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July 12, 2007

Summer Kickoff is major stop on Wednesday

ATLANTA - The second annual Atlanta Celtics Summer Kickoff was a stopping point for a large number of college coaches on Wednesday and for those that made a stop at Georgia State, they had a chance to see a lot of talented young players and a couple of surprises.



Few people outside of the state of Georgia know much about Dustin Ware. If he played anywhere other than the Peach State on Wednesday night, the University of Georgia bound guard would be a more talked about player. Ware was outstanding against the New Orleans Jazz. Ware was clutch throughout the contest and had little trouble against a pesky, athletic and bigger team.

Ware, an early commitment to Georgia, scored 23 points in front of all of the high-major coaches that stopped by the Summer Kickoff. If people didn't know who he was coming into the event, Ware gave a great first impression. When the bright lights come on, Ware seems to turn it on. Georgia landed a good one.

The Jazz boast a team deep with prospects, including Terrance Henry, Brandon Wilson (an Ole Miss commit) and Chris Bass. But with Ware leading the break on defense, Inner Strength lived up to their name.

Henry did draw a big crowd of coaches. Kansas's Bill Self, Arkansas's John Pelphrey and coaches from Baylor, Ole Miss, Florida, LSU and others watched him closely.

Other notables from 17U

The Atlanta Celtics 17 and under team is the most talented team in the field and after a runner-up finish at the It Takes 5ive Classic last week, the team is looking to bring home the hardware. One of the ways of doing that is getting good play from guys like Dennis Harris, a long 6-foot-10 forward, and 6-foot-6 wing Gideon Gamble.

Both prospects are sure fire mid-major prospects and both have high-major potential. Gamble played well in the morning and showed great athleticism to go along with his length on the wing as a shooter. Harris, who has been hurt for the good part of the spring and summer, stepped in for Derrick Favors, who was not at the event, and showed flashes. He's still a work in progress but his attention to hit the boards and run the floor was encouraging.

The Celtics play at the pace set by Dunwoody (Ga.) forward Delwan Graham, who continues to grind it out and just do what he does best around the cup. Graham said his offer list includes LSU, Tennessee, Florida State, Wichita State and Dayton. A list of 20 or so schools are also in pursuit of the 6-foot-5 grinder.

Mississippi big man Rashanti Harris will wow you when he first walks into the gym. The 6-foot-9 broad shouldered athlete has a college ready body a lot like former Florida player Donnell Harvey. However, he's not the athlete Harvey is. Harris is a prospect. He scored 21 points against the South Georgia Kings and gave a solid effort.

Harris said Mississippi State is recruiting him the hardest. The Bulldogs caught a lot of his games on Wednesday. Middle Tennessee State head coach Kermit Davis was front and center for all of his games, too.

Making their way across the country, the Los Angeles Stars were an interesting team in the field. Most of the programs playing in the event hail from the Deep South. Nevertheless, the Stars had a solid effort from big man Edgar Garibay. The 6-foot-10 center won't wow you with any one particular thing. He just goes about his business, ran the pick and roll well and mixed it up on the blocks. Virginia took a peek at the Compton (Calif.) product.

Savannah (Ga.) Beach forward Markeith Cumming scored 23 points and used his man-sized body to muscle towards the basket for buckets. The 6-foot-6 monster recently committed to Atlantic Sun school Kennesaw State, as did his high school teammate Ladaris Green early in the year. Cumming will prep at Mt. Zion in North Carolina for a year before enrolling. Both players are steals for the Owls.

Underclassmen rule the day

Perhaps the best part about the Summer Kickoff was getting a glimpse at the younger players. And no one had more coaches watching their games than the Atlanta Celtics 16 and under team.

The team doesn't boast one particular star but its lineup is deep with prospects. Any one player can shine the most on any given moment. Big man Terrance Shannon has heard the word "beast" used to describe him plenty of times. The 6-foot-6 power forward from Mary Persons High School is a high-energy guy with a huge wingspan, natural strength and a motor that doesn't turn off.

Shannon said he has offers from LSU, Alabama, Tennessee Tech and Georgia. Florida State, Alabama, Penn State, Tennessee, Florida, Clemson, Toledo, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are also looking at him, he said.

In a blowout game in the mid-afternoon, Brue Pearl, Dennis Felton, Dave Odom, Central Florida's Kirk Speraw, Mike Sutton of Tennessee Tech and assistants from Alabama, Wichita State, Lipscomb, Jacksonville, Kennesaw State, VCU, NC State, Florida, High Point, Arkansas-Little Rock, Stetson, LSU, Kentucky and Virginia Tech all took in the Celtics.

Playing well for the club was wing Manny Atkins, Shawn Kemp, Ryan Fleming and Andre Malone. All four are sure fire Division I prospects.

Also making a splash were the Carolina Celtics. Talk about a team rich with talent. Leading the way is 2009 Clemson commitment Devin Booker, the younger brother of current Tiger Trevor Booker.

The younger Booker is a lot like his brother in the fact he's a long-armed forward that blocks shots, uses his athleticism and strength very well. Devin is bigger than his brother at the same stage and probably a little more skilled. Odds are, he'll be a Rivals150 soon. Booker is a good looking prospect and Tigers were quick to lock this one up early with obvious ties.

But the best performer that we saw on Wednesday was Khris Middleton. The 6-foot-6 wing from Charleston (S.C.) Porter-Gaud was making clutch shots in a tough, back-and-forth game against the Georgia Jaguars. Middleton knocked down four three-pointers and seemed to always have the answer in the clutch. Middleton, a great student according to his coaches, is hearing from Clemson, Virginia, College of Charleston, Vanderbilt and St. Joseph's.

Keep an eye out for Quinton Thomas, an intriguing 6-foot-5 guard from Greenville (S.C.) Southside, and Lucas Troutman, a 6-foot-9 center from Belton (S.C.) Honea Path. Both are Division I prospects.

Watch out for the duo of Rion Brown and Jordan McRae. The two play for the South Georgia Kings 15 and under team and Liberty County High School, just outside of Savannah. Brown has greatly improved since participating in the Georgia Hoops Fall Showcase. Now 6-foot-4 guard and muscular, the bouncy guard gets into the lane and finishes around the rim and snatches rebounds well for a 2010 prospect. His father, Tico, is the all-time leading scorer in CBA history.

McRae, a skinny 6-foot-4 wing, is a long prospect. He has a 6-foot-10 wingspan and has great hops. He's an improving shooter and also a 2010 prospect. The two have a chance to be very good in the next couple of years.

Langston Galloway, a 6-foot-1 combo guard from Baton Rouge (La.) Christian Life, was a great surprise. The class of 2010 guard had LSU head man John Brady watching closely. The SEC coach had to like what he saw. Galloway was great on the ball as a defender, shot the ball well, ran the point and had a game similar to Baylor bound guard LaceDarius Dunn. Galloway was the biggest non-Georgian surprise of the day. He's a sure-fire high-major kid in the 2010 class. Galloway plays for H.P. Elite 15 and under.

The duo of Quintavious Houston, a 6-foot-3 guard Atlanta (Ga.) Banneker High School, and LaTerrance Carter, a 5-foot-10 guard from Stone Mountain (Ga.) Redan High School, were great surprises, too. The class of 2010 prospects had it rolling in the backcourt for the 15 and under EOTO/EATS team. Houston proved himself as one of the elite scorers in the 15 and under division. He knocked down incredibly tough shots on the wing, particularly with a step back three and attacked the rim without fear. Carter is a jet-quick point guard with toughness to him. Both will be fun to watch grow up some more as players.


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