AAU Super Showcase preview
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The AAU Super Showcase held at ESPN's Wide World Of Sports Complex is one of the marquee events of the summer. The invitation-only event gives the best teams and elite players a chance to showcase their talent.
Over the years, the Super Showcase has played host to the likes of John Wall, Brandon Knight, Kyrie Irving, Greg Monroe, Chris Paul, Amare Stoudemire, Jared Sullinger and Dwyane Wade, among others. Last year, the combination of Alabama commit Trevor Lacey and Duke commit Austin Rivers for Each 1 Teach 1 proved to be too much for the rest of the field.
This year, two games will be broadcasted live on ESPNU -- Texas Pro (Houston) versus Georgia Stars (Atlanta) on July 26 at 7 p.m. ET and the Super Showcase championship on July 27 at 7 p.m. ET.
Here is a look at some of the squads in this year's event.
SYF (Fort Wayne, Ind.)
It has a powerful tandem of PF Mitch McGary (Chesterton, Ind./Brewster Academy) and Michigan commit SF Glenn Robinson Jr. (St. John, Ind./Lake Central). McGary has the physical tools and skill to score inside and outside with the urgency you expect from the No. 4 overall player in the class. Robinson is a fun and exciting small forward to watch compete, especially when he is in full attack mode. What makes Robinson special is his great length, athletic ability and skill. He can score with range to the arc and play above the rim when he has space. The son of Purdue great Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson is leading a gritty and tough group that is coming in on a high after recently winning the NY2LA Under Armour Summer Jam in Milwaukee.
The "Y" just came off a very successful run at the EYBL Finals with their U-17 team finishing second and the U-16 team winning the division championship. PF Jarnell Stokes (Memphis/Oak Hill Academy), No. 18 overall, leads this hungry group that is looking for redemption for their loss at the Peach Jam. SG Anthlon Bell (Memphis/Bartlett) is a sharpshooter who can knock it down from 3 and can break a game open, while SG Martavious Newby (Memphis/Booker T. Washington) is a catalyst for this group with his defensive intensity. When this group defends, it can be smothering.
Fresh off of winning its first Peach Jam championship in 16 years, the BABC comes into the Super Showcase with a record of 77-2 on the season. This defensive-minded group led the regular season of the EYBL in scoring defense at 51 points per game -- with a shot clock! The squad is led by the nation's best shot-blocker in C Nerlens Noel (Everett, Mass./Titlon School), who makes opponents think twice before attempting any shot, and the ones he does not block, he alters. Offensively, Noel is making progress as he scores with either hand inside and drives the ball from the high post effectively. Noel's partner in the frontcourt, PF Georges Niang (Methuen, Mass./The Tilton School), is fundamentally sound, productive and does a good job lifting taller defenders off the ground with a shot fake. PG Jaylen Brantley (Springfield, Mass./Wilbraham & Monson) is the unsung hero. He is the team's best 3-point shooter and leading scorer.
Georgia Stars (Atlanta)
The Stars are deep and will come at their opponent in waves to wear them down late in a game. They are an excellent rebounding team, led by SF Alex Poythress (Clarksville, Tenn./Northeast), No. 17 overall, who can be a game-changer inside and out. PF Tony Parker (Lithonia, Ga./Miller Grove) anchors the paint but is very adept at facing the basket from 15 feet, where his soft touch enables him to knock down a jump shot or drive the ball with one or two dribbles to the rim. SF Marcus Hunt (Riverdale, Ga./North Clayton) is a true matchup problem for most SF/SG. Clemson-bound SF Jaron Blossomgame (Alpharetta, Ga./Chattahoocee) is also capable of having a big performance and he has been scoring the ball with confidence as of late. Besides having fire power to score, this team has very good overall length and uses it to contest and block shots.
Texas Pro (Houston)
Who said Texas is a just a football state? This group is loaded with size, length, skill and athletic ability. Led by the No. 2 overall player, Baylor commit C Isaiah Austin (Mansfield, Texas/Grace Prep), the team has a real chance to win it all. The 7-footer has a rare combination of enormous size, skill and a soft shooting touch. His impressive low-post game is rapidly improving and his face-up abilities are exceptional as he attacks off the dribble, looking like a small forward. On the perimeter, SF Danuel House (Sugar Land, Texas/Hightower) is a long and skilled small forward who has 3-point range and midrange touch. Plus, you can't forget about PF Danrad "Chicken" Knowles (Houston/HCYA), a long, thin and skilled combo forward who will pick and pop with range to the arc as well as put it on the floor and get to the basket. A true matchup problem at the forward positions. Giving depth to the roster is ESPNU 25 PG Emmanuel Mudiay (Arlington, Texas/Grace Prep), who will make any defense pay if left alone.
BWSL (Hampton, Va.)
Boo Williams' teams are always a contender no matter what event they are entered in, and this group is dangerous. This team feeds off of the emotion of Virginia commit SF Justin Anderson (Montrose, Va./Montrose Christian) who defends and rebounds with intensity, and relies on the scoring prowess of SF Troy Williams (Hampton Va./Hampton) and PG Anthony Barber (Hampton, Va./Hampton). Williams is equally effective scoring in transition or in the half-court set with his finishes at the rim, drives and jumpers. Barber's nickname is the "Cat" as he is cat quick with the ball pushing it on the break. This emerging scoring point guard makes 3s and finds teammates off his dribble penetration.
CP3 All-Stars (Raleigh, N.C.)
Chris Paul's team is lead by an electrifying scorer in SG Rodney Purvis (Raleigh, N.C./Upper Room Christian), No. 7 overall, who can take over a game with his ability to attack the basket. PF Brice Johnson (Orangeburg, S.C./Edisto) also had some breakout performances at the Peach Jam after a quiet spring campaign. He controls the paint with his shot blocking and offensive rebounding. ESPNU's No. 1 rated player in the 2014 class, SG Theo Pinson (Greensboro, N.C./Wesleyan Christian), is impressive as he makes advanced plays look easy.
Martin Brothers (Iowa)
This team possesses terrific chemistry and is led by C Adam Woodbury (Sioux City, Iowa/East), who was named the MVP of the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June. The scoring post, who plays the game with a strong motor and good communication skills, is usually good for a double-double each time out on the floor. Orchestrating the team is UNC commit PG Marcus Paige (Marion, Iowa/Linn-Mar) who knows how to get his teammates shots and uses plenty of weapons of his own to score. Plus, PG Mike Gesell (Sioux City, Neb./South Sioux City) and SF Kale Abrahamson (West Des Moines, Iowa/Valley) provide some outstanding outside shooting when the game gets tight.
Team Takeover (Wash, D.C.)
Team Takeover ran through the EYBL regular season undefeated, but was unable to continue its run at the Peach Jam without injured SF Arnaud Moto (Alexandria, Va./Episcopal) who brings energy and defense to his club. Their is a ton of potential in SF Jerami Grant (Hyattsville, Md./Dematha), who has demonstrated the ability to create for himself from the elbow with a quick bounce and a long step. Count on 2013 C BeeJay Anya (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha) controlling the action inside and PG James Robinson (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha), who is the floor general and leader of the bunch. Robinson will run the show and has a knack for making winning plays. Don't count this battle-tested team out.
New York Gauchos (New York)
Connecticut commit SG Omar Calhoun (Brooklyn/Christ the King) is one of the most prolific scorers in the 2012 class and has the ability to be a one-man gang that can't be stopped, but luckily he will have some help. Virginia-bound C Mike Tobey (Ramsey, N.J./Hotchkiss) is a valuable rebounder and shot-blocker, while 2014 C Dakari Johnson (New York/Montverde) has a rare combination of size and skill level that defies his age. This group comes into the Super Showcase hungry to prove itself.
Five to watch
Albany City Rocks (Albany, N.Y.)
Albany City Rocks has one of the most talented teams on the circuit and could easily make a run if they can get all that talent on the same page. The team has one of the best inside-out combinations with 6-10, 280-pound C DaJuan Coleman (Dewitt, N.Y./James Dewitt) in the post and a dynamic scorer in 6-6 SG Ricardo Ledo (Providence, R.I./Notre Dame Prep) on the perimeter. PF Zach Auguste (Marlborough, Mass./New Hampton School) has also developed into a multidimensional forward who can score and rebound effectively. Don't ever count this team out.
Team Takeover Canada (Toronto)
Canadian basketball has improved drastically over the past 15 years and now has teams that can compete for championships against their American counterparts. They have a loaded roster and are led by PF Anthony Bennett (Brampton, Ontario/Findlay Prep) who has an NBA body and a developing offensive game to match. Their most exciting player is high-flying SF Andrew Wiggins (Toronto/Vaughn), who is the No. 3 overall player in the 2014 class.
Houston Defenders (Houston)
Another strong team from Texas, the Defenders are led by twin brothers SG Aaron Harrison and PG Andrew Harrison (Houston/Travis). Aaron and Andrew are in the top 20 in the Class of 2013 and can make a difference in any game because both have good size on the perimeter, skills and basketball IQ, and they defend. Andrew is a gifted passer with a secure handle, while Aaron impresses with a good midrange jumper. C Shaquille Cleare (Houston/Village school) gives them an inside presence of rebounding and scoring on the blocks, which is needed to make a deep run. One to watch is SG Christian Sanders (Houston/Saint Thomas) who is always ready to shoot it and demonstrates the range to spread out the defense. His all-around play has been recently garnering him interest from high-major programs.
Texas Titans (Dallas)
Although this team only features one player from the 2012 class in shot-blocking specialist C Prince Ibeh (Garland, Texas/Naaman Forest), it have enough talent to have a chance to win against the older competition. PF Julius Randle (Dallas/Prestonwood Christian), No. 1 overall in the 2013 class, is a phenomenal talent who puts up game-winning numbers with his dribble-drive and post game. SG Matt Jones (Desoto, Texas/Desoto) is a deadly shooter and PG Marquan Botley (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) understands how to win and is capable of being the leading scorer on any given night.
Arkansas Wings (Little Rock, Ark.)
This team can shoot the ball well and, as a result, is never out of any game. SG Archie Goodwin (Little Rock, Ark./Sylvan Hills), who is just coming back from a wrist injury, leads this team and can carry it by himself. Goodwin, who draws comparisons to the Atlanta Hawks Joe Johnson, is a multiskilled forward who can put the ball on the floor to attack the rim or spot up for knock-down jump shots out to the 3-point arc. Helping out Goodwin will be C Moses Kingsley (New Albany, Miss./New Albany) who is a dedicated rebounder and instinctive shot-blocker with sneaky length and a great motor.
Paul Biancardi, who has been a head coach and assistant on NCAA tournament teams, is the national director of basketball recruiting. He is also one the voters for the McDonald's All-American Game and Gatorade Player of the Year. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter. Mike LaPlante contributed to this piece.