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May 28, 2012
Under Armour Dallas: Two memorable outings
DUNCANVILLE, Texas Championship Sunday at Under Armour's Are You From Here? Classic offered upsets, inspired play and a memorable performance from sophomore point guard Damontrae Jefferson, who willed the Milwaukee Running Rebels to a championship in the 17-and-under division. Meanwhile Aaron Harrison one of the best grassroots hoops performances in recent memory, and Dallas Showtyme and Net Gain Sports won championships in the 16U and 15U divisions.
Jefferson and Rebels will their way to title
When Damontrae Jefferson walks out onto the court for the Milwaukee Running Rebels he doesn't look dangerous.
After all, the class of 2014 point guard from Milwaukee (Wis.) Hamilton is pretty generously listed at 5-foot-8 and isn't exactly bulky. At the end of the day, it doesn't seem to matter. For the second weekend in a row Jefferson caused teams problems with his ball handling, quickness and long-range bombing.
Sports U/Team Izod, a team full of tough, defensive-minded East Coast kids lined up first and Jefferson gave it 29 as he led his team to 101 points and a quarterfinal win. In the semifinals, the DC Assault and North Carolina-bound class of 2013 point guard Nate Britt stood in the way. Jefferson gave them 22 and outplayed the more widely known Britt by a pretty fair margin. Then, in the finals, he helped the Running Rebels to a huge lead over Net Gain Sports before the game was called with just under nine minutes to go.
Because of eligibility, Jefferson hasn't played a ton of high school games during his career, but he had no issues leading his summer squad. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in swagger and confidence that rubs off on his teammates.
In particular, that swagger rubbed off on hard-working, athletic 6-foot-6 combo forward David Burrell. Also a class of 2014 prospect at Milwaukee (Wis.) Hamilton, Burrell is a live bodied and hard-working guy who does all the dirty work, gets on the glass and finishes with slams in transition. Against the Assault, Burrell capped off a comeback by draining a game-winning, pull-up 17-footer from the right baseline with just under six seconds to go.
Epic day for Aaron Harrison
With his twin brother Andrew Harrison out after rolling an ankle during a quarterfinal win over KC Run GMC, the nation's No. 5 player, Aaron Harrison, did everything in his power to get the Houston Defenders into the title game. The Defenders came up one point short against Net Gain Sports in the semifinals, but Harrison put on a display that will long be burned into the memory banks of those who saw it, especially his higher ranked brother who called him "the best player in the country."
After a modest and relatively quiet first half, Harrison erupted for 35 of his game-high 42 points during the second half. You name a way that a high school, or high-level college, shooting guard could possibly be expected to score the ball and Harrison did it. He used his 6-foot-5 size and strength to overwhelm guys, he drained deep jumpers and he did everything in between while playing like a young Chauncey Billups.
The performance capped what already had been a wildly impressive weekend for Harrison. While he's usually played off the ball, he more than proved that he can run the point and he should really be considered a combo guard. Aaron and Andrew said afterward that the recruiting process has intensified and that they are going to start taking steps so that they can end it before their senior seasons start. Kentucky, Maryland, Baylor and Villanova remain in the hunt.
Showtyme protects home turf in 16U
On Friday night, Dallas Showtyme Elite could never quite recover from the early blows delivered by Team Loaded in a 16-and-under pool play game. After an opening game loss, it was all business for Showtyme as they defended their home turf and walked away with a championship trophy.
Leading the way in the title game was 6-foot-6 Dallas (Texas) Kimball wing D'Angelo Allen. The four-star is a long and rangy athlete with a nose for the ball. He's built to make things happen around the rim and in transition while his jumper and handle are progressing.
Getting a win in the title game over a game Las Vegas Prospects team was important to Allen after he and his teammates had made their way through a tough bracket.
"It feels real good to win," Allen said. "We went through a fight and came out with a victory and represented Dallas."
Already ranked No. 26 nationally in the class of 2014, it's not as if Rashad Vaughn entered the weekend an unknown. Still, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard for Net Gain Sports really put himself on the map with his performance over the weekend and he cemented his place among the top wing prospects in his class with a masterful performance of his own during Aaron Harrison's eruption. While Harrison was going off for the Houston Defenders, Vaughn pumped in 27 of his own during Net Gain's one-point semifinal win. Most notably, Vaughn drained two contested threes and scored the game-winning hoop on a twisting drive in the game's waning moments.
After the Houston Defenders were knocked out of the tournament, they loaded into their vans and made an unofficial visit to SMU. While it's great for Larry Brown and his staff to get the Harrison twins on campus, the visit also gave the Mustangs a chance to get Rivals150 face-up four-man Johnathan Motley and three-star wing Wesley Iwundu on campus. Both had nice moments shooting the ball during the weekend. Also impressing in spurts for the Defenders was class of 2015 wing E'Torrian Wilridge from Beaumont (Texas) Central.
The Las Vegas Prospects 16-and-under crew didn't have quite enough left in the tank to finish off the weekend with a championship after getting to the finals courtesy of a double OT win over KC Run GMC. However, point guard Shaquille Carr proved that he is among the class of 2014's top penetrators/playmakers thanks to his quickness and athleticism. Also having nice moments were combo guard Darryl Gaynor, who showed toughness and shooting ability, and 6-foot-5 wing Justin Burks.
Class of 2013 Rivals150 guard Roddy Peters of the D.C. Assault is a throwback type of player. The 6-foot-4 combo guard doesn't lack for athleticism, but it's his crafty game and skill with the ball that make him dangerous. He likes to dribble into the mid-range where he's got an assortment of pull-ups and floaters or he'll find an open teammate. He's tracking as a potential high-major guard.