COLUMBUS, GA -- It was a match-up of the power players in Georgia in the championship game of the Riverfest tournament. The Atlanta Celtics knocked off the Georgia Stars to claim the 17 and under title on Sunday.
Atlanta Celtics claim 17 and under division
Auburn commitment Andre Malone capped off a strong weekend of work with a 20-point performance in the championship game. The 6-foot-4 guard has started the spring period with a strong effort, showing that he can score with little trouble from the wing and his bounce continues to improve.
Malone was a constant 20-point performer for the Celtics over the weekend and his playing with a high level of confidence.
The tournament's top ranked player Derrick Favors put together another strong performance and flirted with a triple-double. Defensively, his presence was felt more than it was on the offensive end of the floor.
Rivals150 forward Terrance Shannon will have a fan club wherever he goes in April as he is one of the most sought after power forwards in the nation. He remains wide-open and coaches will be happy to see his improved footwork in the post and overall offensive upgrade on the blocks.
Georgia Stars shines in Columbus
The Stars leaned on the play of Kammeon Holsey, who joined the team for the last day of action. He missed the first two days of the event because of a parade in his home town of Sparta, Ga. (population 1,352) that honored him and his Hancock Central High School teammates. The team won the Class A state title this year.
Holsey's versatility and skill in the post was a welcomed addition for the Stars but in the end it wasn't enough to hold off the Celtics.
Glen Rice was the most productive player for the Stars all weekend and he upped the level of his play in all of the games he played in. The 6-foot-5 guard from Walton (Ga.) High School knocked down shots from the wing with little trouble, which is his specialty, and stepped up his production on the defensive end. He used his great length to cover a lot of ground for steals and blocks.
Rice has great momentum heading into April and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out for him during the evaluation period.
In the semi-finals, the Stars had great production from a pair of sleeper guards. Shooting guard Khalid Mutakabbir and point guard Dee Goens both came up with big plays, according to Stars coach Troy Vincent, and both should their respective recruitments take off in April, too.
Carolina Celtics continue strong play
There wasn't a bigger surprise over the course of the weekend than Khris Middleton. The 6-foot-6 wing was a constant scoring threat and he showed off a smooth touch from the wing. He can explode for a quick 20 points and did so in a couple of games for the Celtics.
Foul trouble handcuffed Clemson commitment Devin Booker in the semi-finals against the Georgia Stars. That's when Middleton took over. He stepped up with several big bombs from the perimeter and was the hardest player for the Stars to guard.
The Charleston, S.C. native will be a player to watch in April for the high-majors because of the various tools he has to work with.
All Stars final in 16U division
The Georgia Stars Blue team won the 16 and under division over the Georgia Stars 16 and under White team on Sunday.
The Blue team rode the play of point guard DeVonta White and big man Marcus Thornton, according to coach Bo Bell, to claim the championship in overtime on Sunday.
Winning it all wasn't easy, Bell said. The White squad, the Belmont version of the 16U division, had to hurry to the title game and stepped onto the floor 15 minutes after the semi-finals. Going to overtime was a moral victory.
White is one of the top point guards in the Southeast in his class and should use the spring to "blow up" nationally. His recruitment is already picking up, as schools in the SEC are starting to get into the picture.
Thornton, a bruising 6-foot-7 forward from Westlake High School, is one of the biggest post players in his class in the Peach State and he knows how to use his size to his advantage.
The big man said he has early interest from Georgia Tech, Georgia, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Miami, Florida, Xavier, Alabama, Tennessee, Clemson and South Carolina.
Point guard Aloys Cabel of Mays High School, Chris Grier of Chamblee High School, Jeremy Burgess of Athens Academy and Javaris Rhode all had strong moments on Saturday. All four will have high-majors tracking their improvement over the next couple of years.
The White team was paced by forward Vincent Bailey and point guard Jonathan Dabel. Bailey, a strong-bodied power forward from East Paulding High School (Ga.) used his strength and bounce to his advantage in the post while Dabel, a quick left-handed point guard from Kennesaw Mountain (Ga.) High School was the team's top scorer for the weekend.
The kids are alright
The way the event was scheduled and laid out, it allowed plenty of time to see some of the top young players in the event.
The King James Shooting Stars 15 and under team played up in the 16 and under division and the young team didn't disappoint.
Led by Georgia's top freshman Julian Royal, a 6-foot-7 forward from Milton High School, the play from combo guard Shannon Scott of the Lovett School and Dai-Jon Parker, the biggest surprise of the young kids from the weekend, of Marietta High School, the team impressed in an older division of competition.
Royal is a skilled big man with good size and length and a strong skill set at the power forward position. He has a nice set of hands and an understanding of what he is. Scott, the son of former UNC great Charlie Scott, is a gritty guard with good size and a good feel for the game.
Parker, a bouncy 6-foot-3 guard, wowed the crowd on Friday with his high-flying act. On Saturday, he showed off a nice perimeter game that is starting to ooze confidence.
The Georgia Jaguars 16 and under team was paced by 6-foot-2 sophomore guard C.J. Denson of Shaw High School in Columbus. Denson started the games out strong as a set-up point guard and finished most games as a fearless scorer. He was one of the better guards in the 16 and under division.
Nate Hill raised some eyebrows with his play with the Georgia Blazers 16 and under team. The 6-foot-5 combo forward nailed a handful of three-pointers and then stepped inside the paint for buckets on the blocks. The Colquitt County prospect will be one to watch in the 2010 class for the Southern low to mid-majors.
News & Notes
Georgia Jaguars guard Khiry White had a good weekend in his hometown. The Shaw High School two guard shot the ball well, made smart basketball plays and had the look of a solid mid-major player to recruit from the class of 2009.
Georgia Blazers big man James Vincent was regulated to cheerleader and will wear that hat for a good part of the AAU season. The 6-foot-10 center is out with a torn ACL. He had surgery on the injury a month ago. He said he is aiming for a July return but isn't married to the idea of playing right away. Vincent, a high-major prospect, could be one of the most sought after big men in the nation next spring because of his injury.