Faust and Bruenig On Display at NeXt All-American Classic

4/3/2011 6:03:03 PM Nick Faust and Martin Brueing played in the NeXt All-American Classic on Sunday at the Sears Centre outside of Chicago.  I was among the sparsely attended crowd.  In fact, to say the arena was sparsely populated is a gross understatement. I've been at women's roller derby events with larger crowds.  If you removed family members from the arena; there may have been 50 people inside.

Clearly, the event was poorly promoted; because if the greater Chicago area was aware of the talent on display this afternoon, they should have packed the arena.  As far as I was concerned, as long as Nick Faust and Martin Bruenig was there, it was worth the 60 minute drive out to Hoffman Estates. Here's what I found:

Nick Faust

Ben McLemore, who committed to Kansas after the game showed why he is so highly coveted.  His jumper is smooth and he glides through the air while driving to the basket. He was the best player on the court. The good news for Terp fans is that he and Nick Faust were matched up against each other for the majority of the game and Faust held his own.

Put simply, Faust did not disappoint.  He's a fantastic athlete who is not afraid of contact.  He barely missed on an alley-oop (the pass was too high) that would have brought down the house.  He nailed two threes and when the game got close down the stretch, he wanted the ball.  He did jack up an ill-advised three late in the game, but it went in.  He handles the ball quite well for a two guard and also made some dazzling passes.  The Wisconsin and Marquette fans that came with me were jealous.

Defensively, Faust was not as impressive.  However, this was an All-Star game and no one played any defense.  Faust distinguished himself as one of the best players on the court and Maryland is going to utilize his talents right away. I expect him to have a strong freshman season.

In addition to McLemore and Faust, the most impressive players out there were Adeji Baru and Jamari Traylor.  Baru, as you will probably recall, flirted with Maryland before ultimately picking the College of Charleston.  What a shame.  He would shine in College Park.  He's the perfect "ying" to Jordan Williams' "yang".  The wiry athletic power forward who can rebound, block shots and finish with authority.  He also made some great outlet passes.  The College of Charleston will not miss the NCAA Tournament as long as Baru is in uniform.  He was the best big man on the floor.

I had never heard of Jamari Traylor before tip-off.  He may have been the best athlete on the court. ESPN grades him as a 3-star talent, but I saw a prototype small forward who could jump out of the gymnasium. He's undecided but is not lacking for suitors. It's clearly too late for the Terps to get involved, and that is too bad.  This kid can ball.

Martin Bruenig

Each team had 10 players and the coaches rotated them into the game 5 at a time.  Bruenig was on the second team (Faust was on the first team so they never played together).  The best thing I can say about Martin is that he looks the part.  He's got excellent size and he moves well.  His jumper looks good although he missed on all of his shots from long range.  Bruenig had one opportunity to work off the block and he made a nice move and finished in traffic.  He even had two nice passes.

As the game wore on, he seemed to lose confidence.  I'm not sure an All-Star game, where few fundamentals are on display, is a good venue for Bruenig. At times, he didn't seem to move with much purpose and appeared a step slow as compared to the other guys.  Another cause for concern was that he really didn't mix it up well down low.  He's a natural small forward and as such he's not going to be the answer we want at the 4.  He's big enough to compete as a power forward, but he's not a natural there (unlike Baru).  To put another way, if Baru had signed and Jordan returns, the Terps would have been a top 10 team.  That's not the case with Bruenig.

Rumor Mill Grist

Included among the 50 souls in the Sears Centre was Turtle Soup reader, Paul.  Paul had the chance to speak to Nick Faust's Mom after the game and she told him that one of Montrose Christian's big men in the 2012 class verbally committed to Maryland this weekend.  There are only two. One is Michael Carerra, who starred in the ESPNRise Tournament last week. Carerra is a 6'6" power forward, but he is a tenacious rebounder and defender.  He's the kind of guy we wish James Padgett was. The other Montrose Christian big man is a Danish kid named Kevin Larsen.  He's not graded on any of the major sites and doesn't get a lot of minutes so I'd be surprised if it was him.  He is 6'9", 230 lbs but appears to be a project. If this rumor proves true, I'm guessing we got Carerra. If any of the readers can substantiate this, please let me know.

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