Circuses use the traditional song from 1867 with the lyrics “he’d fly through the air with the greatest of ease, that daring young man on the flying trapeze,” but Ivan Rabb (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) doesn’t need a trapeze, just a basketball and a jet plane.
Despite not landing until around 2:30 p.m. after flying back from New York from the Under Armour Elite 24, and then making a pit stop at home before arriving at the El Cerrito gym at 3:27 p.m. for the 3:30 Sunday afternoon game, Rabb, who is rated among the nation’s top prospects from the Class of 2015, was ready to get busy.
Although he had a double-double and game highs of 23 points and 10 rebounds (plus two blocks), Rabb and his 2015 Northern California stars lost 90-89 to the 2015’s, after blowing an 81-74 lead with 6:04 left in the Fifth Annual NorCal Clash.
“Real tired,” was Rabb’s response to how tired he was after playing against some of the nation’s top players Saturday night in the Under Armour Elite 24 in Brooklyn, and then trying to fight jet lag, come straight from the airport to the gym, and then try to pull his team through in the final minutes.
In the end, the superior size and strength of the older boys wore down the juniors. Plus, 2014 coach and El Cerrito head coach Michael Booker made a decision in the final moments to try and keep the ball out of Rabb’s hands and it worked.
After the 6-foot-9 Rabb had a dunk, a fall-away jumper, and then a reverse jam on a lob that turned a 74-72 deficit into a 78-74 lead, Booker switched to a box and three type defense on Rabb and he didn’t score the rest of the way.
Even in defeat, and with several missed dunks due to fatigue that was obvious to everyone, Rabb put on a show. He can shoot with either hand, and his left-handed floater was just as impressive as the fall-away jumper he hit with his right hand over a double team. Of his five dunks the most extraordinary was a put-back monster slam in which he fully extended at least two feet above the rim to flush it straight down.
For his efforts, Rabb shared the MVP award, picked by a panel of basketball experts including Frank Burlison of BurlisonOnBasketball.com, event promoter Gerry Freitas of Hoop Review scouting service, and yours truly, with 2014 team member Trevor Dunbar of San Francisco St. Ignatius. The 5-foot-10 point guard had nine of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, including a basket at the 3:04 mark that gave the 2014’s an 84-83 lead they never relinquished.
“I’m the kind of guy that doesn’t care that much about my personal game. So at the end I saw I had to take over and get the win. If we didn’t win it wouldn’t mean anything,” said Dunbar, who has offers from Cal Poly, CSU Fullerton, Fairfield, Florida A&M and Montana State.
Another player that was an MVP finalist was Gabriel Vincent, a 6-2 guard from St. Mary’s of Stockton that committed to UC Santa Barbara just prior to the game. He had 10 points in the first half and finished with 13.
Rabb showed a little hurt in the loss. After all, he traveled across country to make the game, played 32 of 40 minutes to exhaustion, and just couldn’t do it himself at the end. “I really wanted to win, and we had our chances, but couldn’t close it.”
The loss couldn’t erase Rabb’s time back east. “It was fun. I just wish I had gotten the ball a little more and done more scoring, but I still had fun in New York. I knew all the guys and we stayed at a really nice hotel.”
Other NorCal Clash Standouts:
(In alphabetical order)
Trey Belton (Sheldon, Sacramento) G, 6-5, 2015
He only played 17 minutes, but still was a force on both ends, finishing with eight points, seven rebounds, four steals and two assists.
Jalen Canty (St. Patrick St. Vincent, Vallejo) F, 6-8, 2014
He scored eight of the 2014’s last 16 points, shared team high with Dunbar with 14 points, pulled down seven rebounds, and took advantage of Rabb’s fatigue down the stretch as part of the box and three defense. Dunbar barely edged him out as team MVP.
Marquese Chriss (Pleasant Grove, Elk Grove) F, 6-8, 2015
He had a tough afternoon shooting and only scored six points, but still was active on defense with seven rebounds and three blocks.
Armani Collins (Stuart Hall, San Francisco) F, 6-4, 2015
Collins plays taller than he is, and in the Division V CIFNCS league he plays in he should dominate. He finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
AJ John (Maria Carrillo, Santa Rosa) F, 6-7, 2014
He was very active on both ends of the court, finishing with nine points and six rebounds, and looks like the CIFNCS Redwood Empire area’s top player this year. He also showed he’s a big guy can shoot the trey. John was 3-of-6 from the field with all baskets coming from outside the arc.
Paris Austin (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) G, 5-9, 2015
He had 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and both Burlison and I almost went with him as the junior team MVP over Rabb. He even had a flying dunk that had the crowd of about 750 on their feet and roaring.
Elliott Smith (Freedom, Oakley) G/F, 6-6, 2014
Showed good range after knocking down two three-pointers and finishing with 10 points.