ORLANDO, FL - With the AAU Nationals winding down and the college coaches closing the long July evaluation period, we took some time to watch some players that don't normally get a lot of ink on the national circuit.
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For some reason, Scotty Hopson doesn't get a lot of chatter in the class of 2008. He should. The 6-foot-5, 185-pound wing from University Heights Academy in Hopkinsville, Ky., is big time. Hopson is a definite five-star candidate from the rising junior class. He's a prototypical wing player with world class versatility.
Maybe it's because he is tucked away in Kentucky. Maybe it's because he wasn't invited to a shoe camp (big mistake). Maybe it's because he has played on the 16 and under circuit all summer. Whatever the reason, Hopson doesn't see his name in ink very often. Know this much: Hopson is the real deal.
Billy Donovan, Tubby Smith, Thad Matta and assistants from Indiana and Clemson all watched him closely on Monday night.
Hopson's teammate, Latavious Williams, is a prospect to know in 2008, too. He's 6-foot-8, built like a hoss, plays like a hoss and will probably be recruited by the hosses, a.k.a. the SEC. Williams, a Starkville, Miss., native is only going to get better. He put his name on the map and, more importantly, on the radars of several SEC schools.
Demontez Stitt will return to his Charlotte area home and find a number of new schools recruiting him since playing in Orlando. The 6-foot-2 floor general for the Charlotte Nets was a must see guy for teams looking for a point guard. On Sunday, the class of 2007 point guard had Oliver Purnell, Skip Prosser and an assistant from Charlotte watching him play. He's efficient and not flashy and guy that makes plays at the rim. Stitt's recruitment begs watching.
Charles Corbin may not be a guy that people know too much about with the Georgia Stars. Playing alongside Jeremy Price, who has been very good here in Orlando this week, and Gani Lawal, Corbin has had to pick his spots this summer.
On Monday, the 6-foot-7 forward from Griffin (Ga.) High School was the man for the Georgia Stars. Here is what he is: an athletic big man that runs well, rebounds, blocks shots and loves to face up to the basket. Here is what he is in recruiting: a great name for the mid-majors to follow in the winter. Corbin said he is hearing from Marshall, Temple, Liberty, St. Bonaventure, Arkansas and others.
Take notice of David Loubeau, a 6-foot-7 forward from GC United (Fla.) AAU. He's a blue collar guy that does the dirty work. Moreover, he produces. Right now, Loubeau is a mid-major kid but keep notice of him. People said the same things about Patrick Patterson last year. What happened with him again?
If it is possible to be an ACC commitment and be an under the radar guy, Augustus Gilchrist has succeeded. Guess what, he's not bad. The 6-foot-10 big man had a dandy week in the land of Mickey Mouse with the Maryland Madness. He's played well each and every time out and should be considered one of the top sleepers coming into the ACC next year.
The Albany City Rocks has caught onto the spirit of Disney while in Orlando. They've come from huge deficits in the tournament play. Deficits so big that everyone had already written in pen the team they were playing to move on to the next round on their printed brackets. Whoops.
The reason is the team's stellar guard play.
Dï¿½jï¿½ vu: Talor Battle will have a great career at Penn State. You've read that before haven't you? Battle lives up to his name. Everything is earned with him. He willed his team to victories in Orlando and he's doing it against teams that had them against the ropes. Fearless? You betcha. Gutty? No doubt. His 26 points against the Jacksonville Lee Bulls were as pretty as they come.
Jimmer Fredette has caught on to the fun, too. The muscular 6-foot-4 guard is the AAU National's version of J.J. Redick. Only bigger and stronger. He's dialing it in from deep. Rarely has he missed when the game is on the line. Fredette put in 23 points against the Lee Bulls.
Jacksonville's Dante Anderson scored 22 points in the loss and continues to earn admirers along the way. He's proving to be one of the top 2008 guards in the Southeast and making it hard to make non-believers.
GOOD 'OLE GRUDGE MATCH
In the best match-up of perhaps the entire tournament, the loaded Boo Williams Summer League team took on the fan favorite Nike Team Florida. It was a battle right down to the final shot of the game.
It was back and forth throughout and playing in front of a large crowd, a rarity at the Nationals, the two teams made it worth the time spent. Boo Williams watched a last second shot from Team Florida hit front rim with less than three seconds to play to claim the 72-71 victory.
Point guard Chris Wright led the way with 24 points for Boo Williams. He was money with the mid range pull up jumper and used his trademark speed to get to the rim at will for buckets. It was Wright's best game and he made an all out effort to claim the victory.
Big man Patrick Patterson was the anchor as usual on the blocks. Team Florida didn't have an answer for him. Who does these days really? With his usual coaching crowd of Roy Williams, Skip Prosser, Billy Donovan, Tubby Smith, etc, etc, etc, watching, Patterson gave a valiant effort on both ends of the floor. He's such a different player than he was at this time of the game last year and he's justified the country wide interest.
The pro-Florida crowd sat on the edge of their seats with every move of Nick Calathes. Rightfully so. He was brilliant, as usual, in the defeat. Calathes scored 34 and his good looking three point attempt with the clock winding down looked good, bringing everyone to their feet, missed and thus ended the excitement. Nevertheless, Calathes did all he could do. You couldn't, and wouldn't, expect anything less.
By the way, not a bad game for a guy that started his first day of his senior year on Monday.
Chandler Parsons has been the man here in Orlando. But against Boo Williams he had some men defending him and made his job harder than it has been all summer. Oklahoma bound wing Chris Early put his strong body on him and stuck to him like a pesky fly that resides down here in the swamp land.
Parsons only mustered up 11 points and rarely had a chance to spot up on the wing to get buckets. As good as he has been offensively, his weakness is still the same: can he open himself up against bigger, stronger and more athletic players?