One of the most impressive prospects at the inaugural King of the South tournament in Nashville this past weekend was a junior who is just beginning to land on the radar of some major programs.
Leon Powell, a 6-foot-6 power forward from national power Vashon High in Saint Louis, outplayed some of the nation's top prospects, including top 100 junior A.J. Stewart and highly-touted sophomore Chris Singleton, in head-to-head matchups.
Powell consistently powered his way to the rim against Stewart's Tallahassee Wildcats, creating contact and drawing numerous fouls. Powell scored on a left-handed hook shot to put his Saint Louis Game Face team up for good and also made a key steal with less than two minutes left to help seal a 54-53 upset. He finished with a team-high 16 points.
Powell showed off other parts of his game in the Game Face's 67-50 loss to Singleton and the Atlanta Celtics' 16-under squad. He hit a handful of mid-range jumpers and finished with a game-high 20 points, and was a big defensive presence on the interior, playing with a physical edge down low which helped limit Singleton to 11 points.
Those performances all came with Powell playing out of position. A small forward who operates mostly on the wing in high school, he played at power forward and was forced to play in the post for most of the event.
"Leon is such a team player that he does what ever we ask, and he's so versatile we can move him around if needed," said Powell's AAU coach, Ray Merriweather. "I think he is a diamond in the rough. He is very athletic, runs the floor well, shoots well and is a great defensive player."
Powell is receiving interest from a handful of Big 12 schools, including Kansas and Missouri. Illinois has also inquired about him, along with a handful of mid-majors, Bradley, Saint Louis and Missouri State.
Powell said he doesn't have any favorites yet, but did grow up rooting for Kansas and North Carolina.
"I've got an all-around game," Powell said. "I need to work on my handle and strength, but I feel I do really well in the mid-range area and can do a little bit of everything from shooting to passing."
Powell led Vashon to its 11th state title this past season, a 27-2 record and a spot in USA Today's national top 25 poll. He averaged a team-high 14.2 points and 8.5 boards a game.