Summer Basketball Las Vegas Style: Days 4/5

I wasn’t able to post on Saturday. It was a long day in the gym — watching three Total Package games and another while I waited — and it was nearly 11 the time I got back to my new room. And ended up having problems connecting to the internet.

First, let me catch you up on Total Package’s games on Saturday.

The Red team fought back from an 18-2 deficit in the first half against the Santa Margarita (Calif.) Eagles to make a game out of it. And they were down 10 with about three minutes left and they forcd overtime before falling 65-58 in the single-elimination portion of the Reebok Summer Championships. Christopher Bell, an incoming sophomore from Bainbridge, had a big offensive game and Bremerton’s Terrik Maghee, who will be a senior, was pivotal during the comeback.

The younger Red team finished 0-4 and leaves for home today.

The Blue team had a full day, playing three games (20-minute halves with a 2-minute break). With 6-foot-6, 250-pound Austin Jenkins leading the way, Total Package beat Eastern Washington Elite White 54-48. Nobody’s keeping stats for this tournament, but the strong and active Jenkins had to have 18-20 rebounds.

Then, playing perhaps their best game of the tournament, TP Blue beat the Hawaii Raiders 67-55. Jenkins, once again, was a man among boys. He’s going to be a fun player to watch the next two seasons. But this junior-to-be from Gig Harbor won’t make a living as a basketball player. He’s a football star, a blue chip recurit who is considered the best tight end prospect in the country. He could probably play multiple positions. I could see him making a living on Sundays as a defensive end, tight end or offensive lineman.

Counting pool play, that was four straight wins for TP, which lost its opener to Petersburg Elite (Va.). But they ran out of gas in the semifinals of its bracket against Play Hard Play Smart (Sacramento, Calif.). PHPL played harder and smarter and ended TP’s run with a 62-56 victory. It was tied 22-22 with about two minutes left in the first half but Total Package made some poor decisions and fell behind 31-22 at the half and PHPL scored the first two baskets of the second half.

Total Package Blue leaves for Los Angeles today and begins plays in the Best of the Summer Tournmaent on Tuesday. This is an 11-day grind, but these players are getting a lot of exposure and being exposed to some of the best talent in the country.


* At the Main Stage summer tournament at UNLV, Seattle Rotary Select was making noise. Nate Robinson was among those in the crowd during Rotary’s 73-67 win over Chicago’s Mac Irvin team. There was a brief scuffle in that game and Robinson reportedly charged on the court to chest bump Rotary’s Joshua Smith, the Kentwood star, after a dunk.

The 6-10, 300-pound Smith had 24 points and 10 rebounds against Mac Irvin. Among the coaches watching him were Washington’s Lorenzo Romar, UCLA’s Ben Howland, Kansas’ Bill Self, Gonzaga’s Mark Few and North Carolina’s Roy Williams. It’s being reported that Smith has narrowed his choices to UCLA and Washington.

* Seattle U coach Cameron Dollar was at two of Total Package’s games on Saturday. His father, Donald Dollar, an SU assistant, was at the late game. Cameron told me he was blogging at 2:30 a.m. one day, so I checked out his blog. Here’s the link.

* Bainbridge’s smooth Will Diiorio and Auburn Riverside’s rugged Ryan Rogers are among the TP players getting the most attention from college coaches. In addition to the Dollars, Total Package coach Craig Murray said he noticed coaches from Carroll College (Mont.), St. Martin’s, Portland State, San Diego and Portland at their games. College coaches can’t talk to the club coaches or players. At UNLV,  they even posted signs that asked parents and fans not to talk to the coaches.

* North Mason guard Brett Skogstad would have been with Total Package but recently underwent knee surgery. He and his father, NM coach Larry Skogstad, were in Vegas this week.

* I’ve put a lot of miles on my rental car and there’s still games being played today. Not sure if I’ll make it to any. I think I’ve finally got a handle on this summer circuit, and how it works. I’ve talked to coaches, players, parents, tournament organizers. I’ve seen the elite players with Michael Jordan-like hang time, and some not-so-elite. I’ve watched classy, organized coaches in action, and I’ve seen loud, obnoxious coaches with booming voices who want to be the show. I’ve been in cookie-cutter gyms — they’re all designed the same, with an auxiliary gym connected — all over Las Vegas. I watched kids bouncing basketball balls on the Vegas Strip and seen kids gawking at the crazy things you see in this city.

Now, I guess,  it’s time to start writing.

But not just yet. I’m shutting this laptop down for a couple days. It’s time for me to see some more of the crazy things you see in this city. It’s back to reality — and real work — on Tuesday.

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