The night Prayer for a Perfect Season premiered on HBO, I sat in a banquet hall watching it with the people who had the most personally invested in it.
The documentary was moving, but as it portrayed the fading vestiges of a golden era, the reactions of the St. Patrick High School community while watching it were far more so.
The NBA Draft is among my five favorite sports days of the year, and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not alone: Anybody who appreciates basketball on any level from high school to pro gets something out of it. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been to three drafts, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been great every time. This year, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m ecstatic to see Kyrie Irving go at the top, having watched him play a half-dozen times in high school for St. PatrickÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s.
I usually do a mock draft on the site, but this year, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m proud to present a fresh perspective from friend of SportsAngle Robert Jamis, a Nets fan and one of the most savvy basketball observers I know.
Robert really did a terrific mock — though as anyone whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ever done one of these knows, doing one of these amid all the rumors is like counting grains of sand on the beach, especially after the first few picks. This draft, considered very weak after guys like Terrence Jones, Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes stayed in school. But I think he did a fantastic job with it, and his player analysis is superb. I want to go to a Hofstra game next year with his uncles.
Check it out after the jump, and enjoy the draft tonight.
The texts and e-mails started rolling in on Wednesday, asking me how I was doing in the wake of Kyrie IrvingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s toe injury. They came from people who know how IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve followed KyrieÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s early career over the last year or so.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m obviously concerned, more for him than about anything else. As incredible a player as Kyrie has looked, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still a freshman. And I know what itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like to be a New Jersey kid at Duke, where a 500-mile difference can seem like 500,000 miles when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re alone.
Despite Mike Krzyzewski saying he could be out for the season, I have to hold on to hope that this year is going to have a happy ending for Kyrie. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s got a tremendous medical staff on his side, and the healing powers of youth.
But a part of me misses a simpler time, watching Kyrie do his thing at high school games at Kean University. And thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a part of him that deep down probably agrees with me.
The Jordan Classic is everything I love and everything that prevents me from completely enjoying big-time high school basketball all at the same time.
Here are some quick thoughts on some of the players that stood out to me at the Jordan Classic this year.
Kyrie Irving, Duke: What can I say that I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t said this year? Jay Williams said Irving was a combination of himself and Chris Duhon and that sounds about right. So creative, so smooth in transition, with a feathery jumper. He completely took over the game and the crowd in the final three minutes, when nobody could stop him going coast to coast. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the total package, and when Mike Kryzewski gets him playing that hard man-to-man defense, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re looking at a future Chris Paul in the making.
Note: We took a lot of photos at the 2010 Primetime Shootout, which turned out to be a terrific event with two indisputably classic games. Here are some of our favorites that werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t used in the articles I wrote about it:
Kyrie Irving, warming up for the second half against Oak Hill on Friday night.
After watching national prep school powerhouse Oak Hill edge star-studded St. Patrick on Friday night by one point, I figured I had seen the premier game of the Primetime Shootout.
As it turned out, I was in for a real surprise on Saturday Ã¢â‚¬â€œ as was Oak Hill, which learned two lessons: Never take anything for granted, and never draw blood from St. PeterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Prep star guard Myles Davis.
Talk about a lousy day. After St. PatrickÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s (No. 6, ESPN Rise) was banned from the New Jersey state tournament earlier in the day because coach Kevin Boyle attended practices before he was technically allowed to, they lost an absolute heartbreaker, 79-78, to No. 7 Oak Hill when gritty shooting guard Derrick Gordon missed a pair of foul shots with .4 seconds left.
I go to high school games to catch a glimpse of the future, to see future college and pro stars develop before my eyes. And with a matchup of two future stud point guards, I lucked into a special game on Saturday night.
The Dunn Center at Elizabeth High School was packed to the rafters to see St. Patrick (No. 3 in the nation) face off with St. BenedictÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s (No. 10). Besides the elite coaches involved Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Kevin Boyle and Danny Hurley, two guys who could find themselves in the college ranks before too long Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the marquee matchup was at the point, where Duke-bound Kyrie Irving of St. PatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s faced off with St. BenedictÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s junior Myck Kabongo, who is heading to Texas.
After watching Duke lose to Georgia Tech on Saturday, I felt like envisioning better times ahead, so I headed to Kean University to watch future Duke star Kyrie Irving and No. 1 nationally ranked St. Patrick vs. Westfield. It was also great to see Michael Gilchrist up and about after a scary knee injury on Tuesday. Here are my observations: