Both the big name players and several lesser-knowns let it all hang out in front of a large college coaching contingent on Saturday at the Charlie Weber DC Hoop Fest.
Derrick Caracter, Paul Harris, Reggie Redding, and Wayne Ellington lived up to the hype, but finding surprises like Dennis Horner, Alex Zampier, and Jamar Abrams is what really makes these events essential for scouts and coaches alike to attend.
Caracter playing inspired ball
One of the biggest bright spots in this event has been the play of 6-foot-9 275 pound C/F Derrick Caracter from St. Patrick's in New Jersey. Caracter had 20 points and a dozen boards in the afternoon session, then followed up with a dominant 24 points in the evening. When the big fella is motivated to play, there are very few at this level who can check him. Excellent hands and footwork in the paint. He can make jumpers out to the three point arc, and is adept at creating space on the interior and finishing around the hoop. However, what really seems to have made the difference of late is his dedication to rebounding the ball. Rutgers, Pittsburgh, and St. Johns are making a push, and were in the building for his games today. Syracuse also was in the house for their evening game.
Harris easing his way up the charts
Watching 6-foot-4 225 pound G/F Paul Harris play is like watching the ballet. It's all about grace and power, but looks simply effortless in the execution. Harris is probably the toughest player in the country, but his court demeanor is relaxed and always under control. One coach said that he loves Harris because, "he can dominate a game without scoring points." We have to agree. The way he distributes the ball, plays defense, and rebounds at both ends certainly lends credence to that statement. However, it's more than that. Harris just oozes confidence and leadership on the floor, and his teammates seem to respond to that and pick up their own game a notch or two. He had 2 points at the half, but his 5 rebounds and 4 assists were instrumental in helping the GC Ballers establish an 18 point lead. He finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists in a comfortable win.
Playaz bounced early, but Ellington continues to impress
The Playaz Gold squad ran into a tough Donyell Marshall Foundation team Saturday afternoon, and dropped a double figures decision, but Wayne Ellington continued his run of scintillating performances with 19 points in their evening contest. Ellington is so smooth handling the ball and dropping jumpers in from the perimeter that it's easy to forget about his superior athleticism. Well, Ellington reminded the crowd in the second half of their game against the Long Island Lightning by driving baseline and throwing one down in traffic with authority.
Villanova assistant coach Pat Chambers was in the gym watching future Wildcat Kraidon Woods, but also checking out his Playaz teammates Ellington, Gerald Henderson, and Earl Clark. Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski was on the baseline watching Henderson, Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins was watching Earl Clark, as was new Rutgers assistant Fred Hill. St. Joseph's assistant Mike Rice was keeping tabs on Playaz guard Luis Guzman.
Redding romps Roadrunners
6-foot-4 G/F Reggie Redding from St. Joseph's prep had 24 points in Philly MJC's 61-49 win over the New Jersey Roadrunners in pool play. Redding knocked down a variety of mid-range and perimeter shots, as well as showing off some nifty moves in the paint. He also had 9 rebounds and 5 assists in the contest. Redding has won a lot of games in his high school career at the Prep. His ability to shoot the ball and create opportunities for his teammates with his passing skills is quickly making him a hot commodity among college coaches. West Virginia head coach John Beilein, Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon, Villanova assistant Pat Chambers, St. Joseph's assistant Mike Rice, and Rutgers assistant Fred Hill were among the coaches present for Redding's afternoon game.
The spring AAU events are often crowded with juniors jockeying for position on the national scene and unsigned seniors looking for a home in the fall. However, we also begin to get a broader view of what the sophomore class has to offer, and 2007 is shaping up to be a good one. In DC this weekend several sophomores emerged with big time performances that had coaches scrambling for more information.
The Cleveland Titans' 6-foot-9 205 pound PF DeJuan Pursley had 8 points in a 46-31 loss to Team Detroit on Saturday night. Pursley showed flashes of big-time ability around the basket, displaying nice footwork and excellent lift.
6-foot-8 195 pound Jamar Samuels didn't score much for DC Assault II, but his potential as a high major target is evident. Samuels made several athletic blocks and he gets up and down the floor like a guard. He hasn't put it all together yet, but when he does, the heavy hitters will come calling in droves.
Patrick Patterson, a 6-foot-8 225 pound ball of energy scored 17 points in the East Coast Eagles' 57-56 win over the Michigan Mustangs. His size and athletic ability will remind many of current Georgetown Hoya Jeff Green. Patterson hustles after loose balls, defends, and can knock down baseline jumpers with ease. His catch and dunk in transition during a key second half moment screamed "big time"!
6-foot-5 2G Jamar Abrams from Highland Springs HS in Virginia put on a show despite Richmond Metro Gold's loss to the Playaz Black. Abrams had 23 points, including several threes, and showed off his considerable leaping ability and body control on several acrobatic finishes.
6-foot-4 junior Alex Zampier from Columbia HS in New York scored 29 points including a game winning three with just 2 seconds left, to propel the New England Playaz to a 69-68 win over South Jersey Select. It was Zampier's 5th three ball of the game, and he was closely guarded on the play.
6-foot-8 junior Dennis Horner from Holy Spirit HS in New Jersey had 24 points for South Jersey in the loss. Horner is an athletic streak shooter, but with his size and ability to defend multiple positions he's an intriguing prospect for high majors and upper mid-majors.