Not only did the Marshall County (Ky.) Hoopfest have some of the top prospects in the 2005 class, there were a number of top underclassmen playing in the event. Some of them are prospects because of their ability to impact a game right now. Others are top recruits because of their potential. No underclassman at the event has more potential than Kevin Durant, and the combo forward is awful good right now as well.
Kevin Durant (6-foot-9, 204-pound combo forward from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., No. 16 in class of 2006)
Although he must become a stronger and more physical player, Durant hauled down 10 rebounds in both of his games. He scored 22 points the first game and then 12 in the second from behind the arc, in the midrange and at the basket. His footwork and skill level are extremely high, but to ever be a dominant player, Durant must develop more of a killer instinct. At times in the Oak Hill lose to Flossmoor, Durant was simply a non-factor. Nonetheless, this very young and coachable player has the tools to one day play in the NBA.
Tywon Lawson (5-foot-11, 182-pound point guard from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., No. 19 in class of 2006)
Along with leading Oak Hill from the point position for every minute of both games, Lawson scored 25 points and 21 points in his two games, and he scored those points off the dribble and off the catch and from a variety of spots on the court. He also averaged 6 assists per game at the event while rarely turning the ball over. With the strength, quickness and court savvy to step in right away and run a team in the ACC, Lawson is a do everything point guard. He can get into the lane and finish against contact. He is a deadly three-point shooter when left open. He can find the open man and defend and rebound as well. Look for big things from perhaps the best point guard in the class of 2006.
Wayne Chism (6-foot-8, 230-pound power forward from Bolivar Central (Tenn.) High School, No. 49 in class of 2006)
Chism's greatest asset as a big man is his mobility. In fact, he played the top of Bolivar's 1-3-1 zone, which did limit his rebounding opportunities. He finished with only 2 rebounds, but along with playing away from the basket on defense, his hot shooting team only missed 22 field goal attempts. Chism did not get a lot of touches on offense either as he went 2 of 4 from the field. Nonetheless, Chism is a terrific prospect with good hands to go along with his mobility, nice touch from 17-feet and in, nifty back to the basket moves and the ability to defend away from the basket.
Jason Bennett (7-foot-1, 225-pound center from Arlington Country Day High School in Jacksonville, Fla., No. 88 in the class of 2006)
Bennett has been known to play some lifeless basketball on the summer circuit, but against Tyler Hansbrough, the big man showed some heart in battling the future Tar Heel. Although Bennett was no match for Hansbrough, Bennett's effort was admirable. With his size and adequate skill level, Bennett has a chance to meet the high expectations around him if he consistently plays with heart and passion.
Willie Kemp (6-foot-2, 170-pound point guard from Bolivar Central (Tenn.) High School, No. 99 in the class of 2006)
Kemp is a tremendous floor leader who does what it takes to win. With a state championship and numerous AAU victories under his belt, Kemp can drive the ball, score it, dish it and shoot it from three. His length and anticipation make him a dangerous defender as well. Many high-major coaches would love to have a point guard like Kemp run their team.
Josue Soto (5-foot-11, 148-pound, point guard from Arlington Country Day High School in Jacksonville, Fla., No. 102 in the class of 2006)
Soto is a ball handling and scoring machine with a patented runner going baseline that he kisses high off the backboard. A terrific scoring point guard, Soto competes and plays to win. He is awfully small and that will make it tough for him to defend on the high-major level, but few players are as good with the ball in their hands as Soto is. Soto scored 23 points on 9 of 15 shooting from the field and 4 of 4 shooting from the line. He also dished out 7 assists.
Manual Cass (6-foot-7, 215-pound combo forward from Carbondale (Ill.) High School, Class of 2006)
Strong and athletic, Cass is very good in the midrange area. He shoots it with a nice touch from there and can also get to the basket on the dribble. In Carbondale's overtime win over White Station, Cass scored 18 points and 8 rebounds. He is a potential high-major small forward prospect if he can continue to develop his skill level.
Monice Garrett (5-foot-10, 150-pound point guard from Westbury Christian High School in Houston, Texas, Class of 2006)
A very good athlete at the point guard position, Garrett can defend the ball and handle it very well. His decision making was shaky down the stretch in Westbury Christian's win over North Broward Prep, but Garrett should be a high-major prospect as his game matures. He finished with 5 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
Daniel Ard (6-foot-6, 200-pound small forward from Marshall Co. (Ky.) High School, Class of 2006)
With above average athleticism, Ard is tough on the glass and can catch and shoot out to three. Not a very good ball handler yet, Ard gives a blue collar effort and does the little things that help a team win. Ard scored 23 points and grabbed 8 rebounds against Bolivar Central. He is a very good mid-major prospect.
DeAndre Bynum (6-foot-4, 180-pound combo guard from White Station High School in Memphis, Tenn., Class of 2007)
This athletic slasher spent most of the game running the point for White Station. Although he is probably more of a wing player, Bynum handled the ball well going both left and right. The talented sophomore plays with more of an attacking scorers mentality than a set-up mentality. Against Carbondale, he recorded no assists but grabbed 4 rebounds and scored 8 points on 3 of 6 shooting from the field. Bynum is a high-major prospect.
Jeremy Felton (6-foot-6, 210-pound combo forward from Althoff High School in Belleville, Ill., Class of 2007)
Although he presently projects as a tweener on the high-major level, Felton has three years to either grow a couple more inches or develop his small forward skills. A strong athlete, Felton grabbed 13 rebounds and scored 16 points on 7 of 11 shooting, mainly around the basket, for Althoff. He is certainly a player to keep an eye on.
Al Graham (6-foot-1, 160-pound point guard from Lanier High School in Jackson, Miss., No. 32 in class of 2007)
Graham is a solid point guard who can make an open three and get a team into an offense, but his skills have not progressed a whole lot over the past year. To maintain his status as a high-major prospect his skill level needs to progress. Graham scored 13 points on 5 of 7 shooting from the field, had 4 rebounds but did not record any assists.