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Kansas City Keys Tournament Report
February 23-25, 2007
Kansas City, Missouri


For fourteen consecutive years, Harrell Johnson has hosted the Kansas City Keys Tournament, one of premiere early-season tournaments in the country. As seems to be the case year after year, Johnson’s event attracted some of the top teams in the country to his event.

This year the tournament was held at several sites but the host site was located on the campus of the University of Missouri Kansas City and included 7th & 8th boys divisions and a combined 7th/8th grade division for girls. Of the seventeen 8th grade teams in the tournament, the top teams included the Spiece Indy Heat, defending AAU National Champions from last year, Dallas Mustangs, Houston Hoops, Indy Fast Break, Team St. Louis and Team Texas 2012.

In addition to the many talented teams, there was a lot of individual talent as well, as evidenced by the number of nationally ranked players in the tournament. Some of the nationally ranked players in the 8th grade division of the tournament included: LaQuintin Ross, LaBryan Nash, Chandler Thomas, Jamal Branch, P.J. Boutte, Marques Teague, Deville Smith, Alex Cooper, Everett Pleasant, Shaquille Boga, Kyan Anderson, Evan Blackman, DeMarcus Bridgewater, Cameron Lindzey, Brandon Smith, Sheldon McClendon, Darwin Davis, Charles Bennett, Trey Davis, and Isiah Hill.

There were several compelling storylines in this tournament, one of which was the fact that Mississippi’s LaQuintin Ross and Deville Smith were both running with the Dallas Mustangs for the weekend. After LaBryan Nash flew in on Sunday, the table was set for a championship run. With Ross and Nash in the frontcourt, the “new look” Mustangs were easily the biggest team in the tournament. Despite the star power on this team, as was the case with Adidas Team Phenom the previous week in Portland, the Mustangs failed to achieve their goal of a tournament championship. The Mustangs lost a very close contest to Spiece Indy Heat in the semi-finals.

Before the tournament even began, the fact that the Spiece Indy Heat, the defending AAU National champions, were in the tournament really amped up the excitement. As is the case with any national championship team, a huge target was firmly fixed on their back.

Also, with the much-heralded personal additions of Jamal Branch and Alex Cooper to an already talented Houston Hoops team, there was much anticipation about how far Houston would advance in the tournament. Houston Hoops was the 4th ranked team in the nation according to Spencer Pulliam and Generation Next.

One of the best aspects of the tournament was Johnson’s decision to schedule a feature game at the end of the day on Saturday; witch matched the Speice Indy Heat against Houston Hoops in and early slugfest. In that game, both teams took turns gaining and loosing leads. Early in the match-up, size and athleticism dictated play. It was clear from the intensity of this game that the players had improved immensely from just last year. Late in the contest the game was still up for grabs. The game was decided on the strength of Indy’s depth and guard play.

Because both Spiece Indy Heat and Indy Fast Break hailed from Indianapolis, Indiana,
and a winter storm was moving into the area, it was decided that the championship game would be played later in Indianapolis, As of the date of this report, the game had not yet been played. The other results are below.

Semi Finals

Spiece Indy Heat defeated Dallas Mustangs (60-66)
Indy Fast Break defeated Houston Hoops

Quarterfinals

Spiece Indy Heat defeated Heartland Premier
Dallas Mustangs defeated St. Louis Primetime
Indy Fast Break defeated Nebraska Jays
Houston Hoops Defeated Texas Select Kings

Buckeye Prep Report
Top Thirty Players

RANK NAME HT. POS. HOMETOWN (ST) AAU Team
1 Marques Teague 6’0 WG Indianapolis (IN) Speice Indy Heat
2 LaQuintin Ross 6’7 WF Jackson (MS) Dallas Mustangs
3 Jamal Branch 6’2 WF Houston (TX) Houston Hoops
4 Kenny Enoch 6”2 WF Indianapolis (IN) Indy Fast Break
5 Alvin “P.J.” Boutte 5’6 PG Indianapolis (IN) Spiece Indy Heat
6 Deville Smith 5’9 PG Jackson (MS) Dallas Mustangs
7 Alex Cooper 6’6 C Houston (TX) Houston Hoops
8 Keyan Anderson 5’9 PG Dallas (TX) Dallas Mustangs
9 Shaquille Boga 5’9 WG St. Louis (MO) Team St. Louis
10 Evan Blackman 6’1 WF Marion (IN) Speice Indy Heat
11 LyBryan Nash 6’7 C Dallas (TX) Mustangs (Attended 1 Day)
12 Everett Pleasant 6’4 PF Houston (TX) Houston Hoops
13 Ryan Taylor 6’4 PF Indianapolis (IN) Indy Fast Break
14 Chandler Thomas 6’5 PF Indianapolis (IN) Spiece Indy Heat
15 DeVante Moore 6‘0 WF Elreino (OK) Oklahoma Prime Time
16 Brandon Hannah 6’3 PF/C St. Louis (MO) St. Louis Primetime
17 Ted Lampkins 5’8 PG Omaha (NB) Nebraska Jays & K.C. Bruins
18 Thomas Gipson 6’6 PF Dallas (TX) Dallas Heroes
19 Lynden Johnson 6’2 PF Plano (TX) Texas Select Kings
20 Ricky Roberts 5’6 PG/WG Arlington (TX) Team Next 2012
HM Brandon Smith 5’9 WG Indianapolis (IN) Indy Fast Break
HM Shaheed Watson 6’2 PF St. Louis (MO) St. Louis Explosion
HM Chris Campbell 6’3 WF/PF San Antonio (TX) Team Texas 2012
HM B.J. Jenkins 5’11 WF/PF Grand Prairie (TX) Team Texas 2012
HM Reith Jiech 6’4 C Omaha (NB) Nebraska Jays
HM Cameron Lindzey 5’10 WG Dallas (TX) Dallas Heroes
HM Charles Bennett 5’7 PG Houston (TX) Houston Hoops
HM Brad Beal 5’8 WG St. Louis (MO) Team St. Louis
HM Adonis Hill 5’7 PG Omaha (NB) Heartland Premier
HM Demarcus Bridgewater 6’3 PF Indianapolis (IN) Spiece Indy Heat
HM Sheldon McClendon 6’3 WF Houston (TX) Houston Hoops

Top Player Notes
Marques Teague, a 5’11 WG from Indianapolis, IN, was one of the most productive players in the tournament. Teague’s game is about taking his man off the dribble, which he does as well as any player in the class. In the semi-final game against the Dallas Mustangs, Teague went head-to head with Deville Smith, and by the time the horn sounded, Teague had hit Smith for a cool 34points. This kid is a scoring machine who is tough to contain off the dribble.

LaQuintin Ross, a 6’7 WF from Jackson, MS, re-established his place among the elite in this class, Although many people were down on him have a perceived lack luster performance at the U.S. Elite Camp at Baylor earlier in the year, Ross was quite impressive in Kansas City. Ross showed a range of skills including dribbling, rebounding, shooting the trey and defense. In terms of his play, Ross appeared inspired which was most evident on defense where he blocked more shots than anybody in the tournament. In one particular game, I counted 6 blocks. Ross really looked good!

Jamal Branch, a 6’2 WF from Houston, TX, has a fantastic tournament and in this evaluator’s opinion, re-established his place among the elite players in this class. Branch is a leader on the court and often does what ever he needs to do to get his team the win. With his size, athleticism and skill set, Branch is very versatile and can play multiple positions. One of the best aspects of Branch’s game is his court vision and his ability and willingness to pass to open teammates. This kid leaves it all on the court!

Marquavis “Deville” Smith, a 5’9 PG from Jackson, MS, was one of the top guards in the tournament. Smith is extremely athletic, fast and explosive, and his handle is top notch. This kid has nice one-on-moves with makes it easy for him to get into the lane where he often explodes for the finish. Every time I see Smith I like him more. This kid is the real deal.

Kenny Enoch, a 6’2 WF from Indianapolis, IN, is the heart and sole of his team. Enoch plays hard and is a fierce competitor. I like Enoch’s athleticism and desire to win at all costs. Several times over the course of the weekend Enoch put his team on his back and led his team to victory.
Alvin “P.J.” Boutte, a 5’6 PG from Indianapolis, IN, is one of the most exciting players in this class. Although it might be easy to get caught up in his flair for the no look pass, the bottom line is, he leads his team, he keeps pressure on the defense, and he distributes the ball for easy buckets. Boutte is a joy to watch.

Alex Cooper, a 6’6 C from Houston, TX, logged in a sold tournament. Cooper is a space eater who really fills up the paint. Cooper is more strong than super skilled at this point in his development, but he gets it done down low with simple moves. As he acquires more sophisticated post moves, look for Cooper to dominate more against players his size.

Keyan Anderson, a 5’9 PG from Dallas, TX, is a good-looking point guard prospect. Anderson is a real floor general, who, although not big, has nice size, strength and speed. Anderson does a great job of pushing the rock and attacking the defense. Anderson’s handle is solid and with his speed and strength, he finds a way to get to the cup.

Shaquille Boga, a 5’9 WG from St. Louis, MO, can and will get you buckets. Boga put up big numbers all weekend and is easily the best player on an undersized but scrappy Team St. Louis squad. Boga got most of his points in transition, because he does a good job of getting out on the break. Boga has just the right combination of size and speed which aides him in scoring. Boga also sees the floor well and he doesn’t mind sharing the sugar with his teammates.

Evan Blackman, a 6’1 WF from Marion, IN, had his usual quite but productive performance at the tournament. Blackman is the workhorse of the group who uses good athleticism and speed to score and play solid defense. Blackmon is not a big kid but he is explosive and he plays much bigger than his size. Every successful team needs a kid like Blackman.

LaBryan Nash, a 6’6 PF from Dallas, TX, would have been ranked higher had he not missed the first two days of the tournament. With that said, when he did touch down, Nash went right to work. Nash is nicely built, athletic and super explosive. Despite his size, Nash handles the ball well and can knock down the open shot. With Ross doing most of the work in the paint, Nash was able to play on the perimeter more. I also saw Nash defending smaller and quicker players on the perimeter, which is an added dimension to his game.

I also liked Everett Pleasant, a 6’4 PF from Houston, TX, Pleasant was extremely aggressive and played with an edge and attitude. Despite his size, Pleasant is surprisingly agile and quick on his feet. Pleasant plays with a great deal of passion and emotion, and when he keeps it contained, he can be a game changer. Since I saw him in Las Vegas this past summer, Pleasant has continued to improve.

One of things I enjoy most about covering youth events is the opportunity I get to discover and spotlight new talent. DeVonte Moore, a 6’0 WF from Elreino, OK, Brandon Hannah, a 6’3 PF/C from St. Louis, MO, Ted Lampkins, a 5’8 PG from Omaha, NB, Lyndell Johnson, a 6’2 PF from Plano, TX, Reith Jiech, a 6’4 C from Omaha, NB, Shaheed Watson, a 6’2 PF from St. Louis, MO. and Thomas Gipson, a 6’6 PF from Dallas, TX, all had standout performances at the tournament. Although they have been underexposed to date, look for these kids to make some noise in the future if they continue to work hard and develop their games.

Finally, I have to give some props to Coach Rick Roberts and Robert Jenkins and the Team Texas 2012 kids who really held their own playing up against the big boys in the 8th grade division. Not only did Team Texas 2012 advance out of pool play, they gave the Spiece Indy Heat everything they could they could handle in the first half of their game. Some of the standout players were Ricky Roberts, Christopher “Topher” Campbell, Claud Person, Phil Forte and B.J. Jenkins. It’s important to note; the Hoop Scoop ranks all of the above players nationally. Great job guys!
As a side note, in the 7th grade division, the St. Louis Gameface defeated Kansas City Fieldhouse by a score of 43-40. A couple other 7th graders caught my eye including Clint McCullaugh, a 6’3 PF from Stillwell, Kansas and Tony Cochran, a 5’6 PG from St. Louis, Missouri.
Congratulations to Harrell Johnson for putting on a great show and bringing in some quality competition. Also, thanks for treating us to some of that famous Kansas City barbeque!

If you want to see some of these elite player up close and personal, many of them will be playing with their teams in the upcoming Buckeye Prep Report Invitational Tournament, which is scheduled for March 30-April 1, 2007, in Columbus, Ohio. If you can’t make the trip, you can read about these very talented players and teams in my post tournament report.
As always, if you have any comments about or suggestions for future reports, or you would like the Buckeye Prep Report to cover your event, please feel free to email me at Taylorobe@aol.com. Don’t forget to visit our site @ www.BuckeyePrepReport.com for news and information about youth basketball from around the nation.

 
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