Let me just say this, there was no let down on day three of the Boo Williams Invitational, or the Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) for the U-17 division. While I'm at it, I think the general consensus regarding Nike's new EYBL is that innovative league concept is a keeper. If you were not sold on the new concept when you arrived in Hampton, after the spirited play on Sunday, you are probably going through some basketball withdrawal this morning, and can't wait for the second leg of the event in Houston in May.
The biggest game of the day featured a match-up between Each 1 Teach 1 and the St. Louis Eagles, and the highly anticipated match-up between Austin Rivers and Bradley Beal. Although St. Louis enjoyed a significant lead for most of the game, Each 1 Teach 1 stayed in the fight and cut the lead to a few points with a little more than a minute left in the game. The Eagles clinched the win after two late-game technical fouls, one by a player and the second against the coach who was ejected from the contest. The primary storyline in the game was the spectacular performance of Bradley Beal who dropped a game-high 37 points. Not to be out done, Austin Rivers kept his team in the hunt with a team-high 34 points. From this evaluator's perspective, St. Louis plays with more of a team concept and has more contributing players than does River's team, who seem to count too much on their star player's for point production.
St. Louis began the day with an easy 85-61 win over All-Ohio Red, who had beaten the Eagles the previous weekend in Milwaukee. This time around, St. Louis was more motivated and energized, as All-Ohio could not hit shots and appeared fatigued. In the game, Bradley Beal finished with a team-high 19 points, followed by Ben McLemore with 13 points, Roosevelt Jones with 12 points and Shaqualle Boga with 9 points. All-Ohio Red was led in scoring by Stevie Taylor who got hot late and finished with a game-high 23 points. Backcourt partner Trey Burke went for 14 points and Treavon Jackson added 8 points.
One of the best games of the weekend was one of the last games of the weekend, as the Drew Gooden Soldiers squared off against All-Ohio Red. Without the services of Treavon Jackson, a starter and high-major recruit (ankle injury), All-Ohio shocked the crowd who had already given the nod to the Soldiers, who boasted at least five high-major recruits in the starting lineup. With names like Josiah Turner, Jabari Brown, Nick Johnson, Kyle Wiltjer and You Tube sensation Kiwi Gardner, you really can't blame fans for expecting a blowout. However; shaking off a disappointing loss earlier in the day, All-Ohio shot out of the gate and jumped to a lead which they never relinquished. This game was won in the backcourt, as All-Ohio's less heralded guards went to work. Stevie Taylor's breakout performance was the catalyst for the upset win, as he had everything clicking in this game. Not only was Taylor's three ball falling (6 treys), he consistently got into the paint where he either pulled up for a jumper, went with a floater, or found open teammates. At the end of the game, all of Taylor's 37 points were needed, as All-Ohio Red held on to a 1 point lead to claim the 75-74 win. Also in the game, Bowling Green's Geroge Fant logged in his best game of the tournament with an impressive 16 point output. Also, Fant's high-flying act and momentum changing plays were a big part of the win. Penn State commit Trey Burke continued his stellar play with backcourt support, solid defense and 11 points. I have to mention the play of Elijah Macon (2012) who had a couple of highlight plays of his own, and Cheatum Norrils who filled in for Jackson and added solid guard play. For the weekend, All-Ohio went 4-1. On a side note, All-Ohio's U-15 Squad won the silver division of the tournament.
Other News and Notes: I caught some of the New York Gaucho vs Mac Irvin Fire game. NYC got the 83-70 win. The high man for the Gauchos was Omar Calhoun who finished with a game-high 18 points, followed by Dustin Hogue (16 points) and Derrick Wilson (13 points). George Marshall, a Wisconsin pledge, and Wayne Blackshear both scored 16 points, followed by Mike Shaw with 8 points. Houston Hoops, with several top 2012 players (LJ Rose & Rasheed Sulaimon), were leading the Arizona Stars when I left. I noted the fact that Rose has a smooth shot as he hit multiple treys during the game. Also, J.Michael Reese was on the bench in street clothes during the contest. The King James Shooting Stars dropped 2 more games on Sunday to finish the weekend with a 0-5 record. I'm not quite sure what the problem is for this team, as the roster has a number of high-major guys. To close; an impressive collection of teams and players graced the courts at the Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton, Va., and the next chapter of the EYBL is highly anticipated. To see more pictures of the tournament visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook Fan Page. Check out ESPN.com's story about the event. Also, check out the video highlights of the event, including Ty Kish's higlight video.