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April 27, 2007

King James: Friday night

AKRON, Ohio -- Finding the best stretch of games on Friday night at the King James Shooting Stars Classic proved to be difficult as the top teams and prospects were spread out. The best spot to be at was Kent State University and those that made it over had a treat in the final game.

Star Power

Al-Farouq Aminu showed why he's considered the top wing forward in the nation.

Aminu was simply un-guardable against Full Package (Ill.) in a 68-63 Stars victory. The 6-foot-8 forward from Norcross scored 26 points on nine of 15 shooting from the floor, grabbed seven rebounds and collected three steals. The five-star forward was eight for 11 inside the paint and did a fantastic job of driving to the lane with the dribble and making acrobatic scores at the rim.

Somewhat quiet in the first half, Aminu exploded in the second stanza and delivered the knockout punch and overcame a seven point halftime deficit. Aminu certainly proved why nearly all of the elite level programs have offered. Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Florida, Connecticut, Clemson, Wake Forest and others are all being considered by the Georgia native. He will likely draw a crowd of coaches this weekend. Aminu raised the bar pretty high for the big dogs on Friday night.

The Stars had to find a way to overcome the hot hand of Illinois guard Iman Shumpert, who came out firing in the first half. The 6-foot-3 combo guard scored 17 first half points and seemed to score any time he wanted with dead-eye pull-up three-pointers. Shumpert sank a gorgeous long ball over the outstretched arms of Aminu, who tried to man up the quick combo guard.

Shumpert finished with 25 points on eight of 16 shooting from the floor (four of eight came from behind the line) as well as grabbing five rebounds, handing out four assists and swiping three steals. It was a great first half for the Rivals150 guard but the Stars employed a box and one defense on Shumpert and that quieted the offensive flow for Full Package.

Georgia Stars guard David Forrest blanketed Shumpert and did a fantastic job of limiting his touches.

Other notables in the night cap

Georgia Stars center Tony Woods had a strong game with 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. The near 7-footer is as athletic as they come at the five position and he took advantage of his physical traits with a handful of strong moves to the basket for thunderous dunks.

Woods put a couple on Stan Simpson of Full Package, another promising high-major big man. Woods said he has seen his recruitment take another boost after a strong showing at the Kingwood Classic. He said Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA have all stepped up with interest. Woods added the Wildcats have offered a scholarship.

The high-majors join Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Connecticut in the race. Woods said there is a strong leader in the process.

"I'm really feeling Florida right now," Woods said.

Woods also added that he, Aminu and Wesley Witherspoon have had serious discussions about playing together in college.

Simpson struggled with foul trouble, as most big men do against a frontline like the one the Stars employ. Nevertheless, the 6-foot-9 post from Chicago Leo High School continues to play the role of high-major prospect.

He had his moments of clarity in the post, scoring some tough shots over bigger guys and notable shot-blockers, most notably Woods. His strength isn't on offense either. Simpson is a guy that takes pride in blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. Friday night was a difficult one in that department. It will be interesting to see what coaches make it out to see him on Saturday.

The kids are alright

A handful of 2009 prospects jumped into the picture with inspired play on Friday night.

Keep an eye out for Dane Miller, a 6-foot-6 wing from Rush Henrietta High School in upstate New York. The sophomore has great springs for legs and uses them to play well above the rim or sprint up and down the floor like a man possessed.

Miller can handle the ball comfortably and plays low to the ground with a good center of gravity. He did a nice job of attacking the basket and the jury is still out on his jump shot and ability to create with the dribble but he's a no-brainer Big East level player. Miller said he's heard from Syracuse and others early in the process.

Malik Wayans, a 6-foot point guard from Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia, was the catalyst for Team Philly in an opening night win. He's a typically strong Philly guard that bullies himself into the paint with the dribble drive and plays like a downfield runner running back.

Defensively, Wayans is good on the ball and plays hard and smart when he's guarding his man. He loved to drive and dish or score right at the cup. Wayans had 15 points and seven assists in his team's win over Tulsa PWP.

Wayans said he has offers from Temple, St. Joe's, LaSalle and Delaware early on while Villanova and Georgia Tech are flirting early. He added the two high-majors are his favorites. Pittsburgh, Seton Hall and Rutgers are also sniffing around. Wayans added he doesn't want to go too far from home for school.

News & Notes

Drazen Zlovaric, a 6-foot-8 wing forward from Cleveland (Tenn.), scored a team high 15 points in an easy win on Friday night. The Rivals150 wing said Georgia, Texas and USC as well as a number of other Pac-10 schools are looking at him.

Missouri State landed an early commitment from Ken Holdman as a sophomore and that pledge will prove to be a good one over time. The 6-foot point guard from East Central High School in Tulsa, Okla., is well built and knows how to play the position with efficiency. He's quick up and down the floor and handles the ball with little trouble and seems to be content with being a pass first player.

Teammate Sidney Hadnott, also at East Central High School, showed off great athleticism for Tulsa PWP. His coach said the 6-foot-5 slasher has an offer from Lamar while Oral Roberts and Tulsa are looking at him.

Philadelphia wing Jamal Wilson has interest from all kinds of levels. Kansas State, Xavier, Old Dominion, Florida, Wake Forest and others are keeping tabs on the 6-foot-5 defensive minded wing from Neumann-Goretti.

The Michigan Mustangs might have the best 1-2 shooting punch in the tournament in Xavier commitment Brad Redford and rising prospect Stacy Waters. The duo lit it up against the Georgia Cavaliers. Waters, a 6-foot-2 shooter, is coming on strong this month and could very well play himself into a Big Ten offer or two after April.

Georgia Cavs wing Chris Reynolds is the team's best Division I prospect. He's a pure scorer that will be a steal for a mid-major program. He has good size at 6-foot-4, a good nose for putting the ball in the iron and plays with a physical edge. Reynolds said he has heard from Georgia Southern, UNC Wilmington, Fordham, Furman, Charleston Southern, Virginia Tech and Tennessee.

Justin Young is the Senior National Basketball Recruiting Writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at jyoung@rivals.com.


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