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April 14, 2005
Arkansas tourney is the Real Deal
Forty of the top AAU teams across the country will make the pilgrimage to Fayetteville, Ark. for the first ever Real Deal on the Hill. Several of the nation's elite players including Greg Oden, will be on hand to strut their stuff in front of NCAA coaches in the first live evaluation weekend of the AAU season. Rivals.com will be on hand to cover the event and will have live updates, along with complete in-depth coverage from the event.
With teams coming from the adidas, Nike and Reebok circuits, this event pins teams that don't normally play each other on the AAU circuit. With that, there are some dream match-ups and you can safely bet that the tournament play will be filled with memorable games featuring some of the nation's top prospects.
More than 80 games in the 17 and under division will be played out over 10 gyms in the Fayetteville area, including the Bud Walton Arena on the campus of the University of Arkansas. College coaches from every major program in the country will be on hand to watch the rising stars of tomorrow.
Heavy at the top
The event is loaded at the top with several of the top AAU programs in the field. Two of the best teams in the country are slotted together in Pool A. The Spiece Indy Heat boast the No. 1 player in the country in Greg Oden and a supporting cast that is loaded with high-major talent.
Expect to see Ohio State head coach Thad Matta on the sidelines watching his future superstar guard Daequan Cook and expect to see a giant smile across the head coach's face, too. Wake Forest head man Skip Prosser will certainly be on the sidelines, and baselines to watch Mike Conley, his top point guard target in the class of 2006. Conley and Oden will make an official visit to Winston-Salem on April 22.
Jamil Tucker (2006) and Eric Gordon (2007) are two of the other ranked players lacing them up for the new Reebok power. Tucker, a long 6-foot-9 shooting guard, will be brilliant on one play and will hide on another. The potential is certainly there.
Gordon, the No. 10 ranked player in the class of 2006, might be the most over looked player on this team. He carried a scoring average close to 30 points a game as a sophomore. With Oden, Conley and Cook getting the big spotlight, Gordon is the quiet killer. He led Spiece in the Tournament of Champions last year in the title game with 20 points.
In terms of sheer high-major talent, Spiece could hold down the pool with a ton of big-time prospects. However, the D.C. Assualt are also in the pool and the long time adidas power has it's share of great players. Curtis Malone's group is young but it's rich with talent including Michael Beasley, Nolan Smith, Austin Freeman and Herb Pope.
Half of the young quartet is already committed. Beasley, a five-star recruit from the class of 2007, has pledged to Charlotte. Pope recently told Jamie Dixon he'd be future Pitt Panther.
Smith, the son of former Louisville star Derek Smith, will most likely be watched by Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino. Still growing into his size 17 shoes, Smith is going to be a long and lanky point guard. He has plenty of weapons around him to help him shine this weekend.
Freeman, who shined at the Spring Fling, is just beginning to hear from every high-major in the country. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard from the famed DeMatha High School in the D.C. area is one of the top scorers on the East Coast. Watching him and Cook should be constant highlight reel.
The two teams will square off on Saturday, April 16, at 3 p.m. CST at Fayetteville High School's gym one.
Pool play is deep with talented teams
Each of the 10 pools, there are a number of teams with multiple players ranked on the Rivals top 150 for the class of 2005 and on the Rivals top 40 list for the class of 2007.
One of the teams with a barrel full of ranked players is Fresno-based EBO program. Headlining the group are the 6-foot-11 Stanford bound twins Robin Lopez and Brook Lopez. The towering big man are a formidable duo
TreVon Willis, Derrick Jasper and Quincy Pondexter give the backcourt three scorers and a load of athleticism. This group won the adidas Super 64 last year in Las Vegas.
Team Texas showed why the boys from the Dallas area are a team to be reckoned with at the Boo Williams Invitational. With Darrell Arthur, Bryan Davis, Jermaine Beal and Donald Sloan holding down the fort, the squad should be counted amongst the favorites to claim the title in Arkansas.
After winning the Spring Fling the Playaz Basketball club will be back on the hardwood and in search for some more hardware. With guards Wayne Ellington, Gerald Henderson, Corey Stokes and Earl Clark, there are few teams in the country that can defend this offensive power and overall versatility. Add to the mix small forward Qa'rraan Calhoun and you have a deadly group of upper echelon of prospects.
A deeper look at the rest of the top players
Atlanta Celtics - Javaris Crittenton, An'juan Wilderness, LaShun Watson, Senario Hillman
Athletes First - Obi Muonelo, Keith Clark, Ekpe Udoh
The Family - Ramar Smith, DeShawn Sims, Leon Freeman
Team Breakdown - Edwin Rios, Dwayne Collins
Illinois Warriors - Jon Scheyer, Sherron Collins
Michigan Hurricanes - Tory Jackson, Tom Herzog
Blessed IJN - Richard Semrau, Marques Johnson
DTA - Mitchell Carter, Korie Lucious
Other top players in attendance include: Derrick Caracter, Lance Thomas, Jodie Meeks, Demetrius Jemison, Jejuan Brown, David Booker, Michael Sanchez, Reggie Reading and many more.
Happy hour is at 3 p.m. Saturday
Tournament organizers must have wanted to have every major college coach in town on Saturday afternoon because that is when all of the top teams will not only be playing, but they will be playing each other. Take a look at these 3 p.m. match-ups.
Spiece Indy Heat vs. D.C. Assault
Atlanta Celtics Black vs. Team Breakdown (Fla.)
Illinois Warriors vs. Playaz Basketball
EBO (Calif.) vs. Michigan Hurricanes
Team Texas vs. DTA (Wisc.)
Athletes First (Okla.) vs. Blessed IJN (Ind.)
The Family (Mich.) vs. Memphis Pump 'n Run
Make Rivals.com your permanent home this weekend
If the Real Deal on the Hill is anywhere close to last weekend's outstanding Boo Williams tournament, it should be one of the best events of the year. A number of the nation's top prospects will come to Razorback country.
Rivals.com's Jerry Meyer and Justin Young will both be on hand to cover the star-studded event. Be sure to stop by the premium message board, Inside the Paint, for the most up to date news and notes from the Real Deal on the Hill throughout the weekend.