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May 29, 2011

EYBL session off to fast start in L.A.

HARBOR CITY, Calif. - The final leg of Nike's EYBL tipped off Saturday in Harbor City at the Hangar Athletic Xchange just outside of Los Angeles. With berths to the Peach Jam on the line, the play was intense and physical. Already assured of a spot in the Peach Jam, Team Takeover is looking to finish out the three-session EYBL undefeated. It rode the play of Jerami Grant and Arnaud Adala Moto during a hard-fought win over Howard Pulley during an afternoon game.

Adala Moto, Grant key Takeover

Facing a scrappy Howard Pulley team during an early afternoon game, Team Takeover looked to move to 11-0 during EYBL play - and give it 23 straight wins going back to last year.

Facing an active zone, Takeover turned to rising senior wing Arnaud Adala Moto during the first half. Athletic and strong, the 6-foot-5 wing came up big, as he scored 18 first-half points in a variety of ways. He drove to the rim, finished jumpers out to the three-point line, all while playing active defense. Already ranked No. 117 in the 2012 Rivals150, the three-star wing is positioning himself for a move up the ranking.

After Adala Moto provided the scoring punch in the first half, it was Jerami Grant who took over offensively in the second half. Often operating out of the high post as a four-man, the 6-foot-7 four-star prospect delivered some passes, attacked the rim and finished with explosiveness when he got there while dominating second half scoring and helping Takeover to a tough win.

Afterward, Grant said that keeping the winning streak going is something that he and his team and coaches have talked about quite a bit.

"The coaches talk about how they won the EYBL last year on national TV," Grant told Rivals.com. "We're just out here trying to do the same thing.

A wing to some and a face-up four-man to others, Grant says that he's happy playing either position.

"I can play either the small forward or four and I don't really care which," said Grant. "I've been working on my game a lot. My jumper, my conditioning and my strength. I'm trying to be as versatile as possible."

According to Grant, he'd like to decide prior to his senior season and he reports offers from Virginia Tech, N.C. State, Clemson, Maryland, Georgetown, Virginia and Syracuse.

Saturday EYBL L.A. standouts

Kale Abrahamson, SF, All-Iowa- Putting the 6-foot-7 wing into the 2012 Rivals150 is looking to have been a very smart move. But, at No. 147 overall, Abrahamson has probably been underrated a bit. He's long-armed, has good athleticism and can knock down shots with range. On Saturday, he also showed that he's not shabby off the dribble and that he can create plays for others. He'll take an unofficial visit to Stanford after finishing in Los Angeles.

Jeremy Johnson, SF, Alabama Challenge- As a team, the Challenge struggled mightily with jump shots against the All-Iowa Attack. However, the 6-foot-5 2013 wing got just hot enough during the second half to carry the Challenge into overtime before it ran out of steam. A fine athlete with strength, he loves jumpers from the corner and has good range.

Isaiah Miles, PF/SF, Baltimore Elite- A combo forward who can really score, it will be a surprise if the 6-foot-7 rising senior's recruitment doesn't heat up come July. Miles was draining three-pointers, hitting soft floaters in the lane and more than holding his own on the glass. He's good enough that BCS schools will take a look but he has the appearance of a guy who could be an instant contributor for good A-10 and CAA squads.

Joel Berry, PG, Each One Teach One- The 6-footer is just finishing up his freshman year of high school but he looks more than comfortable playing on the 17-and-under level against elite competition. A physically strong point guard, he plays under control, makes pull-up jumpers and while he's looking for his offense first a lot of the time, he's far from selfish.

Omar Calhoun, SG, New York Gauchos- Even at No. 32 nationally in the class of 2012, Calhoun may still be slightly underrated. The reason is that he's as pure a jump shooter and scorer as there is in high school basketball. He can handle and is very crafty in setting up defenders off of screens. Wherever he ends up in college, it will be a surprise if he doesn't score a ton of points.

L.J. Rose, Rasheed Sulaimon, J-Mychal Reese- The debate over which of these three Houston Hoops guards has raged for some time. Playing against MoKan Elite, the trio took over the game in the second half as they pushed the Hops to a win and each brings something different to the table.

Rose is a physical setup guy who looked a step quicker than he has in past outings and he's becoming more dangerous as a spot-up shooter when he catches with his feet set. Committed to Duke, Sulaimon has a rock solid all-around game. He's among the country's best perimeter defenders, knocks down jumpers and is starting to mix in more aggressive drives to the hoop. Then there's Reese, the wildcard of the group. A southpaw who is quick off the dribble, Reese is a scoring point guard who is capable of finishing at awkward angles and excels at high degree of difficulty offense.

Siyani Chambers, PG, Howard Pulley- During earlier sessions of the EYBL the southpaw point struggled to adjust playing alongside big time 2014 point man Tyus Jones. However, now the rising senior three-star has settled in and played his best ball of the spring on Saturday. He's added strength to his frame and is looking very confident shooting the ball.

Dominic Artis, PG, Oakland Soldiers- The Soldiers feature an embarrassment of riches and athleticism on the wing and interior. However, it's the tiniest of the bunch who is the most important. The 6-footer keeps coming at opponents and willingly shares the rock on a team loaded with guys who need touches.

Anrio Adams, SG, Rotary Select- After looking a bit out of shape during the first session of the EYBL, the 6-foot-3 combo guard looks much better physically. A rugged guy who can play through contact, he was hitting some difficult shots and made a few alert passes off of the dribble.

Jordan Price, SF/SG, Southern Kings- The physically strong wing is not shy about shooting the ball. But, it's hard to argue with him doing it when he's scoring at a high rate. Physically strong, he's a bull with the ball and either converts or gets to the free throw line. After seemingly stalling a bit in his development, he's playing well of late.

Jodan Price, SG, The Family- Because of his size and length, Price is going to get long looks on the mid- to high-major level this summer. His release is quick, he doesn't lack for confidence and manages to look for his offense without being a total gunner. He can, however, get hot in a hurry and put up a lot of points in a short period of time like he did Saturday night. Price mentioned interest from Boston College, Iowa, Iowa State, Oakland, Central Michigan, Maryland, Providence, USF, St. Joseph's, Temple and Colorado.

DeVon Walker, SG, Nike Team Florida- One of the more promising finds of the day, the 6-foot-4 Walker is a long and very athletic wing. Although not a guy you would label as a jump shooter, he can make some perimeter shots, handles well and is good a perimeter defender as there is in the class of 2012. A big-time student, Walker listed offers from Boston College, Stanford, Miami, Missouri, Alabama, Richmond, Florida Atlantic and Clemson.

Allerik Freeman, SG, Nike Team Florida- Although the 2013 four-star is physically impressive, it would be inaccurate to label him as a power broker on the wing. He's skilled off of the dribble and sports a dangerous pull-up jumper going to his right or left. Almost always under control, his range extends to the three-point line and he's got the strength to finish through contact at the rim.

Aaron Gordon, SF/PF, Oakland Soldiers- Quiet early against Each One Teach One, Gordon took over on the interior late. Always in attack mode, the freak athlete can get to the rim at will whether attacking off the dribble or posting up. He also gets to the free throw line a ton and the 2013 five-star was converting at a high rate on his charity shots.


More Saturday notes and notables

Alabama Challenge guard Alex Hamilton continues to intrigue. Though he struggled a bit with his jumper like the rest of his team, the 6-foot-3 combo guard plays with intelligence, is quick and can definitely create for himself off of the dribble. … Adam Woodbury isn't going to win any high jumping and he gets a little off balance at times. But, that's OK because the 7-footer is playing to his size with increasing regularity. It's hard not to like his overall skill level and ability to finish with either hand around the rim for the All-Iowa Attack. … Also playing well on the interior for Hank Huddleson's Attack group is rugged power forward Daniel Jansen. A strong kid who works hard and can make some jumpers from around the foul line, we're betting he'll have a strong following of Missouri Valley types come July. … James Woodard came out very aggressive for Athlete's First. The 6-foot-2 shooting guard from Edmund (Okla.) Memorial was looking to use his athleticism and attacked the rim for dunks whenever he had the chance. He's emerging as a strong mid- to upper mid-major level prospect. …

Headed into the event we were curious to see what Jamel Artis of Baltimore Elite was all about. The 6-foot-5 wing is strong, can handle the ball a bit and is an outstanding passer. We'll be monitoring him more down the road, but Artis looks to have some high major potential with a little smoothing out of the edges of his game. … Boo Williams wing Joshua Fortune is one of the better shooters in the EYBL. The 6-foot-4 wing has a quick release, deep range and needs but a glimpse of the rim to feel confident in letting his jumper fly. … The plan for Sunday is to take a longer look at the CIA Bounce, but it was impossible to not notice beastly power forward Anthony Bennett, again. The 6-foot-7 Canadian is a beast around the rim with skill facing the hoop and he's trying to put opponents on posters as often as possible. … Each One Teach One got down big early against the Oakland Soldiers but tried to mount a furious comeback. Along with the previously mentioned Joel Berry they were aided by wings Marcel White and Demarcus Croaker. A class of 2012 product, White is a bouncy athlete with a lean but strong frame and he likes to attack. His jumper doesn't look bad and he will rebound as well. A class of 2013 prospect, Croaker was highly touted at a young age but had been mostly quiet this spring. The spring 6-foot-3 shooting guard came alive during the second half as he disrupted things defensively, got out in transition and dropped some nifty passes off the dribble. …

He didn't clock a ton of minutes, but 6-foot-7 James Thompson made some noise for the Houston Hoops. Only a rising sophomore, he's got length, quickness and good instincts in transition and around the rim. … Ricardo Gathers will get a much longer look on Sunday, but it's impossible to not mention his Saturday performance. The 6-foot-6 beast made key buckets, played tough and was a monster during a 24 point and 21 rebound effort. … How sick are the Oakland Soldiers wings? 2012 prospects Langston Morris-Walker and Richard Longrus are ranked three stars. From the class of 2013 scoring machine Isaac Hamilton is a five-star as is Tyree Robinson while athletic freak Jabari Bird is a four-star who missed making the five-star cut by one spot and Tyrell Robinson is another four-star. Moving on to the class of 2014, Stanley Johnson should end up as at least a four-star and has a chance to develop into a five-star prospect. …


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