HAMPTON, Va. -- And off we go. The games tipped off on Friday night at the The sparkling new Boo Williams Sportsplex, officially starting the grassroots season off. A pair of youngsters started the night off with a bang.
MCKIE, LAMB HIGHLIGHT OPENING NIGHT
With the start of the travel basketball season, all eyes were focused towards the class of 2009 but it was the play of a pair of 2010 prospects that stood out the most on Friday night.
Richmond, Va., native Travis McKie gave the locals something to cheer about with his stellar play in the opening game. The 6-foot-6 combo forward led the way for the Boo Williams 16 and under team to the tune of 31 impressive points in a track meet against Team Georgia Elite.
McKie, who plays at John Marshall High School, looked a lot like last year's Boo Williams' star Ed Davis. McKie, a class of 2010 prospect, was quick to point out that the wing is his natural position, not the power forward spot where he was at on Friday night.
If there was a play to be made, McKie made one. He was great at grabbing the rebound, starting the break and running the floor. He scored from the wing with a three, on a face-up jumper from the elbow and at the rim when he was in the post.
As far as a first impression goes, McKie gave a great one on opening night.
In what was probably the match-up of the night in the 17 and under division, the Carolina Ravens squared off against the New York Gauchos. The match-up met the expectations.
Perhaps no one was more impressive in the game than class of 2010 prospect Doron Lamb. The Bishop Loughlin star stepped up in the spotlight to the tune of 29 points.
In a fast paced game, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard was steady and controlled. He shot a very impressive 13 of 18 from the floor and never seemed rattled. Lamb doesn't force the issue and plays with the trademark Gaucho hustle. Shot selection might be his best strength. He knows where he is effective and in this game, the youngster had it rolling in the mid-range game.
Clearly a high-major prospect, Lamb has the tools of being one of the true elite guards in the 2010 class. He works like a seasoned vet.
There isn't a better place to officially put your name on the national map than this event. The stage is big, the eyes are watching and the opportunity is ripe for the taking. A few players took full advantage of what was at stake.
The Mean Streets club always has a roster of players that play with emotion, hustle and true Chicago grit. This year's guy is D.J. Cooper. The 5-foot-9 Hale Franciscan floor general helped his club overcome a 14-point early deficit and rallied back against the Houston Hoops. The game traded blows and went down to the wire.
Although his team didn't pull off the victory, Cooper scored a game high 21 points and handed out roughly a half dozen assists. Cooper challenged defenders all the way to the rim and was effective with both hands at the rim. Defensively, did a fine job against a pair of talented guards for the hoops in Tommy Mason-Griffin and Jamaal Fenton. Put Cooper on the must-get list for the NCAA tournament mid-major clubs.
It is always interesting to see the under-the-radar big men get after it on the opening weekend and Houston Hoops post Augustine Rubit was a player of interest on Friday.
The 6-foot-7, 220-pound big man was the top performer for the Hoops, scoring 17 points and grabbed roughly double-digit rebounds. He's a load in the paint and understands positioning and his natural brute strength to overcome for his average athleticism.
Keep an eye out for Alabama Challenge big man Wendell Lewis. The bouncy 6-foot-8 forward from Selma (Ala.) has a high-major body with some high-major bounce. He didn't put up eye-popping numbers but he has the tools of becoming a fine SEC-like power forward.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
McKie wasn't the only star on the floor in the Boo Williams-Team Georgia Elite 16 and under clash. In fact, there were roughly 10 Division I prospects in the game.
Boo Williams relied on the quick scoring from guard Dimitri Batten, a 6-foot-4 class of 2011 prospect, to crack the lead open in the track meet. He's good with the ball in his hands and showed flashes of point guard skill to go along with his pull-up jumper and fiery competitiveness. Keep an eye on him.
Doing the dirty work throughout was Dadrian Collins, a young class of 2009 prospect from Woodside High School. The 6-foot-5 junkyard dog scored on put backs, went after the loose balls and did some good things inside and out. His 19 points and estimated 14 rebounds were important in the win.
Team Georgia Elite has prospects on the roster. There is no debating that. Perhaps the top overall prospect is DaMarcus Harrison, a 6-foot-4 wing from Greenwood, S.C.
He drips big time potential with his ideal wing frame that is chalked full of athleticism. Perhaps his best trait is his rebounding ability and pull-up jumper from the wing. He's a sure fire high-major prospect.
Leading the way for Team Georgia Elite in scoring in this game was Eric Smith, a bull tough scoring point guard. He powered his way to the rim any time he wanted to. The high-volume shooter tried to keep his team in it with some big threes but the home team was just too deep and big to hold off. There wasn't any denying his impact on the game his production. Smith is a player.
Coming off an impressive weekend of work in March at the Carolina Challenge, North Carolina native Mychal Parker was with Team Georgia Elite and had his moments but certainly didnâ€™t look like the player that he is.
Parker is a player, though. Don't be fooled. The 6-foot-5 wing played out of position inside the paint and had the assignment of guard McKie. Parker is a high-major prospect though. He'll show it this weekend. Bank on that.
SCHOOL LIST CENTRAL
McKie said he has early interest from North Carolina, Maryland, Georgetown, Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia Tech (offer), Georgia Tech and Boston College. He's clearly an ACC-Big East type of player. Expect his offer sheet to grow substantially this spring.
Lamb said Louisville, Georgia Tech, St. John's, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Connecticut, Syracuse, Georgetown and Auburn make up his early list.
Few players were effected by the LSU coaching change more in the 2009 class than Keith Gallon of the Houston Hoops. The Oak Hill big man said he was close to committing to the Tigers but decided to look at all of his other options when the coaching change occurred in mid-season. Now, he says, his list is comprised of Ole Miss, Southern Cal and Baylor while Oklahoma, Arizona, Florida and Oregon.
Cooper, the Mean Streets star, said Bradley, Dayton, Valparaiso and Kansas State are on him early.
Rubit, one of the top sleepers from Friday night, said he has offers from Tulane, South Alabama and Stephen F. Austin while Marquette, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Houston and Baylor are showing interest.
Baskin, who had a strong performance against the South Carolina Ravens for the New York Gauchos, said he has offers from UMass, Xavier, Rutgers, St. John's and Seton Hall.
Fellow New York Gaucho Durand Scott said Memphis, Connecticut, Xavier, St. John's, Miami, Virginia, West Virginia, Arizona and most recently Wake Forest are heavily pursuing him.
Keep an eye out for Gaucho big man Dan Jennings. For starters, his body is bigger, stronger and leaner. He has more bounce these days and understands his position even more than last year. Jennings rattled off a list of Louisville, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Xavier, St. John's, West Virginia and South Florida.
J.T. Terrell, one of the fine young players for the Carolina Ravens, said Wake Forest, Miami, Virginia and UNC Charlotte have offered already while Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Kentucky are also interested. Terrell has a Wayne Ellington quality to his game.
Batten, one of the top guards for the Boo Williams 16 and under team, said he is hearing from Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Clemson and Old Dominion.
Harrison, one of the top prospects for Team Georgia Elite, said the Clemson and South Carolina are looking at him hard. New Gamecock head coach Darrin Horn has already stopped by his school to start the process. Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and others are also in the mix.
Lewis, the sleeping big man for the Alabama Challenge, has had coaches from Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Arkansas pop in to see him during the high school season.
NOTES FROM THE NOTEPAD
* Tevin Baskin from the New York Gauchos looks great physically and played with great aggression against Karron Johnson.
* D.C. Blue Devils guard Dominic Milburn deserves a second look. The 6-foot-3 guard from Montrose Christian (Md.) was the shot maker against the Alabama Challenge. He hit four three-pointers and a went for a team high 16 points.
* Carolina Ravens big man Ryan Kelly was impressive against the Gauchos. He's a tough player defend simply because he'll just out-smart you. Great passer for a big man, too.
* Caught a peek at the Georgia Stars-Team Melo match-up. A lot of talented big men in this one. The Stars has a fire and ice combo down low in Tennessee bound Kenny Hall and Kammeon Holsey. Hall is an athletic intimidator while Holsey is a skilled forward that glues the team together. Team Melo was paced by Dante Taylor, who looks as good as any power forward in the nation, and Andrew Fitzgerald. Taylor has "it" and will certainly make his mark here in Hampton this weekend.