The 2005 AAU season kicks off strong with the start of the Boo Williams Invitational this weekend in Hampton, Va. Thirty two of the top Nike sponsored 17 and under AAU programs will make their way to Hampton University and several local high school gyms for the weekend. More than one third of the top 150 players in the class of 2006 will be on hand for the loaded event. Here's a look at some of the top names that will strut their stuff.
The big dogs are all ready to hit the hardwood to not only play against the best of the best but also prove that they are ready for the big show. There are several big names in the field in this years event.
Starting with the host team, Boo Williams Summer League, the boys from the Tidewater area are strong at the top and even deeper down the bench. Led by Vernon Macklin, the No. 9 ranked player in the class of 2006.
Joining Macklin are guards Stefan Welsh (No. 58 in 2006), Eric Hayes (No. 101 in 2006) and Scotty Reynolds (No. 122 in 2006). And that is just the ranked players. Williams has at least seven other players that should be on the high-major radar this year.
Everything is bigger in Texas and that rings true with Dallas-based Team Texas. Darrell Arthur is the headliner of the bunch. The 6-foot-9 forward is the No. 4 ranked junior in the nation by Rivals.com. He's joined by Bryan Davis, No. 29 on the Rivals150 list for 2006.
Together, the two Texans will do some damage in the paint this weekend and all AAU season long. Donald Sloan, a 6-foot-2 guard that played with LaMarcus Aldridge at Seagoville High, is not too shabby himself. Wes Grandstaff always has a team rich with talent. This year is no different.
Staying in the Lone Star State, Hal Pastner has a group with size and youthful talent on his Houston Hoops squad. Fresh off of committing to Oklahoma, Damian James, the No. 5 ranked junior in the nation, will join this group for the Boo Williams and beyond. Nic Wise and Darris Santee round out the class of 2006 ranked players for the Hoops.
The Hoops young kids are incredibly talented. 2007 prospects Gary Johnson, Jai Lucas, Mike Singletary and Isaiah Rusher are all in the top 40 rankings of their class.
Speaking of young talent, the Portland Legends club is led by Kevin Love and Kyle Singler. Both of the Oregon natives are in the top five of the class of 2007. Singler, a 6-foot-7 forward, emerged on the national scene at the Boo Williams event last year.
A further up Interstate 5 in Seattle comes Friends of Hoop. Jim Marsh's team shined last year with Jon Brockman and Micah Downs but people also had a chance to see Spencer Hawes, a 6-foot-11 center from Seattle Prep. Hawes is a five-star prospect and one of the most sought after big men in the nation in 2006.
The Howard Pulley Panthers are stacked with talent with guys like Isaiah Dahlman, Bryce Webster, Cory Johnson, Cameron Rundles and Trevor Mbakwe. All five are nationally ranked. Dahlman and Webster are the gems in the class of 2006 as both sport a combined 20 plus scholarship offers between the two.
There aren't a lot of 1-2 punches like Kevin Durant and Tywon Lawson. The Oak Hill teammates will return to the DC Blue Devils again this spring and summer. Durant is the No. 16 ranked player in 2006 and Lawson might be the best point guard in the nation.
The field is deep in 2005 tournament. There is no doubt about that. Here's a look at some of the other top teams in attendance as well as the rest of the ranked players who will be in attendance.
New Jersey All-Stars - Jeff Robinson (2007)
Murfreesboro Stars - Brandan Wright
Cecil Kirk - DaJuan Summers
BABC - Anthony Gurley
Wisconsin Playground Warriors - Jerry Smith
Team Florida - Jeremiah Rivers
Louisiana Select - Demond Carter
Albany City Rocks - Paul Harris
And that's just a listed of the ranked prospects who will likely be in attendance. As it usually happens, a host of other players will have a chance to play themselves into the rankings and, more importantly, into the eyes of coaches who will eventually offer a college scholarship.
Rivals.com National Basketball Reporter Justin Young will be at the Boo Williams Invitational all weekend. Be sure to stop by the premium message board for live updates and nightly for a full recap of events, top players, new names on the national scene, school lists and evaluations of the nation's hot prospects.
Here's a look at Friday night's action in the 17 and under pool play:
Hampton University Convocation Center
6 p.m.: Albany City Rocks vs. Team Florida
7:30 p.m.: All Ohio vs. Team Texas
9 p.m.: Georgia Stars vs. Friends of Hoop
10:30 p.m.: Athletes First vs. Louisiana Select
Hampton University Holland Hall
6 p.m.: BABC vs. SYF Players
7:30 p.m.: Howard Pulley Panthers vs. Houston Hoops
9 p.m.: St. Louis Eagles vs. The Family
10:30 p.m.: Illinois Warriors vs. Tennessee Travelers
Hampton High School
6 p.m.: Metro Hawks vs. Charlotte Royals
7:30 p.m.: Memphis vs. Northern California Elite
9 p.m.: California Elite vs. SC Ravens
10:30 p.m.: Cecil Kirk vs. Wisconsin Playground Warriors
Kecoughtan High School
6 p.m.: New Jersey All Stars vs. Alabama Lasers
7:30 p.m.: BWSL vs. Murfreesboro Stars
9 p.m.: Ferrari Youth Players vs. New York Gauchos
10:30 p.m.: DC Blue Devils vs. Portland Legends