WASHINGTON, D.C. - The 2004 Capital Invitational got underway on Friday night at Georgetown University with several impressive showings by members of the 16U pool. There was a mixture of crafty ball handlers, athletic wings and one big man with tremendous upside.
Herb Pope - The 6-foot-9 freshman from Montrose Christian had one of the most intriguing nights. Pope displayed great athleticism for a kid his size at his young age. On one occasion, he took the ball from coast to coast, took the ball off the dribble and went behind the back and then up for the dunk. It didn't fall but seeing him in motion was pretty impressive. Playing with the Pittsburgh JOTS for the summer, Pope will be one to watch closely. The big man has early interest from ACC and Big East schools. Keep an eye on him, he's a high major.
Taylor Battle - The 6-foot guard scored 21 points in a three point victory over Blessed INJ. The freshman knows how to play. He lives up to his name, as he battles to basket with very little trouble and displayed a nice shot from deep. He has the form down but the rims were just unkind from the perimeter. He could have easily had 30 on the night. Battle sees the floor pretty well and covers a lot of ground on the defensive end. The New York native will play with Albany City Rocks for the summer. Several schools on the Eastern seaboard have been sending letters so far.
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Greg Holly - Battle's 6-foot-6 freshman teammate defines blue collar player. The power man for the Albany City Rocks got after it inside the paint and fought for loose balls, rebounds and blocked shots. He's not afraid to set a pick or dive on the floor for a loose ball. His energy sparked the team. Not overly big at this point, he has plenty of room to grown into his size 16 feet and also is surprisingly athletic.
Collin Young - Outside of Pope, Young may have had the second best performance of the night. He's a fine athlete with nice frame (6-foot-3, 205-pounds). Playing with Blessed INJ, Young played all five spots on the night. He can handle the ball and sees the floor like a point, can attack the basket like a top-notch wing and rebounded the ball like a true post man. The Snider High School (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) starter had 21 points in a losing effort to the Rocks. His head coach Eric Vaughn believes Young is just a mid-major, but with more games like he had on Friday night, that could change.
Jeff Peterson - The roads crossed in life are sometimes funny. Peterson moved to Maryland from Springfield, Mo. to attend the famed DeMatha High School for more exposure, teaching and playing against the best of the best. Because of the move, Peterson is now gaining interest from some big schools across the nation and a chance to play for the always loaded D.C. Blue Devils program. Peterson is a smart player at the point spot. Never forcing the issue, the 6-foot floor general rarely turns the ball over and played like a seasoned vet. Clemson, Maryland, Ohio State and Virginia Tech have all sent letters at this point.
Austin Freeman - Joining Peterson in the D.C. Blue Devils/DeMatha backcourt is this 6-foot-3 combo guard. Freeman has a ton of skills and knows how to use them to his benefit. He's garnered many of the same looks that Peterson has and played in front of 25 coaches - including Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt - at DeMatha before heading over to Georgetown for the tournament.
Pat Behan - The 6-foot-5 sophomore had a great showing with four three pointers, crafty passing and nice baseline moves to the basket. He's a mid major player and has a game similar to last year's AAU darling Jimmie Binnie, who will be at Dayton next year. Behan will open a lot of eyes with his overall game.
Jermaine Muff - Staying with the Blessed INJ team, we look to their young team and find a promising 6-foot-7 freshman. Muff had 18 points and 13 rebounds in the tourney's first game. He has good size and a nice bounce inside the paint. Keep your eye on this Hardy (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) product.
Reggie Redding - Philly MJC's 6-foot-5 wing is a pure athlete with a high major look to him. He loves to attack the basket and he's got the frame to take a pounding in the process. Redding can shoot, too. He's got a nice touch and looked to be the major scoring option against their in-state rival JOTS. We'll be watching him down the road.
We will have more from the Capital Invitational on Saturday night after the 17U pool play is completed. Coaches will be allowed to evaluate from the venue as well. Stay tuned for exclusive reports.