Marreese Speights, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound power forward from Admiral Farragut High School in St. Petersburg, Fla., is quietly making a name for himself amongst the best big men in the country. Memphis has taken notice and so have four Florida programs as the three-star prospect continues to garner interest by playing well against the best of the best.
Speights has started the AAU season strong with two solid showings against Brandan Wright and Vernon Macklin, two five-star prospects in the class of 2006. Speights played both players in April at the Next Level tournament in Dallas.
"I thought I played real good in Dallas. I was rebounding, finishing at the goal and scoring in the paint. I was doing what I'm good at," Speights said. "When Brandan Wright and I played, we went back and forth. I scored on him, he scored on me. He's a good player. Then I played Vernon Macklin. I was doing him."
According to Speight's AAU coach Matt Ramker, the big man held his own against the elite prospects.
"Marreese was definitely not intimidated by Brandan or Vernon," Ramker said. "For a stretch against Boo Williams (Macklin's team), he was our only offense. He had 12 straight points in the point and started us off real strong. He didn't back down to Brandan either. Marreese had a big game. He's definitely up there with the elite post players in the country in my opinion."
With some time off the AAU circuit, Speights has been busy with visits. He recently made a trip to Memphis with former NC State commit Aaron Holmes. While there, the big man hit it off with head coach John Calipari.
"I liked the trip a lot. It was pretty good. I feel like I made a good relationship with coach Cal and his assistants," Speights said. "I must have played 10 times up there. All of the players were there and then they had (former Memphis star) Antonio Burks, (Tennessee's) Scooter McFadgon and (Alabama's) Ernest Shelton. I played a lot better than I thought I would. There really wasn't a lot of difference between me and the college dudes expect they had more muscle than me."
The trip has propelled the Tigers on Speights's list.
"I'd say they are like my first or second choice right now," Speights said.
Joining Memphis in Speight's top five are Florida, Miami, Florida State and South Florida. Memphis, Miami and South Florida have all offered.
He'll be in Gainesville this weekend for the Travel Basketball Championship tournament with his Tallahassee Wildcats AAU team. All of the games will be played at the University of Florida.
It isn't his first trip to Gator country. He was a guest for the Florida-Kentucky game during the season. Speights has also been to South Florida for a couple of games last season, too.