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July 28, 2008

Deveroes Summer League Recap

The Deveroes summer league came to a close this past Saturday, with the SLATS taking home their first championship in the history of the league.

DSL Photo Gallery
"One thing we learned from the summer league is that people aren't going to back down from you just because of your name," Vaughn said. "This helped us to realize that and realize that you got to come out and play every game like it's your last no matter who your opponent is."
Over the past month or so, the Cincinnati Bearcat men's basketball players have been working on their skills and keeping in shape for the upcoming season. The best place for them to do that has been the summer league. It's not only the freshman who benefit from the shootout, and a lot of the time it's the upper classmen who show the most progression in the summer league. This year was no different, as each UC player gave us more reasons to expect good things from this year's team.

Deonta Vaughn came into the summer league with perhaps the least to prove out of any player. After all, what could a First Team All Big East player have to gain from a summer league? Vaughn says it can teach you a lot.

"One thing we learned from the summer league is that people aren't going to back down from you just because of your name," Vaughn said. "This helped us to realize that and realize that you got to come out and play every game like it's your last no matter who your opponent is."

Vaughn looked just like the player we saw last year throughout the summer league. He even showed some improvements he has made to his game. At times during the summer league, his three point shot was not falling as good as he wanted it to, and he was able to improvise. Even more so than last season, Vaughn showed the ability to get to the basket and score points. He looked much quicker with the ball, and was able to blow by defenders with his lightning quick spin move that he went to so often.

Mike Williams hoped to use the summer league to get better before his first season with the Bearcats, and he did just that. However, he did not focus on just one thing to work one for the summer league.

"I personally would not just work on one thing; I just try to get better at everything," Williams said. I think no matter how good you are at something, there is always room to improve on it, and so there is no reason to stop working at making it better."

Williams had a solid summer league, and even though he missed some time he had nothing but positive things to say about it.

"It was real fun. I had a great time. I missed like 5 weeks or so with my back being sore, but I came back and finished strong so it was fun."

DSL Finals Highlights

Finishing strong is exactly what Williams showed throughout the league. Whether it was finishing up his season strong, or just finishing strong around the basket, Mike did not disappoint. His performance in the championship game was by far his best of the summer league. He finished that game with 24 points and 18 rebounds. He showed fans the hustle and determination they can expect from him this season. Williams performance and his attitude off the court have shown why he is someone you just want to see succeed on the court, and I think we will see him do just that in the upcoming season.

Alvin Mitchell had one of the most promising summer leagues of anyone. While it is just the summer league, it's hard to ignore some of the flashy shots and dunks Alvin had, along with his at times precision three point shooting and solid defense.

Not only did his progress show on the court, but off the court. Mitchell was the point of controversy last season when he was suspended, but all things appear to be headed in the right direction for him. He appears to have done everything necessary to get back in good graces with the team. He was often at the summer league early, and stayed late to cheer on his teammates, which is always a nice thing to see.

Rashad Bishop had the summer most of us expected him to have. He showed just how hard he has been working in the weight room, and his athleticism on the court reflects just that.

His defense has been solid, even a league where defense takes a back seat. His shooting has improved, and from what coaches have said in the past, Bishop appears to be taking on a role of one of the teams leaders. Not only with how he plays on the court, but with his off the court habits as far as getting in the weight room and such.

< His teammate in the summer league, Nick Aldridge, had a fairly slow summer, but did show some signs that he could contribute to the team this season. He showed he can play and inside out game. He would back a player down on one possession, and then step out and hit a three on the next possession, a tool which can be very valuable.

Kenny Belton had a slow summer, and even though his team reached the finals of the summer league, he did not play.

Belton showed some ability to get rebounds and he certainly has the build to bang with anyone on the inside. He continued to struggle with his soft touch around the basket, and his infamous free throw shooting continues to be a serious area of need for improvement.

While he does not appear to be someone who will be seeing a lot of minutes this season, he did show some signs that he may be able to contribute to this year's team. Larry Davis and Darnell Wilks were teammates on Goodies BBQ, and both showed some signs of improvement.

DSL Finals Photo Gallery

Davis showed a very solid ability to score the basketball. At times, his three point shot seemed to fall at will. He also showed some very solid moves in getting to the basket, and was effective getting the ball to his teammates. When paired with other big name players, Davis showed a good ability to match up with them in man to man defense.

Wilks had a slow summer league for the most part. Outside of a couple of big dunks, he did not show too much improvement. Part of it may have been the laid back atmosphere of the games. He never really appeared to be into it on the defensive end.

On the offensive end, he did not put up the most points, but he seemed to do a pretty good job or playing the team leader role at times.

Anthony McClain had an OK summer by most standards. He still needs to put on strength and that was evident. He did a good job of posting up put could not show his soft touch around the rim at times. One of the biggest areas that needs to improve for him is his ability to use his height as an advantage. When he gets the ball inside, he tends to drop the ball down to his side, taking away his height advantage. He needs to work on keeping the ball in the air and not bringing it down.

Of all the freshman, the one who most fans came out to see was Yancy Gates. The big man had an up and down summer league for the most part. While he did not seem to take the summer league seriously at times, he showed just how dominant of a player he can be when he wants to.

2008 Freshman Class
The 2008 freshman class of Cashmere Wright, Dion Dixon, and Yancy Gates helped lead Slats to their first ever Deveroes Summer League Championship.
One of the defining moments for Yancy came in the championship game. Yancy was getting frustrated with the game and his teammates. SLATS coach DeJuan Baker and him were in an argument on the sidelines and Coach Baker would not back down from Yancy. He eventually checked him back into the game, and an energized and motivated Gates blocked the next shot attempt and fought hard for the ball, drawing a loose ball foul late in the game. He then proceeded to sink both foul shots and give his team the lead. He finished out the game playing with a renewed intensity and his team got the win.

Even though he seems frustrated at times, Yancy said he really enjoyed the summer league.

"It was fun. It was a good learning experience for me and the other freshman. We got to come out here and play with the upper classmen and we really learned a lot from them. So yeah, it was fun."

Cashmere Wright shared the same positive thoughts as Yancy.

"It was great. It was a good chance to come out and bond with my new teammates and really get ready for the season. I really liked it."

Cashmere had a very promising summer as well. He showed his lightning quick speed and his ability to distribute the basketball. He also showed a very good ability to shoot the basketball and score points, which is something the Bearcats need after last season.

One other attribute Wright showed, which was probably the least known about him, was an incredible leaping ability. Not only can he dunk the basketball on fast breaks, but he has gone over opposing teams' big men on numerous occasions this season for rebounds and even put back dunks. In the finals, he leaped above incoming Xavier freshman Kenny Frease and nearly threw down a put back dunk which would have sent the crowd into a frenzy. A point guard with that kind of rebounding ability cannot be overlooked and is extremely valuable to a team.

The last of the freshman, Dion Dixon, had a very good summer league showing as well. Dixon was the least touted of all the recruits, but some considered him to be a "diamond in the rough" type who could potentially be the best recruit of this year's class.

He did not disappoint the fans, and nothing but good things to say about the summer league as well.

"We have a real nice team this year. I got to play with them. I think it was a good learning experience for the season and I can't wait to get out there and play with them this year."

Dixon showed a tremendous ability to shoot the ball. His three point shot is so difficult to defend because he can rise in the air so quickly, making it nearly impossible to block it or get a hand in his face at times.

He also showed his unbelievable athleticism. He skied over defenders to pull down rebounds and can get up to the rim as quick as anyone, and has nice moves around the basket. He also finishes with very soft touch. His defense, albeit in the summer league, was very nice as well.

Overall, the summer league was a very positive learning experience for freshman and upperclassmen alike. They gave Bearcat fans reasons to be hopeful for the upcoming season.


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