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July 13, 2010MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - His nickname is Flaco - skinny in Spanish - and there's no doubting Adrian Diaz can put on weight but for a 7-footer to run, shoot, defend and pass so well the Hialeah (Fla.) Hialeah-Miami Lakes center is also being called something else - muy bueno.
Diaz, a 7-foot, 205-pound center playing for Gold Coast, was one of the best players Tuesday at the Breakdown Hoops Festival, and he impressed in many ways on offense and defense.
Even though he's thin, Diaz can post up, make moves to the basket and one of the best assets to his game is his passing ability.
He doesn't tire easily, either, so Diaz, whose brother Andy plays at North Florida, runs the floor and finishes in transition, gets back on defense and looks comfortable even though he just turned 17 years old and stands 7 feet tall.
For such a big prospect, he has a special fluidity to his game - whether it's dunking a missed layup, rebounding and throwing a long outlet pass or altering shots taken by smaller opponents. Diaz is seemingly always involved in the play.
"He runs and he can shoot," Gold Coast coach Gaston Rodriguez. "He passes unbelievably well. We do a lot of stuff just to get him the ball so he can pass it to other people because he passes the ball so great.
"He finishes well around the basket, he's long and athletic and he's a great kid. He's super coachable. Everybody who coaches him loves him because he's such a good kid. He has a great ticker. He has great heart and you can't teach that. He wants to win and his will to win is great."
A "boatload of people" are recruiting Diaz, Rodriguez said, including Syracuse, Kansas State, Alabama, Florida International and FAU. There are many other programs that will probably get involved because there aren't many 7-footers like him who can get up and down the court so well.
"I could probably tell you 25 or 30 (colleges)," Rodriguez said. "Who doesn't want a kid who can run and jump like that?"
Team Breakdown loaded with talent
Tournament director and coach Kenny Gillion's Team Breakdown is loaded - and not only with the 2012 standouts (Michael Avery, Marcus Maye and others) that were documented after Monday's games.
Three-star guard Daniel Sapp and small forward Trevor Franklin, both from Oakland Park (Fla.) Northeast, were impressive in a victory against the Jacksonville Lee Bulls but the best showing came from 5-foot-10 point guard Andre Smith out of Tampa (Fla.) Blake.
"Excellent leader, in the classroom he has a pretty high GPA and on the court he reminds me of a smaller Tim Hardaway," Gillion said. "He just controls the game, can make shots, can find people and is an excellent on-the-ball defender from baseline to baseline.
"He's basically wide open in recruiting. This is his first time playing in the month of July and on his high school team he was in a shell and the same thing last year. His recruitment basically started on Monday but by the end of July, by July 31, he'll have a whole lot of stuff."
Smith was excellent on offense and feisty defensively. Rarely did he turn the ball over and numerous times he made the right decision whether to pass, shoot, drive or pull it back out and restart the offense.
His nicest play came late when on a fast break he looked left and tossed the ball up to his right for an alley-oop to Sapp, whose latest offers are from South Florida, Nebraska, Old Dominion and Western Kentucky. Listed on Sapp's Rivals.com database page are also offers from Georgia, FAU and Murray State.
"He played a lot off-the-ball last year and now he's playing more with the ball," Gillion said of Sapp. "I basically kept the guys over the months of May and June away from AAU so they could work on their individual skills so now they're playing different positions and the coaches are seeing them now for the first time playing those positions."
Two players have big night: Florida Assault point guard Shane Larkin, a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, had 55 points including 13 three-pointers in the night game.
He's rated as the No. 19 point guard and No. 90 nationally with offers from Clemson, Florida State, George Mason, South Florida, TCU, UCF and Virginia Commonwealth.
** Sapp had a big night as well. He scored 33 points for Team Breakdown in a losing effort against the Long Island Lightning.
Other news & notes: Many other players stood out during Tuesday's action including Heart & Hustle 16-under point guard Ian Baker, a quick and feisty go-getter who played his best when it counted late in the game. West Virginia, Kansas State, George Washington and George Mason are interested.
Carlos Morris also looked good but Shawn Smith was limited because of a hyperextension in his shooting arm. Florida State, Ole Miss and High Point are after Smith and Morris has Auburn and others involved.
Louisiana Dynasty 16-under has a big-time shooter in Eric Weary from New Orleans (La.) Warren Easton. Weary likes hanging around the perimeter, spotting up and shooting the three-pointer. Sam Houston State, UTEP, New Mexico State and Arkansas State are interested in the 2011 recruit.
Other players who stood out included Long Island Lightning point guard Kareem Canty, Breakdown NW small forward Devin Balkman, Florida Assault's Billydee Williams, Team Breakdown's Deandre Burnett, three-star guard and Virginia Tech commit Robert Brown and Florida Assault's Devon Walker.
Coaches seen in the stands: FAU coach Mike Jarvis and assistant Matt McCall were seen in the building along with coaches from UNC-Wilmington, Furman, FIU, Bucknell, Western Kentucky, Tennessee-Chattanooga, UMBC, Stetson, Marist, UCF, Kansas State, Tulsa, James Madison and Murray State.