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April 23, 2006

Kingwood: Mayo saves new team

HOUSTON -- O.J. Mayo has earned yet another nickname: The Savior.

With his new AAU team on the verge of a first-round exit in the bracket play of the Kingwood Classic, the No. 1 prospect from the class of 2007 simply took over.

Mayo scored nine of the Miami Tropics' 11 points in two overtimes in their 62-58 win over the Long Island Lightning on Saturday night. He dished out an assist for the only two points he wasn't responsible for.

Mayo created the biggest storyline entering the tournament when Rivals.com learned Friday morning that he would be playing with the Nike-sponsored Tropics. Mayo has been playing his whole career with the Reebok-sponsored D-1 Greyhounds and plans to return to that team after the weekend.

With the score tied at 50 entering the first overtime, Mayo nailed a 17-footer to put the Tropics up 52-50. After the Lightning tied it up, he hit a short jumper in the lane on the ensuing possession to give the Tropics another two-point edge.

At the start of the second overtime, Mayo penetrated into the lane, drew a swarm of defenders and fired a short pass to center Freddy Asprilla. The big man threw down an easy dunk that put the Tropics up 56-54.

Mayo hit a fadaway jumper with a defender in his face and made four straight free throws to end any threat of an upset.

One of the other top performances of the day belonged to Syracuse-commit Donte Green. The power forward put on a show, displaying a deep arsenal of offensive moves and tremendous versatility while leading Team Melo to a 55-45 win over the New Orleans Panthers during pool play.

Green, who was matched up against highly-touted sophomore power forward Greg Monroe, scored on two dazzling spin moves in the lane and had a three-point play off a fadaway jumper in the first half. He also pushed the ball upcourt on a handful of fast breaks.

Green sealed the win by driving down the lane and throwing down a viscous, one-handed dunk over a defender. He added a crowd-pleasing windmill in the closing seconds.

Monroe produced a handful of highlights as well, including a runner he banked off the glass while being fouled.

Monroe said that Baylor and USC have already offered him scholarships. Arkansas, Duke, Florida, Mississippi State, North Carolina and Tennessee are all showing interest.

Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl and Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski were among the coaches who took time to watch Monroe.

Florida coach Billy Donovan and two of his assistants watched their 2007 commit Nick Calathes play in a handful of games and had to be impressed with what they saw.

The junior point guard led Nike Team Florida to a 55-45 win in the morning over the SYF Players (Indiana).

Calathes only had 10 points, but he was clearly the best player on the court. Early in the first half, he used a stutter-step to blow past fellow four-star junior E'Twaun Moore and get to the free throw line. He also fired a great pass nearly the length of the court into the hands of Jordan Bolton for an easy layup.

Team Florida was without 7-footer Solomon Alabi, who sat out the tournament with a hip pointer.

But, Calathes also got help from his supporting cast, including big men Joseph Katuka and Lance Kearse (little brother of NFL star Jevon Kearse), small forward and high school teammate Chandler Parsons and shooting guard Martavis Kee.

Moore put together a solid game, scoring 14 and hitting a pair of 3-pointers.

Calathes showed more scoring prowess against SoCal All-Stars, arguably the most talented AAU team in the nation, later in the day. He hit a pair of long 3-pointers to keep his team and attack the basket relentlessly and fired a beautiful no-look pass from the top of the arc to Kee for an easy layup.

But, the SoCal All-Stars pulled away down the stretch for an 84-65 win behind strong performances by Kevin Love and Brandon Jennings. The inside-outside duo has been dominating so far in the tourney.

Two of the best dunks in the tourney came from five-star senior Darrell Arthur and five-star junior Senario Hillman (Alabama commit). Arthur caught an alley-oop from one-hand from halfcourt and threw it down with one hand.

Hillman put together a great game to lead the Atlanta Celtics past Team Texas 88-82 in the second round of bracket play. The flashy combo guard threw down highlight reel-worthy dunks and scored on acrobatic layups and tough jumpers.

List of head coaches who attended: Alabama's Mark Gottfried, Arizona's Lute Olson, Baylor's Scott Drew, Charlotte's Bobby Lutz, DePaul's Jerry Wainwright, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, Florida's Billy Donovan, Florida State's Leonard Hamilton, Georgia's Dennis Felton, Illinois' Bruce Weber, Iowa State's Greg McDermott, Kansas' Bill Self, Kentucky's Tubby Smith, Minnesota's Dan Monson, Oklahoma's Jeff Capel, Ole Miss' Adam Kennedy, Stanford's Trent Johnson, Tennessee's Bruce Pearl, Texas A&M's Billy Gillispie, UCLA's Ben Howland, Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings, Virginia's Dave Leitao, Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg, Wake Forest's Skip Prosser, Washington's Lorenzo Romar, West Virginia's John Beilein, Wisconsin's Bo Ryan.


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