It was a basketball feast in the North Carolina Triangle on Saturday as the Tournament of Champions ran from sun up to sun down. RivalsHoops.com was scattered about the area watching games at various venues. National Recruiting Analyst Justin Young was on the campus of North Carolina State for the majority of the day.
New Jersey Sureshots vs. Kappa Magic
On paper, the Sureshots were a sure shot to win but the hometown Magic team gave a valiant effort in the 73-69 early morning loss at Reynolds Coliseum at NC State. Big man Theo Davis had a strong first half scoring 12 first half points but disappeared in the second half and finished with 16. He has his moments inside and rebounds well when he wants to but the Canada native hasn't had a consistent AAU season yet.
On the flip side, 6-foot-7 small forward Qa'rran Calhoun played well on both ends of the floor. The Raritan High School (N.J.) product shot the ball with confidence on the perimeter and loves to attack the basket off the dribble. Defensively, he has a long wingspan that deters opponents from taking the shot they may want to take. The class of 2006 prospect listed Oklahoma, Arizona, Cal, Rutgers and Florida State as his early favorites.
St. Anthony's (N.J.) High School had a couple of strong producers in 6-foot-6 rising senior Barney Anderson and 6-foot-9 Ahmad Nivins. Anderson is a player without a true position but is athletic enough that teams must respect him when he steps onto the floor. He won't wow anyone with a great box score but his footwork and nimbleness around the bucket have garnered interest from the likes of Indiana, Maryland, Clemson, UConn, Florida State, Seton Hall, St. Joseph's and Rutgers.
Trinity Catholic (Conn.) guard Craig Austrie is used to winning. He already has two Connecicut state titles under his belt and now the 6-foot-1 guard is looking to add more to his résumé this AAU season. Schools like DePaul, UMass, Pittsburgh, UConn, Marquette, Florida State and Florida like his scoring touch and his overall toughness. He showed some of that Saturday morning with the Sureshots.
Carolina Celtics 16U vs. Las Vegas Prospects 16U
Going into the game, we were looking forward to seeing Jamie Skeen, a 6-foot-8 combo forward from North Mecklenburg (N.C.) High School. But what we didn't realize was the talent surrounding him. Skeen didn't have the game that he's known to have but he showed that he can play on the wing in terms of taking his jump shot out a little further and put the ball on the floor. He may be better served playing inside but as he grows into his game, this class of 2006 prospect has a great future. Skeen listed North Carolina, NC State and Wake Forest as his early favorites.
Skeen's high school teammate C.J. Young may have been the difference maker in the Celtics' two point victory. The 6-foot rising junior got past every defender he saw with a great dribble drive, opening the floor for the other four players on the roster. Young won't be the most efficient shooter but his court sense and ball handling skills make a difference in late game situations.
Skeen, Young and even Norristors Gurley played well but it was Charles Dewhurst's dunk with a minute to play proved to be the difference maker in the victory. The 6-foot-6, 175-pound small forward from Charlotte Latin (N.C.) had a great game, scoring in a variety of ways. He has a nice high-arcing shot and he's athletic enough to go baseline with the dribble and finish above the rim. He listed Stanford, Penn State, Davidson, UNC-Wilmington and Appalachian State as his early favorites.
For the Las Vegas Prospects, Andre McFarland and P'Allen Stinnett both played well in defeat. McFarland silenced some critics with by connecting on a couple of three-pointers - a bit of a weakness coming into the TOC. Stinnett was strong in the loss, taking the team on his shoulders and doing whatever he could do to help push them over the edge. The class of 2006 duo will be two to watch over the next couple of years.
Arizona Magic vs. Delaware Sharpshooters
6-foot-8 rising senior Lawrence Hill had one of the best games we witnessed at NC State on Saturday. The Deer Valley (Ariz.) High School product was everywhere on the floor. He skied for dunks in traffic. He rebounded like a power forward. He shot it like a wing guard. He played defense like there was no tomorrow. Hill finished with a game high 28 points. After visiting Stanford last week, Hill said he's 99% sure that the Pac-10 program is where he wants to be next season.
Point guard Darren Jordan was equally impressive. The 6-foot floor leader from Trevor Brown High School set the tone with his patient and productive ball handling. He never changed emotions throughout the pace of the game. The rising senior scored at will but didn't force the issue and played within himself. Jordan rattled off a number of schools including Nebraska, Clemson, Nevada, San Diego, Iowa State, Minnesota and others.
Harvey Perry, Jr. had a strong first half, particularly on the defensive end. The Las Vegas native has a great body and uses his strength to bump opponents and send a message right away that they will have to earn their way into the paint with the dribble. Offensively, he connected on a handful of outside jumpers and he rebounded the ball with very little trouble.
Although guard Josh Thornton is a bit trigger happy, he does score with confidence with his NBA shooting range. The 6-foot-1 shooter can put up points in a hurry and when his shot is falling, it's one of the prettiest on the East Coast.
The AAU season has been somewhat inconsistent so far for Eric Boateng. The 6-foot-10 big man from St. Andrews (Del.) via London has shown that he is one of the best defensive big men in the class. He has great timing and gets good position for rebounds. On the offensive end, he stepped his game out to the perimeter and knocked down a couple of three pointers. He remains mum about his recruitment and didn't shed any light on his school list.