It's the largest basketball showcase of the summer and the place to find nearly every Division I college basketball coach and top prospect.
The fifth annual Big Time Tournament brought together 256 boys basketball teams -- some high school, some AAU -- from 42 states, Canada and Europe to sweltering Las Vegas from Thursday through Monday.
D.C. Assault, a Landover-based AAU team, was one of four local teams to participate. The Assault, which won the event in 1997, reached the quarterfinals for the second straight year.
After finishing 2-1 in pool play, the Assault breezed by its next three opponents before losing to the eventual tournament champion, the New Orleans Jazz, 95-83, on Monday morning. The Jazz featured talented senior guard Brandon Mouton, whose brother Byron plans to transfer to Maryland from Tulane this fall.
Oak Hill Academy's Cliff Hawkins, a former Potomac (Va.) standout, led D.C. in scoring against the Jazz with 27 points. Bernard Robinson, who played at Dunbar last year, added 19. Both Hawkins, who averaged 19.3 points per game, and Robinson (12.2 ppg) were selected to the all-tournament team.
Robinson said he has received scholarship offers from Winchendon (Mass.) School and Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., for next year. Although he has yet to make his final decision, he said he is leaning toward Winchendon.
Two juniors, Newport School's James White and Paul VI's Tyree Spinner, also played well for the Assault.
D.C. Assault also entered an under-16 team in the tournament. The younger squad finished 4-1 after going undefeated in pool play. It lost to Pump-n-Run Gold, 72-56, in the second round of the playoffs. McNamara junior Tony Bethel led the team in scoring, averaging 16.7 points. T.C. Williams junior Dennis Bowden averaged 15.2 points. Paul Bailey, a junior who played for Ballou last season but plans to transfer to Dunbar, averaged 11.8 points.
Northern Virginia's NOVA United went 3-1 despite losing talented senior forward RaMell Ross (Lake Braddock) to a separated shoulder in the first game of the tournament. The United was undefeated in pool play, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Dakota Schoolers, 70-58. Kelvin Coggins, a senior guard from Mount Vernon, and Dustin Hellenga, a senior guard from South Lakes, both played well. Hellenga led the team in scoring at 19.3 points and Coggins averaged 17.3 points.
Coggins, fairly unknown prior to the tournament, attracted the attention of quite a few college coaches with his strong play.
Capital Players featured two local standouts. McNamara's Maurice Young, a senior who has committed to play for Virginia, averaged 19.2 points. Central senior Sean Brooks played well defensively. The Capital Players went 1-2 in pool play, but advanced to the round of 32 before losing to Friends of Hoop Orange, 77-71.
Blue-Chip Performance for Vogues
The Vogues under-16 girls AAU basketball team reached the finals of the 120-team Blue Chip national invitational tournament in Philadelphia on Sunday. The Vogues lost in the championship game to the New Hampshire Crusaders, 59-46. George Mason's Kate Jackson and Mount Vernon's Kelly Ercole provided strong shooting. Chantilly's Kate Kreager, Oakton's Sarah Rappoport and Robinson's Leslie Harvey were effective in the lane.