The AAU season has started. The 18th annual Southern Shootout at Georgia State University in the heart of Atlanta had a handful of talented players from Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina in the field. Guys like Demetrius Jemison showed off their versatility while youngsters like Keegan Bell proved that they are some of the nation's elite. Come inside the Ultimate Ticket for the full update from the event.
A lot of eyes keyed on Javaris Crittenton at Southwest Atlanta Christian this year and rightfully so. When the point guard graduates next year, SACA will have yet another young player to lean on. James Hickson, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward is next in line at the small Atlanta private school.
Hickson was one of the top big men at the tournament. The class of 2007 big man is aggressive in the paint and loves to mix it up with anyone that is willing to throw a body at him. On the defensive end, he isn't afraid to attempt to block every shot that comes his way. Still working on timing and patience, Hickson should have no problem working on the small things in the post to become a great defender.
On the offensive side of things, Hickson tries to find a body to bang on and goes right to work with his back to the basket. He's a power player that tries to dunk on anything under the rim. Hickson said he's hearing from Auburn, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Georgetown and Virginia Tech.
B.J. Corley manned the other block across from Hickson with the Worldwide Renegades. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound forward from Wheeler High School had a great junior campaign with the Marietta, Ga., national power. He can man the paint but also showed that he can step out and shoot home the midrange shot and long range bomb.
Chris Singletary flew in from Chicago to play with the Worldwide Renegades for the weekend and the Farragut Academy product didn't disappoint. The thick-chested guard brought a toughness to the event. He literally bulled over defenders with a strong dribble drive and he used the glass well.
His no nonsense attitude transferred to the defensive end of the floor. If Singletary develops a consistent jump shot, then he'll have a good choice of schools to chose from.
Kansas State has a big time athlete in Community Christian (Ga.) guard Carlos Morias. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound shooting guard from Angola runs the floor and when he leaves the hardwood in transition, good things usually happen. His high-arching shot was on as he sunk home a handful of long bombs.
Olu Ashalou is the truest definition of a gym rat. He was constantly changing jerseys, playing for the three different Team Georgia/Community Christian teams over the weekend. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound small forward from the class of 2008 is always moving. He has huge strides and go-to power move to the basket and uses his long arms to reverse under the basket for a dunk.
Ashalou is mature beyond his years and plays the leader role with his older teammates. Watching him play, it doesn't seem right he is so young.
Solomon Tat had his moments that Southern Shootout. He enjoyed the addition of Morias in high school, allowing Tat to play the point guard spot at times in the regular season. That transition has moved to the summer. He's going to be a guy that determines what level of schools turn up the heat with his recruitment this summer. He has a high-major physique. Now it's matching the game with it.
At 6-foot-6, 225-pounds, Demetrius Jemison was one of the top big men last year at the adidas Superstar camp in Atlanta. The undersized power forward from Huffman High School in Birmingham, Ala., was doing his best to show people that he can play the small forward position with the Birmingham Raptors. Jemison was knocking down the three ball all weekend and attacked the basket with the dribble.
The Raptors didn't have the showing they wanted in Atlanta. Having Jemison's brute force, toughness and brute force inside was needed. That being said, his ability to play more on the wing was impressive for his college prospects. Jemison said he's hearing from Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Maryland and Wake Forest amongst others.
Cordell Pope was automatic from the wing with his silkly smooth jumper. The skinny 6-foot-5, 170-pound shooting guard from Parker High School in Birmingham is a good spot up shooter and has good range. However, he isn't strong enough to power by defenders with the dribble. Pope is getting looked at by a number of schools including Cincinnati, Connecticut and Georgetown, he said.
Leading the way for the Raptors was Taraus Dortch, a busy-body point guard. The 6-foot-5, 170-pound floor general from Ramsey High School is an active player that can score and lead the offense. He was aggressive with the ball en route to the basket. Physically, the No. 131 ranked junior in the country is claiming offers from Alabama, UAB, Auburn and Ole Miss.
Since playing at the NBA Players Association camp as a rising sophomore, Keegan Bell has emerged as a national prospect. The 6-foot, 160-pound point guard from Bob Jones High School showed why a host of ACC and SEC schools are showing an early interest. The young floor general plays beyond his years, evident by his keen decision making for the Southeast Elite program. He can stop on a dime for a pull up jumper or make the right pass. Bell is a high-major prospect.
Xavier Keeling has grown into a good-looking prospect. The 6-foot-6, 212-pound shooting guard was one of the top players at the event based on college ready bodies. He has good length, chiseled arms and strong legs that he uses to spring off of the floor faster than most. The Johnson High School in Huntsville, Ala., has a nice looking shot from the wing and has a good sense of how to make things happen. Keeling will be one of the top prospects in Alabama in the class of 2006.
Bawah Muniru won the award for most times asked, Who is that? The 6-foot-9, 250-pound center is only a class of 2007 prospect but he is a eye-catching player the minute he walks into the gym. Skills wise, the big man is a long ways away but the Madison Academy prospect will have time to improve his skill level. It will be hard pressed to find a player that has the same physical attributes this Southeast Elite player has.
Team Georgia's Tracy Thomas opened some eyes with his play. Always active and moving without the ball, the 6-foot-4, 175-pound guard from Atlanta's Martin Luther King High School attacked the rim with confidence and got after it on the defensive end. Thomas is a solid mid-major player.