Last week I wasn’t kidding when I said that this past weekend was the best basketball weekend of the summer. Featuring two of the best events of the year – Boost Mobile Elite 24 and Nike Tournament of Champions – NYC’s asphalt was full of hoops. And it all started Friday night up at Rucker Park.
Or at least it was supposed to. I headed up to Rucker from work and got up there around 4:10. By 4:15, I was standing in a Penske with the coach of Grassroots Canada, Ro Russell, Joe Jackson‘s boys from Memphis and the catering staff as we tried to avoid being casualties in Hurricane Rucker.
Once the rain subsided, the crew from ESPN did their part to get the court ready for the dunk contest and then the game, which was supposed to tip-off at 7:00. The fans who had been standing in the rain holding their place in line, along with Doc Rivers, Jay Williams, Wilson Chandler (and his new tattoo – see below), Terrence Williams and Class of 2010 Arizona recruit Sidiki Johnson were ready to see some ball, but unfortunately the rain was unwilling to help us out.
So after the game was cancelled at the Rucker, we headed over to the Gauchos Gym. Over there it was kind of hectic as Tri-State had also been rained out of their outdoor location where they were playing the semis and finals to see who would represent in the Tournament of Champions, so they had moved into the Gauchos Gym as well. Long story short, the games gets cancelled for Elite 24 and a team of some of the best players come together to represent Tri-State at TOC. Sure playing indoors isn’t the same as playing at Rucker Park, but basketball is played with two hoops and a ball and it was finally time to play.
The starters for The Goat (Orange Squad) were Kyrie Irving, Josh Selby, C.J. Leslie, Tristan Thompson and Jared Sullinger, while the starters for Skip To My Lou (White Squad) were Joe Jackson, Will Barton, Tobias Harris, Harrison Barnes and Josh Smith.
Couple of observations:
– Brandon Jennings was talking so much smack from the sideline
– C.J. “Talk of the Town” Leslie (15 points, 11 rebounds) clearly has SportsCenter Top 10 constantly on the mind
– Kyrie Irving (16 points) is so smooth with the rock; clearly the most polished PG here
– Tony Wroten Jr. is a true playmaker/passer
– Austin Rivers is cagey; clearly the son of a coach. He’s like Sol Smith on steroids.
– While I wasn’t super impressed with Kendall Marshall during the scrimmage, the guy is super smart with it, and has a crazy handle/IQ
– Roscoe Smith (22 points, 7 rebounds) is a BEAST!
– Josh Selby (18 points, 6 assists) throws down a ridiculous dunk; let the games begin. He goes for three in-a-row
– Myck Kabongo (16 points) and Tristan Thompson were both wearing the Original adidas Ewing Attitudes
– Josh Smith looks like a young Eddy Curry (that’s a good thing)
– Rakeem Christmas looks like a young Dwight Howard/Kevin Garnett (that’s a good thing too)
– Harrison Barnes (18 points, 6 rebounds), who some don’t agree is the No. 1 player in the country, was playing with something to prove. And proving them wrong. He could start for a couple NBA teams right now.
– Doron “Smooth Criminal” Lamb (23 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) was gunnin’ in front of the hometown crowd
– Remind me never to matchup with Dion Waiters (15 points)
– Will Barton (18 points), just like his cousin Selby, is a pogo stick
– While Tobias Harris (20 points, 5 rebounds) had a lot of hype surrounding him before the game, the kid can play. Lots of runners though.
– You heard it first here: Cory Joseph is a pro. Lots of people sleep on his game as a PG, but he’s one of the best in the game. Findlay Prep won’t lose a game this season.
– For rising sophomores in a guard’s game, Perry Ellis and DaJuan Coleman held their own
– While they weren’t able to convert all the shots they were taking in the scrimmage or at MSG, Joe Jackson (10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) and Phil Pressey are clearly problems for opposing guards
– Portland cats Terrence Ross and Terrence Jones would have been one of the best tandems in the country is Ross didn’t transfer to Montrose Christian. Maybe Jones can go to Maryland.
– Final score: Skip To My Lou wins, 133-120