Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hays Tournament Leander 79 San Antonio Stevens 76 (OT)

From left to right: 2011 6'6" Mark Nwakamma, 2009 G 6'4" Joel Smith, & 2009 P 6'6" A.D. Jones of the Leander Lions. (All three were also summer mates with the Texas D-1 Ambassadors)
In what has to be the biggest win in recent history for the Leander basketball program, the Lions showed a lot of composure in taking a hard fought 79-76 overtime victory over's State Ranked San Antonio Stevens squad. Stevens has a deep roster and a big time D-1 guard in 2009 G 6'2" Brandon Thompson who is currently awaiting his SAT score while he mulls over offers from Texas State, Colorado State and Colorado. Baylor has also entered his recruiting picture, which seems to tell me that the #1 player in the country, John Wall (out of North Carolina) is no longer considering the Bears. This despite the hiring of the brother of Wall's AAU coach to the Baylor staff.
But back to Leander. Perhaps this is a coming out party for the Lions team. They've got plenty of talent but I think it's fair to say that they didn't know how to win big games in the past. They do not have a lot of depth at the guard spot, but when Joel Smith is on he's as good as anyone in the CenTex/San Antonio area. He's long, athletic, can get to the rack and is a deep three point threat. He can be a little streaky, but when he heats up he REALLY heats up. That was the case today. He finished with 22 points. The Lions share of them came in the 4th quarter and OT. Smith is getting lots of bites and will be a sure fire bet to sign D-1 in the spring.
A.D. Jones at 6'6" 230 was simply too much inside for Stevens, along with his 220 lb sophomore mate Mark Nwakamma who had 4 power dunks in the contest. I love Stevens, they are one of my top picks to get to State, but they live a little bit much on the perimeter for my liking and lack an interior defensive presence when it comes to defending teams with beef inside as Leander has. Having said that, Coach Hirst's crew can shoot it with the best of them. I love his little slips creens he has his wings set as the guards come up from the corners, allowing them to get the looks they want.
Nwakamma is the Big Time prospect. At 6'6" this kid runs the floor like a guard and as I witnessed this summer v. the New York Metro Hawks this guy will spring up and punch it on anyone at anytime. The ACC & Big East coaches watching the game would concur with that.
In closing, Stevens will recover and have a great year. For Leander this may give them a new perspective on what they are capable of and springboard them into the elusive playoff berth they seek and perhaps even a District title in what looks like a bunch of teams that are very equal at this point early in the season.
Leading Scorers
San Antonio Stevens: Josh Orta 30, Julian Stallworth 21
Leander: Joel Smith 22, Mark Nwakamma 16, A.D. Jones 15