One of the spring's most anticiapted AAU events is set to kick-off Friday night on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The Southern Invitational is in its 6th year, and the talent level is as rich as it's ever been with stars like Vernon Macklin (pictured), Wayne Ellington, Gerald Henderson, O.J. Mayo, Tyreke Evans, and Paul Harris among those scheduled to attend. Rivals.com will be providing coverage.
While the division I college basketball coaches have come off the road, the AAU season continues this weekend in Charlottesville. The Southern Invitational, in its sixth year, rolls into town with a large deep field of talent and some intriguing matchups to pique the interest of even the most casual prep basketball observer.
Headlining the field is a Boo Williams team that has dominated the event, winning four of the first five titles in the 17 and under division. This year Boo's squad is loaded once again. Stars like 6-foot-10 Vernon Macklin, 6-foot guard Scott Reynolds, and 6-foot-3 guard Eric Hayes are some of the big names, but what makes Boo Williams so tough are their lunch pail guys like forwards 6-foot-6 Duke Crews and 6-foot-8 Lewis Witcher. They won the Boo Williams Invitational in April over a loaded Nike travel team field. They are the favorites this weekend.
Coach Jimmy Salmons' Playaz are the only team to defeat Boo Williams in this event, winning a tight battle in 2003. The Playaz are as talented as anyone with their starting five of Wayne Ellington, Gerald Henderson, Earl Clark, Luis Guzman, and Kraidon Woods. However, depth has been an issue for them so far this spring. Will they have enough gas to get to the finals? They lost to Boo Williams last year in the championship.
The DI Greyhounds are new to the event, but not to avid basketball fans. O.J. Mayo has been turning skeptics into believers with his outstanding play this spring. It's not often that a guy with his talent plays so unselfishly, and Mayo is a team guy first and foremost. 6-foot-6 wing Billy Walker is a living breathing highlight reel.
On Saturday, we'll get to see Mayo and company matched up in pool play against one of the best guards in the rising sophomore class in 6-foot-4 Tyreke Evans from the Sam Rines All Stars. Evans is looking to make a big splash on the national scene, and he'll certainly have that opportunity this weekend in Charlottesville.
The GC Ballers were unstoppable two weeks ago at the DC Hoopfest, but this weekend they take a step up in competition at the Southern Invitational. 6-foot-5 G/F Paul Harris has been spectacular this spring, and has yet to be challenged in an individual matchup. If they get through pool play, they'll meet a young, but extremely talented DC Assault squad in the playoffs that's hungry for a signature win.
Other top players scheduled to play in the 17 and under bracket include Casiem Drummond and RaSean Butler from Team Jersey elite, Reggie Redding and Dan Geriot from Philly MJC, Antonio Jardine and Earl Pettis from Hunting Park, Dennis Horner from South Jersey Select, and Patrick Patterson from East Coast Scholar Athletes.
The 16 and under division should be loaded as well, with rising juniors 6-foot-6 Eric Wallace and 6-foot-7 Marshall Moses, 6-foot-8 sophomore Chris Braswell, 6-foot-11 sophomore Ben Cronin, 6-foot-3 sophomore Marcus Sales, 6-foot-9 sophomore Roscoe Davis, and 6-foot-8 junior Brian Miles.
Action starts Friday evening at 6:30 pm.