COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Events like the Columbus Riverfest are small and simple. And that makes for a great weekend of basketball both from an evaluation standpoint and training ground for AAU programs. Some of the top teams from the Deep South hit the floor on Friday on the night of action.
Carolina Celtics show off depth
The Carolina Celtics have a team certainly worth watching this year on the circuit for college coaches on all levels. The Palmetto State program is a deep team with plenty of moving parts.
With 10 players scoring, the Celtics tallied a 91-26 win over Georgia Unity. It was an easy win and nearly every player on the team had a chance to show what he brings to the table.
Leading the way with 20 points was 6-foot-6, 200-pound wing Khris Middleton. The junior from Porter-Gaud High School in Charleston, S.C. has a smooth delivery with good length for his position.
He scored in transition, knocked down a couple of three-pointers and put in shots off of offensive rebounds while he was in the paint. Because of his length and size at his position and his work in the classroom, it is easy to understand why he is a guy that so many different programs are watching.
Middleton said he has an offer from High Point while Clemson, South Carolina, St. Joseph's, Oklahoma, Charlotte and Georgia are tracking him.
Andre Marhold, a bouncy 6-foot-6, 215-pound from North Mecklenburg (N.C.), picked up steam as the game went along. He manned the paint well and used his strength and athleticism to make simple plays at the rim.
Stuck in between positions, Marhold has tools that can translate at the high-major level. Physically, he can compete in the paint. The question is whether or not he can make a smooth transition to the wing full-time.
Marhold said he is holding an offer from Clemson while Tennessee, Southern Cal, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Kentucky, Marquette and Wake Forest are also in the picture.
Ever since Kenny Manigault a couple of years ago at the Chick-Fil-A Classic, he has been an intriguing prospect. At 6-foot-4, 185-pounds, he can play multiple positions and looks the most comfortable playing the point.
Manigault is a jack of all trades type of prospect. On Friday, he was slowed by a hand injury that he suffered in the third quarter but did enough in the blowout to show his role with the time. Keep an eye on him this spring.
The Pinewood Prep (S.C.) product said he is hearing from a wide range of schools. Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Wichita State, Winthrop, Richmond, Elon, Charleston Southern and Presbyterian are on his list and it should certainly grow after the spring period.
Clemson commitment Devin Booker made quick work of his time on the floor. At 6-foot-7, 220-pounds, the junior muscled his way around for some rebounds that would make Oliver Purnell proud. The tournament field has a number of talented power forwards in it and it will be interesting to see how Booker stacks up with the rest of the field.
Favors, Shannon pace Atlanta Celtics
The Atlanta Celtics have another stacked roster this season and it is anchored by one of the top players in the nation, Derrick Favors. And Favors played like the five-star player that he is and didn't have to try very hard to do so.
The big man from South Atlanta (Ga.) most likely recorded a triple double in the victory, a common sight from him all high school season long. He scored 21 points and roughly grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked about a dozen shots. Favors makes it look easy
Terrance Shannon picked up where he left off in July. The undersized power forward let his motor run from start to finish and owned the paint with his rough and tough style of play.
His footwork looks improved from last summer and he is doing more on the offensive end with moves inside the paint as opposed to just willing his way for buckets. The spring should prove to be a busy one for Shannon as he is looking like one of the most sought after players at his position this year.
Shannon said he has offers from Tennessee, Georgia, Florida State, LSU, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Xavier and Alabama while Clemson, Marquette, West Virginia, Texas, Oregon, South Carolina and Colorado are also very much in the mix.
The Georgia Jaguars made the Celtics earn the victory. The scrappy local team kept the game close for three quarters with big shots, hard nose, in-your-face defense and a never-say-die attitude.
Junior Marcel Hawkins is playing great basketball this year. He ended his season on a high note and the 6-foot-4 wing from Carver (Ga.) High School scored 25 points in the defeat. Physically, he is an imposing figure. At 6-foot-4, he has great size for the two and an improved jump shot has probably raised the level of where he can play in college. Hawkins said he is hearing from Tennessee, South Carolina and Virginia Tech.
Teammates Khiry White and Mike Woods, Jr. combined for 31 points in the defeat. White, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard, knocked down four three-pointers and just made basketball plays. Woods, a 6-foot-1 combo guard, scored with energy and hustle.
It wouldn't be a surprise if this team embodies the mindset of one of Friday's Cinderella teams in the NCAA tournament. Glen Rice led the Georgia Stars with 21 points in a sloppy 78-58 win over the Georgia Stars 16 and under team.
The 6-foot-4 long-armed junior from Walton High School in Marietta, Ga., knocked down four three-pointers and made several plays on the defensive end of the floor with his great length and versatility.
Kenny Hall, a recent Tennessee commitment, added 12 points in the win. He made several nice plays inside the paint that highlighted his athleticism and versatility at the power forward position.
The Stars have great depth and it looks like this tournament will be used to figure out which line-ups work the best. There are eight other Division prospects on the team outside of Rice and Hall.
The kids are alright
There wasn't a more intriguing underclassman on the floor on Friday night than Trevis Simpson, a 6-foot-4 guard from the Georgia Stars 16 and under team.
Simpson is coming off a strong sophomore campaign at Coffee (Ga.) High School and he looks to be picking up where he left off. Simpson led his team in scoring on Friday night, dropping in 19 points in the victory.
He is smooth with the ball, confident in hid delivery and strong to the basket. He isn't afraid to take shots and made most that he put up. Defensively, he left a lot to be desired but the skills are certainly there.
Simpson's teammate, Neiko Hunter, is also a good-looking prospect. The 6-foot-6 sophomore from Green County (Ala.) is a rugged combo forward that has nice inside-out skills.
Home for spring break, Augusta, Ga. native Jason Morris is playing with his Atlanta Celtics team while away from the Hotchkiss School (Conn.). He said he has offers from Georgia, Xavier, Villanova, Georgetown and Auburn while Georgia Tech, Florida, Connecticut, Texas, Arizona and Boston College are showing interest.
School list central
Glen Rice said he has an offer from Tennessee Tech while Clemson, Miami, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Georgia, Toledo, Cincinnati and Bradley have shown interest.
Clemson, South Carolina, LSU and Toledo have offered Adrian Coleman, says the 6-foot-3 scorer from Stephenson (Ga.) High School. Tulane, Florida State, Kansas State, Stanford and Georgia are also in the mix, he said.
Big man Terrell Barnes has a long line of suitors, including Clemson, Georgia (where his brother, Chris, is a freshman forward), Miami, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, College of Charleston, Florida State, South Florida and Wichita State are in the picture, he said.
Georgia Stars point guard Jordan Callahan, a class of 2008 prospect, has some big decisions to make. He is a fully qualified player coming off a great senior campaign. He also has the likes of UAB, Mercer, Wichita State, South Carolina, Stetson, Lipscomb and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in pursuit. But he also is considering a year at a prep school. Callahan has options and it's always good to have options.
News & Notes
Devin Booker of the Carolina Celtics and Adrian Coleman and Terrell Barnes of the Georgia Stars all have something in common. Each has a brother that made it to the big dance. Booker is the younger brother of Clemson forward Trevor Booker. Coleman's brother, DeAndre, is a forward for South Alabama and Barnes is the younger brother of Georgia freshman forward Chris Barnes.