Back in the day, some would say during the height of this whole AAU thing, teams and coaches would all assemble down on the city of Houston, Texas in the Spring to participate in what was then the premier basketball event in the country at that time, The Kingwood Classic. It started in 1995 with 12 teams playing at Kingwood High School and grew to just under a shade of 700 teams playing during a period of 48 hours. With that many teams of course The Kingwood Alumni are a whose who among basketballs best including Kevin Durant, OJ Mayo, Rashard Lewis, Kevin Love, and Tyson Chandler who both managed to win tournament titles here. A few years ago tournament organizer Hal Pastner stepped away from the tournament, actually selling his company Vision Sports that created the history filled tournament. Just as some musicians or once great ball players try to come back and give it a try, Pastner has returned this Spring and Kingwood is once again alive held at Legends Sports Complex, Friday evening served as a warm up for the event crew with four courts and 16 games going on in the 17U division.
Friday Nights Most Impressive
Throughout the 16 games on the night there were more than a couple of standouts, but none more impressive than 6'7 do it all guard Xavian Stapleton(Madison Central) who suited up for the Southern Phenoms(MS) and New Mexico Force's interior presence in 6'10 Daniel Amigo(Coronada). Amigo would take the floor first in what would be a smooth victory for his Force team in which he didn't dominate, but his high skill level was apparent outside of doing those things coaches like to see from post guys. The power forward looks to be more of a finesse guy at this point who would rather face up defenders and drag them away from the paint. When he did get in attack mode Amigo showed that he could dance a bit with the rock, throwing crossover after crossover at opposing bigs to get himself into the lane for scores. Throughout the game he rebounded well and defensively he was equally effective as he switched off on smaller guards in pick and roll situations breaking down and sliding his feet to keep guys dribbling around the top off the key. Amigo even pulled a lost art out of his bag a couple of times, assisting in some easy baskets for his team by hauling down rebounds and throwing two hand over the head outlet passes. I would like to see Amigo play with more aggression while being more assertive in the paint, but look for his name to pop up as the summer rolls on.
Stapleton on the other hand got off to a much slower start due to his team being late, just barely avoiding a forefit as they rushed in right off the road and hopped on the court. The rangy small forward started off the game lined up at what would appear to be his natural position on the wing, but as the game went on Stapleton could be seen in more of a point forward role which looked natural and easy with his feel for the game. His game has a lot of explosion as he was a very hard match up for the defense off the dribble where he got into the lane a bunch able to elevate over defenders for clean looks at the basket. When he wasn't penetrating he proved he could knock down the open shot when his teammate found him on the wing. He didn't seem to stay inside his box and got stronger and more aggressive as the game went on diving for loose balls. Stapleton defended all three guard spots and he even slide down to defend the four position on occasion where he fit right in when it came to rebounding.
Friday Night Notables
Josh Lampkin 6'9 Jr. PF O'Dea HS(WA) Emerald City Pioneers
There were a few coaches lined up to see Lampkin at the start of his game and as the game went on you could see more coaches gravitating over to court 1. The post plays at a nice smooth pace, he was quick but not in a hurry. When faced with double teams he calmly found his shooters opposite of him often times with a left handed cross court pass. He caught and shot the ball without hesitation on either baseline, with his back to the basket he played the angles and even caught a few players with quick spins scoring at point blank range. Lampkin was taking a beating on the inside all game long, but he played through it serving as the teams anchor on defense hauling down rebounds, communicating with teammates on help side.
James Harvey 6'2 So. PG Amite HS(LA) tNBA Elite
Harvey was the first young guy I saw on the night that made a significant contribution on the floor. He started the game as the off guard, but played a lot at the point guard slot. A terrific on ball defender, with quick feet he fought over every high screen and was able to keep his man out of the paint by running to cut him off whenever he was hung up. Harvey proved to have a couple of gears in the open court that allowed him to break the press on his own and was usually followed by a good decision on the other end. When he did move to the point he wasn't bothered by ball pressure and didn't over dribble.
Brendan Leonard 6'7 Olympia(WA) I Ball Sr. National
Soft touch, good instincts and feel in the half court set. Positioned himself at the high post and went to work all game with soft mid range jumpers and well timed drives in which he freed himself up by using good ball fakes. He was able to find seams in the defense all game long only needing one or two dribbles to get himself an easier shot. The unsigned senior isn't really athletic nor does he have brute strength, but he does possess a high basketball IQ. Hour mentioned he will visit Air Force in a few weeks.
Jordan Jones 6'5 Jr. SF Sandia HS New Mexico Force
When the break starts you can catch him sprinting the sidelines ready to finish and he did so in high fashion. Jones finished at the rim all night including a nice emphatic dunk down the middle of the lane. In addition to the break, Jones slashed his way to the hoop in the half court set, contorting his body for tough finishes. He might look wild at times, but he's very much in control. Hour rarely turned the ball over while playing at a break neck pace. As the defense started shifting I ts focus to him, he came up with some nice dimes to teammates.
TJ Rhodes 5'10 Sr. PG HCYA All 4 Sports Dream Team
The unsigned Sr. played like he was the veteran of the group with his team first attitude. Rhodes is a floor general, that doesn't get rattled to often. Even though he's a past first guard he will. keep the defense honest with the ability to knock down look the open look. Over th e last couple of years Rhodes as compiled a ton of assists. playing along side of UNC commit Justin Jackson. He's a winner that's use to. managing talent around him.
Antonio Green 5'10 So. Tupelo HS(MS) Southern Phenoms
Green started off the game on fire. canning three triples early proving you can't leave him open. In the second half he couldn't get a clean look, but in the games second overtime Green shook free to get an old fashion three point play that surged his team ahead. On the end bound ply following his free. throw, Green cam up with a steal and sealed the victory with a two handed slam.
Pierce Stewart 5'8 Jr. PG Lamar Consolidated(TX) DGib Hoops
Guards ate pesky defenders and Pierce was that. Fast and low to the ground, he ended the night with 11 points 6 assists and 4 steals. You would think he would have difficulty getting his shot off, but that wasn't the case. Pierce created space with his quickness and although strength is a major concern, when he went inside to challenge the trees he used all of his 5'8 body to bounce off defenders while managing to get his shot up.