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Nations best converge for AAU tourney

Top young players head to Grant High for summer hoop spectacle

Portland is about to be invaded by summer basketball, the kind that keeps Internet chat rooms on edge.

Several of the nation's top Amateur Athletic Union basketball teams will play in the Adidas Rose City Showcase, Friday through Sunday, at Grant High. The heralded teams include squads from Houston, Atlanta, Seattle and Oakland, Calif.

Portland's top AAU team, the Legends, is among the eight teams set to play at 5 p.m. Friday. The championship game is set for 6 p.m. Sunday.

The field includes several players who may be strong enough to jump from high school straight to the pro ranks.

Among the top players headed for Portland are 6-10 Dwight Howard, who sometimes plays point guard for his high school team in Atlanta, and Marvin Williams, a 6-8 forward from Bremerton, Wash., who is considering the University of Oregon and other colleges.

'It's going to be a pretty good tournament, the kind that Portland doesn't usually get to see in the summer,' says tournament organizer Canaan Chatman, who will coach the Inner City Players team in the tourney. 'Nike sponsored a tournament about 10 years ago that had Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury in it, but nothing has come along like this since.

'I'm just glad we've been able to put it together in Portland.'

Admission is $5.

The Seattle Rotary team, which features Williams, is rumored to have seven guards capable of earning scholarship offers from NCAA Division I schools. Howard's team, the Atlanta Celtics, has two other players who might be good enough to skip college: Joshua Smith, a 6-9 shooting guard, and Brandon Rush, a 6-6 guard whose brother, Kareem, plays for the L.A. Lakers.

Notes: Friday's schedule: ICP No. 1 versus Houston Superstars, ICP No. 2 versus Oakland Soldiers, Portland Legends versus Atlanta Celtics and Portland-based ICA Panthers versus Seattle Rotary. Teams play two 16-minute halves. É Other games featuring younger teams will take place Saturday and Sunday. The United Salad team of eighth-graders who won their fourth age-group state title this spring is set to play Saturday. É Redmond's Marty Leunen leads the Portland Legends, who are coached by new Benson coach Troy Berry. The ICA Panthers feature Josh Tarver of Jesuit, Corey Allen of Central Catholic and Lathen Wallace of Jefferson.

The ICP No. 1 team features Kevyn Green of Benson, who is headed for a prep school in Massachusetts next year.

Chatman says the tournament will become an annual event that will follow the graduation banquet of the Inner City Players program he co-founded six years ago.

The second ICP graduating class includes Jefferson's Thomas Gardner, who is headed for Missouri. Missouri coach Quin Snyder will speak at Thursday's banquet at the Center for Self-Enhancement.