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April 20, 2006

Hail to the Kingwood

Update: Mayo healthy after all, just switching teams

To fully understand how big the Kingwood Classic is, look at the 17 and under field. There are 253 teams playing 377 games in less than 72 hours. Over 300 college coaches will bounce between the 42 game sites, trying to get a glimpse of a handful of their top targets. Everything is bigger in Texas, right?

Vision Sports president Hal Pastner has built the Kingwood Classic into the granddaddy of AAU basketball tournaments. This year is no different.

The Breakdown

Teams from 37 states and one team from out of the country are coming to Houston on Friday to get things started. Games tip off at 6:30 Friday night across the northern part of H-Town. The party won't end until 4:30 p.m. on Sunday when the winners of both platinum divisions square off in the King of the Classic game.

There are four rounds of games on Friday with tip-offs scheduled for 6:30, 7:40, 8:50 and 10 p.m. Saturday's pool games start at 8 a.m. and end around 5:20 p.m. Pastner and his staff will release the tournament brackets, a daunting task considering the amount of information from the day's events coming to their headquarters.

The 17U brackets will be broken up as follows:

Platinum A Division - Every team from pools A to U (considered the super pools)

Platinum B Division - Pool winners from V through GGGG pools

Gold Division - Second place teams from V through GGGG pools

Silver Division - Third place teams from V through GGGG pools

The winners of the Platinum brackets will play each other on Sunday at 4:30 at Westfield High School for the King of the Classic Championship. The tournament brackets start play at 5:20 p.m. on Saturday and start back up at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning. The championships for each tournament bracket begin at 3:15 p.m.

Forecasting the field

Last year's champions are back. The Portland Legends will try to defend the 2005 title but one of the top players from last year's championship team won't be suiting up for the Legends. Kevin Love switched teams and now plays for the loaded SoCal All-Stars team. His absence puts the pressure on another five-star prospect, Kyle Singler.

Singler did not play at the Boo Williams Invitational with the Legends but did last weekend in Las Vegas. The elite high-major wing forward will have his work cut out for him this year.

Last year's runners up, the SYF Players from Indiana, have just as good of a team as they did last year. E'Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel played with the team last year and have help from rising star Scott Martin and future Tennessee guard Cordell Passley.

The Houston Hoops are no strangers to the Kingwood Classic. Pastner started the program and this year's team is a legitimate candidate to go deep into the tournament. Led by Gary Johnson and Jai Lucas, the Hoops have winners that know how the game is played in tourney time.

Boo Williams has another strong team on the AAU circuit. This year's squad is young but certainly promising, evident by the team's early spring success. Leading the way is five-star guard Chris Wright. The former NC State commitment was the MVP of the Boo Williams tournament. At his disposal is fast-rising forward Patrick Patterson and promising 2008 big man Ed Davis.

The Atlanta Celtics made a strong run at the Kingwood last year with future Georgia Tech guard Javaris Crittenton running the show. This year's team is balanced with unsigned senior Cameron Tatum and high-flying guard Senario Hillman, who is committed to Alabama. A pair of Georgia commitments, Martavius Adams and Walter Hill, give the team some size and athleticism.

Fresh off of a commitment to Washington, Isaiah Thomas will play with the Arizona Magic Blue team for the second straight weekend. Paired with future Pac-10 rival Jerryd Bayless, the Magic have a deadly backcourt with part-timer Thomas on board.

Team Melo is a team to watch out for. The boys from Baltimore have been playing together for a while and are led by future Syracuse big man Donte Green. Guards Malcolm Delaney and Sean Mosley make for a difficult tandem to tangle with.

After an early exit at the Boo Williams, the Metro Hawks are looking for redemption. The New York club is loaded from top to bottom. Corey Stokes leads the way with Mike Coburn, Samardo Samuels, Jamine Peterson and Devin Ebanks also on the roster.

The Family from Detroit boasts one of the best backcourts in the tournament field with Durrell Summers and Kalin Lucas, both Michigan State pledges. Corperrayle Harris is a guy that the high-majors are evaluating this weekend as well. Speedy Walker has a number of talented young players on his roster as well.

After their strong showing at the Real Deal on the Hill, the Worldwide Renegades are itching for another shot at a tournament title. Chris Allen and J.J. Hickson highlight a deep and talented squad. The head coaches will be in close tow as well to see Hickson once again.

Chasing Royalty

The Kingwood Classic is the battle royal of AAU basketball. This year's field is lined with spring tournament champions and all of them will likely tangle come tournament time on Saturday and Sunday.

Boo Williams Summer League won the Boo Williams Invitational. The Illinois Warriors won the Real Deal on the Hill. SoCal All-Stars claimed the Las Vegas Easter Classic. The T-Mac All-Stars won the Pearland Classic. Nike Team Florida has claimed Raptors Challenge and AAU Spring Easter Classic at Disney. The Georgia Blazers won the Columbus Riverfest.

All about the match-ups

One of the best things about the Kingwood for all parties involved is the strength of the power pools. Tournament organizers pin the nation's best teams up with This year's event is incredibly deep and there are a number of

The last time Nick Calathes matched up with top sophomore guard Brandon Jennings, the future Florida guard dropped 50 points on the youngster at the City of Palms. Calathes isn't with his Lake Howell squad this week and Jennings isn't at Dominguez.

Instead, Calathes leads his Nike Team Florida and Jennings is the stabilizing force in the backcourt for the SoCal All-Stars. The two will tangle on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. at Westfield High School.

The game will also pair SCA's big men Kevin Love and Alex Jacobson with Nike Team Florida's Solomon Alabi and Joseph Katuka, a pair of African natives who have good upside.

DeAndre Jordan of the Houston Swoosh Blue emerged as a legitimate high-major prospect at last year's Kingwood Classic. This year he can cement himself amongst the best big men of 2007. In pool play, Jordan will square up against a big Boo Williams team, featuring Patrick Patterson, a bully of a forward, and Ed Davis, an emerging sophomore with a game somewhat similar as Jordan's. The two teams will square off at 10 p.m. on Friday.

Harper Kamp, a recent Cal commitment, has a blue collar approach to the game and his non-stop motor will grind with player cut from the same mold on
Saturday at 1:50 at Westfield. Kamp will square off against Gary Johnson of the Houston Hoops.

Youth movement

The 2007 class is well represented at the Kingwood and there a number of young players nipping at the heels of the upperclassmen.

Some of the names to follow include J'Covan Brown of the T-Mac All-Stars,
Derrick Favors (2009) of the Atlanta Celtics, Greg Monroe of the New Orleans Panthers, Xavier Henry (2009) of Athletes First, Samardo Samuels of the Metro Hawks, Xavier Gibson of the Georgia Blazers, Lance Stephenson (2009) of the Juice All-Stars and Rayford Shipman of the Florida Rams.

Who will be crowned king of the Kingwood?

The Kingwood Classic is all about the big timers playing even bigger. But the tournament also produces legitimate stars. Every year it happens. Who will emerge this year? Who will win it? How will it all go down? Find out only on Rivals.com. Our hoops team will be there from start to finish.

Are you ready?


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