Here's a look at some games that occurred off of the beaten path at the Boo Williams Spring Invitational Tournament. Hampton High School featured a couple of tough pool play games on friday night, as did the Convocation Center at Hampton University. Rivals.com was in both places to provide coverage.
Friday Night The highlight of the night on Friday had to be the Georgia Stars and their come from behind 79-71 double overtime win over Friends of Hoop - Seattle. Spencer Hawes was unreal in the first half, scoring 10 points on a variety of athletic dunks and layups, and blocking or altering a number of shots. He has pogo sticks for legs, and although he tired late in the game, his 19 points were huge for FOH.
Landon Milbourne had 24 points for the Georgia Stars and, at times, the lefty's game really resembled that of Maryland star Nik Caner-Medley. He thrives on the baseline where he uses his physical gifts to score around the tin. He can step outside, but seems more comfortable slashing to the hoop and getting to the foul line. He's just a really tough and talented kid.
However, the hero of the night for the Stars had to be 6-foot-1 PG James Florence, who scored the bulk of his 19 points in the second half and overtime periods during the Stars' comeback from being down 16 at the half. Florence used his lightning quickness with the ball to blow by defenders and just wore down the young FOH guards late in the game. He shot the ball very well, and if that continues he'll merit much higher looks.
Mike Coburn scored 9 points to lead a balanced Metro Hawks attack in their win over the Charlotte Royals. Coburn, a 5-11 sophomore PG from Mount Vernon HS in New York, had a somewhat disappointing season this past winter, but looks ready to reclaim his spot among the top point guards in the class of 2007. Watching him create off the dribble and penetrate into the lane will remind many of Villanova freshman Kyle Lowry, in terms of toughness and raw speed.
Coburn's teammate, 6-foot-7 230 pound junior PF Jon Mitchell, showed an improved face the basket game, despite scoring only 6 points. He buried a nice 16 foot baseline jumper and was a force on the glass. Mitchell put up some really big scoring numbers towards the end of the high school season and is a guy to watch this spring in the northeast.
Gabriel Blair, a 6-foot-8 PF for the Charlotte Royals really impressed with his inside/outside ability. He played only half the season at Prince Avenue Prep this year and is set to attend Hargrave Military Academy in the fall. Miami, South Carolina, East Carolina, and Auburn are involved according to his coach.
The Memphis YOMCA are down a little this year, but that didn't stop them from beating Nor Cal Elite on Friday night 59-57. 6-foot-2 sophomore guard Randy Culpepper was the go to guy with 19 points. Culpepper makes a lot happen with his defense and perimeter shooting. His steal and finish with 9 seconds left allowed Memphis to turn a 57-56 deficit into an unlikely victory. It was a gutsy play that (although it sounds cliche) was all about desire and determination.
Nor Cal 6-foot-9 sophomore C/F Matthew Simpkins had 13 points in the loss and, though raw, showed surprising athleticism and agility for a young big man. He's a name for high majors to write down and monitor over the next couple of years, as he appears to be still growing and maturing. His ability to get up and down the court and finish tough plays helped stake Nor Cal a nice early lead.
The nightcap on friday featured Louisiana Select and junior guard Demond Carter against a talented Athletes First squad from Oklahoma. Carter had 18 points in a 69-52 win and seemed to share the ball a lot more than he has in the past. Carter has bulked up a bit over the winter and he seems more comfortable penetrating off the dribble, relying less on his perimeter shooting.
However, Louisiana's best prospect is 6-foot-7 sophomore PF Leonard Washington, who finished with 10 points. Washington is outrageously athletic and had a couple of dunks and acrobatic finishes that wowed the crowd at the Convocation Center. His upside is off the charts!
6-foot-8 PF Keith Clark really struggled to find his range from the perimeter, finishing with just 5 points, though not for lack of trying. He didn't score in the first half at all... no wait, that's not true, he did tip in a shot at the buzzer. The problem was that it was in the other team's goal. The problem with Clark is not talent and athletic ability. He's got that in spades. He just doesn't always play under control and seemed to have no comprehension of what constitutes good shot selection. Can we chalk it up to just a bad night? Remains to be seen.
Ekpe Udoh, a 6-foot-9+ C/F from Santa Fe HS in Edmund, OK had 11 points, all in the second half, and showed that he knows how to use his considerable length. Udoh has a good feel for rebounding the basketball and displayed excellent timing on defense. He has creaky knees, and often looks downright geriatric lumbering up and down the floor, but if his legs ever get healthy he could be a big time player at the next level.