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May 2, 2011

From the road: Jayhawk Invite

MORE JAYHAWK INVITE: Friday | Saturday

Rivals.com basketball recruiting analysts Jerry Meyer and Eric Bossi weigh in on four current topics.

LAWRENCE, Kan. - The 2011 Jayhawk Invitational came to an exciting end on Sunday afternoon. After locking up the championship in the 16-and-under division with a lopsided win over the Wisconsin Playground Warriors, Las Vegas-based Dream Vision added a 17-and-under title as five-star wing Shabazz Muhammad's 36 points were just enough to hold off a red-hot Chris Thomas and the Colorado Hawks.

Muhammad and Thomas dominate Sunday's action

Over the years, there have been plenty of impressive performances at the Jayhawk Invitational. After Sunday, Shabazz Muhammad can lay claim to the most impressive individual performance in the tournament's 12-year history. And 2013 five-star Chris Thomas wasn't far behind him.

Starting with Muhammad, the 6-foot-5 southpaw wing from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman was scintillating. He went for 30 points against SYF in the quarterfinals and 32 against the Texas Assault in the semifinals before finishing off the Colorado Hawks with his 36-point effort in the finale.

An explosive, straight up and down athlete, Muhammad was playing a man's game all day long. He posted strong, knocked home deep jumper after deep jumper off the catch and attacked on the dribble when he saw openings. Along the way he dominated the glass and made key defensive plays as well.

"Each team was guarding me a different way," said Muhammad. "So, I just took what they gave me and tried to keep my teammates involved."

The 36-point effort against the Colorado Hawks was just part of what turned into one of the spring's biggest highlights. Standing on the other side of the floor, Thomas was matching Muhammad's explosion with an impressive 35-point outburst.

A physical and athletic 6-foot-4 combo guard, Thomas was fighting back problems and exhaustion from carrying the Hawks offense. During the first half, he looked more to set up his teammates while adding 10 points of his own.

However, as his team fell behind by upwards of 20 points, Thomas stepped out of the phone booth and tried to go Superman on Dream Vision. At one point, Thomas drained five straight three-pointers in just over three minutes. In addition to the deep jumpers he raced to the rim for finishes and hit floaters from the mid-range as he pumped in 25 second-half points and brought the Hawks all the way back to within two points at the 1-minute mark.

"He was awesome out there," said Muhammad of Thomas. "This was my first time playing against him and I was really impressed. I can see why he's one of the top guys in his class."

More Sunday notables

Stephen Domingo, SF, Dream Vision 16's: The MVP of the 16-and-under division finished out his weekend just as he started, on a roll with his jumper. His skill and size are assets and it's not going to be a surprise when West Coast programs go to battle for his services. He has offers from California, San Diego, San Francisco, San Diego State and Memphis while pretty much the entire Pac-12 is showing heavy interest.

Wesley Gordon, PF, Colorado Hawks: An early pledge to Colorado, Gordon is a tough and athletic 6-foot-8 power forward. He's got some strength around the rim, uses either hand to finish in traffic and works hard on the glass. Gordon should be a nice interior player for Tad Boyle during his time in Boulder.

Kyle Haber, SG, Iowa Barnstormers 15's: Only a freshman, the 6-foot-3 wing is going to be one to watch down the road. A skinny kid, he's got top-notch basketball instincts and always seems to be in the mix when good things happen. He can knock down a jumper, creates some off of the dribble and has a motor that doesn't stop.

Marcus Holt, PF, Colorado Hawks: Thomas wasn't totally without help and the 6-foot-9 Holt was one of two interior players who helped out offensively and on the glass. A slender guy who can run the floor, Holt is a bouncy finisher with some offensive game and a good motor. He's in search of a prep school for the 2011-12 season.

Jay Knuth, SF/SG, Kingdom Hoops 15's: KC Pump 'N Run needed overtime to dispatch Kingdom Hoops in the 15U semis and this good-looking 6-foot-4 wing was a big reason. A sturdy kid with feel for the game, he knocked down shots, attacked the paint aggressively and showed a balanced game.

Rashad Muhammad, SG, Dream Vision 16's: An All-Tournament selection on the 16-and-under level, Muhammad is coming into his own this spring. The 6-foot-4 sophomore is a fine ballhandler and has a knack for splitting seams in the defense on drives to the hoop. He will also knock down some perimeter shots and is starting to add some bulk to his skinny frame.

Nick Norton, PG, KC Pump 'N Run 15's: Between its semifinal and final wins over Kingdom Hoops and the Iowa Barnstormers, KC Pump 'N Run had to battle through four overtimes. Every step of the way, Norton was there to make a key assist or knock down a contested three. An intelligent 5-foot-9 point guard, Norton earned MVP honors in the 15U division.

Joe Rahon, SG/PG, Dream Vision: Playing either the one or the two, the 6-foot-2 Rahon was a steady influence all weekend long. He hit timely jumpers from deep, pushed the tempo when needed and gave tremendous effort. When Muhammad needed a complement on the offensive end in the finals, Rahon stepped up with 21 big points of his own.

Marcus Smart, SG, Texas Assault: The powerful 6-foot-4 guard left it all on the floor during a tough loss to Dream Vision in the semifinals. He played the role of primary ballhandler, primary rebounder and primary presence on Muhammad. His jumper looks to be improved and he's one of those guys who will mean a lot to a winning team in college.

Tyrone Taylor, SG, KC Pump 'N Run 15's: A quick and aggressive scorer, Taylor was in attack mode on Sunday and his offense was important. He is quick to the rim, makes jumpers in flurries and doesn't lack confidence when he's on the floor.

All-tournament teams

17 and under: Shabazz Muhammad (MVP) and Robert Upshaw, Dream Vision; Mitch McGary, SYF Players; Chris Thomas and Marcus Holt, Colorado Hawks.

16 and under: Conner Frankamp, KC Pump 'N Run; Bronson Koenig and Luke Worthington, Playground Warriors; Malcolm Hill, SW Illinois Jets-Orange; Stephen Domingo (MVP) and Rashad Muhammad, Dream Vision.

15 and under: Jay Knuth, Kingdom Hoops; Dominique Collier, Billups Elite; Kyle Haber and Cole Clearman, Iowa Barnstormers; Khadre Lane, Tyrone Taylor and Nick Norton (MVP), KC Pump 'N Run.




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