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May 25, 2008

TOC: Saturday

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Saturday at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions is one of the better marathon days of the spring because of the sheer number of games, high level prospects and glimpses of who the next prospects to watch in the future.

With a good majority of the day was spent on the campus of the University of North Carolinfa, Rivals.com was able to see over two dozen different games in a 15-hour period and looking back, what a day it was.

WALL TO WALL COVERAGE

The John Wall road show was in full effect on Saturday as the new number one player in the country made stops at all three main venues in the first two days of the tournament. Wall shined on the main floor on Friday at North Carolina, did his thing at Duke and NC State on Saturday morning and afternoon and later in the evening, the speedster went to work back at the Dean E. Smith Center.

Playing in the nightcap tucked away in the comfy confines of the UNC practice gym, Wall and his D-One Sports teammates had to fight tooth and nail against the Nashville Celtics to claim a hard fought 68-67 win in what was one of the best 17 and under games of the day.

Wall's left hamstring tightened up and put him on the bench with six minutes left to play but when he returned, the Raleigh native stepped up in the clutch with key free throws and a big block on the wing for an attempted three-pointer.

Defensively, Wall showed flashes of how good he can be on that end of the floor. He used his great length and athleticism to sky for blocks and stayed step for step with his man back-paddling to the basket.

Wall finished with a balanced 18 points in the victory. He directed the offense well and had a combined 35 points from forward Ryan Kelly and rising junior J.T. Terrell.

Kelly has been impressive all spring, showing off a skill set in the post that can go inside and out. The 6-foot-8 forward picks his spots to shine and finds the right moments in the given situation to score the ball. He'll be a fine college player because of what he can bring to a program in the low post and as a pick and pop forward.

Terrell, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard, relied heavily on the three ball in this match-up and connected more times than not. Once he adds more with the dribble and penetration to the hole, his offensive game could be one of the best of any guard in his class.

The Nashville Celtics shouldn't hang their heads after this game. It was a fine effort led by fine plays from some fine players.

Rising junior Casey Prather looked like the best player on the floor at times in this one. The 6-foot-5 wing came out in the second half fired up and ready to play. The freakish athlete had a number of plays that displayed his natural talents. The class of 2010 prospect scored in the paint and finished with a game high 19 points.

He had a number of buckets in the midrange and dialed it in from deep once or twice. His perimeter game is getting better and better and becoming more and more of a threat in his arsenal. His progression has been fun to watch.

Drew Barham, a long and wiry 6-foot-5 wing, chipped in with 13 points while Jon Hood added nine points and probably six assists in the defeat.

Big man Drew Kelly used his tight end size to push his counterpart and namesake, Ryan Kelly, off the blocks and gave the Carolina kid trouble with his overall size and physicality. Drew Kelly was also the recipient of great passing from Hood.

STAR POWER

Dominic Cheek still knows how to score the basketball, not that there was ever a real worry about that. The 6-foot-5 guard has one of the prettiest looking jump shots in the county and he can hit from anywhere on the floor.

There have been few guys that know how to really put the points on the board in an effective, composed and fundamental way. The class of 2009 has Xavier Henry, Kenny Boynton and Cheek. These guys know how to do it right. Cheek only scored 17 points in a win over the Illinois Wolves but they sure were pretty.

Cheek said he's "hearing from a new school just about every day." He said he's interested in Villanova, Wake Forest, Kansas, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Florida, UConn, Texas and Maryland.

Teammate Brian Oliver scored an impressive and effective 15 points in the win over the Wolves. The Oak Hill forward shot the ball well, made smart plays and didn't force anything he wasn't capable of.

Oliver said his top five consists of Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Miami, Pittsburgh and West Virginia. He added he'll visit the Jackets on June 20, leaving Miami as the only school he has yet to see in person.

CAROLINA KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

The talent pool in the state of North Carolina has steadily improved year after year. The nation's top 2009 player, John Wall, hails from the state. The class of 2010, 2011 and beyond has star potential coming up the ranks, too. Nearly all of the top dogs from the host state are in attendance and there have been a number of players that have really stood out in the first two days of action.

United Celtics point guard Marquis Rankin has the tools and speed to becoming one of the top point guards in his class in the Southeast. The 5-foot-11 guard from Charlotte (N.C.) Vance does a great job of advancing the basketball and his burst to the basket was one of the best of any age group on Saturday. The class of 2011 prospect scored a team high 18 points in a big win over a talented Boo Williams club.

Rankin said he has heard from Clemson, Richmond, Wake Forest, Kansas, NC State, Charlotte and others early in the process.

Fellow Vance and United Celtics backcourt mate Jacoby Davis also put on his speed skates and glided up and down the court for buckets. The 6-footer from the class of 2011 added 17 points in the victory. Davis rattled off a list of Charlotte, Clemson, Richmond and Baylor.

The North Carolina Gaters 16 and under team had 52 combined points between P.J. Hairston and Jay Canty in a big win over Team Final. The duo took the wind completely out of the sails of Team Final and never looked back in the process.

Hairston, 6-foot-5 guard from the class of 2011 was in a zone from deep and buried a number of good-looking shots from deep in transition, in the half court and off of screens. He had it dialed in to the tune of 28 points. The well-built youngster has the tools of becoming a big time player down the road.

Hairston said he is hearing from Baylor, Wake Forest, Clemson, Tennessee, North Carolina, Duke and others.

Canty, bouncy 6-foot-5 wing from the class of 2010, was equally as impressive, scoring 24 points. Most of his buckets came off slashing to the cup. He leaked out for transition buckets and challenged Team Final with his athleticism and aggressiveness to the basket.

Canty will be a busy man next month. He said he has plans to attend elite camps at Syracuse, Tennessee and Memphis. UNC Greensboro has offered while Virginia, Miami, Indiana and Virginia Tech have shown interest as well, he said.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

Future Texas forward Tristan Thompson scored 17 points in a relatively easy afternoon win for his Grassroots Canada team and made it look easy in the afternoon session.

He's 6-foot-8 and can suit up for a number of different positions on the floor. Thompson, a future five-star prospect in the near future, plays like a guard at times, mixes it up as a four man on another occasion and then will hit a three as a wing. The future Longhorn has multiple personalities on the court and that's why he's so highly regarded in the 2010 class.

Teammate Cory Joseph opened the tournament strong on Friday night, scoring 42 points. On Saturday, he cooled somewhat, scoring just eight points. Don't let the numbers fool you. Joseph has been one hot guard this spring and a sure fire high-major guy, just like his older brother Devoe.

Minnesota, Kansas, Villanova, Louisiana Tech, Virginia Tech, Illinois and Texas are in the mix early in the process.

New Heights forward Devon Collier scored 29 points and dominated the paint against the Atlanta Celtics 16 and under program. The 6-foot-7 forward was one of the best power forwards in the class of 2010 on Saturday and did what you'd want you're your big man. He set the tone with his physical play and then broke the spirits of the Celtics with his constant attack inside.

Collier said Fordham, St. John's, Florida, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Xavier have made early inquires.

If you were to take a snapshot of the 16 and under D.C. Assault roster and in three years, there is a good chance that 75 percent of the players on it will be playing for a high-major club. Without sounding too sensational, this team is loaded with prospects.

Each player brings something different to the table and any one player can be the player on any given day. Paired against the Playaz, another team with a roster stockpiled with players, the Assault poured it on and had a 30-point lead at halftime.

D.C. Assault forward Josh Hairston has been the apple of a lot of high-major coaches' eye for a long time now. Watch him for a weekend and it's easy to see why the high-majors are lining up for the class of 2010 stud. The 6-foot-7 forward can score in the post, plays with his back to the basket, good in the midrange and can step out and knock down the perimeter shot. The kid has big time tools at his disposal.

Playing with a Costco-sized depth at the guard position also helps. High-majors are salivating over Erik Atkins and Tyler Thornton while guys like Ben Hazel and Dontae Thomas both played well on Saturday, proving their worth as prospects to watch.

Boo Williams's 15 and under club is generally one of the top teams in it's age group and with a roster deep with Division I prospects, that isn't a big surprise. The team's best player and prospect is James McAdoo

McAdoo has an array of post moves that is hard to match for his kids his age. The 6-foot-7 forward knows the tricks to the trade and can score with little trouble with a man on him. He's one of the elite players in his class, so far, and it doesn't look like he's putting the brakes on any time soon.

Shannon Scott, a point guard from the talented Southern Kings team out of Atlanta, is on the campus of his father's alma mater this week. Pops (Charlie Scott) was pretty good during his time in Chapel Hill and the younger Scott is doing pretty well for himself, too. Scott is one to watch in 2011 and Georgia, Auburn, Florida and Xavier already are, he said.

Russell Byrd will have a spot at the high-major school because of his ability to shoot the roundball. The 6-foot-5 guard from Fort Wayne, Ind. can dial it in with the best of them. Byrd, a class of 2010 prospect, scored 16 points in a big win over Grassroots Canada on Saturday. He is automatic when he's set and ready for a pass. Byrd said he has heard from Louisville, Indiana, Iowa, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Baylor, Kentucky and Michigan early in the process.

HI, MY NAME IS..

Georgia center Daniel Miller has caught on like wild fire on the recruiting scene this spring and has emerged as one of the top sleepers in the Southeast. For starters, he's 6-foot-10 and 235 pounds. He plays to his size, passes well from his position and is a prototypical center in terms of staying inside the paint throughout the game.

The Loganville Christian product is still getting used to the big stage but he's a guy worth an evaluation come July by mid to high level schools because of his size and academic prowess. Miller struggled on Saturday morning, scoring just four points in a sloppy team defeat.

Miller said his recruitment has gone from lukewarm to hot since the evaluation period. Miller rattled off a list that consisted of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Furman, UT-Chattanooga, Harvard, Coastal Carolina and Illinois.

Those that have watched class of 2010 prospect Leek Leek play have always said "if he can get a jumper�". The if played out, at least it did against Grassroots Canada. The 6-foot-5 lefty from Sudan hit a three-pointer and a nice mid-range pull-up en route to a team high 17 points.

Leek, who is at Patterson (N.C.), is an intriguing prospect that will be interesting to see watch grow over the next couple of years. Leek said he's heard from Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Houston.

SCHOOL LIST CENTRAL

United Celtics 2010 point guard Ian Miller said he picked up a pair of offers in the last two weeks. Florida State and UNC Greensboro both tendered offers after his stellar showing at the Wallace Prather Memorial Classic earlier in the month in Atlanta.

Miami, Virginia, Colorado State, UNLV, Gonzaga, Marquette, Arizona State and Nebraska all recently offered Anthony Marshall, the top player from the Las Vegas Prospects.

Playaz guard Sherrod Wright said up front that he is open in his recruitment and then proceeded to rattle off a long list of programs he's heard from. Virginia, Georgia Tech, Xavier, UMass, Connecticut, Marquette, Florida, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Kansas and Temple so far.

Don't be surprised to see the list of Sam Dower get bigger before it gets smaller. The 6-foot-9 big man from Net Gain Sports will be a guy that a lot of teams look at a little closer in July. He's a solid post player with a handful of moves and has high-major size. Northern Iowa. Iowa State, Marquette, Drake and Gonzaga were offered up as schools on his list.

NOTES FROM THE NOTEPAD

  • Don't be surprised to see Indiana Elite guard D.J. Byrd go to Purdue and follow a similar path that Chris Kramer did. His recruitment ended quietly and when Kramer shined as a freshmen, it was a little bit of a surprise to some. Byrd could very well follow suit. He's a fine scorer and shooter, good athlete, plays with good toughness and isn't afraid to stick his nose into tough situations.

  • Playing much like former McDonald's All-American and looking like him physically, Dante Taylor out of D.C. area team National Christian is doing his best J.J. Hickson impression. Taylor has put up big numbers in the Triangle and he's doing it with a physical brand of basketball inside. Ironically, Hickson has been on hand this weekend. The N.C. State forward has been preparing for the NBA Draft lately.

  • The Jacksonville Lee Bulls won a big game over D.C. Assault thanks to 22 points from Aaron Bowen, 21 points from Anthony Nwadigo and 17 points from J.P. Kuhlman.

    Bowen, a 6-foot-6 class of 2010 combo forward, continues to show promise this spring. He scored big buckets down the stretch in an offense-heavy game against the Assault. He matched up with Kansas State bound forward Wally Judge well and had the upper hand in the match-up.

    Nwadigo, a 6-foot-2 guard from the class of 2009, will be a fine mid-level guy because of his toughness and high energy. He's wired with energy and doesn't back down to a challenge.

    Kuhlman has been hot as a shooter in North Carolina. He hit six three-pointers on Friday night and was steady at the foul line when it mattered. Guys with his shooting touch and big game ability hear there names in March.

  • Georgia's class of 2009 talent pool is ridiculously deep but it also lacks players that will run through a wall on any given moment for his team and his coach. Terrance Shannon defies that logic. He's been the most consistent player for the Atlanta Celtics this weekend. The 6-foot-7 forward has sniper vision for loose balls and vice grips for hands. He'll earn his keep as a rebounding specialist wherever he goes to college.

  • Compton Magic center Joe Burton must have watched Kevin Love throw outlet passes this year at UCLA. The hefty big man is pretty good in his own right as a guy that can get the ball up the floor with a quick snap of the wrists and finds his guys on point.

  • The Florida Rams trio of Freddie Riley, Rakeem Buckles and Ramon Galloway have been steady in North Carolina. Riley, a 6-foot-6 wing headed to Hargrave (Va.) next year, was hot from the wing. He looked much better this weekend than he did from our last viewing at the King James event in April.

    Buckles used his athleticism and versatility to score against Indiana Elite's big frontline. He was good in attack mode from the top of the key and dribbled in. Galloway has been steady, highlighted by a 30-point effort on Friday night.

  • Keith Appling scored 17 points a scrappy win over the Georgia Ballers. The class of 2010 isn't afraid to challenge players with the dribble. His approach to the game is like a seasoned 17 and under guard. There really isn't much fear to him. That's refreshing

  • Ian Hummer, the top prospect on the Virginia Rapids, will find a place in college to play because of his hustle, smarts and overall competitiveness. The 6-foot-6 forward knows what he is doing down low. Mix in his the fact he's a big time scholar athlete and you have a winning recipe.

  • Michael Beasley, a potential number one pick in next month's NBA Draft, was on hand to support his former AAU team, the D.C. Assault play. It will be hard to find a kid on the circuit that has his kind of charisma again.


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