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High school basketball: Top Utah prospects representing well

Published: Friday, July 29 2011 10:57 a.m. MDT

In going up against some of the top AAU basketball teams in the country, the Utah Pump N Run elite U17 AAU team is having a busy and incredibly successful summer.

After recently completing a semifinal run in the Super 64 tournament in Las Vegas, the team is currently in Los Angeles at the Best of Summer tournament.

Through the summer Pump N Run has posted a stellar 12-1 record, including a star-studded team from Atlanta.

The Atlanta Celtics have a rich history that includes alumni Amare Stoudemire (New York Knicks), Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic), Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks) and Derrick Favors (Utah Jazz).

According to Pump N Runs standout Jordan Loveridge, the current Celtics have players who have committed to Memphis, UCLA and some other top schools in the nation.

“They were definitely the best team we’ve played so far,” said the West Jordan High standout. “Everyone on their team had big-time offers, and it was a great game, but we beat them by a point, which was a huge win for us. I had a big game, too, with 35 points and 12 rebounds.”

While it’s hard to match the rich history of an AAU squad like the Atlanta Celtics, Utah Pump N Run has a stellar history of its own. Its alumni includes players Charles Abouo (BYU), Chris Collinsworth (BYU) and Brandon Davies (BYU).

Along with Loveridge, who has offers from BYU, Utah, Utah State, Hawaii and Colorado State, Utah State commits Marcel Marcel Davis, Quincey Bair and David Collette are on the team along with Weber State commit Ryan Van Pelt.

The team has been together for three years, and the players have grown very close while improving in their overall play. This year they wanted to go out strong. So far, so good on that front.

“We’ve proven that we can play with anybody and that Utah has some of the best talent around,” said Loveridge. “We’re very close friends, all of us on the team, and we all dedicated ourselves to playing well and representing the state as best we possibly could.”

It seems its opponents aren't too scared when they see Pump N Run is from Utah, but by its dominant showing during this year’s AAU circuit, that could be changing.

“You can see it in their eyes when we take the court, they don’t respect Utah and they don’t think Utah has good talent,” said Loveridge of their opponents. “Pretty soon, after the ball is tipped, we’re proving to them that Utah has as good of talent as anyone around. That’s important to us, to represent what we have here in Utah.”

Loveridge has certainly warranted a lot of attention through his play. His 35-point, 12-rebound output against the Atlanta Celtics has been somewhat the norm for him this summer.

“I’ve improved my game a lot,” said the 6-foot-6, 220-pound small forward/power forward prospect. “I feel better than ever about my game, but everyone has improved and we’re doing it for each other. We’re a close team, and it’s great that everyone has come together to play as great as we are right now.”

Loveridge will draw more attention following this weekend’s tournament in Los Angeles because nearly every major Div. I coach stops by at the major AAU tournaments to take a look at the nation’s top talent.

“They can’t contact me when I’m playing, but I definitely know that they’re there,” said Loveridge. “I want more offers. That would be great. We’ll just have to see what comes my way after we’re done with all of this.”

As one could imagine, at least three of Loveridge’s teammates are pushing hard for him to commit to Utah State.

“It’s all good, they don’t bug me too bad about it, but they don’t have to,” he said. “They know that they want me to join them up there real bad, and they know that I know, so they don’t say much. I really like Utah State, but I like a lot of schools right now.”

Loveridge plans to decide after taking more visits. Right now though, it’s all about finishing out strong in Los Angeles.

“We’ve put together a lot of hard work and dedication to this team, and hopefully it will continue to pay off for us,” he said. “I’m proud to be a member of this team, and to have the opportunity to play with so many great players.”

Email: bgurney@desnews.com

Twitter: @BrandonCGurney

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