Intensity rises as Pro-Am playoff games begin
The intensity meter was pinging more than it has been all summer at the S.J.G. Greater NC Pro-Am.
The games at the summer league haven’t been as desirable as they have been in past seasons because current players from Duke and North Carolina haven’t played.
It’s playoff time, though, which tends to attract bigger names at the pro-am, and former UNC forward John Henson lent his on Tuesday.
Former Southern High School big man Isaiah Maurice was supposed to figure out how to guard Henson.
Maurice (6-9, 200) is a big man. He’s just not as big as Henson (6-11, 225), who spent the evening hanging on the rims at Durham School of the Arts.
Henson scored 22 points for the Dr. John Holt-Gastro team. He launched a bunch of 3-pointers. None of them fell for him.
“I was 0-for-4, 0-for-5,” Henson said about hanging out behind the arc. “It’s not my game yet, but it’s worth a shot out here.”
Maurice threw down some dunks, too, just not enough of them, his Banks Law Firm squad ending up on the wrong side of the 79-71 final score.
Former Hillside guard DeShon Self, playing for Banks, held his own out there, impacting the game with 21 points, connecting on five 3s.
“It’s going to help me out a lot,” Self said about competing in the pro-am. “I’m playing against guys that are bigger than me, quicker than me, stronger than me, so I think it’s just preparing me mentally and physically for what I should expect at the college level.”
Self, along with Maurice, is headed to PACE Academy, an area prep school coached by Darryl Harris, who was on the bench calling plays for Banks.
Henson was a handful, to say the least, Harris said.
“The game plan was just to go right at him, pump fake him, hoping he’d get in the air, but he didn’t really bite for it,” Harris said.
Former UNC point guard Kendall Marshall, now in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns, showed up with Henson but didn’t play.
The opening game between Hendrick of Durham and Sheraton Imperial included some extra bumping and grinding between Hillside’s Justice Kithcart and Wingate University’s Jon Moore. It looked pretty testy between those two.
“Out here, it’s a lot of older guys, so I’ve just got to prove myself,” Kithcart said.
Kithcart is a rising sophomore, having transferred to Hillside from Riverside.
Moore, playing for Hendrick, said he was getting gritty with Kithcart in order to introduce him to the violent awakening that shook him when he started playing college ball.
Nothing personal, though -- it was all love, Moore said.
Hendrick won 65-61.
“I think we could have won by 30, to be honest with you,” Hendrick’s Kris Timmons said, all but guaranteeing that his team would win the tournament.
In Game 3, Denver Nuggets forward Quincy Miller and his DTLR team advanced to the semifinals with an 84-69 win over American Dream Leasing.
Hillside’s Marcus Bowling, on the floor with American Dream, got past Miller for a basket by using some sleight of hand before talking junk to the NBA big man.
Bowling’s jawing continued, and Miller hauled off and shoved the smaller guard while getting in position for a rebound.
It’s the playoffs.
Northern’s Ricky Council II and Kentrell Barkley played for DreamWorks in Game 4 against Dot’s Detailing, which won 92-81 on the strength of sweet-shooting Elizabeth City State guard Miykael Faulcon and his quick trigger.
Voyager’s Diante Parker and Jay Huff were on that Dreamworks squad.
The semifinals tonight at DSA start at 6:30 p.m., Hendrick against DTLR. Game 2 at 8 p.m. will have Holt-Gastro against Dot’s.
And there’s no telling which big-named ballplayers might come through the doors this evening at the summer league, where the rosters are fluid and flexible.