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December 28, 2004HOUSTON, Texas - There may only be six teams at the first annual Low Down Classic but the star power is everywhere inside the tiny gym at Lutheran South Academy. A great game from Memphis, Tenn. forward Thaddeus Young, who did just about everything he could do to start the six game event off strong. Gerald Green the No. 1 player in the country in the class of 2005, helped his Gulf Shores Academy team claim a victory over a foe that knocked them off earlier in the season.
Memphis (Tenn.) Mitchell 94, Heritage Christian Academy (Texas) 72
What doesn't Thaddeus Young do well? The 6-foot-8 small forward is one of the smartest prospects around - in any class. He knows how to shoot, when to shoot, when to pass, when to attack and when to play on the wing and when to get in down low. And that's in a game where he admitted the play was not the level he and his team is used to.
The lefty has a silky shot and isn't afraid to pull up on a defender and drain the three point bucket. Blessed with great footwork and a pair of soft hands, Young could have a future as a big time wide receiver with that combination of skills. High-major hoops programs are all after the No. 7 ranked junior in the country. He showed why with 33 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks, four steals and four assists in a sloppy 94-72 win over Heritage Christian.
Young's teammate Brandon Powell raised some eyebrows with his surprisingly good athleticism and reliable jumper even with a quirky looking shot. The 6-foot-4 guard from the class of 2006 is long and gets after it on defense, a trademark of Mitchell High School basketball. Recruiters are asking if he can play the point. If he can, he could be getting a more inquiries from the high-majors.
The duo said Clemson, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Mississippi State, Indiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee were all involved. Georgia Tech, Oklahoma and Texas were all in the house to see them play.
Heritage Christian's Michael Washington, who reclassified to the class of 2006, just doesn't know how good he can become. The 6-foot-10 forward is long, he has the making of a great college body and he's incredibly athletic but he rushes shots and is impatient in the offense. His raw package is still too good to pass up by high-majors and another year outside of college is going to do nothing but help him achieve the level he should be at. He didn't play in the third quarter and finished 14 points and five rebounds.
Gulfshores Academy (Texas) 77, North Side (La.) 53
The two met earlier in the season and North Side game away a winner, 70-56. On Monday night, the home school won convincingly and gave North Side their first loss of the season, dropping them to 18-1.
Gerald Green, the ultra-athletic 6-foot-8 shooting guard, flossed his teeth with the rim on a first half alley-oop but his game never fully materialized. He finished 23 points, according to the official score keeper, and hit on all three of three point attempts. The Oklahoma State signee showed off his graceful jump shot for the dozen or so NBA scouts and execs that piled into the small gym. The reviews were mixed on Green's performance.
Green's running mate Jovan Adams scored 23 points, pulled down seven rebounds and have seven steals in the convincing win over a very good guard oriented team. Adams, a future UNLV Running Rebel, can score in bunches he did just that.
Perry Stevenson, who was coming off a huge 15 block performance against D.J. Augustine's Brother Martin team last week, didn't have quite the same success against Gulfshores. Stevenson, a slender 6-foot-9 center, was riddled with foul trouble and finished with a pair of blocks and a quiet 13 points. When he's not battling with the men in stripes, the No. 63 ranked player in the class of 2006, is one of the best centers in the junior class.
He has a good core of young core of young guards around him. Randell Daigle, a junior, Warren Fuseller, a sophomore and Wendell Thibeaux, a junior combined for 33 points. Daigle is a strong shooting guard, Fuseller is an intriguing point guard that makes good decisions and Thibeaux is a guy that can score in bunches. Fuseller had 23 points and 11 assists against Brother Martin.
Mt. Zion (N.C.) 84, Nacogdoches (Texas) 50
Denaro Thomas put on a shooting clinic. The 6-foot-4 junior from New Orleans hit seven of eight long balls en route to a game high 21 points. He rarely stepped inside the three point stripe but he didn't have to. He lit up the Nacogdoches defense early and often.
In front of a number of people from the NBA, Brandon Rush had a decent and quiet game. The No. 4 ranked senior in America had 17 points, including two nice three point buckets. He snatched seven rebounds and passed the ball very well in the victory. It wasn't vintage Rush but it was an effective game.
Early on, it was all Shawn Taggart. The future Iowa State big man has made serious strides in his game since this time last year. He runs the floor like a guard, he shoots the mid range shot with ease and he'll defend inside the paint. The Richmond, Va. native finished with 13 points and seven rebounds in limited action.
Damion James is not a sight most high school players see. The 6-foot-8, 235-pound small forward is a bull of a player that can come barreling down the lane for a nasty dunk or he can take a player from the wing and attack the basket with a dribble.
Inside the paint, where he can really shine, James does a great job of grabbing rebounds and fighting inside for points. In fact, he could probably spend more time doing just that. Instead, he floats on the wing often. The No. 5 ranked junior in the country can knock it down and he did just that twice against Mt. Zion. James finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Heavyweights square off tomorrow
Green and Rush will meet in the much anticipated match-up of high-flyers. A number of NBA executives will be in attendance to see two of the most athletic players in the class of 2005. Tip off is slated for an 8 p.m. CST tip off.
In the matinee matchup, Young and James - two of the top wing forwards in the country - will line up from each other at 6:30 p.m.
Schools in attendance
Coaches from Arkansas, Baylor, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma and Texas were spotted in the crowd as well as a couple of low and mid-majors. There may have been more NBA guys in the stands than coaches.