The 2005 Southern Invitational concluded on Sunday with Jimmy Salmons' Playaz Basketball Club sweeping the championships in the 17 and under and 16 and under divisions. Along the way there were some terrific games and great one on one matchups, as well as a few very impressive individual performances. Here's a look at several rising seniors who played well in Charlottesville this past weekend.
Butler is an interesting wing prospect. Primarily a three man, he has shown flashes of being able to swing to the guard spot in college. He's got good size, is long, and a very good catch and shoot guy on the perimeter. Needs to work on getting to the basket off the dribble. Atlantic 10 and Big East schools are picking up the pace with him.
Carter was welcomed back to the Playaz Basketball Club last weekend and he responded with a huge scoring effort in his first game at the Southern Invitational with 27 points. He was inconsistent shooting the ball for the rest of the weekend, but his steady point guard play was one of the reasons Boo Williams was unable to pressure their way back into the championship game in the second half.
Crews has seen a dramatic increase in recruiting interest from high major schools stemming from his play this spring. He's not pretty, but very effective in the paint. A leaper, and a physical specimen, Crews powers his way into scoring position and usually hammers down a dunk whenever the opportunity presents itself. Strong on the glass and defensively. Has trouble away from the basket and is a bit undersized, but makes up for it with his effort and athleticism.
At just under 6-foot-9 and 270 pounds, Drummond is an imposing figure in the paint at both ends of the floor. He has nice touch shooting the ball from 16 feet and in, but the reason he was so effective in Charlottesville last weekend was his willingness to stay inside and use his size around the basket. Many times Drummond simply setup shop in the lane and out-physicaled the defender for an easy bucket. Drummond hasn't consistently put forth the effort to make him an elite level guy, but the talent sure is there.
Ellington did nothing in Charlottesville to tarnish his sterling reputation as one of the best guards in the nation regardless of class. He played under control and quietly dominated everyone he faced while leading the Playaz to the championship. Tremendous ball handler who gets his teammates involved and can breakdown defenders with the dribble. Nearly automatic when he has time to square up. Struggles some shooting off the dribble, especially when moving latterally. Has superior athleticism and body control when driving to the basket.
Harris scored 17 points and 20 points in the two games we observed on Saturday, and was a dominant force both on the ball and on the glass. Superb athlete who's quick with the ball and explosive. Fabulous court vision, throwing pinpoint passes on the move. Improving as a jump shooter, and can knock down open shots when he has sufficient time to setup, but really struggles with a hand in his face and shooting off the dribble.
The 6-foot-5 200 pound WF is prep school bound. Solidly built and a good athlete, his strength is clearly his perimeter shooting. When the GC Ballers were down in the second half to DC Assault, it was Haywood's shooting that got them back in the game. Anyone, high majors included, looking for a shooter should check him out.
Henderson played mostly inside this weekend for the undermanned Playaz, but managed to pop outside a few times and show off an improving perimeter jumper. Did a great job defensively, using his strength and phenomenal hops to block shots and corral tough rebounds. We didn't see any "pantheon level" dunks from him this weekend, but a couple of rim rattlers were still quite impressive.
Horner impressed us the first time we saw him this spring at the Charlie Weber Capital Invitational, playing against DC Assault II. He's built on that performance and seems to be getting better each week. He had 31 points in a pool play game on Saturday, then 20 points in a playoff loss. Long, smooth athlete at 6-foot-7. Can shoot from the perimeter and make plays off the dribble. Great touch and body control on drives to the hoop. Needs strength to really be effective in the Big East or ACC.
The Big Ticket was much more active this weekend in Charlottesville, displaying a face up game that didn't focus so much on jump shots (like last summer's debacle), but more on putting the ball on the floor and driving from the wing. He was extremely effective and produced points for Boo Williams pretty consistently throughout the weekend. He had 19 points in the championship game loss, and 21 points in their quarterfinal playoff win. Georgetown and Wake Forest are the only two schools on his list according to coach Williams.
Neely is a combo-guard with good size and quickness. He's a disruptive defender who's opportunistic playing the passing lanes. Solid, athletic finisher. Showed us that he could make perimeter shots in the NC Gaters' quarterfinals loss to DC Assault where he scored 23 points. If he can do that consistently he'll play at a very high level.
Reynolds was solid all weekend until the championship game, where he scored just 2 points. The future Sooner in earlier playoff and pool play games demonstrated his familiar deadly shooting touch and a rapidly improving ability to use the dribble to penetrate the defense. It just wasn't working for him in the finals.
Sutton was the NC Gaters' other big gun last weekend in Charlottsville. The 6-foot-4 195 pound wing forward showed big time athletic ability in a compact, powerful frame. He demonstrated a nice touch from 17 feet and in, but he was definitely at his best in transition where he made several spectacular plays against DC Assault in the quarterfinals. He finished with 18 points in the loss.