One of the best things about AAU tournaments is finding new names for the national scene. At the Boo Williams Invitational, the five-star guys lived up to their reputations but there was also a handful of guys that aren't ranked that stood out and caught the eye of Rivals.com.
The Boo Williams Summer League roster is stacked. There is no secret about that. In fact, the team's depth was one of the prime reasons why the host team claimed the tournament championship. With a number of guys on the team's roster that have a big national rep, the Hampton Roads based team had a couple of guys that shined all weekend long.
Any conversation regarding breakout guys should start with Duke Crews. The 6-foot-7 power forward from Bethel High School here in Hampton is a non-stop motor guy with big hops and incredible athleticism. He took the spotlight away from the Vernon Macklin-Brandan Wright match-up because he literally jumped over both of them for soaring dunks and rebounds.
Over the next two weeks when coaches can get out and evaluate players, many will say "Oh, he's too small to play inside" or "We want a guy that's at least 6-8". Throw those out with Crews. Think 2005 Connecticut recruit Jeff Adrien. Crews gets it done inside the paint and just skies for boards. He even saddled up on 7-footer Mike Williams of the D.C. Blue Devils for a thundering dunk. Crews started the 2005 AAU season strong.
Crews' AAU teammate Lewis Witcher shouldn't be too much of a secret after this weekend either. The 6-foot-8 power forward is a long big man that knows his role with BWSL and that's rebounding the basketball and scoring on the blocks.
Playing alongside Macklin and Crews, Witcher is the steady force that does the dirty work that sometimes goes unnoticed. We didn't. He's got a nice skill set to build upon. There wasn't a better offensive rebounder here at the event. He's got a body that should compete well in the ACC or Big East. Witcher said he's already hearing from Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Maryland, Richmond and West Virginia.
The class of 2006 is big man heavy at the top and at the Boo Williams event, the bigs certainly shined. With the impending 20 year age limit regarding the NBA draft, the elites may or may not be coming to the NCAA in a couple of years. That being said, there are still a number of post players that can help out at the college level.
It's hard to call Sherron Collins a sleeper but because Rivals.com never had a chance to see the Chicago Crane HS product last year, we never ranked him. We will now. Trust us. He put on a show at the Boo Williams.
Crane High School coach Anthony Longstreet said Collins is the best player he's ever coached. And he's coached his fair share of elite guys. Look at Will Bynum and Tony Allen.
Collins is blink and you'll miss him quick. He's try and guard me and I'll cross you over confident. He's send four guys at me in the paint and I'll get an and one strong. He's a little ball of energy. The 5-foot-11 floor general was a scoring, passing and defensive machine and lived up to the hype he had in Chicago. Collins is every bit of a high-major and should be one of the most recruited guys on the circuit this summer. It's going to be fun to watch this shake out.
One of those guys is Brian Carlwell, a mammoth of a player in the class of 2006. He had his strong moments with the Ferrari Youth Players. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound big man from Proviso East High School in Maywood, Ill., has a chance to be one special big man. It's not going to happen overnight but his best days are certainly ahead of him.
Like 2005 McDonald's All-American Andrew Bynum, Carwell isn't going to wow people in the spring. However, the shell of a very effective big man is there. Carwell is a huge target inside for Ferrari point guard Jerome Randle, who also had his strong moments this weekend. When Carwell rolled after setting picks, he caught the pass with his soft hands and threw down an easy two-point score. The skills are there. It's just a matter of time before he comes full circle.
California Elite coaches Dave Miller and Ollie Goulston both said "Nobody, and we mean, nobody knows about Matt Lagrone." They are right. And Lagrone will say the same thing.
"I haven't heard from any colleges," he said after having 21 points and 14 rebounds against a big frontline of the Houston Hoops. "I'm hoping to this summer."
Oh, they will. The 6-foot-9, 200-pound power forward plays at a 40-student school in San Diego called H-town Christian but he doesn't play like a kid from a small school. Maybe it's just not knowing any better. Whatever it was or is, Lagrone should be a guy that plays himself into the spotlight. Pac-10 schools better get in early.
Shane Walker, a 6-foot-9 forward from the class of 2007, has the body of a guy that high-majors go for. He's long, muscular and gets up and down the floor like a guard. The Bishop Ireton (Alexandria, Va.) product said he's already hearing from Maryland, Illinois and Michigan State. Walker plays for the D.C. Blue Devils.
Against the Portland Legends, Walker threw his body around at Kevin Love and stood an inch or two over the Oregon big man. Athletically, Walker is better than most guys his size. He's a strong rebounded and on the offensive end he didn't show too much because of the success of Kevin Durant, his blockmate inside who was doing a little bit of everything.
There was not a lot of talking going on during the long nine-hour drive back the metro Atlanta area on Sunday for the Georgia Stars. The 2004 champions did not have the showing they wanted by going 2-2 in the event. However, there was a couple of bright spots. James Florence, a 6-foot-1 point guard, played strong in the opening games for the Stars.
Florence is a strong bodied point that can score in the lane but also run the show and makes the right passes. He has a great jumper and goes to it often. Because of the lack of success for the Stars, Florence didn't have a chance to get into the spotlight like wanted but the Wheeler HS product should have his chance in two weeks at the Kingwood Classic.
Friends of Hoop of Seattle enjoyed the sharp-shooting touch of Ryan Anderson this weekend. The 6-foot-5 perimeter threat from Ranier Beach High School has a beautiful stroke from deep. He squares up perfectly and has a great looking high-arching shot.
Best of all, Anderson said he scored a 1300 on the PSAT. The class of 2006 prospect rattled off a short school list including Gonzaga, Oregon and Old Dominion.
Valparaiso has a big-timer coming to them. John Deibler, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Upper Sandusky High School is a shooting machine. In the one game we saw him, he lit it up with six of nine three-pointers. The class of 2007 prospect has text book form and knows how to create for himself and light it up. He has high-major talent. No doubt about that. Homer Drew has himself a program foundation player in this youngster.
Rivals.com will have a look at those ranked players that shined and a look at those that didn't bring their 'A' game to Hampton. Stay logged on for more from the AAU's first premiere event.