Under Armour Elite 24: Aaron Gordon And Justise Winslow Put On Elite Performances
As expected, you could find all of those things at the 2012 Under Armour Elite 24 game, which features 24 of the nation’s top high school basketball players.
Not as expected was the sheer dominance of the San Jose-based Aaron Gordon, better known to some as California Mr. Basketball, who racked up 25 points on 12-18 shooting and added seven rebounds, en route to earning one of the game’s MVP honors.
“I was a little bit nervous before the game, but once we started playing, I was like, ‘man, it’s just basketball and you gotta play,’” Gordon said of his performance, which was nationally televised on ESPNU.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ Brandon Jennings-coached Raymond Lewis Squad dominated with a 164-138 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving-coached Marques Johnson squad. The Raymond Lewis squad came away with three of the four MVP awards as Gordon, Aaron Harrison and Julius Randle took home the honor.
It was Gordon, however, who stole the afternoon with his play on back-to-back possessions in the first half.
On the first possession, the nation’s sixth-ranked high school basketball player (according to ESPN) performed a through-the-legs dunk that would have fit in perfectly at the dunk contest the night before.
With the next possession, the 6-foot-7 power forward crossed over Connecticut-based Kuran Iverson (yes, he is Allen Iverson’s cousin), put the ball between Iverson’s legs and then threw the ball off the backboard and thundered the ball home for a dunk that had the crowd buzzing the rest of the afternoon.
The Elite 24 dunk contest champion, Julius Randle, also came ready to play, as he dropped 27 points to lead all scorers. Randle made his presence known on numerous occasions in the second half, using his imposing 6-foot-9, 225-pound frame to have his way with defenders in the low post.
The Dallas native, who is ranked as the nation’s third best player, was one of many players from Texas who shined at the event.
The 6-foot-6 swingman led the Marques Johnson squad with 21 points on 10-11 shooting, showing a knack for scoring from different parts of the court and was the lone member of his squad to obtain MVP honors.
“It was a blessing to get this MVP honor,” Winslow said after the game. “I wasn’t trying to prove anything. I was just trying to have fun.”
Aaron Harrison and his twin brother, Andrew Harrison— also out of the Houston-area— again demonstrated why they are the No. 4 and No. 2-ranked players in the nation with their scoring and passing skills in their second trip to Venice.
The guard duo explained before the game that they hoped to show the fans excitement through their athletic ability, and they delivered. The brothers consistently sought each other out on offense and combined for eight assists on the afternoon.
Aaron and Winslow had a memorable exchange when Winslow began smothering the Harrison twins on defense. Unable to shake Winslow with some nice crossover attempts, Harrison stepped back and banked home a three-point shot, much to the chagrin of Winslow.
Other notables from the game included Jabari Bird who scored 20 points for the Marques Johnson squad and Los Angeles’ own, Isaac Hamilton who scored 19 for the Raymond Lewis team.
Missing from the game was the class of 2013 and 2014’s top-ranked player, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins, respectively. The latter is seeking to reclassify to the class of 2013, possibly to commit to Kentucky.
Even with those notable absences, the game clearly did not suffer from lack of star power especially when considering the likelihood that many, if not most of the players at the Elite 24 will someday play in the NBA.
“A lot of these guys (Jennings, Irving, DeAndre Jordan) played in the Elite 24, so it shows you can make it,” Gordon said.
After the performance put up Saturday, it won’t be long before Gordon joins those ranks and becomes an NBA star himself.