Wednesday Vegas Recap: Five-star prospects step up at the right time
One of the best AAU games I've ever seen took place on Wednesday night, as five top-15 prospects battled it out in an epic back-and-forth performance.
LAS VEGAS - It's hard enough to get four of the best guards in the country on the same court during a camp setting, let alone an AAU game. And it's also not always a guarantee that the quartet of stars will play hard.
Wednesday night's game between Belmont Shore and Mo Williams Academy at the Fab 48 broke the mold in both cases.
On one side was the unbelievable backcourt tandem of Emmanuel Mudiay and Malik Newman, a duo who had joined up on the circuit recently and already made waves. Mudiay is ranked No. 3 in the 247Sports Composite for the class of 2014, and is arguably the best guard in the country. Newman is the consensus No. 1 player in the class of 2015.
Up to the task on Wednesday were Belmont Shore's combo of Daniel Hamilton and Tyler Dorsey. Hamilton's strong summer boosted him to the No. 13 in the class of 2014, while Dorsey is slotted at No. 9 in the class of 2015. For good measure, Belmont Shore also had top-five junior Stephen Zimmerman on the inside.
The matchup had been hyped up within the grassroots circuit for most of the past week, and it certainly lived up to the hype -- and more. To be honest, it was one of the most high-level AAU basketball games I've seen in the past five years.
"It was great," Newman said. "It was a lot of the top players in the country, regardless of class. And it was a great atmosphere. There was a lot of coaches here, great players, great talent, and great competition."
When at least four or five future pros are on the court at the same time, it's understandable if one or two guys stand out a little less than the others. That wasn't the case on Wednesday night at Bishop Gorman.
Despite not being as highly-touted as his opponents, Dorsey led Belmont Shore to a victory with 35 points and seven 3-pointers. He was consistent from start to finish, and continued to find ways to score.
"I knew I was playing them, I was kind of hyped up for this game. I knew I had to come out and just show what I got. And that's what I did. I had the hot hand, so I just kept shooting it."
Hamilton got a little haphazard with his shot selection, but still ended up with 31 points. Zimmerman finished with 20 points, but also had close to double-figure blocks and did a little bit of everything.
"I love this, man," Dorsey said. "Just being competitive. Man, we just go out there and work hard, and show what we've been working on all summer and spring."
Newman and Mudiay alternated carrying the load for MWA Elite, with Mudiay demonstrating an elite penetration and playmaking ability. Mudiay had 22 points in the first half, finishing with 31. Newman banged in eight 3-pointers en route to a 32-point evening.
All four -- and Zimmerman -- performed at an elite level. Each of the four showed they could get their own shot against any defender, capable of scoring from the perimeter or off the dribble.
The hype surrounding the game wasn't lost on the players, either. They knew who they were facing, and they knew the stakes were high.
As Newman said when asked if the atmosphere made him elevate his game: "I had to -- or else I would get embarrassed."
Given that each of the four scored at least 31 points, no one was embarrassed on Wednesday.
Wednesday matchup rundown
Myles Turner vs. Cliff Alexander and Jahlil Okafor: We saw a preview of this last weekend in Milwaukee, when Turner went head-to-head against Alexander. Facing both of the Chicago big men was a tough challenge for Turner, although his length and ability to face-up and knock down shots was problematic for his opponents. Okafor and Alexander worked well together in the low post or in the high-low.
Isaiah Whitehead vs. Rashad Vaughn: One could make the case that these are the two best shooting guards in the class of 2014. While it was an undercard to the aforementioned big man battle, these two showed off a variety of offensive abilities on Wednesday night. Whitehead got the best of Vaughn, though, making shots from NBA-range and also finishing inside the arc off the bounce.
Stephen Zimmerman vs. Kevon Looney: Zimmerman played for Dream Vision on Wednesday afternoon before switching gyms and teams for the night session. His battle against Looney didn't work out so well. Looney's ability to create matchup problems was a nightmare for Zimmerman. He was scoring inside and out, forcing Zimmerman to defend him all over the court. At the other end, Zimmerman wasn't assertive -- and also rarely got the ball.
Kaleb Joseph vs. Brandone Francis: Two of the hotter point guard prospects in the spring and summer, this maybe didn't have the star power of some of the other head-to-head battles -- but it was still worth watching. Joseph might have come out on top, as Francis never really got going and seemed to struggle a bit with Joseph's length. Joseph is still somewhat raw as a true point guard, but his ceiling could be as high as any point guard's in the country.
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