HOUSTON, TEXAS - Saturday at the Kingwood Classic was the marathon of the nation's largest AAU tournament in the country. The gyms were packed with college coaches and they followed around guys like Spencer Hawes from gym to gym. Rivals.com was all over metro Houston to see the nation's top players as well as guys that we've never heard of before. Come inside the Ultimate Ticket for the loaded update...
Early morning hour brings out Deep South teams
With the combination of having Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt and assistants from Kentucky and Baylor watching and having an 8 a.m. game, Perry Stevenson of the Louisiana Stars didn't have the big offensive game some what have liked to have seen from the 6-foot-9 forward from Lafayette's Northside High School. He made up for it with seven blocks and 12 rebounds in a 57-50 loss to Rise 'N Shine out of Mississippi.
Lekendrick Longmire led the way for Rise 'N Shine with 18 points and the 6-foot-5 guard from Moss Point (Miss.) High School has the tools to be a guy that is recruited by SEC-level programs. He's a big shot player that can put it on the floor, play sound defense but also have a lot of room to grow. It wasn't surprising to hear that his list consists of Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M and Tennessee.
David Booker chipped in with 13 points for Rise 'N Shine in winning fashion. The 6-foot-7 forward looks a little heavier than the last time we saw him and that may have been one of the reasons why he looked a bit fatigued. Even his coach noticed and asked if Booker needed a breather. The class of 2006 prospect said, "Nah coach, I'm never tired. Never. I just didn't get enough sleep last night." Sounds like it.
All jokes aside, Booker said he's sporting offers from Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Colorado State and Auburn while Georgia, Alabama and Florida are showing interest. Coaches from Ole Miss and Mississippi State were on hand for the game, too.
Baylor, new Tulane head coach Dave Dickerson and Louisiana Tech were also on hand to see guys like LaRyan Gary and Steve Payton.
Gary, a 6-foot-7 shooting guard/small forward, looked good in the first half with a nice, high-arching shot from deep as he buried a number of shots from 15 feet and out. Gary said he's hearing from Baylor, Louisiana Tech, Connecticut and Alabama.
Payton, a 6-foot-3 point guard from Brother Martin High School, may get overshadowed by his prep teammate D.J. Augustin. With the Louisiana Stars, he was the perfect set up man. He came alive in the second half with some crisp and efficient passing as well as tough on the ball defense. Don't be surprised to hear more on this class of 2006 prospect.
Big man party in the morning
Josh Lomers wasn't planning on playing in the Kingwood Classic this weekend because of his prom on Saturday. But the 7-foot, 250-pound center decided to head down to Houston and wear his Team Hoop Zone jersey. The big man made it a trip worth while. He put in 24 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in a big win over SC TOPPS.
Lomers is a dying breed player. He's got incredible hands, a nice little turn around right handed baby hook with the right hand and he is an immovable force amongst his peers inside the paint.
After watching Stevenson at 8 a.m., Hewitt then made the short drive over to see Lomers in action. So did Baylor assistant Jerome Tang. Texas A&M and Colorado, Lomers' other two top choices, also had assistant coaches at the game. Lomers will officially visit Georgia Tech next weekend.
His teammate Will Paul, a 6-foot-9 shooting big man, had Stanford head coach Trent Johnson and an assistant at the game to see him in action. They had to be impressed with the nice looking jump shot and long, big body that Paul has to build upon. Paul, somewhat of a national unknown, said he'd commit to the Pac-10 program if an offer were to present itself after his application was accepted at the prestigious academic school.
Is he amongst the elite PGs?
There are several facets to D.J. Augustin. The New Orleans Jazz point guard put in 12 points and eight assists in a 67-60 victory over the New York Ravens. In this victory, he didn't need to score to make his team better but his court vision was the game changer.
Maybe that's why Roy Williams came out to see him last week. So did Rick Barnes of Texas. Wake Forest and LSU are also very much in the picture.
Many of Augustin's assists went to Dannero Thomas and Jejuan Brown. Thomas is a don't leave me open shooter and he poured in 18 points in the victory. Brown is playing with the Jazz for the first time and 6-foot-7 Mississippi native is a key member of the squad, especially as the primary rebounder. Former Jazz product and honorary assistant coach Brandon Bass has to like that.
Thomas said he's hearing from Illinois, Providence, DePaul and Purdue. Booker said Mississippi State, Alabama, Auburn and Miami all came out to see him at his school last week. Coaches from UTEP, Mississippi State, Tulane, St. John's, Ole Miss and LSU were at the Jazz-Ravens game.
LeBron's stars shine
Jimmy Langhurst put in a game high 22 points against the Compton Magic with sharp shooting and effective half court play amongst his incredibly athletic teammates on the King James Shooting Stars. He said Purdue, Bowling Green, Binghamton, Drake, Ohio and Iowa all dot his school list.
The coaching crowd was solid as the King James Shooting Stars TKO'd the Compton Magic. Assistants from Ohio State, Dayton, Michigan State, Cincinnati, Michigan, Connecticut, Syracuse and Ball State were all on the sidelines watching the game.
Marcus Johnson said St. Bonaventure, Duquesne, Akron and Dayton all came by in the last two weeks to see him play at his St. Vincent-St. Mary school. He scored 17 points with his trademark attack the basket style of play.
The King James best player is Raymar Morgan. His recruitment should pick up after the Kingwood. He scored 18 points in the mid afternoon victory. He's incredibly long, a good rebounder and quick off the floor for boards. Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Bowling Green all game by to his Canton McKinley school last week and he said Ball State, Miami-FL, Arizona and Syracuse are all recruiting him the hardest, too.
It was a rough day for Compton Magic's Jesse Woodard. Not only did his teammates leave him hanging in the effort department, the point guard took an elbow right to the nose and put him out for the final 10 minutes of the game. Luckil he didn't break his nose but for Compton Magic, they lost their only player that seemed like he wanted to win the ball game. The lefty point guard is a strong kid that should be one to watch closely in the class of 2007.
Indiana kids have a good crowd
Herb Sendek and Mike Brey slid in to watch the SYF Players out of Indiana sneak by the South Carolina Ravens in overtime. And Jamil Tucker can probably expect a couple of phone calls to his AAU coach and high school coach next week. Jamil, get to know your mail man, too.
The 6-foot-8 small forward from Gary, Ind., is a rare breed for a kid his size. He's got a knack for putting the ball on the floor and attacking the basket but what makes him even more intriguing is the fact that he can pull up for a silky smooth jump shot. There aren't a lot of guys his size that can handle and shoot like he does.
Tucker said Indiana, Purdue and Ohio State are recruiting him at the current time. The Buckeyes were in the gym watching him as well as his teammates.
You can safely bet Luke Harangody will see a trainer at least once a game. The 6-foot-8 blue collar forward isn't afraid to lay it all out and in the process, he's not afraid of getting cut, starched, bruised or battered. The big man for the SYF Players says he's holding offers from Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue and Indiana. He said Notre Dame is getting into the mix, too.
Tyrone Appleton says he's returning to prep school again next year and Purdue, Iowa and West Virginia all said they'd continue to recruit the 6-foot-2 guard throughout the year.
From gym to gym
Spencer Hawes will attract a crowd wherever he goes. For good reason. He's the second best center in the country behind Greg Oden. There are few guys that rebound a basketball like he does. He seeks it out like a crazed assassin and then puts a vice grip on the ball. Bill Self, Ben Howland, Lorenzo Romar, Lute Olsen assistants from North Carolina and Connecticut all came by to see the Seattle native play the undersized Philadelphia Ballhawks.
The Lance Thomas-Chase Budinger match-up wasn't really a match-up. Neither one matched up with one another so neither player really "won" the battle of the top small forward in the tournament. Numbers wise, Thomas had some good ones. He put in 31 points and 16 rebounds in the defeat to the guys from SoCal. Expect his recruitment to be long and interesting.
The knock on Ferrari's 5-foot-9 point guard is that he's small but Jerome Randle is doing what it takes to make believers out of people. The kid is cat like quick, he is a good set up guy and, like all point guards, he's got a flair for the dramatic.
Jonathan Mandeldove's confidence has soared higher than perhaps anyone in the country. The 7-footer from the same county that produced Louis Williams and Mike Mercer is now playing like a guy that has something to prove. He's a shot-blocking machine and isn't intimidated by anyone on the court. His progression since the high school season ended is amazing.
Kalvin Bay, the point guard for the Arizona Stars, is a winner. He finds ways to take his less than athletic and less than quick team past teams that should beat them. A combination of court vision, confidence, toughness and scoring, Bay is an intriguing prospect because he just finds a way win. Never really rattled, the 6-foot-2 floor general is poised in crunch time. His stop on a dime pull up jumper and ability to use the left hand are pretty nice, too.
Sure O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker are usually on the starting and finishing points for the oohs and ahhs on the D-1 Greyhounds but Heath White isn't afraid to get into the action. The 6-foot-2 class of 2006 guard from Taft High School isn't timid in getting in on the action above the rim. He's also a quick trigger on the perimeter.
The Mike Jones that showed up at the Boo Williams Invitational for the South Carolina Ravens didn't come to Houston. And that's a good thing. The 6-foot-6 small forward from Columbia is back to his usual self, scoring with force and rebounding like it's a new trend. His perimeter game is vastly improved from what is was last year.
Milwaukee native Quincy Owens is a name to remember. He's headed to Harmony Christian in Cincinnati next season as well as moving to the class of 2007. The 6-foot-8 forward is a tough as nails rebounder with good athleticism and length. He said Louisville, Purdue and Georgetown are on him early.