In perhaps the marquee game on the opening day of the adidas Super 64, Cory Joseph left little doubt who the marquee player was.
Joseph, who will be a senior guard at Findlay Prep next season, scored 35 points to lead Grassroots Canada Elite to an 80-72 win over the Atlanta Celtics in a Super Pools opener Wednesday at Rancho High School.
He helped Grassroots Canada take the first step in defending its tournament title and, more important, dazzled in front of college coaches like Kentucky’s John Calipari and Florida’s Billy Donovan.
Winning championships is becoming a habit for Joseph, who played a key role in Findlay Prep going 33-0 last season on the way to a National High School Invitational title.
But Joseph doesn’t just play the two-man game with Grassroots Canada teammate Tristan Thompson at Findlay Prep. The duo also starred for Canada in the FIBA U19 World Championship in New Zealand earlier this month.
“I’ve been playing with him since I was little back at home in Toronto, so I know him like my brother,” Joseph said of Thompson, who will be a senior forward. “It’s been great.”
Joseph averaged 13.6 points and Thompson 8.6 in the event, helping Canada finish 4-5.
“It’s been a great honor to play for my country,” Joseph said. “I got to see different talents across the world.”
While Thompson has orally committed to Texas, Joseph is still thinking over his decision.
“Off the top of my head, UConn, Memphis, Texas, UNLV, Villanova, Oklahoma,” Joseph said when asked what schools were in the mix. “It’s a lot. I’m open to everybody right now.”
Amid the recruiting, playing overseas and the summer circuit, Joseph hasn’t forgotten to relish the Pilots’ wire-to-wire dominance last season.
“After the championship, we got to sit down and think about it,” he said. “That’s unbelievable to do, national champions.”
Later Wednesday, Thompson scored 12 points and Joseph six to help Grassroots Canada to a 65-63 win over Pump N Run Elite (Calif.).
Grassroots Canada plays D1E Derrick Rose All-Stars (Ill.) at 2:20 p.m. Thursday at Rancho.
LOCAL TEAMS — Also at the Super 64, Las Vegas Dogcatchers Elite opened with a 70-50 win over The Dream Team (Calif.).
Palo Verde’s Davion Pearson scored 25 points to lead the Dogcatchers, who will play SF Rebels (Calif.) at 3:40 p.m. Thursday at Las Vegas High.
The Las Vegas Prospects opened with a 66-56 loss to Southern California All-Stars Red at Rancho. Bishop Gorman’s Johnathan Loyd scored 13 points for the Prospects.
Later, Cheyenne’s Chris McCall scored 18 points and Spring Valley’s Justin Omogun 15 to lead the Prospects to a 79-68 win over Team ACCESS (Wash.).
In The Main Event tourney at Canyon Springs, Mad Moves Inc. opened with a 59-54 loss to Indiana Magic. Coronado’s Brandon Glanz led Mad Moves with 18 points and 19 rebounds.
SUMMER CHAMPIONSHIPS — The Reebok Summer Championships begin Thursday, including the highly anticipated Create-N-Finish Cup at Foothill High.
The top eight pre-seeded teams among the 136 at the Summer Championships will play a mini-tournament, culminating in the championship at 8 p.m. Friday. It tips off at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at Foothill.
California Supreme is considered the favorite, with UCLA recruit Tyler Lamb and major prospects Gary Franklin and James Johnson on its roster.