ROSWELL, Ga. - Thursday night, the Hoops in Overdrive event got started on the campus of Roswell (Ga.) Centennial High School in the Atlanta suburbs. While Friday's action will be headlined by a rematch of Winter Park (Fla.) High and the nation's No. 1 player, Austin Rivers, and stacked Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton who won last week's meeting at the City of Palms, Thursday's action was highlighted by a meeting of future SEC foes.
As it turned out, neither Tennessee-bound Kevin Ware or Georgia-bound Kentavious Caldwell disappointed as assistant coaches from each program looked on.
Thursday's top performers
Kevin Ware, SG/PG, Rockdale- A superb body-control athlete with a great first step, lateral quickness and tremendous bounce, the 6-foot-4 combo guard actually got off to a rough start. He had some silly turnovers and just seemed rushed. However, he canned a running 30-footer at the first half buzzer while getting fouled and it changed everything. During the second half he was under control, found teammates for easy buckets and scored whenever needed.
Because of his first step and size, he can get the ball into the paint or between five and 12 feet of the rim whenever he wants to. As he develops his pull-up game and gets more consistent with floaters and short jumpers he will be a load for anybody to guard. Defensively he's got vast potential and should excel in Tennessee's press. We had him for 17 points and seven assists in a really nice outing.
Kentavious Caldwell, SG, Greenville- The 6-foot-5 shooting guard's team plays with tremendous effort and they are very athletic. But, they don't run a lot of sets and rely a lot on whoever gets the ball across half court putting up a shot while the other four guys go and chase the ball if the shot is missed. More often than not, it's Caldwell who takes the shot and he finished with 35 points on 15-31 shooting from the floor.
Because of the rushed style of play, many of his shots are taken with poor balance and hurried. But it's what he needs to do because his team just doesn't have many other scorers. Caldwell is already known as an impressive jump shooter with range and that still rings true. But, what was impressive is how well he's developed his game off of the dribble and how hard he attacks the bucket. He crashed the glass, and played with great energy and a sense of urgency as well. The main thing that could hold him up when transitioning to college is that he's very skinny and has to add a lot of strength because he's already getting bumped all over on the high school level. Regardless, this is a kid who deserves a spot in the McDonald's All-American game.
Craig Sword, SG, Carver- It wasn't the most impressive of starts for the 6-foot-2 combo guard as he looked sluggish and not at all into the game early. Turns out, he and his team had played two games on Wednesday and bussed in until four in the morning to make their Thursday tip so there was good reason to be sluggish. During the second half, though, the four-star junior sprung to life swishing back-to-back threes, driving for a dunk, making a pull-up jumper and getting to the rim with ease while scoring 23 of his 27 points in a 10 minute or so flurry of action. He's an instinctive player with fast-twitch athleticism and as good a first step as there is in the class of 2012. He listed Mississippi State, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky as interested parties.
More Thursday notables
Roquez Johnson, PF, Carver- An unsigned senior post player, Johnson gets a lot out of his 6-foot-6 frame. He's got lean strength, a great set of hands and is a quick leaper who tracks loose balls in and out of his area. On offense, he attacks the rim and has a nose for getting to the glass. Looks to be a potential spring pickup for a mid-major in need of an energy guy.
Justin Tuoyo, C/PF, Lovejoy- It's a shame that high school refs don't often let young big guys grind it out or play with aggression on the glass. Because of some ticky-tack fouls, the 6-foot-8 center never really got going. Still, it's easy to see that he's a high level rebounder and a shot rejector who is happy to board and play defense and get his offense where he can. Tuoyo listed offers from Virginia Tech, VCU, Alabama, Georgia and Virginia.
Darion Clark, PF, Rockdale- A member of a loaded Atlanta Celtics 2012 group that features several ranked players, the rugged and athletic 6-foot-6 power forward may have been overlooked a bit during the summer. Wednesday, he was a stud in the lane scoring on aggressive takes to the hoop, strong post moves and even a few short jumpers. He rebounds, runs and plays with great energy on both ends of the floor. Apparently, he's not too shabby at the game of football either.
Final Thursday notes from Hoops in Overdrive
Montgomery (Ala.) Carver sophomore wing Jeremy Johnson looks like he has potential on the basketball floor. However, it's not likely that he'll wear high tops in college. The 6-foot-5 small forward is a potential big-time football recruit as a quarterback/athlete. … Lovejoy (Ga.) High features several athletic and aggressive players. When star junior Justin Tuoyo was sidelined with two quick fouls, 6-foot-5 senior power forward Justin Green stepped up big. He was an athletic presence in the lane and on the glass and did a nice job of scoring on the interior. … Moorhead State is getting themselves a high level athlete in 6-foot-4 wing Will Bailey. A bit of a wild man, Bailey has a high running motor and he's all over the floor looking to make plays. At times, he relies on his athleticism a little too much but he's a guy who should end up making a pretty significant impact before his college career is over. …
One of the hottest shooting guard names in the country is Bernard Thompson. A 6-foot-3 senior at Conyers (Ga.) Rockdale County, Thompson is in the midst of a big final campaign. He's got good athleticism, a fine looking stroke and can bury jumpers off of the dribble … Finally, Montgomery (Ala.) Carver needed somebody to carry the load offensively early and 6-foot-2 point guard Ron Smith did a fine job. A good looking point guard prospect with size and confidence, he scored on drives to the rim, found teammates and even buried a few threes before being sidelined with a wrist injury. Technically, he's a senior but will be heading the prep route and is being listed as a member of the class of 2012. … Among the programs we saw represented in the building by assistant coaches were Tennessee, Georgia, UAB, Alabama, Winthrop, Charleston, Nebraska, Murray State and Winthrop. The lone head coach we spotted was hard working Georgia Southern boss Charlton Young.