If you took one look at A.J. Stewart last year you kind of had the feeling he was on the verge of being one of the really good ones in the class of 2007. But after a quiet summer, the 6-foot-7 forward from Jacksonville, Fla.'s prestigious Arlington Country Day is ready to show that he is more than a guy with a great upside on Saturday at the Marshall County Hoopfest.
Playing alongside guys like Josue Soto and Jason Bennett, Stewart knew he'd be counted on for production both inside and out. The No. 77 ranked player in the class of 2007 had his chance to open some eyes against Wayne Chism, a four-star Tennessee prospect.
"I played him at the ABCD camp and he kicked my butt," Stewart said. "I think I played better today."
The 6-foot-7, 180-pound Stewart did indeed. He scored 13 points and pulled down 12 boards in a thrilling 64-62 win against Chism and his Bolivar squad. Stewart utilized his high-level athleticism for a number of thundering dunks and showed flashes of being more than just an athlete.
The high-majors are making it a point to see the ever-improving prospect. Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Syracuse have all been in to see Stewart this season, he said. A trio of SEC teams were on hand for the game on Saturday. Assistants from Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee all saw him.
"I don't know where everybody came from. It seems like they all came at once after the summer," Stewart said.
Plenty more will certainly follow. Stewart said he's holding offers from Alabama, Clemson Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Miami and Wake Forest.
Stewart knows he can't be a flash in the pan.
"Coach told me before the season that I needed to step up more because I'll be a starter this year," Stewart said. "He told me that I've got the green light and that I should take the shot if I have it."
If he keeps playing the way he played at the Marshall County Hoopsfest, the green light may be on for a while.