MORROW, GA -- Believe it or not, the AAU season is officially upon us. The Southern Shootout tipped off the non high school schedule this weekend at Clayton State University in metro Atlanta.
'Bama ballers shine
There wasn't a better point guard on the floor on Saturday than Eric Bledsoe, a 6-footer from Hayes High School in Birmingham. In a class that lacks in depth at the point guard position, it wouldn't come as a big surprise to see Bledsoe become a high-demand prospect at the position after the spring evaluation period.
He is a pass first point guard that limits his mistakes and maximizes his strengths on both ends of the floor. Offensively, he is more of a penetrate and kick or score at the rim type of point guard. Defensively, he's a pesky physical defender. He anchored his Birmingham Ice team on the defensive end and there was little question who had the best defense in the gym on Saturday. Bledsoe set the tone.
Bledsoe's recruitment isn't under the radar either. He said he has heard from Marquette, Ole Miss, Florida, Alabama, UAB and Auburn.
Bledsoe has plenty of options around him with his Birmingham Ice team. His favorite two were Edward Daniel, a 6-foot-6 forward, and Brandon Peterson, a 6-foot-7 forward.
Daniel is a high-energy forward that excels at the rim and plays bigger than his frame. Peterson is a raw forward that has great physical tools and possesses a strong upside.
Daniel said he is hearing from South Alabama, Southern, UAB, Alabama, Marquette, Murray State and Georgia State while Peterson's list is similar, as he mentioned Georgia State, Murray State and Southern.
Recently committed to UAB, Demarcus Cousins is playing with a more relaxed mentality these days. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward didn't dominate the event but he didn't necessarily disappoint either.
There just aren't guys with his kind of size in the class of 2009. He is a massive prospect that can run the floor, handle the ball and a skilled passer.
Like most big kids that just ooze potential, it would be nice to see him focus his talents more on the blocks, where he would dominate if he wanted to. Effort still remains a question mark.
For UAB, Cousins is the piped-piper for the top local kids. At least he hopes he is.
"That's one of the reasons why I committed there," Cousins says. "I want to get some other great players there with me."
Eufaula, Ala., teammates Lazabian Jackson and Herbert Brooks were the 1-2 punch all season long for one of the top teams in Alabama. Playing with Team Georgia Elite, the two played like Division I prospects.
Jackson, a 6-foot-3 scorer, showed off a nice touch as a jump shooter while Brooks is more of a point guard with good size (6-1) and good speed to the hole. The duo said they have heard from Oklahoma, Florida State, West Virginia and Troy.
Worldwide claims tourney title
The Worldwide Renegades held off the Birmingham Ice for the Southern Shootout title on Sunday. The Atlanta area club relied on the gritty play of point guard Mfon Udofia from start to finish while Ari Stewart and Richard Howell showed up for Sunday's action and gave the club a shot in the arm.
Udofia did what he does best and that was constantly attack the basket and convert from the foul line.
Center Colin Reddick and forward Jeremy Olsen shined on Saturday, particularly against Cousins. Reddick, a 6-foot-8 center, is a physical defender that has added some bulk to his body while Olsen is a skilled forward with a good midrange game.
Olsen said Xavier, Notre Dame and Utah stand out to the most to him at the moment.
Birmingham Storm guard Jeremy Adams was impressive from start to finish. The 6-foot-4 junior from Madison (Miss.) Central High School was consistently knocking down shots, making plays on the perimeter and has a body that would bode well at the next level. He very well could be a spring riser.
Birmingham Raptors center Chris Brand of Starkville (Miss.) was one of the biggest players in the tournament field over the weekend. The 6-foot-9 junior is a physical imposing big man that has the size that will translate well at the high-major level. His footspeed is a question mark but he has a soft touch at the rim and plays strong in the paint.
Team Georgia Elite center Adrian Spellman, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound junior, caught our eye with his size, strength and simplicity down low. He said he has heard from South Carolina, Rhode Island, Furman, Charleston Southern and College of Charleston.
Keep an eye on these guys
When it came to the first glance test, there might not have been a more impressive looking prospect in the gym on Saturday than class of 2010 center Jaleel Roberts.
The 6-foot-11 15-year-old is incredibly raw and has very little basketball experience. That being said, Roberts stepped into the starter's role for Team Power and showed off his shot-blocking prowess in the 15 and under division.
He has a similar body type of Wake Forest bound center Tony Woods. Roberts isn't quite the athlete Woods is but very raw like Woods was two years ago. Keep an eye on the young man from Evans (Ga.) High School.
Georgia Stars 15 and under team is led by future star Kevin Ware, a 6-foot-3 point guard from Rockdale County (Ga.).
Ware's game is similiar to in-state star Lorenzo Brown. Translation: smooth, under control and great to the rim. Ware, a class of 2011 prospect, is one of the top prospects in his class in the Peach State.
Joseph Wall, a 6-foot-2 combo guard from Walker County (Ala.), stood out with the Birmingham Ice 16 and under team. He has a strong frame, confident mindset and can play both guard positions. He averaged nearly 30 points a game at the junior varsity level this year, according to his coaches.
The Birmingham Raptors team has a high potential high-level prospect on it's roster in Rashad Perkins of Starkville (Miss.) High School. The 6-foot-5 wing has a great frame and strength for the highest level and he played with a high-level motor. His ceiling is incredibly high.