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November 24, 2007

Texas Jamboree: Youth prevails

HOUSTON -- Greg Monroe was the headliner but the young prospects were the story on the opening day of action of the Texas Jamboree on Friday at Strake Jesuit High School.

Monroe leads the Helen Cox charge

What a better way to tip off the high school basketball season on a national level than seeing the nation's top prospect in action. Greg Monroe, the top player in the Rivals.com class of 2008 rankings, and his Helen Cox team from Louisiana was the main attraction on Friday at the Texas Jamboree.

Monroe started the game cold, going zero for six from the floor. Even though he finished with 18 points (8-16 FG) and improved as the game went along the big man never seemed to get into the flow of the contest.

He had his best success in the third quarter where he went to work on the left side of the basket and used his primary hand (his left) well with reverse lay-ups. The big man also collected nine rebounds in the contest.

With two more games to be played on Saturday, those that made it out to the Jamboree are hoping to see more from the Georgetown bound big man.

Part of the intrigue coming into the game was Monroe's match-up with Pittsburgh bound forward Dwight Miller however, as it is always the case, things never really materialized between the two. Miller, a 6-foot-8 grinder, came out firing from the perimeter and wanted to set the tone on the wing.

Miller, like Monroe, came out cold as he went zero for six from the floor. Three of his misses were from the top of the key and behind the three-point line. Things never really picked up as the game went along for the three-star prospect. He finished with 11 points (5-15 FG, 1-6 from three_ and six rebounds.

One of the reasons why Miller was such a hot name after his productive summer was because of his great motor and attention to doing the dirty work on the blocks. This game he took himself away from the paint and lessened his effectiveness. For him to be an effective player in the Big East, Miller might want to reconsider his attack plan. He's much better as a power player.

The kids are alright

One of the reasons why this event was so appealing in the preseason was getting a chance to see some of the top underclassmen in the Lone Star State.

The Dallas Lincoln team jumped on a bus early Friday morning and made the four-hour drive to Houston for the event and it looked, at first, that freshman Lebryan Nash may have felt the effects of a post-Thanksgiving mid-afternoon game the most. The 6-foot-7 well-developed big man has played well early on for the Dallas club but looked a bit lethargic in his team's game against a young Houston Bellaire club.

With two points and four rebounds under his belt to start the game, Nash came out firing in the second to the tune of 21 points and helped his team claim a hard fought victory in one of the better games of the day.

Nash used his natural strength and big body to his advantage for scores inside and shielded himself very well with the rim for scores underneath. Paired against a longer defender, Nash did a fine job of getting his shot off high and did a fine job when the game mattered. Nash, despite the high tension in the game, never seemed to get rattled and put together a fine game.

He's a high-level prospect that will be well-discussed over the next four years. Nash has visited Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas and has interest from Georgetown and others.

Nash had his hands full against Bellaire. The local team boasted a young roster with three sophomores and a freshman making up the starting lineup. And the young guys didn't disappoint.

Sophomore power forward Toby Oyedeji may only be 6-foot-7 but he plays like he's 6-foot-10. Of all of the post players we saw on Friday, Oyedeji is a tall glass of water and knows how to use his size well.

The class of 2010 prospect scored 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against Lincoln and did a fine job of scoring from the blocks and is comfortable with his back to the basket. He's a fine passer from the post and will be a high-major prospect. The local Big 12 schools know plenty about him already.

Wing James Outler, a 6-foot-2 guard from the class of 2010, started a little slow but came out strong in the second half. He hit three three-pointers in the second stanza and gave the team another offensive option to watch for.

The team's most intriguing prospect in the backcourt was freshman combo guard Sheldon McClellan. The 6-foot-4 youngster has plenty of tools to work with and all he needs is time. The locals say he's the best in his class in Houston and it is easy to see why despite a rather quiet game. He's a smooth operator with great length. McClellan likes the ball in his hands and did more positive than negative when he was on the floor. Keep an eye on him. He has a chance to be a special player down the road.

As impressive as Nash and Oyedeji were in their match-up, no one had a bigger impact on his team's victory than sophomore Julian Washburn. The 6-foot-7 forward from Dallas Kimball showed why he's such a well thought of young man in Big D.

Washburn, a class of 2010 prospect, scored 24 points and grabbed roughly 15 rebounds in his team's 55-50 win over Hastings in what was the best game of the day.

Because of his great length and bounce, Washburn was the hardest player to defend for Hastings all game long. He found the holes to sneak into on offense for scores, played well above his head for buckets and crashed the boards for put backs. The youngster never really changed his countenance throughout the game and played an even-keeled game from tip to the final horn.

Washburn has been to Texas A&M and Baylor while schools like Texas, UCLA, Houston, Texas Tech, SMU and others have shown an early interest in him. He's a high-major kid with great upside. His first impression was a good one.

Other notables from Friday

Jamal Fenton, a speedy point guard from Chavez High School, opened the event off strong with a 26 point (6-16 FG, 11-14 FT), eight assist, four steal and three rebound performance. The class of 2009 prospect helped his club in an 80-71 overtime win over HCYA.

J'Covan Brown, a four-star senior, scored 31 points in his team's loss. He was a cold nine for 27 from the floor (including two for ten from three-point land). The Texas commitment guard did convert 11 of 13 shots from the foul line and handed out five assists in the defeat.

St. Pius X guard Mike Davis scored 21 points in a tough defeat to Helen Cox in the final game of the day. However, he had nothing to beat himself up about. The class of 2009 prospect showed off great grit, heady play and a fearlessness about his game. He can shoot, score in the midrange and is a good passer. The 6-foot-3 guard is being recruited by all levels and it will be interesting to see where his recruitment goes.

News & Notes

Keep an eye on Sam Houston State bound big man Antuan Bootle. The big man has great tools to work with. He just needs some work on his body and his stamina. He had his way against a more athletic Dallas Pinkston team on Friday afternoon to the tune of 30 points in a big blow out win.

Bootle has great hands, does a fine job with positioning on the blocks and sealing his man off for scores and has a soft touch inside the paint. Once he gets his 6-foot-7 frame into tip top shape, Sam Houston State will have a very serviceable big man to work with.

Houston's St. Thomas High School team looked a lot like Butler in today's college world. St. Thomas was money from behind the three-point line. In fact, the team's top ace, junior Cody Hill looks a little like Butler star A.J. Graves. Hill finished the game with 21 points and five made trifectas.

St. Thomas point guard Blake Jolivette only scored two points in his team's blow out win but he's an important player to watch at the point guard position. The 6-footer from the class of 2009 has great court awareness and seemed to be perfectly content with making the pass instead of the score. Jolivette has big time grades and a presence about him. It will be interesting to see how his recruitment develops over time.

It was odd not seeing a Lucas on the Bellaire roster. Jai, a freshman now at Florida, and former Oklahoma State star John, both wore the Bellaire jersey before their college career. This is the first time in nearly eight years that a Lucas has not been on the floor for the school.

Taking a look

Assistant coaches from Coastal Carolina, Oral Roberts, Rice, UNC Charlotte and Utah all made it out to the day's events. More coaches are expected on Saturday.

Scoreboard

Houston Chavez 80, HCYA 71 (Overtime)
Westfield 68, Austin LBJ 61
North Shore 83, Port Arthur Memorial 75
St. Thomas 78, Lincoln 57
Lincoln 55, Bellaire 48
Kimball 54, Hastings 50
Helen Cox 65, St. Pius 55

Up next

11 a.m. � Forest Brook vs. LBJ
12:30 p.m. � St. Pius X vs. Pinkston
2:00 � St. Thomas vs. Helen Cox
3:30 � Port Arthur Memorial vs. Smiley
5:00 � Strake Jesuit vs. Kimball
6:30 � Wheatley vs. Lincoln
8:00 � Helen Cox vs. Yates


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