When I was out in LA this past weekend, I got a call from my girl Crystal Howard at ESPN PR asking if I’d be interested in coming to watch a secret midnight run at MSG with all the kids from Elite 24. Let’s just say it didn’t take long to accept. With Brandon Jennings and Kevin Love running alongside some of the best prep ballers in the nation, you can believe me when I say that the competition was fierce.
With players in town from the Class of 2010, 2011 and 2012, all of these kids will be going high-level Division 1, with a good majority most likely headed to the League. But just like any all-star game, once you get a gym full of talent, the cream rises to the top. And with Dime as the only media outlet in the house, we got a first-hand look. Here are some observations from the runs:
– From the moment I saw Josh Selby, all he could do was complain that the video crew in France missed the in-game dunk that he had in one of their last games. He seemed to understand as he joked that Nike must have confiscated the tape.
– When Jennings showed up, the only two-time MVP of the Elite 24, he made sure to be wearing his NBA-issue Bucks shorts. Wouldn’t you?
– After the first couple games, which featured an NBA ready Harrison Barnes doing work, Kevin Love showed up and hopped right in without stretching.
– Good news T-Wolves fans: K-Love appeared to be in great shape.
– On one trip down, Word of God’s CJ Leslie looked off Love for the layup. He must have learned that from his former teammate John Wall.
– From the jump, Joe Jackson showed that he can play! Clearly an offensive jugernaut, JJ was digging in on defense as well.
– After running with him for a minute, K-Love says about Jackson: “I like this kid.”
– On the kick front, Jared Sullinger was wearing some exclusive Nike Foamposite Lites from the Amar’e Stoudemire Skills Academy, while Kyrie Irving was wearing what appeared to be Under Armour SMUs for Clemson
– Highlight #1: Oak Hill alum Jennings talking smack to current Oak Hill player Doron Lamb while the two were guarding each other. After dropping a three in his grill, Jennings back pedals down the court saying, “You go to my school”
– Highlight #2: In the last two games, you could have basically just had Jennings and Selby on the court as the two were going at it. Back-and-forth, Jennings and Selby went shot for shot with the smack talk getting vicious. “I don’t care who he is,” Selby said about Jennings, which lead to Young Money dropping two fadeaway threes in his grill.
– Speaking of Young Money, Jackson had the “YM” moniker cut into his hair. When I let Jennings know that the Tennessee kid went by the same name, Jackson let him know that he had the nickname first.
– One of the biggest surprises of the night was Ibrahim “EB” Jaaber who rolled in with Jennings. You may remember EB from his days at the University of Pennsylvania (2003-07) where he won the Ivy League Player of the Year in his junior and senior years, in the process breaking the Ivy League’s career record for steals (303) and finishing among the top thiefs in college basketball (second nationally in steals his junior year and third nationally in steals his senior year). Jaaber and Jennings played together this past season with Lottomattica Roma. This kid can play.
– Resting a hurt ankle, my man Perry Ellis didn’t get in the run.
– Other guys that stood out during the runs were Myck Kabongo, Roscoe Smith and Tobias Harris.