UC "Slats" team makes the Deveroes Finals

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With some pop-up showers Saturday, the family and I decided it might be a good day to check out the Deveroes Summer League at Woodward High School. (Of course, I was aware that the Slats/UC team was in the semifinals, so that was an added extra.)

While we were disappointed that Shaq Thomas and Ge'Lawn Guyn weren't around (and Xavier's Tu Holloway was also absent) we were happy to take in big men Octavius Ellis and Cheik Mbodj for the first time.

Ellis' playing time was limited and he looks like the biggest project of the bunch thus far.  He appears taller than Yancy Gates and has great reach, but is straight up and down, much like Shaq Thomas.  I'd put Thomas at 6-7 and Ellis at 6-9 and neither much above 190 pounds.

Mbodj is another matter.  He has some width to him and could easily add some more with the strength coach.  He's at least 6-9 and here's the most important thing, he's active.

Without naming names, there's been big men in here before that many had great hopes for that were either passive, inactive, uncoordinated, or all of the above.

Make no mistake, Mbodj won't come out and dominate. However, he was very aggressive around the boards, he got his hand on some shots and he didn't fade into the background of any play.

Jeremiah Davis played a lot in this game, which was good because Slats was short on guards minus Thomas and Guyn.  Darnell Wilks and Jermaine Sanders arrived late, so Davis was pretty much "it" in the guard department, outside of some occasional help from Rashad Bishop.

Oh yeah, what about the game?

Well, after playing a little lackluster and a little confused early (mainly due to the lack of guards) Slats got it together in the second half and won 84-75.  PA announcer Jamal Walker actually called for the buzzer with :17 remaining.

The Slats opponent was Goodies Barbecue featuring Mark Lyons of Xavier who tore it up with 38 points.  Former Xavier Muskie C.J. Anderson and former Dayton Flyer Norm Plummer were
also on this squad, so they were no slouch.

After being down by as many as 14, the Slats veterans took over.  Rashad Bishop handled the ball more and finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

The big story was Yancy Gates though, Slats continually threw it inside and the big guy got hot and started abusing the Goodies defense.  By game's end he had hit fadeaways, three-pointers and backward dunks. Pretty much anything he wanted.

Gates finished with 34 points and 12 rebounds to lead Slats into the championship game next Sunday (July 30) at 2:30 at Woodward High School.  Their opponent will be the Raeshon Mansoor Law Office team led by veteran summer leaguer Paul McMillan who broke the heart of Clovernook Health with a game-winning trey in the final second, 88-87.

Other notable numbers for Slats include four points and eight boards for Cheik Mbodj, nine points for Jeremiah Davis, four points and seven rebounds for Justin Jackson, 12 points for Darnell Wilks, three for Jermaine Sanders and a bucket for Octavius Ellis.

My (somewhat noisy) interview with Yancy Gates afterward is below.

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