Compton Magic Elite, Williamson impress Thursday

LAS VEGAS – The team that captures the adidas 17-Under title Sunday afternoon in the Cashman Center will get to celebrate a whole lot longer.

But, after just a day or so into the adidas Uprising Summer Championships, the Compton Magic Elite squad earned its right to pause and gather some props Thursday afternoon.

The Southern California-based club edged the Massachusetts-based New England Playaz late Thursday afternoon, 55-53, by way of two Jules Bernard free throws with 5.3 seconds to go, to capture the eight-team “Creators’ Cup” title.

The three victories in the event (Wednesday night it beat the Iowa Barnstormers, 73-62; in a Thursday morning semifinal, it rallied to knock off D-I Minnesota, 69-67) earned the Magic Elite the No. 1 seed in the 17-U Championship playoff bracket.

Bernard & Co. will play at 4 o’clock Friday afternoon on Court 3 in the Cashman Center against a still-to-be-determined playoff foe.

Bernard, a 6-foot-6 senior-to-be at Los Angeles Windward, scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the final Thursday while another Class of 2018 player, 6-5 Timmy Allen (Mesa, AZ, Red Mountain), also chipped in with 13 points.

The Playaz came oh-so-close to pulling out the victory – and the No. 1 playoff seed – as the ball was just off the back of the rim on a buzzer-beating 3-point attempt from Kai Toews (Gill, MA, Northfield Mount Hermon).

Bernard had 23 points and eight rebounds in the semifinal win, while 6-8, juniors-to-be Onyeka Okongwu (Chino Hills High) and Isaiah Mobley (Temecula Rancho Christian) added 21 points and eight rebounds and 13 and nine, respectively.

Six-eight Nathan Laszewski (Northfield Mount Hermon) kept the Playaz in striking distance in the finale via a 24-point, five-rebound performance after his 20-point, four-rebound effort in the Playaz’ 64-52 semifinal win earlier in the day vs. Team Loaded (VA).

As the No.’s 1 and seeds, Compton Magic Elite and the New England Playaz could conceivably have a rematch in the Sunday championship game that would carry more longer-term cache than the one the Magic captured Thursday.

Also on Thursday in the Cashman Center, the most well-thought of player from program affiliated with adidas put on another on-court demonstration why he’s a consensus Top 2 prospect in the national Class of 2018.

Zion Williamson (Spartanburg, SC, Day School) has become a social media darling favorite by way of his penchant for offering either-hand dunk highlights with the kind of body (6-7 or so, and well into the north side of the 250-pound range is the guess I’d hazard) usually found in the possession of 17-year-old future all-NFL defensive ends.

The left-hander obliged those watching in person or by live-stream Thursday evening on Court 5 with a half-dozen or so of those types of moments during the South Carolina Supreme’ s 84-59 shellacking of Baltimore-based Team BBC.

But what oa full-game’s, court-side inspection revealed that isn’t found on those video-memorialized, re-tweeted highlights is the kind of all-around impact he has on games.

Williamson scored 29 points, by way of 11 of 15 from the field (and, at most, one jump shot) and seven of nine free throws.

Although he was credited with “only” nine rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots (maybe it just seemed like he grabbed 15 missed shot attempts, usually in traffic and well above crowds) his dominance as a rebounder and shot blocker, as well as his ability to challenge and crushed opponents’ shots, was evident immediately.

But his passing – both in willingness, timeliness and accuracy – was as impressive as anything that was on display Thursday.

If the speculation that Marvin Bagley III (Chatsworth, CA, Sierra Canyon) will “re-classify” shortly, move into the Class of 2017 and be in a college uniform in November, then Williamson becomes the obvious choice to win all of the National Player of the Year honors next spring.

The only apparent bummer to that scenario: We’re going to have to apparently await until both are in the NBA to actually see an on-court match-up between the extremely gifted southpaws.

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