Backcourt battles highlight action in Vegas

The Northwest Panthers' dynamic backcourt of Avery Bradley and Abdul Gaddy showed glimpses of greatness in a loss to Florida-based Team Breakdown. Reebok

LAS VEGAS -- The 2008 Reebok Summer Championships opened up with a bang with its Create-N-Finish Cup Challenge. This eight-team mini-tournament matches the top-seeded teams of the event, and it didn't disappoint as the first quarterfinal was a tale of two different halves. Florida-based Team Breakdown overcame a 16-point deficit to overwhelm the Northwest Panthers and their exceptional backcourt of 6-3 senior Abdul Gaddy (Tacoma, Wash./ Bellarmine Prep) and 6-foot-2 Avery Bradley (Tacoma, Wash./ Bellarmine Prep) 85-73.

After an erratic first half from 6-1 senior Kenny Boynton (Pompano, Fla./American Heritage) and 6-3 junior Brandon Knight (Coral Springs, Fla./ Pinecrest), Team Breakdown received a reciprocal performance in the second half from its dynamic duo as they exploded for 26 and 24 points, respectively, to seal the victory.

The guard tandems of Boynton/Knight and Gaddy/Bradley were only a small portion of some of the scintillating performances at Foothill High School. John Wall, the 6-4 point guard extraordinaire out of Raleigh, N.C./Word of God, tossed in 30 points and handed out 11 assists. In addition, 6-10 John Henson (Austin, Texas/ Roundrock) thoroughly outplayed 6-9 rival Renardo Sidney (Los Angeles/ Fairfax) in their matchup.

Reebok Player Notes
Kenny Boynton, G (6-1, 190)
Senior, Pompano, Fla./American Heritage
Boynton, who is in the mold of former Memphis standout Dajuan Wagner, has some holes in his game -- streaky shooting and bad shot selection -- but he is one of the most relentless competitors on the AAU circuit. He plays at one speed and needs to develop more pace to his game, but he is extremely tough to stop in transition.

Brandon Knight, G (6-3, 180)
Junior, Coral Springs, Fla./ Pinecrest
Knight forced the action in the first half and took many ill-advised jump shots, but the second half was a different story, as he utilized his elite speed and quickness to explode to the basket for numerous scores. Though Boynton has a tendency to dominate the ball, I would like to see Knight be the prime distributor because his vision and passing ability are high-level.

John Wall, G (6-4, 190)
Senior, Raleigh, N.C./ Word of God
Though he plays too fast all the time, he gets away with it. His incredible speed, quickness and bounce are mesmerizing in the open court. His handle can get sloppy at times and he overpenetrates too frequently, but those are areas that can be sharpened with coaching. Although he isn't known for his shooting (flat release), he did nail a couple pull-up jump shots in transition.

Abdul Gaddy, G (6-3, 180)
Senior, Tacoma, Wash./Bellarmine Prep
Gaddy possesses the most savvy of any guard in the country. His ability to change speeds and control tempo sets him apart from most guards in the country. He doesn't have great quickness or speed, but he has a crafty handle, particularly his slick crossover, to separate from defenders. He did force the issue more than usual, resulting in an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers (eight), but had stretches where he took over the game.

Avery Bradley, G (6-2, 180)
Senior, Tacoma, Wash./Bellarmine Prep
Bradley continues to be one the most improved players in the country. His jump shot has improved since last year, and he is much more balanced. He gets great lift on his shot, and his ability to break down defenders off the bounce is impressive. He had the play of the game when he crossed over Boynton and finished with a thunderous dunk.

Pe'Shon Howard, G (6-2, 190)
Junior, Mouth of Wilson, Va./ Oak Hill Academy
Howard plays with great intensity at both ends and appears to be one of the stronger looking shooting guards in the Class of 2010. He has a strong physique and a quick burst that allows him to get into the teeth of the defense for the finish or the dish. His jump shot is solid, and he gets great lift on his shot.

Lorenzo Brown, G (6-4, 180)
Senior, Snellville, Ga./ Centennial
Brown isn't a high level athlete, but he has great skills, nice size for the 1 and a solid feel for the game. He has an innate ability to get to the basket and find teammates for open looks. He is deceptively quick with the dribble to separate from defenders, and his pull-up jump shot is solid.

C.J. Leslie, F (6-8, 190)
Junior, Holly Springs, N.C./ Word of God
Leslie has some of the longest arms and is springy as well. Despite his willowy frame, he converts inside regularly due to his bouncy nature and solid footwork along the baseline. He has a solid drop step and can get to the rim in a hurry.

Ryan Kelly, F (6-9, 210)
Senior, Raleigh, N.C./ Ravenscroft
With Roy Williams eyeing his every move, Kelly showed glimpses of where his game is headed. Kelly has a ways to go at both ends, but his upside his frightening. He needs to get stronger -- and that will come with time, but his face-up skills are becoming impressive. He utilizes the pump fake well and will be dynamite at the pick-and-pop for years to come. He even delivered an assist in the open court to demonstrate his passing ability.

Maurice Creek, G (6-5, 190)
Senior, Temple Hills, Md./ Hargrave Military
Creek was one of the top performers of the day. He is a high-major shooting guard with an effortless stroke out to the stripe. His pull-up jump shot is smooth and he knows how to find open spaces to get it off. He is a perfect system player that can come off screens and shoot or create for teammates.

John Henson, F (6-10, 190)
Senior, Austin, Texas/ Roundrock
Henson has as much upside as any player in the country. His length is impressive and he is a quick jumper. He has a soft touch out to the stripe and a nifty left-handed jump hook, but he has a ways to go in his development. He runs well and he had some of the most spectacular finishes of the day.

Jadarius Davis, F (6-6, 210)
Junior, Houston/ Lufkin
Davis is a tad undersized for the 4/5 position, but Davis plays with reckless abandon at both ends around the basket. He did an excellent job defending the much taller Evan Anderson and showed no signs of being timid when he attacked the basket. His post moves are raw and he needs to sharpen his footwork, but he has the heart and athleticism to compete at the mid-major level or higher with more skill development.

Renardo Sidney, F (6-9, 260)
Senior, Los Angeles/ Fairfax
Sidney had moments of brilliance, but he continues to be one of the enigmas of the Class of 2009. His weight is pushing Oliver Miller status and is affecting his game. He can only play hard in spurts and rarely runs hard at either end. He has a sweet shooting touch out to the stripe and is one of the better passing bigs in the country. However, unless he takea care of his body and becomes a more dominating inside force, his upside is becoming questionable.

Brandon Durham, F (6-6, 220)
Senior, Silverdale, Wash./ Central Kitsap
Blue collar describes this low Division I power forward. He has great fundamentals in the paint and knows how to post up and use his body. He has solid bounce, but his savvy around the basket makes him effective. His jump shot needs to smoothen out (flat trajectory), but he was solid.

Evan Anderson, F (6-11, 250)
Junior, Stanley, Wis./ Eau Claire North
Anderson has a terrific frame and a soft shooting touch out to 15 feet, but he is a plodder who needs space to score in the paint. He doesn't have great lift and brings the ball down to where guards swipe it. He does have soft hands and uses his length to block shots, but overall he has a ways to go at both ends.

Kameron Cerroni, G (6-2, 185)
Junior, Menomonee Falls, Wis./ Sussex Hamilton
Cerroni has a high basketball IQ and possesses a plethora of ways to score in the half-court set. He has limited wheels and needs to play in a structured offense, but he is a shooter that can score despite not being a great athlete.

Chimankinda Kadima, G (6-5, 190)
Junior, Milwaukee/ Lutheran
Kadima was on of the more intriguing players of the day. He is a tough, yet still raw 2-guard prospect for the high-major level. He needs to tighten up his jump shot, but he uses his strength and savvy to get to the basket on a consistent basis. He is a tough competitor at both ends and has the length to be a solid defender at the next level.

Richard Howell, F (6-8, 220)
Senior, Marietta, Ga./ Wheeler
Howell had a terrific performance against fast-rising senior 6-9 Ryan Kelly. He used his strength, solid post footwork and 3-point shooting touch to score at will throughout most of the contest against the longer Kelly. He has a soft shooting touch out to the stripe and knows how to use his impressive frame and hang time to convert against taller opponents. Howell is one of the most improved players from a year ago in the Class of 2009.

Ari Stewart, F (6-7, 200)
Senior, Marietta, Ga./ Wheeler
After a pedestrian first half in which he hunted for his own shot too often, Stewart settled down to have an impressive second half. He is a bouncy, face-up power forward with an excellent touch out to 15 feet. He needs to hone up his ball skills and feel for the game, but he can score rapidly within 15 feet of the basket.

Mfon Udofia, G (6-3, 180)
Senior, Stone Mountain, Ga./ Miller Grove
Udofia was outplayed by the No. 1 point guard in the country in John Wall, but he did show enough skill and feel for the position to warrant that Georgia Tech scholarship offer. This lefty is a true point guard that made nifty passes in the open court and half-court set. He did have a flair for the spectacular, however, as he forced a few passes into heavy traffic, but overall he was solid.

Joel Francisco has been a high school basketball scout for 15 years. He has written for Hoopscoop Magazine and Basketball Times and organized "So-Cal's Finest," his own scouting service.