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Carmelo Information
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Each summer, the best young basketball players on the planet migrate to Teaneck, New Jersey and Indianapolis, Indiana to showcase their talents at the ADIDAS and Nike camps. Fantastic matchups pit the premier players against each other under the watchful eyes of college coaches and drooling NBA scouts. Unfortunately, what these camps lack is the immediacy of winning and losing; the games are only a vehicle in which players show off their individual skills for a throng of talent evaluators.

Keeping this in mind, it is a rare occurrence indeed when the top ranked players in the junior and senior class meet up in a game that actually has meaning. But that's exactly what happened when Oak Hill's Carmelo Anthony went up against St. Vincent/St. Mary's LeBron James on Sunday afternoon at the Primetime shootout in Trenton, New Jersey. The two players put on a dazzling display of drives, dunks, dishes, dropsteps, and downtown jumpers culminating in a 72-66 Oak Hill victory. LeBron James poured in 36 points while Carmelo Anthony was only a step behind at 34.

Despite the similarity in the numbers, the two players represent somewhat of a contrast of styles. Everything about LeBron James is flashy, from his no-look passes right down to his red, white, and blue sneakers. Most of his game originates from the perimeter. Carmelo Anthony, on the other hand, was a model of efficiency with fundamental play around the basket and exciting moves on the fastbreak. At this stage, Anthony's game revolves primarily around his outstanding instincts in the paint.

The battle between these two Goliaths of high school basketball was highlighted by the fact that both teams entered the game in the top 5 of the USA Today rankings (Oak Hill #3, St. Vincent #5). A loss for either team would devastate any aspirations of winning the mythical high school national championship. Furthermore, St. Vincent had an opportunity to avenge last year's 79-78 loss on January 13th that snapped their 36 game winning streak.

From the tipoff, it didn't look like St. Vincent's stood a chance of downing an Oak Hill squad powered by a lineup full of Division 1 signees. With all guns blazing, the Warriors charged out to a 12-2 lead behind the interior play of Carmelo Anthony and Sani Ibrahim. Anthony scored the first 6 Oak Hill points on a series of crafty post moves and Ibrahim, who finished with 14 points, flushed a powerful dunk and connected on a soft turnaround from the block.

LeBron James, meanwhile, had a hard time getting going during the first quarter. He finished the first 8 minutes with 7 points on 2-8 shooting and his team fell behind 21-11. Cincinnati signee Chad Moore was assigned the enviable task of slowing down James, but he got quite a lot of helpside defense from his teammates. Basically, James was double, triple, and even quadruple teamed for 32 straight minutes.

With Oak Hill's stable full of scoring options, Carmelo Anthony had the benefit of receiving much less attention than James did. Still, LeBron James somehow managed to bring his team back despite the enormous attention he drew on the offensive end. James put together a sequence of remarkable plays in the 2nd quarter that sparked a 15-4 run to give St. Vincent a 26-25 lead.

It all started out when he drove the lane, turned his head towards a teammate at the three point line, but dropped the ball behind his back through two defenders to Jeremy Johnson for a dunk. Following a steal and high-flying jam, James then found teammate Dru Joyce with a no-look between the legs pass that was easily converted into 3 points. After Anthony drained a 16 footer from the wing, James came back with a rim-rattling dunk to give St. Vincent/St. Mary's the lead.

With St. Vincent's finally pulling ahead at 26-25, James went to the bench for a 2 minute stretch. This move proved to be catastrophic for the Irish as Oak Hill immediately went on a 9-2 run to close out the half, thanks to some smooth shooting by Chad Moore (10 points). Oak Hill took a 34-28 lead into the break after James narrowly missed a 70-footer at the buzzer.

The third quarter belonged to Carmelo Anthony, who scored 12 points on 4-6 shooting from the field and 4-4 shooting from the line. Although Anthony missed 2 chippies in the first minute, he was aggressive enough to haul in a few offensive rebounds that he eventually stuck back in. For most of the first half, LeBron James was not matched-up on Anthony, but early in the third quarter, James drew the daunting assignment of covering Carmelo.

At first, the move looked like a stroke of genius when LeBron came up with a steal and assisted on a score, but then Anthony made James pay for his overplays. Two times in a row he snagged a pass that was almost intercepted, then went straight to the basket, leaving James in the dust. The first time, he used a quick between-the-legs crossover and scored on a gliding finger-roll. The next time, he simply elevated over everyone for a crazy tomahawk jam. The spectular dunk gave Oak Hill a 50-37 lead.

In a common theme for the game, James single-handedly kept coming back at Oak Hill. He got to the free throw line and converted 2 shots, then knifed through 4 defenders for a reverse lay-up. Anther basket by James closed the gap to 8 at the end of the quarter.

The final quarter was a brilliant display of back-and-forth play between James and Anthony. Neither player could stop the other, but Oak Hill had a big enough cushion to hold off St. Vincent's. James would score or assist only to see Anthony answer on virtually every occasion. The Irish kept it close (down 4 to 7 points), but could never seem to cut into the deficit enough to garner the upset.

As with the rest of the game, Anthony's offense came very close to the basket. He posted up James and spun around for a basket. He slashed from 10 feet out to hit a runner in the lane. He scored on a fast-break flip shot. Oak Hill seemed to be in control, but with 38 seconds remaining, James answered with a three pointer over Anthony, making the score 68-64.

Oak Hill held on to win by making their free throws (14-17 on the game), although James left with one last spectacular play when he grabbed an offensive rebound after he intentionally missed his own foul shot! It was an incredibly athletic play, but didn't end up factoring into the final outcome.

For the game, Carmelo Anthony finished with 34 points on 14 of 24 shooting (0-1 3pt), 6-7 free throws, 4 offensive rebounds, 7 defensive rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, and 1 steal. James tallied 36 points on 12-24 shooting (2-7 3pt), 10-13 ft, 4 offensive rebounds, 8 defensive rebounds, 7 assists, 4 turnovers, and 6 steals. Anthony was joined in double figures by Sani Ibrahim and Chad Moore with 14 and 10 respectively. St. Vincent's other leading scorers were Sekou Lewis with 9 and Romeo Travis with 8.

Comparing the two players head to head is a difficult task. Right now, LeBron James owns the more complete and versatile game. He can score from the perimeter and has ridiculous body control on moves to the basket. He is so explosive going to the basket that the refs called him for 2 travels because they were bewildered as to how a human could cover that much ground. It would have been interesting to see the final outcome had those 2 baskets not been waved off. Most importantly, he is an unselfish player that passes the ball like a 6-0 point guard. If he were playing with Oak Hill, he would have definitely had double digit assists in the game.

Anthony is a pure scorer who makes excellent use of his body. He is about 6-7, 185 right now, so without question he could use a few years of college to work on his physique. Of his 34 points, 32 points came from within 5 feet or at the line. From the perimeter, he showed decent form on his shot, but only connected on 1 of 6 attempts. He missed horribly on the only three pointer he attempted and really only looked good on one of his outside shots. There is little doubt that he should develop into a good shooter, but for now his shot is a little flat and lacks rotation as he extends away from the basket. At the ADIDAS camp, he showed a similar results from his outside shooting.

For these reasons, Anthony would be well-served attending college. There is no doubt that he would be drafted at this stage (probably late first round), but to realize his potential in the draft (eventual top 5), he must improve his perimeter game and strength. Carmelo Anthony is often compared to Kobe Bryant, but at the same stage of their development, Bryant had far superior shooting skills. Also, at 6-7, 185, he's not going to be posting up Anthony Mason any time soon….

At the end of the game, Anthony and James were named as MVPs of the game. They spent a good deal of time talking together and showed great sportsmanship on the court. Anthony is by far the best recruit that Syracuse has signed since John Wallace and had one of the best freshman seasons in college basketball history. Now, we all wait to see what his NBA career holds in store.