justin adler, blog, buenos aires, bahia blanca, university of arizona, brooklyn, basketball, travel, paul mcpherson

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Point out the bounce

Now normally I don't do this but...Media credit: Francisco Medina

This weekend I covered the Arizona Cactus Classic for the Tucson Citizen. This was the second year Tucson has hosted the event which featured an insane amount of high school basketball talent, by insane I mean 23 of the nation's top 100 players in the high school class of 2008.

I thought the Pac-10 Tournament was basketball heaven because you got 4 games in a day, but the Cactus Classic had 79 games spread over three days. It was non-stop ball on six courts at a time (three in the McKale Center and three in the Bear Down Gym).

One of the stars of the show was potential UA recruit Brandon Jennings, who led the tourney in scoring by averaging 28.4 points a game. The kid hung 44 on the Reebok Inland Empire, that's 44 fucking points in 32 minutes.

Jennings is a five-star recruit, ranked 12th on Rivals.com top 150 of '08. He said he's currently between Arizona and UConn.

I missed Jennings' first three games and didn't see him perform until Saturday evening when he played the Texas D1 Ambassadors, where he played at what I would guess to be 10% and still had 30 points despite spending a great part of the first half chilling on the bench. In the game Jennings stood around the entire time, never once sprinting, and often times not making it down to the other end of the court. He would play back-to-back offense or defense, but he didn't seemed intrigued by the possibility of playing the conventional both sides of the floor. I only saw him pass once in the entire game, every other went as follows: stand on perimeter with hands calling for ball, cross, shake, bucket.

He got to the rim effortlessly and easily wet threes. He also managed not play a lick of defense and he spent his time on the bench eating peanut M&Ms. For the record he was rocking some white/varsity red-black Air Jordan XXII Omega, which doesn't come out until June 2. Fucking gangster. I'm assuming he got those as a welcoming gift when he transferred to the Jordan Brand-sponsored Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va. or as Jennings called it "the middle of nowhere." Oak Hill is a small private school with approximately 100 students according to Wikipedia. Oak Hill is always ranked No. 1 in the nation for hoops and has produced Melo and Stackhouse among a ton of other NBA players. One of my life goals is to figure out what the fuck they could possibly teach at Oak Hill, since it's a school solely for hoops. I would absolutely kill to sit in on a day of classes.

Aside from going there to work on his grades, which he admits are pretty bad Jennings wants to gain a little more fame to his name. Jennings said: "I want my name to be mentioned in there one day. Hopefully when I leave, people will mention my name with the Carmelos, Stackhouses and Jason Terrys."

Except that Jason Terry didn't go to Oak Hill at least that's what the Internet told me, but I'll let Jennings believe what he wants.

In the championship game, in which Jennings' Belmont Shore lost to the New York Gauchos, Jennings rocked a pair of player-exclusive black and silver Adidas Gil Zero mids to show any potential sponsors that may be that he can ball in all brands. Get your check books out now.

Aside from all the silly crossovers and his ability to jump out of the gym, my personal Brandon Jennings moment of the weekend came after an interview when I bobbled a hand-shake that somehow turned into one of those hand-shake-to-half-hug things people do when they are close to each other, normally not for journalists and their interviewees. After the awkward exchange I didn't look back and kept walking, slightly embarrassed until I remembered that the kid was three years younger than me.

Here is the small article I wrote on him, if you want more, the kid is everywhere, including a 3-page deep highlight reel on YouTube.

More madness:

- Brendon Lavender, the second kid of the '08 class to commit to UA, lost all four of his games, but it's mainly because he was by himself on the team and was forced to play out position at the point. In the one game I really watched of his, he played like trash as I wrote here. Lavender was cool as hell though, an incredibly nice guy and hopefully he'll have better luck in the McKale Center next time.

- It'd be pretty nice to have a college scholarship waiting for you as you enter your freshman year of high school. For Matt Carlino, the No. 1-ranked eigth grader in the nation, that's the case.

- My favorite team of the weekend was the Las Vegas Dog Catchers, mainly because of the sheer insanity that surrounded their team. Their coach, Jamar Clark, had a picked out beard that would rival Freeway or Rick Ross in terms of gullyness. His attire wasn't quite Pat Riley-esque as he opted for the customized Miskeen-looking Dog Catchers shirt, multi-colored Yankees fitted, denim shorts that literally went down to his ankles and a pair of patent-leather maroon-and-orange Air Force Ones. He also earned a few technicals just to prove his thug.

Aside from coach Jamar, the best part of the team was founder Henry Thorns, a grey haired older-black man, who also rocked a customized Dog Catcher tee. Thorns paced back and fourth in the stands shouting claims such as "We always be the best in Vegas" and barking when his team impressed him.

"They also have no class," a parent of the other team said.

The Dog Catchers wore Marcus Banks' name across their jersey to honor the former Dog Catcher, who paid for their bus ride to Tucson.

"To be honest, I never really axed him for one penny," Thorns said. "They just called up asked what we needed."

"'They' meaning Marcus Banks?" I questioned.


Henry Thorns also talked about how his son, Hank Thorns, was "eating people up" on the court, which he actually was. Hank Thorns was pretty impressive, especially in his Nike ID'd Zoom Flight Fives.

- I'm not sure what team he was on, but I saw a kid with possibly the worst hair cut of all time. The kid had a nappy mo-hawk with a Chevrolet logo etched into the right side and a Famous Stars and Stripes logo cut into the other side. It should be noted that Famous Stars and Stripes is one of, if not my least favorite brand of all time. Any time I see somebody rocking that garbage I lose all respect right off the bat and generally wish death upon them.

- Peyton Siva, I see you. Respect.

Sneaker Watch: A lot of Air Jordan XXIIs...Several P.E. Adidas Gil Zeros...Some kid from the Gauchos was rocking the All-Star gold LBJ IVs...A lot of other dope LBJ IVs...Thorns' Zoom Flight Fives...Whatever Brandon Jennings was rocking including his off-the-court all-black Air Max 360s with lasered etching...Air Jordan Citrus VIIs...Many others which I'm forgetting the high-school kids had a lot of heat, much of which was inaccessible to the general public.

Nic Wise Moment of the Game: We'll he was actually there along with Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger. Nic didn't really do anything too thorough and I was mainly watching the games rather than the spectators, but I did see him block Brandon Jennings' little brother as he tried to dunk on a 5-foot hoop. I guess that's kinda cool.