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April 2, 2012

Calhoun, Robinson highlight AAC

Sunday in New Orleans, the good folks at the Gazelle Group presented the second annual All-American Classic. A 38-player event featuring players from both the classes of 2012 and 2013 being put onto teams representing the North, South, East and West, the AAC is a new and fresh take on all-star games. In an event filled with several high level prospects, the East's Omar Calhoun and North's Glenn Robinson III were among the standouts.

East cruises by West

Outside of the first few minutes of the game, there wasn't ever much doubt about the outcome as the East squad seized early command and rolled to an 84-72 victory over the West.

Leading the way for the East was four-star shooting guard Omar Calhoun. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard was smart and efficient in the first half as he constantly worked himself free for mid-range jumpers in transition and then used his craftiness off the dribble to draw repeated trips to the free throw line. The future UConn Husky racked up 17 points by halftime and finished with an event record 26 points to go along with a pair of assists in just about 20 minutes of play.

Another shooting guard showing well for the East was Providence bound five-star Ricardo Ledo. One of high school basketball's most effortless and natural scorers, the 6-foot-5 senior started a little slow and then caught fire during mop up time to finish with 16 points and four assists. Because he gets his offense so easily, Ledo can be a bit sloppy with the ball at times and it showed with his six turnovers. Still, the kid is a big time talent and an impact player in the Big East.

On the interior, the East featured an impressive rotation of Nerlens Noel, Mitch McGary, Kaleb Tarczewski, Dajuan Coleman and Christopher Obekpa. None of the big guys really ever got established with paint touches but the quick rising Obekpa did impress with his shot blocking and willingness to chase after everything. Other than a good-looking 17 foot jumper the potential new number one in 2012, Noel, was pretty quiet. Tarczewski continued to show improvement running the floor and catching around the rim while McGary chipped in where he could during his time. Coleman led all rebounders tallying an impressive 12 rebounds in just under 17 minutes.

For the losing West squad it was a pretty balanced effort. However, the play of Baylor bound point guard L.J. Rose did not go unnoticed. Building off of a strong senior campaign, Rose is a big and strong point guard who has skill and is continuing to improve his jumper. He finished with 10 points, four rebounds and four assists but was a steadying presence on the floor. Also good in the backcourt was Andrew Harrison. Currently ranked number one nationally in the class of 2013, the 6-foot-5 point guard played more as a scorer and also showed off what looks to be a much-improved shot.

Big man Cameron Ridley was solid and pretty productive facing the East's large front line. He got into position in transition and the half court to convert dunks but did struggle to score some in pure one on one situations.

Finally, point guard Dominic Artis had to have been worn down. The 6-foot-1 four-star pretty arrived late to New Orleans after helping lead Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep to a championship at the National High School Invitational. As usual, the future Oregon Duck used his quickness and crafty handle to put pressure on defenders and finished with nine points and four assists with zero turnovers.

South edges North

While the first game was never very close, the closing game between the North and South was a completely different story. After jumping out to a big early lead, the South watched the North come back in the second quarter. It was a back and forth affair from there on out until the South emerged victorious, 86-85, thanks to a pair of Braxton Ogbueze free throws with nine seconds left.

Leading the way for the South was Baylor bound big man Ricardo Gathers. Playing in front of a hometown crowd, the 6-foot-7 power forward flexed his muscles while scoring 16 points on a variety of short to medium range jumpers and power plays. Maybe most encouraging is that he was 6-8 from the free throw line, an area of his game where the four-star usually struggles tremendously.

Playing for his high school coach David Boyd of Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton, Virginia bound combo forward Evan Nolte was also solid. While he lacks strength, he's an instinctive, alert and clever player who can really shoot jumpers. He made six of seven shots (including three of four from deep) and was very effective with his touches while scoring 16 points and grabbing three rebounds. North Carolina signee Joel James looks to have dropped a significant amount of weight and was a force on the glass and around the rim. Not only did he score 12 points, but he grabbed a team high 10 rebounds and came up with a huge block of an attempted Cameron Biedscheid dunk late in regulation. For the North it was all about the impressive play of their jumbo sized wings like Glenn Robinson III, Sam Dekker and Biedscheid. Poised for a jump to five-star status in the final 2012 rankings, Robinson didn't really get to show off his versatile and complete perimeter arsenal. However, he did get to show off his superior 6-foot-7 size, big time frame and ability to finish high above the rim in a 16 point outing. However, he was dogged some by missed free throws. Wisconsin fans have to be ecstatic about Dekker. The kid can really play. He scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds but had maybe the most impressive move of the day when he caught out beyond the three point line, ripped through and drove left along the baseline for a slam. Already listed at 6-foot-8, the five-star appeared bigger than several players listed taller than him. While the Notre Dame bound Biedscheid didn't have his jumper falling from deep at it's usual rate, he was still impressive. The 6-foot-7 wing is built to score and has an advanced set of skills, quickness with the ball and deep range on the offensive end of the floor. Other notables who looked good were the Iowa bound duo of Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury and Indiana signee Jeremy Hollowell. Gesell looked quicker than last summer and had a team high five assists while Woodbury has bulked up and was very efficient in compiling a double-double of 11 and 11. Hollowell will likely get a crack as a big wing, but because of his size and faceup ability, he could end up a problem in the high post because of his ability to drain mid-range jumpers and hit open cutters.



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