Mt. Zion (NC) took home their second straight Dell Curry Shootout championship on Saturday night after coming from behind to defeat Laurinburg Institute 65-56 at Charlotte Latin HS. Led by Albert Weber’s 26 points, the Mighty Warriors rallied in the fourth quarter by scoring 21 straight points. Here is a look at our notes from the wonderful event in North Carolina.
Notes from our notepad:
Weber had a quiet first two games at the event but exploded in the championship game en route to being named to the all tournament team. On the very talented Mt. Zion roster any one player can have a great game on any given night. It was Weber’s turn on Saturday. He can play above the rim as well as score on the perimeter. He and future Alabama teammate Ron Steele will make a deadly duo in the Tide’s backcourt.
Roy Bright was the sixth man for the Mighty Warriors but took home MVP honors after averaging a near double-double (19 points and nine rebounds) a game. Bright looked comfortable in his role as first off the bench. He has the strength to battle inside and the range on his shot to be an effective wing at the next level. Bright was consistently strong throughout the event.
High-flying junior Brandon Rush scored nearly all of his buckets around or above the rim over the three games. Playing with Josh Smith over the summer must have thought Rush something about soaring high for buckets. Expect Rush to continue to play like his AAU heir apparent.
Missouri bound Glen Dandridge didn’t hurt his reputation as one of the finest deep threats in the country. The sharpshooter has a beautiful shot and connected on numerous and effortless three balls. He’ll be a great weapon for an always-talented Tiger team.
6-foot-7, 235 pound sophomore Tracy Smith played well in his minutes, throwing down some nasty dunks and proving that he can shoot from deep, too. Mt. Zion always finds a way to reel in top talent and Smith is being primed into the star’s role down the road.
Iowa State bound Tasheed Carr didn’t score a ton of points because he doesn’t have to for Mt. Zion. He is content with distributing the ball around the loaded roster. The same can be said about Arizona bound big man Mohamed Tangara. The Mali native pulls down the rebounds and puts in a quiet eight to ten points a contest. His work ethic inside is hard to match in this 2004 class.
Anthony Morrow will be a great player for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The 6-foot-6, 190 wing is a big time competitor that knows how to score from all points on the court. Although he doesn’t have an ultra-talented supporting cast, he knows each of his teammate’s strengths and utilizes them throughout the game. Next year in Atlanta, Morrow will thrive in the GT system along with his talented incoming class. He was also the dunk champion and named to the all tournament team.
Morrow’s teammate, Charles Dewhurst, a 6-foot-5 sophomore small forward will be one to watch. When Morrow leaves for college, Dewhurst will likely be the man at Latin. He should thrive in that spot.
Central Connecticut State has a steal in Canadian point guard Tristan Blackwood. The 5-foot-10 floor general has great floor vision and is a heady decision maker that does so much for his Eastern Commerce HS team from Toronto. Had Blackwood spent time on the AAU circuit rather than playing with the Canadian Junior National team, he would have been a heavily recruited player in the US and would have battled for Rivals150 accolades. He’s that good.
Geringer’s Jeremy Goode will be a junior point guard to watch over the next two years. The 5-foot-8 lightning bolt can explode to the basket where he gets a lot of his points. Goode lives up to his name because he can be a passer when needed – and does a mighty fine job at that – as well as being a scorer, particularly as a perimeter scorer. A number of high majors are already taking a look at the left-hander like Georgia Tech and Stanford.
Goode’s teammate 6-foot-5 junior Jerry Hollis plays inside the paint and does a might fine job at it by pulling down double digit rebounds and blocking a lot of shots. But he could be an even better small forward prospect. He can handle the ball and showed his range in pre-game shoot arounds. We’ll keep on eye on him during the AAU circuit.
Landmark Christian (GA) continues to struggle at the national level as they watched their star Randolph Morris go for a career low nine points against Laurinburg Institute. The big boys from North Carolina kept the ball out of Morris’s hands and when the Kentucky/Georgia Tech prospect touched the ball, he immediately saw two or three defenders on him. Our opinion didn’t change on Morris though. He still remains one of the top big men in the country. He’ll have a real test on Jan. 10 when Landmark Christian goes head to head with Southwest Atlanta Christian and Dwight Howard.
The Laurinburg Institute backcourt of Avery Smith and Draelon Burns wowed the nightly crowd of 2,200 fans with their sharp shooting and fancy ball handling skills. Smith had a fantastic tournament, impressing many of the college coaches and observers in attendance. He told RivalsHoops that prep school is an option for next year.
Burns, on the other hand, is getting looks from Idaho and Creighton. But his skill level is high and should garner bigger looks. He has good size and isn’t afraid to attack the basket with dribble penetration. Burns can burn opponents with his long range shooting as well.
Laurinburg’s huge frontline cut off any interior success during their three games in Charlotte. Led by rebounding machine Hatila DeSouza, the Tigers limited teams to very few chances inside. DeSouza continues to thrive as an aggressive controller of the glass with solid post moves. If he lands in the Big 12 (Texas) or a SEC school watch out. He was born to battle inside. With work in the weight room, he can transform into a down right scary pro prospect. DeSouza took home all-tourney honors.
Diego Belizario is an absolute steal for East Tennessee State. The 6-foot-7 small forward will be a force to be reckoned with in the Southern Conference.
North Mecklenburg’s 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Jamie Skeen will be a need-to-know name around ACC country for the next couple of years. The slender forward has the look of a big time player and plays in spurts like one too. He is a strong rebounder and fights hard inside for scores. We like Skeen’s upside and believe he has a nice future ahead of him.
With two very impressive senior backcourts from Laurinburg and Mt. Zion already in the tournament, some underclassmen duos fared very well, too. Roanoke Catholic’s DeAngelo Robinson, a 6-foot-1 freshman point guard, and Orlando Walker, a 6-foot-3 sophomore shooting guard played extremely well in the regional bracket.
Robinson is a fine point guard that already gets the game despite being only a ninth grader. Walker is a fine shooter that also gets inside for hard fought rebounds. Together, Robinson and Walker form a promising partnership for Roanoke Catholic.
With LaMarcus Aldridge sidelined with a bum knee, two of his Seagoville (TX) teammates had a chance to show their stuff. 6-foot-5 junior Ryan Boyd and 6-foot-1 sophomore Donald Sloan led the Dragons to two victories in Charlotte.
Sloan exploded for 27 points on day two (and was named to the all tournament team) while Boyd was consistently strong over the tournament scoring an average 16 points per game.