FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.-On the first day for college coaches to hit the road and evaluate, Coach Bob Huggins was in the gym with his Kansas State gear to watch the D-One Greyhounds take an early exit from the tournament. And in one of the more exciting games of the event, the World Wide Renegades, led by the play of Chris Allen and J.J. Hickson came from behind against the Michigan Mustangs to earn a quarterfinal birth in the championship bracket.
Chris Allen-Scored 18 points on 4 of 12 shooting from the field, including 2 of 4 from the arc and 8 of 8 from the line, but more importantly Allen controlled the game. He ran the point for the duration and grabbed 6 rebounds, snagged 2 steals and had 2 assists along with 2 turnovers. Always a lethal scorer, Allen has taken his game to another level by becoming a more efficient scorer and a better defender and rebounder. Getting stronger and tougher has had a lot to do with improvement of his game. He can score pretty much any way a guard can score and does an outstanding job navigating the high ball screen.
J.J. Hickson-Scored 18 points on 5 of 11 shooting and 8 of 15 from the line and finished with 11 rebounds, 5 blocks and 1 turnover. Hickson thoroughly dominated the game in the paint, limiting Josh Southern to only 6 points. An athletic competitor, Hickson is one of the better baseline scorers in the class of 2007.
Joshua Southern-Solid and sturdy, Southern just was not athletic enough to contend with the bouncy J.J. Hickson. Southern scored his 6 points on 3 of 9 shooting from the field. One of the more telling stats is that Southern did not get to the line one time. He did do a very good job rebounding, grabbing 11 boards. He had a steal and a block and no turnovers.
O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker-both did not play in the D-One Greyhounds first round elimination game loss to the Southeast Elite, but that did not stop Bob Huggins and John Calipari from taking the 15 minute drive south of Fayetteville to watch the Greyhounds play. Mayo is out for at least a couple weeks with a stress fracture and did not make the trip. Walker sat out the game with a non-serious leg injury.
Rico Pickett- The Alabama commitment went for 14 points on 5 of 10 shooting and 3 of 4 shooting from the field against a depleted D-One Greyhound squad. Pickett also had 3 assists and 1 steal. The positives for Picket are that he is very athletic and talented with the ball as a scorer and passer. He has a plethora of dribble moves and can score at all three levels. Also made a couple spectacular one handed left handed passes. The negatives for Picket are that he tends to coast on defense and did not pick up one rebound throughout the game. With has athleticism, these are two areas that can be addressed with a little coaching and some time in the weight room.
Bawa Maniru - A chiseled 2008 big man, has made huge strides in his game since coming to America a couple years ago from Africa. He scored through contact on several occasions and had a couple very nice plays facing the basket in the mid-range. On one play, he shot faked his man into the air and got to the rim in one dribble. On the other play, he made an inside pivot and sunk a jumper on Keenan Ellis. He still has a ways to go in terms of his feel for the game, his hands and his footwork, but is well on his way to being a high-major player.
Cordell Pope- A thin, sharp shooter, Pope plans to reclassify next year and possibly attend Hargrave Military Academy. He looks as if he is still growing, and he hit several nice threes cutting off screens.
Alex Tyus- Not known for his outside shooting, Tyus did drain a couple nice looking 17-footers. He even created space for mid-range jumper on a couple plays with some nifty ball handling. As always, he was very active on the glass and had a number of blocks. Without the services of Mayo and Walker, Tyus kept the Greyhounds in the game with 12 points in the first half, but he only managed 3 points in the second half as the game slipped away.
Renardo Sidney- Scored 22 points on 9 of 17 shooting from the field including 0 for 3 from three and 4 of 5 from the line. He also grabbed 4 rebounds and had 1 steal in a lopsided win over the I Can All Stars. Sidney has all the tools to be the top player in the 2009 class. With his size, athleticism and inside/outside skill set, he is a nearly impossible to match up with. He demonstrated some one on one spin moves from the wing that could only make one think about the NBA.
Romero Osby- While Sidney is the star of the MBA Magic, his 2008 teammate Osby is no slouch. In fact Osby had a lot to do with Sidney's success with his passing from the high post. Osby, who loves to drive it left, scored a number of points in the mid-range off the dribble and defended the top perimeter player for I Can. For the game, Osby finished with 16 points on an efficient 7 of 10 shooting and 2 of 3 shooting from the line, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
Osby named North Carolina, Memphis (offer), Georgia Tech (offer), Connecticut, Wake Forest (offer) and UCLA as his top schools.
Anthony Randolph- An intriguing and very talented prospect, Randolph can leave your jaw dropping with both his positive and negative plays. On the positive side, he has the length, athleticism and skill to affect the game in a lot of ways. He blocked 3 shots and intimidated a number of other attempts. He grabbed 2 steal and brought down 7 offensive rebounds to go along with his 2 defensive rebounds. On his steals and defensive rebounds, he busted out with the ball to led breaks which generally turned out positive. The negative side is that he did not get to the free throw line until the end of the game when Indiana Elite was fouling to get back into the game and he only made 5 of 19 shots from the field. It isn't that Randolph can't shoot. It is that he adjusts his shot in the air for no good reason and that he typically takes off balanced shots either because he is not strong enough after coming down with a rebound or is just too casual. The bottom line is that once Randolph gets stronger and disciplines his game, he is no longer an elite prospect but an elite player.
D'walyn Roberts- Scored 13 points on 6 of 14 shooting and hit his one free throw attempt. He also grabbed an impressive 7 rebounds. Still quite thin, Roberts played a much more aggressive style of basketball than he played last summer. He was also a disruptive force defensively with his length and his improved foot speed.
Roberts listed Texas, Wake Forest, Texas Tech (offer), Texas A&M (offer) and Baylor (offer) as his top schools.
DeAndre Liggins- A very good looking 2008 prospect, Liggins handles the ball and passes it with the skill of a point guard at around 6-foot-5. He also has a knack for being around the ball and will grind out rebounds and loose balls. His shot is in need of work, though, and he is not an explosive athlete.
Matt Howard- Although he is slightly undersized as a power forward, Howard plays with savvy that you rarely see in a big man. He has a tremendous sense for positioning, utilizing fakes and delivering tough passes with touch in the half court offense. With reliable hands and a nose for the ball, Howard is also more athletic than he appears. Right now he is a high-major minus prospect, and look for his list of high-major suitors to increase over the summer.
Howard said every school in Indiana is recruiting him and all but Indiana have offered. He also said Miami-Ohio, Northern Illinois and Xavier have offered. Iowa is also showing interest.
JaJuan Johnson- Howard's teammate and back up, Johnson is not nearly as refined a player as Howard, but he does have the greater upside. Still very much in need of gaining strength, Johnson had some nice finishes in the post off feeds from Howard and bothered a number of shots with his length and athleticism.
Drew Gordon- The cerebral big man runs the floor, blocks shots and has an old school post up game. In fact, on one play he swept across the lane and sank a one footed sweeping hook shot. He definitely has work to do on his face up game. At this point, he is not much of a threat as a passer or a shooter when facing the basket.
Gordon said that Duke, Connecticut, UCLA, California, Kentucky, Washington and Oregon among others are recruiting him.
Terrell Bell- The 2007 small forward led the Celtics in scoring with 18 points in their win over the St. Louis Falcons. He hit from all three levels and was constantly around the ball on both ends of the court.
Cameron Tatum- This 6-foot-6 shooting guard was very effective in the Atlanta Celtics full court press and transition game. Even more impressive was how he pressured the ball defensively in the half court. A very athletic player, Tatum's shot looked good from the outside and he also attacked the basket with authority.
Waiting to receive his college prep test scores, Tatum named Tennessee, Cincinnati and Georgia as schools of interest if he qualifies. Tennessee is in the driver's seat after his visit to Knoxville last weekend.
"I'll probably end up at Tennessee if I qualify," said Tatum. "I liked it there a lot. It's a good situation and they have a good thing going. It's a place that can get me focused academically and get me where I want to be on the court. They have a great coaching staff and Coach Pearl is great."