AKRON, OH -- The majority of action is still being bottled up at the King James Shooting Stars Classic as the tournament tipped off on Friday night. There were a few games of note to take in as the action begins the gradual climb up the intensity level.
There was a collective brushing the dust off of all of the team's games on Friday night at the University of Akron. None of the games had much flow or consistency as the majority of teams were still trying to overcome the travel to the tournament. At least that's the reasoning that most teams gave to a so-so night of hoops.
The Florida Rams were riding high against the Pittsburgh Storm and looked like they were in the driver's seat all the way until the final buzzer thanks to the play of Louisville bound forward Rakeem Buckles.
Then came the second half and the turnovers and missed buckets at the rim. The game came within eight points and almost slipped through the Rams' hands. It wasn't great for either team, Buckles would admit that much after the game.
Nevertheless, a win is a win. Buckles showed some intriguing things in the victory. He looked much more fluid than he did during the high school season. A majority of his buckets came by attacking the basket with the dribble from the wing. In high school, most of his best work came as a pure block forward.
Buckles found an area to attack against the Storm as he constantly challenged Zeke Marshall, a 7-footer. Buckles attacked the big man from the perimeter and had relative success.
Marshall isn't one to look past either. He was beaten by Buckles several times with the dribble drive but he also showed some flash on the offensive end. He scored on three straight possessions by playing up to his size and length. Marshall scored with some one-handers in the paint and was good on the pick and pop on the baseline. He blocked two shots in that span and ran the floor for the reward.
Marshall's game is a flash here and a flash there. The finish product is not in the near future and that is part of the intrigue with the big man. He lacks great strength but there is something about his game that will have the high-majors following him around this weekend.
BIG TEN PREVIEW
The Illinois Wolves-The Family match-up was about as good as you'll get for a preview of what's to come in the Big Ten. There were a number of prospects in the match-up that are already committed to schools within the conference and the 58-41 grind-it-out, defense-first, half-court game was a carbon copy of some match-ups played this season at the college level.
Pretty is definitely not a way to describe the Wolves' 58-41 win. Pretty doesn't matter though. The Wolves put the clamps down in the second half after going into the break up by a point. There was a 10-minute stretch where The Family scored just one bucket.
There were four Big Ten commitments in the game (Diamond Taylor, Wisconsin; Joseph Bertrand, Illinois; Derrick Nix, Michigan State; Alex Marcotullio, Northwestern) and a number of targets for schools within the conference.
Taylor did a fine job of breaking his man down with the dribble and shining as a passer. He worked hard to find Derrick Tartt, a 6-foot-3 prep school bound senior. Tartt had the hot hand in the second half, scoring double digit points in the second half blowout.
He's a good transition guard with a knack for making the pass or cut when it is needed. He said he's off to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. He'll take interest from George Mason, Toledo, Virginia, Ball State and Wyoming with him.
Also making a splash was Dyricus Sims-Edwards. The 6-foot-1 guard advanced the ball against a bigger and slower team very well and found a hole to exploit. He played fast but never seemed rushed. The point guard is an athletic rebounder, good passer and a strong ball-handler. He was one of the best eye-catchers of the night with his simplistic, yet effective, play in the backcourt.
Sims-Edwards said he has offers from Southern Illinois, Wichita State, Illinois State while Saint Louis, Penn State and Bradley have shown interest.
The Family struggled to find much consistency from it's team. Coming off a commitment to Michigan State, Nix showed some nice moves in the post but struggled to finish time and time again at the rim.
DaShonte Riley had one great move with a spin to the middle of the lane off a pivot and scored with a face up jumper. Other than that, he was quiet from a scoring standpoint. He and fellow big man Donnovan Kirk worked well with the high-low offense in the first half. Riley's length played a factor, too. He was still far from doing what he's capable of though.
NOTES FROM THE NOTEPAD
The Florida Rams have a point guard prospect to watch this weekend in Ramon Galloway. The thin 6-foot-3 guard will find his teammates. Sometimes flashy, sometimes straight-forward. He knows what he's doing in the half court and got into the lane with little trouble. It was a sloppy game but Galloway had his moments.
Galloway's list consists of Southern Cal, South Carolina, Connecticut (all of whom were in to see him this week), Memphis, Louisville, Florida, Pitt and others.
Galloway's teammate Altavious Carter gave a list that consisted schools from all levels. South Carolina, Florida State, Virginia Tech, South Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, NC State, Kansas State, Winthrop and others.
Full Package center Kyle Rowley is one of the biggest prospects in the entire tournament field. The 7-footer from Chicago and his club went to overtime to pick up a hard earned victory against the King James Shooting Stars. Rowley said he has offers from Southern Illinois, Baylor, Pitt, Marquette (old staff), Wisconsin, DePaul, Indiana and Davidson while Georgetown, Purdue, Stanford and Santa Clara are interested, too.
Memphis guard Derrick Rose was in the building on Friday night as a bench coach for a lack of a better team for the Chicago Express. Rose was outstanding at the King James event two years ago.
Speaking of Memphis, the Tigers are hosting four-star wing Wesley Witherspoon this weekend for an official visit. The 6-foot-8 senior will announce his decision on May 1 at his school.