Nicknamed "J-Bird," Jabari had some highlight dunks of his own for the Marques Johnson Squad.
Venice Beach, CA – Amidst the street performers and sideshow acts that line the boardwalk, there was another event taking place Saturday, this one on the infamous basketball courts.
Twenty four of the top high school players in the nation gathered to compete in the Under Armour Elite 24. While the game had the feel of an all-star game, because of the many dunks and lack-luster defense, it was highly entertaining.
The two teams were named after former street ball legends Raymond Lewis (aka Ray Lew) and Marques Johnson. The Marques Johnson team featured players Jabari Bird, Nigel Williams-Goss, Stanley Johnson, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, and Austin Nichols. The “Ray Lew” Squad was headlined by Nate Britt, Emmanuel Mudiay, Conner Frankamp, Brannen Greene, Rondae Jefferson, Julius Randle, and Aaron Gordon.
The teams were coached by current NBA and former Elite 24 players Kyrie Irving and Brandon Jennings. Aaron Gordon and Julius Randle highlighted the show and combined for over 45 points as the Raymond Lewis team won handily. The majority of their points came from dunks, including one particular play in which Gordon dribbled through the defenders legs to the right, crossed back to the left, pump faked, went up and under and threw the ball off the glass to himself for the slam. This definitely had everybody on their feet and he added to the crowd enjoyment with a between the legs dunk. Julius Randle looked powerful and fast in his 6’9” frame, and he handled the ball fairly efficiently in the one-on-one setting.
Justice Winslow looked very comfortable using his athleticism to get dunks, blocks, and rebounds. Winslow is a 6’5” 2014 grad, who was playing out of Houston and looked very promising. The game was meant to be a fun wrap up to summer ball and you cannot take too much from the event. However, it was great to see the majority of the guys playing hard and being able to entertain the crowd.
There is nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon than enjoy some intense, quality pick-up ball in the beautiful setting of Venice Beach.