HAYWARD, Calif. -- Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League hit its fourth stop over the weekend as the 40 participating teams competed for one of 24 spots in the 2012 EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam July 18-21. The top five teams in each of the four divisions, plus the top four at-large teams, qualify. Here are some news and notes from the weekend of competition.
CIA Bounced -- Twice
Teams that didn't need any extra motivation coming in were in Division D. That grouping includes CIA Bounce of Canada, led by 2012 ESPNHS National Sophomore of the Year Andrew Wiggins of Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.). CIA Bounce entered the final session as the only unbeaten team with a 14-0 record, but lost its first two games this weekend.
Meanstreets (Ill.), which entered with a 12-2 record, recorded a 66-49 victory over the Canadian team behind a 22-point, seven-rebound performance from Kendrick Nunn of Simeon (Chicago). The 6-foot-2 guard used explosive drives to break down CIA's defense.
"It was just a lack of effort (that) we lost twice coming in," said Nunn, still uncommitted for college. "We're pretty much confident against whoever we play; it's just a matter of executing as we're supposed to do."
CIA Bounce then took on Boo Williams Summer League (Va.), which entered the game with an 8-7 record, and fell 78-68. Two-guard Al Freeman, who played last season at Olympic (Charlotte, Va.) but will spend his senior season at Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), led Boo Williams by draining six 3-pointers and finishing with 25 points. Boo also got excellent play from lead guard Anthony Barber of Hampton (Hampton, Va.), one of the EYBL's quickest guards end-to-end.
"We played as a team in this game," said Freeman, who lists Kansas, UCLA, Villanova, Duke and Ohio State as college choices. "Individually, I thought about doing what I could to help the team. My mindset wasn't to shoot because I got hot. It was if I got an open look to take it."
In its third game, CIA Bounce rebounded to defeat The Southern Stampede, despite Wiggins sitting out most of the second half due to a strained back. Wiggins, the No. 1-ranked prospect in the ESPN 60, played the rest of the weekend as his team won three consecutive games after the upset losses. With off-the-charts athleticism and a feathery jump shot, Wiggins did nothing to dispel recent talk that he's developing into the nation's best player regardless of class.
No. 1 vs. No. 2
Jabari Parker of Simeon (Chicago) and Julius Randle of Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas) would have something to say if Wiggins is crowned the nation's best player. Both possess the type of character to let their play do the talking.
On Sunday night, Parker's Mac Irvin Fire squad took on Randle's Team Texas Titans in front of a standing-room-only crowd. The intensity matched the hype, as both teams played within the team concept. Team Texas Titans jumped out to an early double-digit lead (18-8), but Mac Irvin Fire bounced back and kept it close before falling 63-59.
The main difference in the game wasn't the individual play of the two stars, but perimeter shooting. Mac Irvin Fire missed all 16 of its 3-point attempts, while Team Texas Titans made 7-of-13.
Parker, the No. 1 player in the ESPN 100 and a recent Sports Illustrated cover subject, made 6-of-14 field goal attempts (0-of-5 from 3-point range) and captured five rebounds, two assists and 14 points.
Randle, ranked No. 2 in the ESPN 100, made 6-of-10 field goal attempts (0-of-3 on 3-pointers) and had 13 rebounds and 23 points.
Re-retiring Famous Number
When Troy Williams entered Phoebus (Hampton, Va.) three years ago, he had some big shoes to fill. His uncle Boo Williams was an all-state selection at Phoebus in 1977 and subsequently had his No. 5 jersey retired. Troy asked his uncle, now a towering figure on the AAU circuit as the founder of the Boo Williams Summer League, if he could bring down the jersey from the rafters.
"There was a hint of excitement in him," Troy said about his decision to wear No. 5. "Most of what he said was, 'You don't have to play for me, play for yourself.'"
The jersey is now going back into retirement a year earlier than originally expected because the 6-foot-7 forward is transferring to Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) for his senior year. Unlike his decision to wear No. 5 at Phoebus, Troy's family was a bit split on whether he should join the defending POWERADE FAB 50 national champ or stay in Hampton.
"Half of them encouraged me to stay and the other half said it was my choice," said Troy, who has helped BWSL to a 12-7 record and five consecutive wins with one game remaining on Monday morning.
"When I talked to (Oak Hill) coach (Steve) Smith, he said he'll help me with my shot and strength. I think I'll bring high energy and be a big help to the team."
Bay Area Family Reunion
For former NBA forward Antonio Davis Sr., the EYBL's Oakland session was a family reunion of sorts. He was able to check out the action with longtime friends and family members, including brother Charles.
Session No. 4 was especially special for Davis' mother, Alice, because it was the first time she had the opportunity to watch Antonio Davis Jr. play AAU ball in person. The 6-foot-8, 170-pounder attends Buford (Buford, Ga.) and is a reserve wing for the Georgia Stars.
Davis Sr., a McClymonds (Oakland, Calif.) graduate, made his living on the defensive end as a rugged rebounder and physical presence. Davis Jr. spends more time away from the basket and has a finesse approach to the game.
"I know what it's like for him, so I have taken a step back," Davis Sr. said in regards to teaching his son. "I felt like I was forcing him to be something he wasn't because we play the game in different ways."
Another interesting dynamic to Junior's basketball education is the presence of his sister Kaela Davis, the No. 2 prospect in the HoopGurlz Super 60 for the class of 2013. She's 6-foot-2 and, like her father, uses her physicality to dominate foes.
"I try to do the same for both of them, but the biggest thing I've realized is they are two different types of players," Davis Sr. said. "My son hasn't even filled out yet."
No Rest for the Weary
Bobby Portis, ranked No. 12 in the ESPN 100, calculates he might be home for a week and a half this entire summer if he plays up to his own lofty standards.
The 6-foot-9 forward from Hall (Little Rock, Ark.) will attend the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp June 13-17 in Charlottesville, Va., the Amare Stoudamire Nike Skills Academy June 21-23 in Chicago and the Nike Skills School July 11-15 in Washington D.C.
With a good showing at Stoudamire's Skill Academy, he hopes to earn an invitation to the LeBron James U.S. Skills Academy July 6-9. Of course, there's also the matter at hand in leading the Arkansas Wings Elite, which is in second place in Division A at 12-7 entering Monday.
"I'm trying to get us to Peach Jam," said Portis, who does a good job moving his feet defensively and running the floor. "I think I'm playing pretty good. I'm working on my pull-up jump shot and staying low with my ball-handling."
School ended last week at Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) and since he's in his hometown, incoming Arizona freshman Brandon Ashley figured he might as well do something productive while he watches his former AAU running mates from the Oakland Soldiers battle for a spot in the Peach Jam.
Ashley is working the scorer's table for the EYBL games while enjoying his time home before college.