Just A Minute With Justin Young
On A Country Road
RivalsHoops hit the pavement (and dirt roads) this week as we traveled to rural Dayton, Tennessee for the NACA National Championship. While there, we saw some new faces and some names to keep up with over the spring and summer.
Central Park Christian from Birmingham, Alabama didn’t have the star power they’ve had in the past like James Lang or Rod Grizzard but they do boast two promising juniors.
6-foot-7 junior wing David Garrison is an athletic player than can put it on the floor and can attack the basket for points. He does a good job of defending on the wing and battles hard inside for rebounds. Garrison has the body and skills to become a solid mid-major plus small forward at the next level. The Louisiana native will play for the New Orleans Jazz this summer.
Joining Harrison is slender 6-foot-11 junior center/forward Jonathan Huffman. He didn’t get a lot of minutes off the bench, playing behind 7-foot Tomas Janusaskas but when Huffman did play, he had his strong moments. He can put it on the floor and is athletic enough to attack the basket from the wing but because he is so thin, Huffman gets tossed around inside. The junior said he’d play for the Alabama Lasers and Alabama Challenge this AAU season.
Never heard of Southern Maryland Christian Academy? You will soon. The Mustangs have a big lineup and several intriguing players on their roster. Underclassmen Jimmy Conyers (2005), Jack Liles (2005) and Hillary Haley (2006) are joined by unsigned seniors Robert Pressley (6-foot-8) and guard Rashad Mintz.
Liles is a 6-foot-8 bruiser inside that can block a lot of shots and fights hard for rebounds. He introduced himself to the court with some thundering dunks thanks to some nifty footwork. Conyers is a 6-foot-5 wing that can absolutely jump out of the gym. He’s a decent shooter and has the wingspan to cover a lot of ground on defense. Haley, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, can play multiple positions from the two spot to the interior. The young trio will play for the Southern Regional Explosion on the AAU season.
Like the aforementioned schools, Montrose Christian had a nice blend of youth and experience. Sophomore point guard Taishi Ito controls the pace of the game extremely well even with a pressing defense pestering him all game. He doesn’t force the issue and knows how to and when to find the hot hand.
The hot hand belonged to both junior guard K.J. Matsui and senior guard Tom Hammonds. Matsui has a text book shot but doesn’t get very high on his jumper while Hammonds has really improved as an outside shooter since the summer and he’s hearing from the likes of St. Joseph’s and Colorado State.
In the Division II bracket, all of the talk was surrounding Florida Shores Academy point guard Cliff Clinkscales. And it’s about time. We’ve been high on the New York point guard since this summer when he teamed up with the Atlanta Celtics. Now high majors like Clemson, Louisville and Maryland are watching him closely. The biggest issue with Clinkscales is his grades. If ball wizard/passer qualifies, he’ll be a nice late addition for a school.
Hey Now, You’re An All Star
All of the post-season all-star game rosters have been finalized and with that, we have clues about what players are going to test the NBA draft waters. Why? The NCAA allows prep players to participate in only two all-star games. So when Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Sebastian Telfair and Robert Swift all accepted invitations to the McDonald’s All American game, EA Sports Roundball Classic and the adidas Superstars Classic they all but announced their decision to go pro.
Also in NBA draft news, sources have indicated that Al Jefferson may be coming close to announcing his decision to enter the draft in the next couple of weeks. While the questions surrounding Jefferson’s size still remain present with the NBA scouts, the production of the No. 6 player on the Rivals150 cannot be disputed. He’s dominated the state of Mississippi and was one of the most dominating players on the AAU circuit last summer.