NORCROSS, GA -- If you were looking for "next" in the south, the place to be was at the Pangos All-South Freshman/Sophomore camp over the weekend. Event organizer Dinos Trigonis helped bring together a number of talented young players from the South and made it a must-see event of the fall.
Pure domination. That's the only way to describe the way Trae Golden, a top ten sophomore from McEachern (Ga.) High School, played over the weekend. Golden absolutely abused any one that tried to step into his way. The five-star sophomore had zero trouble getting to the basket and scored with authority. His pull up jumper was money from the perimeter. When it came to scoring, no one was better than Golden.
The motor never turned off and when the game turned physical, simply because the competition was getting tired of being embarrassed, Golden seemed to play with more passion and hustle. He was on another level. Plain and simple.
McRae makes a statement
One observer told Jordan McRae that he needed to tone back the energy and save some of the show for the second day after a game when the 6-foot-4 prospect dunked it at least a half dozen times. McRae laughed that advice off.
"I've got enough for the entire weekend, man. The entire weekend," McRae, a class of 2010 prospect from Liberty County (Ga.) High School, said.
He wasn't kidding. McRae had a great weekend and was one of the top overall players in the camp. Over the last year, McRae has grown three inches, gained a better awareness of his ability to play above the rim more and developed a more aggressive mentality to the basket. There isn't any doubt that McRae is a high-major. His improvements over the last year have been impressive.
Class of 2010 top performers
Georgia's sophomore class isn't as deep as it's predecessors and it is coming along at it's own pace. A handful of guys are starting to show their skill level, like Golden and McRae.
Jalen Kendrick is right there with them. The 6-foot-5 wing from Southwest Atlanta Christian (former home of NBA players Dwight Howard and Javaris Crittenton) is one of the top wings in the Southeast and he's been a name on the radar for a while in the Southeast. Kendrick just keeps getting better, too.
Kendrick is a smooth operator that adds more to his game each time out. He's a fine shooter (and now that is probably his best strength) and a crafty ball-handler to boot. Point forward was tossed around a couple of times when trying to describe him and that's not too far off. High-majors are already in tow for Kendrick.
Emmanuel Dias, a 6-foot-6 power forward from Hardin University High School in Charlotte, N.C., was the most impressive player in the paint over the two-day camp. Generally speaking, most young players don't possess a mature game in the post. Not Dias. He showed off a great knack with his back to the basket, scored over taller defenders with a turnaround baby hook, was tough on the glass and did a fine job of passing out of the post.
One of the best guards at the camp was South Carolina's DaMarcus Harrison, a 6-foot-4 wing from Greenwood (S.C.). From start to finish, Harrison impressed with his athleticism, midrange game and good size at the position. There wasn't a defining moment to his time at the camp and that's meant as a compliment. Harrison did what you'd expect from a high-major prospect. He made buckets, played above the rim and showed off nice versatility in the backcourt.
One of the most versatile players in the event was Mike Parker, a 6-foot-6 wing from North Carolina. The class of 2010 prospect did most of his damage slashing to the basket and caused a problem for defenders with his size and bounce. Parker is still a bit of a mystery because his position isn't clearly defined but there is some skill to him and the athleticism and size are great starting points as he's developing himself into a legit high-major prospect.
Atlanta Westlake has produced a number of Division I talents over the last, well, forever in nearly every sport imaginable. The basketball program has a pair of seniors off the boards in Gideon Gamble (Winthrop) and Ray Willis (Oklahoma) and a committed freshman in Marc Brown (Florida State). Marcus Thornton is next.
The 6-foot-7 forward has enjoyed a nice fall and should play a big role for the Atlanta powerhouse this winter. Thornton, a class of 2010 prospect, played well inside the paint but also showed some intriguing stuff as he attacked from the wing. The pieces are certainly there to develop into a fine high-major player down the road. He has a nice blueprint to follow at Westlake.
North Carolina is looking like an absolute hotbed for talent in the 2010 and 2011 classes. Guys like Tevin Jones have emerged out of the woodwork and the depth in the state is certainly impressive. Jones, a long-armed 6-foot-8 post from Enloe High School in Raleigh, has the makings of a high-major big man.
The physical traits are nice. So is his shot-blocking ability, scoring touch at the cup and tough guy attitude as a rebounder. Jones never once became infatuated with playing away from the basket and knew his own ability and didn't stray from it.
Class of 2010 point guard Phil Taylor did a fine job of orchestrating the offense on whatever team he was on. The 5-foot-8 point guard is starting to strengthen his strengths and developing plays that will help him overcome obvious size concerns. His floater is now becoming his go-to move, which mixes nicely with his already fine court vision. Wheeler High School in metro Atlanta is thought to be the top dog in a loaded city. Taylor will have a lot of options to work with this season.
Class of 2011 top performers
Ryon Wiggins is the next great Atlanta area big man. The 6-foot-8 long, lean and talented post ran the floor better than some of the guards and was a force in the paint, more so on the defensive end of the floor. The class of 2011 prospect has all of the tools to develop into one of the best post players in his class over the next four years.
The camp was loaded with guards, as you'd expect when dealing with younger players, so finding ways to stand out and shine in this kind of setting. Jaquez Motley did and he probably made a lot of friends along the way. The class of 2011 point guard from Savannah (Ga.) Urban Christian is a pass-first point guard all the way and was one of the top point guards in the camp
Keep an eye out for Michael Gbinije, a 6-foot-5 wing from Evangel Christian in Chester, Va. Slashing was his go-to move and he wasn't really contained when he went hard to the basket. Ghinije fits the mold of the players that are playing with the big boys at the college level.
When a player that has yet to step onto the floor as a high schooler shines as a pesky defender that loves to give up the ball instead of play with it at the point guard spot, you notice. That's what Marquis Rankin did. The Charlotte (N.C.) Vance product has a cool patience about him that the good ones. There isn't a lot of flash, but there could be, and he made plays. Think Larry Drew, Jr. Rankin has the makings of a talented player in his class.
Other odds & ends
Good point guards set their teammates up, play unselfishly, hit open shots and win games. Stevie Taylor, a 5-foot-6 rookie from Columbus, Ohio did all of those things. You couldn't have asked for more.
Rico Richardson didn't shy away from guarding Golden in the all-star game and did a fine job of playing with the same kind of competitiveness. Richardson, a speedy point guard, has the makings of a fine Missouri Valley player when his time comes.
Virginia native Matt Giorski was the best center prospect in the camp and at 6-foot-10, he already knows how to use his length to his advantage. Giorski blocked a number of shots, kept the ball high and scored at point blank range. The Richmond (Va.) Cosby prospect will be recruited at the highest level.
The young guys will have plenty of time for ink over the next five years so, for now, keep an eye on this trio: Justin Anderson, a 6-foot-5 wing from Fredericksburg, Va., Jordan Price, a 6-foot-4 guard from Lithonia, Ga., and Tony Parker, a 6-foot-7 big man from Lithonia, Ga.
Anderson was one of the best players overall at the event and will see his recruitment take on the big-timers. Price has a knack for scoring and good size in the backcourt. Parker has a huge body and great hands. Think Randolph Morris.
Athletically, Donte Williams showed a lot as one of the biggest players in the camp. The 6-foot-7 played well above the rim and had one of the best wingspans in the camp.
Jervon Pressley was a standout last week in North Carolina for the Elite 75 camp. At the Pangos, the word potential was used more than production. The 6-foot-7 big man from Charlotte is one to watch for the big boys.
Henry Brooks, a 6-foot-7 post player from Landmark Christian (Ga.), has a handful of go-to moves in the post. He's long, athletic and a good rebounder. Chances are he'll develop into a fine high-major prospect when it is all said and done.
Keep an eye on class of 2011 guard Brandon Hayman out of Atlanta. He has great length at the point at 6-foot-2, good burst of speed and knows how to put the ball in the hole.
Eric Smith, a 6-foot guard from Mullins (S.C.) High School, escaped our view on Saturday. According to camp directors, he was the only player that could withstand Golden's run.