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May 28, 2006

TOC - Saturday

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Saturday at the Tournament of Champions provided several fireworks from all of the classes. DeAndre Jordan started the day with a bang, a Peach State backcourt tandem shined in the 15 and under division and a big time sleeper emerged out of North Carolina.

Star Power

DeAndre Jordan, Houston Swoosh - The big Texan had a block/dunk party at 8:30 on Saturday morning against Beach Ball Select. At 6-feet-11, Jordan was a good three inches taller than his opposition's frontline and took advantage of it with at least seven blocks and a half dozen dunks. There aren't a lot of guys like Jordan in the class of 2007. He runs the floor well, is athletic, moves well and gives teams headaches when he is at the top of his game. Jordan said he will trim his school list after the TOC. Texas, Texas A&M, Indiana, LSU and Kentucky look to be the finalists.

Demetri McCamey, Illinois Wolves - The power point guard put together the best performance of the day against the Tallahassee Wildcats. Offensively, he had his jumper working in all points. His fade away worked. His pull up was dropping. McCamey sprinted to the basket and converted. He posted up on the defense. As the point, McCamey worked the half court offense with patience and efficiency. His 22 points were as good as they could have possibly been.

Evan Turner, Illinois Wolves - The five-star prospect has a great steam of momentum rolling into the summer time. Things are starting to really click on the offensive end as he continues to show why he is becoming one of the most coveted players in the country. His 24 points in an afternoon game against the Tallahassee Wildcats were smooth and smart.

A.J. Stewart, Tallahassee Wildcats - The 6-foot-8 forward makes a good first impression. After missing the spring travel period because of international travels, Stewart came out firing in his first appearance at a major event. Offensively, it was a great showing from the four-star prospect. Stewart buried a 12-foot turn around jumper. Then came the fade away shot. He created a bucket off the dribble against five-star Evan Turner. Stewart capped off a good offensive outing with a three-pointer.

Brandon Jennings, Southern California All-Stars - He's so good, he just toys with people. The rising junior pilots the superstar SCA ship like a seasoned veteran and his understanding of the game is second to none. Ball-handling? Jennings went through the Memphis Magic defense like he was the one with the tricks up his sleeve. There is even talk amongst media row of Jennings as the top overall prospect in 2008. Jennings has made a strong case from start to now on the AAU circuit. But has he played good enough? That answer is still up for grabs.

Marcus Morris and Markeiff Morris, Hunting Park - There is a great debate in the recruiting world about which Morris twin is a better prospect. The answer? Both. It really depends on who you like. The 6-foot-8 Philadelphia natives are two different types of players. Marcus is more of a wing forward who can create from the wing and attacks the basket on offense. He's more fluid of an athlete, too. Markeif is a block forward that rebounds and blocks shots well and mixes in a turn around jumper here and there.

The brothers are not like most twin prospects. Because of their different positions, colleges are more likely to recruit both of them. They said they would like to play together at the college level. The list of schools for both player is long. Marcus said he is holding offers from Rutgers, LaSalle, St. Joe's, Virginia, George Washington, Kentucky and Villanova. Georgetown, Temple, Syracuse and others are involved as well. Markeif said LaSalle, St. Joe's, Kentucky, Pitt, Miami, Virginia, West Virginia, Arizona, UConn, Oklahoma, Providence, Rutgers and George Mason were on him.

The Morris twins will most likely be a hot target for coaches as July's evaluation period opens up. There are little doubts that they are high-major guys. The real question is whether or not they will play together in college.

Darquavis Tucker, Michigan Hurricanes - The scoop on Tucker has been out there for two years. He is a super freak athlete with a high-major body. That has been established for some time now. Tucker is starting to show off the finer points of his game as he continues to mature. His passing skills are good and getting better. His midrange game is refined and now that he is blending his slashing with a pull up 10 foot jumper/floater, teams are scratching their heads on how to stop him.

Alex Legion, Michigan Hurricanes - Things were clicking on Saturday for the four-star guard. After having a mediocre spring showing, the athletic and smooth wing went to work with four three-pointers and countless drives to the basketball for scores. With his future head coach Steve Smith of Oak Hill watching from the stands, Legion played like the Legion of last year. If that happens, then that is good news for the host of high-majors that have him on the short list. Legion scored 24 points against Team Philly.

Eric Gordon, Indiana Elite - Scoring 49 points against the Atlanta Celtics will get people talking. The future Illinois guard followed up his big outburst with a quieter outing against the Rising Stars (Ill.). Gordon scores from all over the floor. That isn't a big secret. But his attention on the glass was nice to see from the nation's top shooting guard. Gordon will be a major match-up problem the minute he gets to Champaign.

Youth movement

Lorenzo Brown, Inner Strength 15U - The Peach State is one of the most fertile states in the country and it looks like Georgia's next star is the 6-foot-2 combo guard from Centennial High School. Smooth, efficient and the ultimate team guy, Brown has done a great job of putting all of the skills the great guards have together. The class of 2009 prospect only scored 13 points in a big win against Texas Select but for a kid that can score at such a quiet pace, his second half offense was as loud as it gets. His ball-handling and passing skills are top notch, too. After a big freshman year in Atlanta, his recruitment is surprisingly quiet. Brown said Georgia, Wake Forest, Auburn and Alabama.

Russell Powell, Inner Strength 15U - He may have been the smallest player on the floor but the 5-foot-7 point guard from Newnan (Ga.) High School knifed through the defense at will against Texas Select. His ball-handling skills are top-notch, decision making is above par and his burst of speed is equally strong. Powell erupted for 24 points in the big win. It's early but Georgia and Georgia State have made an early in-road with him.

Karon Johnson, Richmond Squires - The class of 2009 prospect saved one of his best games of the tournament for one of the best teams in the tournament. The 6-foot-8, 210-pound wing forward from the Patterson School via Mt. Zion sank a buzzer beater three-pointer to claim victory over D.C. Assault. Johnson finished with 19 points in the upset and just outworked the entire Assault frontline. He picked his spots to score inside, ran the floor, gave the opposition fits with his tenacity and earned the victory with hard work. Johnson said Syracuse, Louisville, LSU, Virginia and Clemson are recruiting him.

Al-Farouq Aminu, Georgia Stars 16U - The spring has been a statement month for the class of 2008. His statement has been simple. The 6-foot-8 forward is one of the elite level players in his class and seems to prove that every game out. The 15-year-old has all of the skills in the world and shows off a new facet of his skill set in every game he plays. Not bad for a guy that hasn't played varsity basketball in over a year's time. He has put his team on his back and pushed them into the tournament field. Don't be surprised to see Aminu playing late into Sunday's action.

Brad Redford, Michigan Mustangs 16U - There might not be a better pure shooter in the tournament field than the class of 2008 guard. The 6-footer moves well around screens and fires up long range bombs at ease. Redford finished with 18 points against the Atlanta Celtics Gold. He said Valpo and Xavier have offered scholarships while Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford, Wake Forest and Notre Dame have shown interest.

Shawn Williams, Texas Select 16U - Basketball mavens in the Lone Star State have the 6-foot-6 forward tabbed as the next big thing. But the class of 2009 prospect didn't have his A game working against Inner Strength. The talent is certainly there as he showed a flash here and there. Williams is a fluid athlete that isn't trying to figure out the kind of player he is or will become. He plays like he knows what he is working with. Time is on his side and Williams has the tools to become a big timer.

Chris Singleton, Atlanta Celtics Gold 16U - The 6-foot-7 lefty forward was the one of the offensive bright spots for the Celtics this morning against the Michigan Mustangs. When his perimeter game is flowing, Singleton is a very intriguing prospect. And when he is a power forward, the position where he is at his best, Singleton could be one of the elite level guys in the 2008 class. However, his motor is not always running at full strength. A tune up to his game can speed him to stardom.

Prospects name favorites

Adam Allen, Tallahassee Wildcats - A bum ankle slowed down the Sunshine State stud but he was able to show off his perimeter game by knocking down a trey from the right corner and connected on a pull up 25 footer. His tournament playing time is probably over just two games into the TOC. While he rests his foot, the four-star prospect will be contemplating where he will attend college. Allen will decide in the next week between Alabama, Florida and Florida State.

Laval Lucas-Perry, Pittsburgh JOTS - The 6-foot-2 guard from Flint (Mich.) Powers High School is moonlighting with the JOTS for the tournament and picking his spots to shine. The full-time Michigan Mustang saw his recruitment take off this spring. Marquette and Penn State are his high-major offers while Boston College, Michigan, Michigan State, Arizona, Virginia, Pitt and Georgia Tech are keeping close watch.

Draymond Green, Michigan Mustangs 16U - The undersized power forward punches his card and goes to work inside. He helped free up Redford with high schools and worked on the offensive glass. Green said Michigan State, Michigan, Dayton, DePaul and Miami are on his recruiting list.

Delwan Graham, Atlanta Celtics Gold 16U - The light is starting to go off for the 6-foot-7 lefty from Dunwoody (Ga.) High School. Athletically and physically, Graham is in the upper percentile of the 2008 class. He does his best work in the paint and scored 20 points against a big frontline of the Syracuse Select. Graham said his top four consist of South Carolina, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Clemson. He also mentioned Tennessee, Memphis and Illinois.

Wesley Witherspoon, Georgia Stars 16U - Some players just take some time to develop their game and the 6-foot-6 small forward from Berkmar High School is one of those guys. The rising junior is good with the ball in his hands. He can play the point part time and is versatile enough to play all over the floor. His school list is all over the map with Northwestern, Oregon State, Stetson, Auburn and Clemson.

Tariq Muhammed, Georgia Stars 16U - He may be a class of 2009 prospect but the high-majors are jumping all over the 6-foot-1 point guard from Norcross (Ga.) High School. Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Clemson, Florida State, Oregon, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech and others are lining up for him.

Hi, my name is…

Johnny Thomas, NC Gaters - The class of 2007 has not yielded many surprises this year on the AAU circuit so when a player like Thomas comes around with a brilliant 18 point performance against a team like the Worldwide Renegades, the excitement level shoots through the roof. Thomas, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound wing from Greensboro (N.C.) Day High School made play after play in a big win over the Renegades. Thomas knocked down a number of three-pointers, rebounded inside against a talented and big frontline and kept the Gaters in the game.

Thomas may be an unknown on the national circuit but the high-majors certainly know about him. He said Miami and George Washington have offered scholarships and half of the ACC are keeping a close watch. Wake Forest, Clemson, NC State, Florida State, Virginia Tech and NC State are involved. Thomas will attend NC State and Virginia Tech's elite camps in June and trips to Miami and George Washington are in the works, he said.

Courtney Fortson, Southeast Elite - Respect is given to where respect is due. And in too many instances, that doesn't happen enough in the AAU world. Fortson needs his props. He's earned it. The jet quick guard can score in a hurry and has willed his SE Elite team to several huge wins over the last two months. Fortson enjoyed another big showing at the TOC and should see his recruitment rise to another level come July. Is he a high-major? That is a question Fortson has been trying to answer all year long. It is hard to argue against that.

Aaron Ellis, Beach Ball Select - His stats or playing tell won't tell the story about his level as a prospect but the future South Carolina Gamecock has tools to work with. Mix in stellar coaching by Dave Odom and you have yourself a guy that could make people ask "where did he come from?" Ellis is a long 6-foot-8, can step out and knock down the three ball but also grab a rebound, start the break at finish at the rim.

Shawn Evans, Team Philly - The 6-foot-7, 230-pound power forward from Northeast High School in Philadelphia is a name that should spend some time on the mid-major watch list this summer. He's big, strong and knows he is a power forward. Evans said Miami, St. John's, Arkansas, LaSalle, George Mason, St. Joe's, Butler, Delaware, Rutgers and Siena are all interested.


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