March 27, 2011

Warren big at Carolina Challenge

The top four scorers at the fifth annual Dave Telep Carolina Challenge on Saturday all hailed from the Triangle.

Raleigh Word of God teammates T.J. Warren and Torian Graham, both juniors, and sophomore point guard Josh Newkirk claimed the top three spots. Newkirk and Raleigh Ravenscroft sophomore Anton Gill tied for third place.

Warren erupted for 40 points in roughly 20 minutes of action in his first game of the day, which reverberated throughout the athletic complex at Ravenscroft. The 6-foot-6, 200-pound small forward averaged 28.5 points per game, but left early in the third contest because of a minor rib injury.

"I couldn't miss," said Warren about his 40-point binge. "I just couldn't miss. The last time I had that feeling was probably last summer on the circuit. It's been a while. This is going to be a big spring and summer because it's my last one."

Warren will be playing with the Garner Roads 17s and already has a pretty good group of scholarship offers.

"I've got offers from Georgetown, Tennessee (prior staff), Wake Forest, NC State (prior staff), Virginia Tech, Miami, Indiana, Xavier, so that's a lot," Warren said. "I hope to decide before my senior season."

Durham native Graham flashed his immense potential in a pair of games. Graham is still deciding what traveling team he'll play for, either Boo Williams or D.C. Assault. The talented high-flyer finished second in scoring at 23.0 points per game.

The junior shooting guard recently unofficially visited Kentucky and enjoyed everything about the trip.

"I like Kentucky, Carolina, Duke, Georgetown, Miami, Syracuse, UCLA and Louisville," Graham said. "Some haven't offered yet like Kentucky, Carolina, Duke and Syracuse."

Newkirk was one of the biggest surprises of the event. The Raleigh product averaged 19.7 points with a high of 30 points in his second contest. Newkirk is undecided on what traveling team he'll be playing for.

"I'm hearing from Villanova, Georgetown, Miami, Wake Forest and NC State," Newkirk said. "I haven't gotten my first offer yet.

"I've been working real hard. I'm working out every day after school. I'll probably be more of a scorer next year at Word of God. We are losing Bishop Daniels and Joseph Uchebo."

Gill finished fourth at 19.7 points per game with a high of 28 in his second contest. Gill has earned offers from Charlotte and East Carolina, but that will likely change in the near future. He is also getting interest from North Carolina, Clemson and Wake Forest, and went to watch games at all three ACC schools. He watched Clemson host Florida State, FSU at Wake Forest and the Wake Forest at North Carolina contest.

Sophomore shooting guard Patrick Rooks of Charlotte Christian broke up the Triangle stranglehold by finishing fifth in scoring with 18.7 points per game and a high of 26 points in his third contest. He earned his first offer in late February from Charlotte. The former native of Anderson, S.C., is getting interest from Clemson, South Carolina, Wake Forest and North Florida. Rooks will play with the Raptors Elite 16s.

Wake Forest duo excels

Flash back to mid-July and juniors Aaron Rountree and Codi Miller-McIntyre were still "sleepers" in the state. Both players played in the 16s division at the Chris Paul All-Star's Invitational in Greensboro, drawing mid-major coaches. Rountree was Carolina Elite and Miller-McIntyre suited up for United Stars of Charlotte.

Both players have come a long way since then and committed to Wake Forest in recent weeks. The duo complements each other well on the court.

Rountree flashed his playmaking ability at 6-8 and 190 pounds. The "point forward" averaged nine points per game with a high of 11, but did the little things and has the ability to get steals or rebounds and get out and lead the break.

Miller-McIntyre is a quality three-point shooter, though sometimes streak, and bombed away for 17.0 points per game, which was good for sixth in the event. He went for 22 points in his third game, and shot as if GPS system was guiding the ball into the basket from long range.

Miller-McIntyre will likely both guard spots at Wake Forest, but paired with Rountree's pass-first approach, the Demon Deacons won't lose any playmaking ability if he plays point guard.

Freshmen invasion

Every player at the Challenge is guaranteed to play half the game, which allows some of the younger players the chance to matchup against their older peers. Usually some of the freshmen appear overmatched, but each and every one of them this year showed they belonged at various moments.

The impact of the freshmen was felt throughout the event, especially on the wing.

A pair of freshmen who will play with the Chris Paul All-Stars 17s have already started to receive attention from colleges.

Combo guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes of Creedmoor Christian Faith Center Academy said he has offers from Texas, Marquette, St. John's, Oregon, and Rhode Island. He is also interested in Kentucky and Kansas State.

Wing Theo Pinson of Oak Ridge Military Academy said he has received offers from Syracuse, Marquette, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Tennessee (prior staff), South Carolina, and a few others. He is still looking for his first in-state offer, but grew up a big Duke fan.

Pinson is an explosive finisher with defensive stopper potential due to his long wingspan. Rathan-Mayes, who is a reclassified freshman from Canada, has a smooth jumper and plays under control. He averaged 7.7 points per game with a high of 16, while Pinson averaged 9.3 with a high 14.

Point guards JaQuel Richmond and Eric Johnson also were among the leading scorers. Richmond, a reclassified freshman at High Point Wesleyan, has a quick first step and is a quality mid-range shooter, who averaged 15.3 points per game. Johnson, who attends Durham Kestrel Heights, has a mature body and hit three straight 3-pointers in one contest, and averaged 13 points per game.

Tying Richmond for scoring honors among the freshmen was small forward Josh Level of High Point Westchester Country Day.

Greenville Oakwood School guard James Demery Jr. has explosive athleticism and quality basketball IQ. He had a high of 15 points, most of which came in a big second half, and averaged 10.3 points per game on the day.

Tying Demery for points per game was Charlotte Victory small forward Shaun Thompson. The slender but athletic Thompson was one of the pleasant surprises of the event.

Mocksville Davie County identical twins Cody and Caleb Martin squared off against each other in their third and final game, with Cody winning the battle 10-2. Both small forwards showed a good feel for the game, and Cody featured deep range on his jumper.

Clayton High's Gary Clark showcased an inside-outside game and will be one to watch in the future. Winston-Salem Quality Education Academy's Jordan Robinson was a late addition to the Challenge and has some nifty back to the basket post moves.

Several surprises

Every year at the Carolina Challenge, a handful of players make a statement that they belong, and Saturday was no different.

Sophomore wings Tyrone Outlaw, DeAndre Bembry, Christian Hairston and B.J. Gladden, all averaged in double figures. Outlaw, who is from Roxboro Person High, has a nice mid-range game and finished at the rim. Bembry is long and athletic and from Mint Hill Rocky River High. Hairston of Greensboro Day has good size for a small forward at 6-7 and 185 pounds and shot well from deep. Gladden also shot well from outside and is from Charlotte Queens Grant.

The Challenge didn't have too many post players, but juniors Josh Smith, Montarius Hall and Dionte Adams, and sophomores T.J. Williams and Ja'Keem Yates, showed that they are worth following in the future. All but Williams, who is from Wilmington, attend Charlotte high schools.

Charlotte Waddell High junior wing Jarvis Haywood's play probably doesn't go under the header of a "surprise" but he doesn't get mentioned as much as he should around the state. He averaged 15.3 points per game and brings a lunch pail approach to the game.

Wilmington Laney High junior guard Kadeem Allen also had a productive day, averaging 13.7 points per contest.

Extra school lists

Ravenscroft junior point guard Madison Jones has picked up offers from Richmond, Tulsa, Drake, and Charlotte. Wake Forest, NC State, Miami, Georgetown and Virginia, have shown interest. The Spiders were the first school to offer Jones.

Jones' traveling teammate Shawn Lester of Mooresville High has offers from NC State (prior staff), Duquesne and Georgia Southern. Lester said Clemson would be the clear-cut leader if the Tigers offered, and Miami would also vault to near the top of his list.

Junior point guard Carlton Ford of Fayetteville Westover lists Butler, Oklahoma, Clemson, East Carolina, South Carolina, VCU, Miami and Virginia. Ford said he has offers from East Carolina, VCU, Virginia and Miami. The speedy Ford will play with the Sampson County All-Stars in traveling team basketball this offseason, joining Clinton's J.T. Miller, whose father will coach the team.

Sophomore center Tyrek Coger of Raleigh Upper Room Christian Academy was one of the few young big men in the event. He outscored fellow sophomore big man Kennedy Meeks of West Charlotte 17-13 in their hyped up matchup in their first game.

Coger scored his first scholarship offer from one of the hot teams in the country.

"I got offered by VCU," Coger said. "That was very good and I like the school. I'm also getting interest by Tennessee, Kentucky is coming in and Big Blue Nation has shown me a lot of love on Twitter. I also still have NC State. I'm getting some Big Ten interest too."

For future coverage of North Carolina prep basketball, follow TheWolfpacker.com on Twitter.


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