Commentary

Team Takeover downs Team Stat in Gold Division

Updated: July 28, 2009, 1:40 PM ET
By Chris Lawlor | ESPNRISE.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- D.C. Team Takeover, a recently formed summer club basketball team, is aptly named.

The etymology is simple:

Team emphasizes the balance throughout the lineup. Takeover, well, that was self-explanatory Monday night.

Spreading the scoring among nine players, including two in double figures, Takeover raced to an early lead and defeated Each One, Teach One/Team Stat of Florida 66-57 to win the AAU Super Showcase U17 Gold Division presented by Champion final before 1,600 people at the Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.

Even an all-out effort from super junior guard Austin Rivers of Team Stat -- a game-high 25 points on 9-of-20 shooting and four rebounds -- could not offset the kaleidoscope of athletic scorers.

"Austin is one of the best players in the nation," Takeover's Jerian Grant said. "Coach [Keith Stephens] told us Austin will get his points, but don't let the others beat you."

Team Stat nearly did.

When the Florida team crept to within nine points late in the fourth, however, Takeover slowed the pace, stressing patience.

"We can do it all; run and slow it," Grant said.

Takeover made quite an impression in their initial visit to the AAU tournament. A bulk of the core played last year for D.C. Triple Threat. When the players split, forming a second team, Takeover was added to the Nike travel team family.

Grant, an undecided 6-foot-5 rising senior from DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), scored 15 points, and forward Michael Gbinije added 14.

[+] EnlargeAustin Rivers
Scott Purks for ESPN RISEAustin Rivers notched 25 points in a losing effort against Team Takeover.

"We stress good team play," Gbinije said. "Everyone puts their egos aside for the team. With our high school teams, we're usually 'the man.' Here, we set scoring and playing time aside and play defense and pass the ball."

Gbinije, No. 12 in the ESPNU 60, said he's transferring to Benedictine (Richmond, Va.) for his final two years of high school. The Richmond resident, who previously attended Christchurch (Va.) School, has nine scholarship offers.

That list should expand after Takeover close out their summer schedule later this week at a tournament in Chantilly, Va.

Takeover, which also beat Team Stat earlier in the month at the Nike Peach Jam in South Carolina, exploded in the second quarter, taking leads of 19, 20 and 23 points before settling for a 43-23 advantage at intermission.

"We knew to push the ball for easy baskets," said Grant, whose father, Harvey, played in the NBA with the Washington Bullets.

Team Stat made a second-quarter run, slicing the deficit to five, 24-19, on Rivers' transition layup, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Takeover made it 30-19 with 3:47 in the half.

Both sides pushed the tempo in the opening five minutes, and Takeover led 14-6 as Gbinije scored seven. The D.C. squad carried a comfortable 20-8 edge into the second. Rivers accounted for six of his team's points.

"This is great," Gbinije said of the team's first major tournament title. "People weren't sure about us at first, but now they know who we are. This was a great experience this week."

Takeover's balanced sheet had Brandon Young of Friendship Collegiate (Washington, D.C.) with nine points, four rebounds and three assists; Eugene McCrory of Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) had nine points; and 6-4 Victor Oladipo of DeMatha added a team-high seven rebounds.

Albany City Rocks 68, Team Final 64: In the first of two games featuring teams from the Super Showcase 17U Gold Division I field, Tobias Harris delivered the all-around game the Albany City Rocks relish.

Harris, No. 19 in the ESPNU 100, scored, rebounded and displayed unselfish play that coaches demand. His stat line -- 20 points, 10 rebounds and three assists -- is indicative of what the 6-8 rising senior from Half Hollow Hills West High (Dix Hills, N.Y.) has in store for the next level.

"Whatever it takes to win," said Harris, who has offers from several major programs. "I try to be effective even without scoring. You need to get your teammates involved."

The New Yorkers blew open the game in the third, when Harris scored eight points and Taran Buie of State College (Pa.) picked up his defensive prowess. A quick 7-0 run to open the half made it 43-28.

Team Final of Philadelphia closed to 64-62 on Trevor Cooney's 3-pointer with 1:17 left and tied it at 64 on Michael Gilchrist's twisting layup, but then Buie scored the last four points in the final 22 seconds.

[+] EnlargeTakeover Action
Scott Purks for ESPN.comTeam Takeover was balanced on offense in its win over Team Stat.

The Albany team received 16 points and two assists from Penn State-bound Buie. Cooney of Sanford School (Hockessin, Del.) lived behind the 3-point arc, making five of 10 shots for 19 points. Tyreek Duren of Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia) added 10, but Gilchrist was limited to nine.

The City Rocks had plenty of support 1,200 miles away.

Scattered across New York's capital district were parents and former and current players eagerly watching their City Rocks, a Nike-sponsored team, perform on ESPNU in a showcase game.

"This was a big deal for our players and club," City Rocks coach Jim Hart said. "We're from a small city, and many have gathered to watch the game. This is a great thing for all, especially for five of our players who have played together since they were 10 years old."

Buie was clutch in the final seconds, scoring the winning basket with 22 seconds left off an inbounds pass from the baseline, then scooping up the ball off a mad scramble and converting the layup with 2.5 seconds to go.

"Coach Hart designed a play for me; I gave a head fake and finished," Buie said.

The City Rocks clamped down in the second quarter and stretched their lead to 36-28 at the break by scoring the final four points. Harris triggered the surge, blocking Dion Waiters' shot and allowing Buie to tally a layup with one second left.

Harris' eight points topped the City Rock in the opening half. Waiters, a Syracuse recruit, also had eight, and Cooney added seven.

Both teams came out playing zone defense, and the City Rocks jumped to a 14-12 lead after one quarter as 6-2 Kyle Callahan of Mount Anthony Union (Bennington, Vt.) tossed in six points. Waiters' steal and layup beat the buzzer, slicing the deficit to two points.

Less than an hour after their ESPNU game, the City Rocks regrouped for their third game of the day and second in the AAU U17 Nationals.

"We'll be OK," Hart assured.

"It's AAU; you get used to it," Buie added.

The event became another recruiting showcase. A queue of coaches gathered Monday afternoon for the final of the AAU Super Showcase U17 Silver Division final at the Milk House. They convened mostly to watch 6-3 guard Brad Beal of the St. Louis Eagles.

In the front row sat Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and assistants Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski, Stanford's Johnny Dawkins, Indiana's Tom Crean and Kansas' Bill Self.

Beal, an ESPNU 60 player, has become their main recruiting target.

Beal contributed as a freshman at Chaminade College Prep in St. Louis but exploded last season, averaging 23.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.1 steals and draining 40 percent of his 3-pointers. Beal landed on Missouri's all-state team as Chaminade (27-4) -- ranked No. 10 in the FAB 50's Southwest Region -- won the Class 5 state championship in March.

In June, he helped the Team USA U16 national team win gold at the 2009 FIBA Americas championship in Argentina.

He's already fielding offers from Florida, Kansas, Illinois, Saint Louis, Purdue and Missouri, with several others on the cusp.

In the Silver Division final, Beal scored 12 points, but it wasn't enough as the Illinois Titans won 68-56. James Siakam of the Titans scored a game-high 18 points.

According to a Scouts Inc. report, Beal, a solid defender with a good upside, can be most appreciated over time.

"[He] is a combo guard that has a very efficient offensive game. Offensively he has very good ball handling skills and can create space to get his own. He has a great release and can knock it down from deep. He does a very good job in balancing his shot selection and does not try to force things. One of the more underrated parts of his game is his passing ability."

Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA Today, where he was the head preps writer responsible for national high school rankings in football, baseball, and boys' and girls' basketball. He also worked for Scholastic Coach magazine, for which he ran the national Gatorade Player of the Year program for nine years. Lawlor, a New Jersey resident, grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University.