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July 25, 2013

Five-stars everywhere at Fab 48 in Vegas

MORE: AAU Gold Super Showcase Day 1

LAS VEGAS -- There are times when the grassroots basketball circuit can get to be a bit of a grind. Then there are times like the opening night of the Fab 48 at Bishop Gorman High School when 12 five-star prospects take the floor and for the most part go to work. Easily the most thrilling game of the night -- and one of the most exciting on the grassroots circuit in some time -- happened when Belmont Shore's trio of Tyler Dorsey, Daniel Hamilton and Stephen Zimmerman took out the Mo Williams Academy featuring Malik Newman and Emmanuel Mudiay in a high-scoring game.

Belmont Shore outlasts MWA

If you are a fan of offense, and most are, then the high-scoring affair between Long Beach, Calif.-based Belmont Shore and Dallas, Texas-based Mo Williams Academy was your type of game. With five prospects on the floor who have five-star status, there was no shortage of star power, and they all played up to their lofty reputations. Led by the trio of Daniel Hamilton (No. 15 in 2014), Stephen Zimmerman (No. 2 in 2015) and Tyler Dorsey (No. 8 in 2015), Belmont Shore outlasted Emmanuel Mudiay (No. 3 in 2014), Malik Newman (No. 1 in 2015) and MWA 101-93 in an instant summer classic.

The pace? It was breakneck from the beginning and never slowed down as both teams poured in basket after basket. A 6-foot-4 point guard, Mudiay carried MWA early as he drained four straight three pointers en route to 22 first-half points. Primarily a physical and athletic driver, Mudiay's shooting opened the floor up for himself and others as both Newman and shooting guard Micah Seaborn benefitted from his play.

On the other side, Dorsey and Hamilton were scoring at will as well. Dorsey was very effective with the jumper and used his strength to finish around the rim while Hamilton -- a Connecticut pledge -- let the shots fly with confidence and scored off the dribble and with pull-up jumpers. Playing with Belmont Shore after making his way over from the Adidas Super 64 where he played an earlier game with his regular team, Zimmerman was blocking shots, hitting short jumpers and showing off his refined passing skills. On one play, the near seven-footer caught a ball on a dead sprint in transition and without breaking stride whipped a behind the back pass to a teammate for an easy bucket.

The second half featured more of the same, but Belmont Shore's three five-stars were just too much for MWA to handle. When the dust had settled, Dorsey led all scorers with 35 while Hamilton added 31 and Zimmerman chipped in with 21 of his own and near double-digit blocks. On the MWA side Newman -- who caught fire from deep in the second half -- finished with 32 while Mudiay finished with 31 of his own and double-digit assist numbers.

Among the programs who had head coaches on hand for at least parts of the game were Arizona, Duke, Kentucky, SMU, Tulsa, Louisville, USC and many more. Afterward, an excited Dorsey mentioned that he is being pursued by basically the entire Pac-12, Louisville, Duke, Kentucky and Connecticut. He was thrilled to have been part of such a high-level affair.

"I love it that we just went at each other," Dorsey said. "It's a great game and obviously a lot of threes were going in. We were just being really competitive, and I just like going against top players in the country. That's what you live for."

In the end, Dorsey's hot jump shooting carried his team, but he felt it important to give respect to his competitors.

"I had a hot hand most of the game and my three pointers were going," said Dorsey. "When they keyed on me I got assists for my teammates. Malik, he can heat up you all see that he can shoot it a lot and make buckets. Mudiay, he can get to the bucket at will."

Fire doused

The Mac Irvin Fire rolled out three five-star prospects from the class of 2014 in the nation's top player Jahlil Okafor, dunking machine Cliff Alexander and recently acquired JaQuan Lyle. Each of them impressed in stretches as Okafor got deep position in the post whenever he wanted, Alexander played with power and Lyle made some impressive passes while scoring a bit. It wasn't enough, though, because Texas Select was just a little bit better on Wednesday night.

Thanks to a Nick Babb free throw with five seconds remaining, Select knocked off the Fire in a thrilling game. It was also a bit of redemption for Select after the Fire handled them soundly last weekend in Milwaukee. Surprisingly, the nation's No. 6 player Myles Turner wasn't a huge factor. He had some flashes with a three, he hit smooth turn and face jumper in the post and he bothered Okafor some on finishes. But for the most part Turner wasn't a huge factor in the game.

That was fine as Babb -- a Rivals150 guard -- and Jalon Miller stepped up big. A tough 6-foot-4 guard with some athleticism who can play a little bit at the point or the two, Babb was good defensively and sparked the transition game. A class of 2015 prospect, Miller had a huge game.

A 6-foot-6 wing out of Dallas (Texas) Seagoville, Miller wasn't exactly a kid people knew a lot about heading into the game. By the time he was done elevating for smooth jumpers, crashing the glass and showing explosive athleticism, the majority of the coaches in the gym were asking about his recruitment. If Wednesday night is an indication of what to expect from Miller down the road, we are talking about a solid four-star prospect and easy high-major. After the game, Miller told Rivals.com that he has yet to hear from any college programs. That will be changing soon.

More Wednesday Fab 48 notes

Because Stanley Johnson's ride took him to the wrong gym, the nation's No. 8 player in the class of 2014 was a little late and he didn't check into his game until under eight minutes were left in the first half. Playing with his Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei teammates under the team name of Big Red, the only thing showing up late kept Johnson from doing was scoring 40. The five-star was a blur in transition who had one target: the rim. He hit a couple of jumpers, was terrific on the glass and basically dominated.

Also playing well for Big Red was 2016 post player M.J. Cage. The son of former NBA player Michael Cage, he doesn't play with the power that his father used to; but Cage is plenty good and shows lots of potential. A slender 6-foot-8 forward, he runs the floor and while other guys jump higher (for now), Cage gets off the floor very quickly, and with his length he's able to tap rebounds to himself and contest shots. He has pretty soft touch and looks like a future high-major. Cage said that San Diego State is his first offer while others such as UCLA and USC have started watching.

Northwestern head coach Chris Collins had to have been smiling a bit as he watched Victor Law. The wing was very active attacking the rim and is the type of wing athlete that the Wildcats could really use. Sometimes Law has settled for threes, but he didn't do that on Wednesday and was strong on both ends of the floor.

A pair of Wisconsin guards deserve serious consideration for the next edition of the Rivals150 for the class of 2014. Point guards Lamonte Bearden and Riley LaChance were both good on Wednesday. Bearden is a thin speed burner with exceptional body control and an improving jumper, while LaChance is a high-end jumper who just has a feel for the game. Bearden mentioned offers from Oregon State, San Francisco, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Bradley and Buffalo. But Nebraska, Missouri and USC all had head coaches on hand to watch him, and he appears to be close to offers from those programs.

Nu Williams caught the attention of our West Coast guys last week, and he showed why on Wednesay night. Even though his game wasn't the game that was being focused on, it seemed that every time we looked over he was making a play. A 6-foot-2 combo guard and high-end athlete, Williams looks like an explosive player and a pretty good looking prospect.

There was so much talent on the floor for the Mac Irvin Fire-Texas Select game that a head-to-head matchup between Rashad Vaughn and Isaiah Whitehead didn't attract quite the same coaching contingent. However, there were a few important people watching. Roy Williams, Dave Rice, Fred Hoiberg and Jim Boeheim were all there to evaluate.

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