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INDIANAPOLIS -- In the high-profile world of July basketball evaluation, when celebrity college coaches are everywhere and elite players thrive on every court, we can say, with absolute certainty, that Notre Dame coach Mike Brey enjoyed V.J. Beachem's rock-the-gym moment.
We saw Brey's smile.
We can also say that Indiana coach Tom Crean got a clear view of how his 2013 committed player, Devin Davis, stacked up against heralded 2014 prospect Noah “I'm not tired” Vonleh.
Yes, Crean jotted down notes from his right-next-to-the-court seat. He might set records for note taking, which he uses for his own information as well as for evaluations he provides to recruits.
For the record, Brey couldn't publicly say anything about Beachem, who has committed to Notre Dame, because that would violate NCAA rules. But Brey was standing about 20 feet away in a North Central High School auxiliary gym when the New Haven standout had a full-throttle jam that sent him tumbling onto the court. Even more impressive was the fact Beachem quickly bounced up and sprinted back on defense. It was a key late-game moment against a key adidas Invitational opponent, Mass Rivals, that ultimately went to the Eric Gordon U-17 All-Stars, 73-70.
Also for the record, Crean couldn't say anything about Vonleh, whom he is vigorously pursuing along with a bunch of other top national coaches, or anything about Davis or fellow Eric Gordon All-Stars teammate and IU commit Collin Hartman, who threw an elbow that got him kicked out of the game and, perhaps, spurred him in the next one.
Yes, it was a well-deserved ejection, but it also showed a nasty edge Hartman will need -- within the rules -- for college success
Anyway, Beachem's dunk, hustle and then block of a Mass Rivals three-point shot were crucial in the Eric Gordon victory.
“With the dunk, I was going to dunk it any way, but the guy just jumped with me,” Beachem said. “The block, I saw it coming. I saw him getting set to shoot, so I got up, got my hand up and got a piece of it. That's really all you need on a jumper like that.”
Yes, he saw Brey standing just a few feet away.
“I was aware. I was excited to see that. (Notre Dame coaches) came out to see me the first chance they could. That always feels good.”
It was not, he insisted, a distraction. Neither was the fact big name coaches such as North Carolina's Roy Williams, Florida's Billy Donovan and Louisville's Rick Pitino also were watching.
“It used to be that way,” Beachem said, “but now that I'm decided on what school, it's not that tough anymore.”
As far as the Davis-Vonleh matchup, here are some numbers. Davis is 6-6 and 185 pounds and ranked No. 99 nationally in the Class of 2013, No. 16 among small forwards. Vonleh is 6-9 and 222 pounds, and ranked No. 3 nationally in the Class of 2014.
They went head to head a lot. Davis finished with 12 points. Vonleh had 22.
Davis said the opportunity to face Vonleh pumped him up.
“One of our coaches told me, after the first time he scored, who he was,” Davis said. “I took it personal. I tried to stop him.”
Vonleh was sharper offensively than he was Wednesday night, when fatigue from cross-country travel from Las Vegas to Boston to Indianapolis seemed to cost him his shooting legs. He shot, drove and dished like a guard, rebounded and battled inside like a power forward.
He was challenging to defend, Davis said, but not intimidating.
“Most of it is just mental. You can't be scared of him. You have to have it in your mind you're going to stop him.”
As for trying to convince Vonleh to join him at Indiana, Davis said that didn't happen.
“I didn't know him until today,” he said.
The Eric Gordon All-Stars followed up that victory with an 85-73 win over the Atlanta Celtics to go 2-1 in their pool and show they were finally living up to their billing. Hartman bounced back for 14 points. Beachen added 13. Davis played solid defense.
“It's important because we haven't gotten a high-profile win like that in a while,” Beachem said. “It was big for us.”
Added Davis: “We've kind of been struggling in the spring. We're trying to become more of a team and win. The key is playing together, mostly team defense and keeping our heads.”
Mostly, though, it's about playing to their potential in a big-time environment against big-time competition. They did it Thursday. The big question -- can they do it all the time?