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August 4, 2008

Top surprises from AAU Nationals

MORE: AAU Nationals: Thursday | AAU Nationals: Wednesday | Rivals.com Hoops Tour

One of the best things about the AAU Nationals at Disney's Wide World of Sports is the potential of finding guys that lay low under the radar. There were a number of candidates and Rivals.com's Justin Young narrowed the list down to five players after watching four full days of games at the event.

AAU Nationals Top Surprises
Ben Eblen, PG, Nike Team Florida
It will be interesting to see how his recruitment changes (if it does at all) heading into the school year. Always noted as a quality mid-level priority guy, the strong and smart floor general closed out the summer strong. Eblen knows how to run a team, has the body to defend at the next level at a high level and showed off his top-flight passing skills. It wouldn't come as a big surprise if some high-majors perked up and increased the interest in him.
Rahlir Jefferson, SF, Philly Pride
The deeper the Nationals played on, the more people talked about the Chester, Pa., product. At 6 feet 6, the rising senior was a match-up problem inside and out. He was great on the glass but also was a tough player to defend on the offensive end because of his high-motor and his crafty scoring. Jefferson is an ideal mid-level player but because of his ability to crash the boards and his value on the defensive end, it wouldn't come as a big surprise to see a high-major make him a fall priority.
Charles Hankerson Jr., SG, Gold Coast
His father is the principal at Miami Northwestern, one of the top football schools in the nation, and the younger Hankerson looks like he could strap on a helmet and knock heads with the best of them. The 6-foot-3 guard is built like a middle linebacker and does a nice job of playing tough but also playing under control. The class of 2010 prospect buried a couple three-pointers a game as well as playing well on the boards. Things are looking up for the South Florida product after his performance at Disney.
Nate Hutcheson, SG, Martin Brothers
There might not be a better compliment from a college coach than "That kid knows how to play." Several assistant coaches that were on the sidelines and baselines at the AAU Nationals said that about the 6-foot-5 wing from Iowa. Hutcheson seemed to have a steady stream of observers in Orlando. He's a fine athlete with good size on the wing. Hutcheson can handle the ball, score and shoot as well as play three different positions. The rising senior is a must-get guy for a number of mid-majors.
Tom Knight, PF, MBR
In today's world of instant information and around-the-clock games, finding sleepers in the last week of the summer is a rarity. But it happens. This year's sleeper in Orlando was Knight. His name was on the tips of the tongues of several coaches and everyone wanted to get a good look at him. In the game I saw, the 6-foot-8 pivot man was clearly overmatched against UConn-bound Alex Oriakhi. But there were moments. Knight is a big body that has room to tone out. His energy level is high and the lefty loves the baseline jumper. A lot of coaches got a look at him in action. Now it will be interesting to see how it all plays out for Knight.

MORE: AAU Nationals: Thursday | AAU Nationals: Wednesday | Rivals.com Hoops Tour

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