-digit deficit to defeat the Houston Hoops 69-60. The Hoops fell to 12-3 in the rugged Division D, which also features CIA Bounce and Meet Streets.
A putback by Jalen Canty
and dunk from Stanley Johnson
down the stretch clinched it late for the Solidiers, who feature four standouts from Southern California, including Johnson, Lincoln-San Diego twins Tyree
and Tyrell Robinson
and home-schooled Shaqquan Aaron
. Tyree Robinson is No. 49 on the Top 100 list from the class of 2013. Ivan Rabb
, a 6-10 freshman from Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland)
, also played some valuable minutes filing in for Gordon down low. On the 2013 Top 100 list, Gordon is No. 2 and Bird No. 12.
"Ivan is amazing," said Johnson, who had game highs of 22 points and 12 rebounds. "I just told him to keep playing hard. He's going to be one of the best players in the country."
Johnson, a versatile 6-7 sophomore who led Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
to a second straight state title, already is one of the best from the Class of 2014. He said things simply weren't working out for his old club team in Southern California, so he joined the Soldiers.
Tyree Robinson had 14 points and Canty seven points to go along with 11 rebounds. The Soldiers shot 53 percent from the floor to offset 19 points by Derrick Griffin
, 14 from Robert Hatter and 13 by Kenneth Williams. Oakland outrebounded Houston 37-19 and went on a 39-24 run in the second half to win going away. The Soldiers just had too much depth.
"It's been beautiful," Johnson said. "We have great talent everywhere and we get along great. It's been fantastic."
Pick and roll
Team Final (9-6) pulled out a tough 68-61 game with Wisconsin Playground (9-6) behind the 2013 Top 100 quartet of Rondae Jefferson
(No. 19), Austin Colbert
(No. 37), Jaren Sina
(No. 47) and Davon Reed
(No. 57). Jefferson, a 6-7 wing from Chester-Pa., said he will announce his college finalist list at the end of the school year. Playing with such a talented AAU team is preparing him for once he gets to college. He played some point guard on Friday but will likely play point forward in college. He had 16 points for Team Final and Reed added 19. "I'm just trying to work on a consistent jump shot," he said. "Playing with all these guys can do nothing but help me. Every day I wake up and try to put on and play hard and try to outwork people." . … Former Oakland Soldier, Bishop O'Dowd standout, Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)
graduate and Arizona-bound Brandon Ashley
was working the clock all day Friday and will continue through the four-day event. "Just making a little extra money," he said. "It's hard just to watch though. I want to jump over the scorer's table and play." … Recent Sports Illustrated cover boy Jabari Parker
had a slow start but eventually led his Mac Irvin (12-3) squad to a 77-65 victory over California Supreme (11-4). Parker, called the best prep player in the country since LeBron James, drew an enormous crowd to the 17-court facility. He finished with a game-high 20 points (6 of 15 shooting) to go along with six rebounds. Teammate Billy Garrett Jr.
had 15 points, Jahill Okafor
12 and Russell Woods
10. Nigel Williams-Gross
led California Supreme with 15 points, Jordan Mathews
had 13 and Marcus Lee
and Torren Jones
12 points apiece.