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May 27, 2007

Tournament of Champions: Saturday

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Sometimes it is good to go off the beaten path. Saturday's activities at the Tournament of Champions had a youthful feel to it on the second day of action. Rivals.com spent a good amount of time watching the younger divisions and saw a handful of guys outside of the normal names and faces.

Youth movement

We made it a point to spend some time watching the younger divisions of the tournament to get an early eye on some of the up and coming talent.

Those in the D.C. area that watched Jeff Green grow into a projected lottery pick say they are seeing similar traits at the same stage in 2009 forward Wally Judge.

While not the perimeter threat that Green showed he can be at Georgetown, Judge is a terrific rebounder like Green. The 6-foot-8 big man from Bladensburgh (Md.) High School scored 20 points in the heated game between Team Final, a team DC Assault played tightly in Pittsburgh.

Much like their spring pairing, this one went back and forth and Judge showed flashes of why he recently found himself in the five-star range for the 2009 class. Judge is good around the basket and showed off nice versatility with both hands. He finished everything inside and ran the floor like a guard.

Clearly a high-major prospect, Judge will certainly be a must-see guy for the ACC and Big East come July. He said Georgetown, West Virginia, Maryland and Pittsburgh are the highest on his list.

Gluing all of the talent together beautifully for the Assault was mighty mite point guard Daryl Traynham. The throw back floor general did a little bit of everything in the victory. Offensively, he was knocking down midrange jumpers and a pair of three-pointers. He directed the offense with poise and commanded the attention of his teammates with vocal leadership and patience in a heated game. Defensively, the 5-foot-7 guard got into his man and forced early turnovers and bad shots.

He may be small but his basketball IQ is off the charts and guys like playing with him. Judging point guards, what else do you want in a guy that has the ball in his hands at all times?

Traynham said he has an offer from St. Joe's while Maryland, Pittsburgh and Xavier are recruiting him early.

Perhaps the biggest, and nicest, surprise on the team was 6-foot-5 wing Javon Farrell. The Bishop Ireton product won't blow anyone away with any one particular thing but he's a guy that finds ways to get himself involved in plays on both sides of the floor. Farrell did a fine job of crashing the boards, making himself a presence as a rebounder and constantly attacked the basket. A 3.8 student, Farrell will earn a scholarship from a high-major. He said he already has early interest from Maryland, Connecticut, Kentucky and Louisville.

When it comes to shooting, Rodney McGruder was the go-to guy for the Assault. The 6-foot-4 guard from Archbishop Carroll scored 19 points in the victory. He was solid at the foul line and knocked down his shots on the wing. McGruder said he is hearing from Seton Hall, Clemson, Georgetown, Buffalo and Pittsburgh.

Team Final has a future star in guard Dion Waiters. The powerful guard scored 21 points in his team's heated defeat. The 6-foot-2 guard from Philly is a big time scorer and has the tools to be a force for some time. The class of 2010 prospect didn't shy away from the challenge and proved that he can flat out score the ball when called upon.

Waiters had plenty of help from Oscar Griffin, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from American Christian scored 16 points. The class of 2009 guard went one on one a lot of times and he had success in the late stages of the game. But his game still needs tome tightening up. When it does, Griffin should solidify himself as a good looking high-major prospect.

Philadelphia guard Tony Chenault has been one of the few known national names in the class of 2010 and with that comes a bigger spotlight than most kids in his class. After being under much review, the question already lingering with the 6-foot point guard from Neumann-Goretti surrounded his jump shot. Chenault connected on a handful of his three-point attempts and helped his Team Final crew overcome a big first half deficit.

N.Y., Ga. kids shine

The Long Island Lightning 16 and under club enjoyed a nice Saturday with a couple of big wins. The St. Raymond's duo of Omari Lawrence and Kevin Parrom did some major damage.

Lawrence was great against the Georgia Stars on Saturday night, scoring 22 loud points. The 6-foot-3 guard got to the line, scored at the rim, rebounded well, handed out assists and played a complete game for a guard. He's a good looking player in 2009 and at 6-foot-3, he has some bounce, a shot and a handful of NYC toughness. Lawrence said Memphis, Syracuse, St. John's and Florida are looking at him.

Parrom said he has an offer from Dayton while schools like Pittsburgh, NC State, Memphis, Connecticut, and St. John's are evaluating him.

The Georgia Stars have a sleeping big timer in 6-foot-8 sophomore Kenny Hall. The bouncy forward did his best Tony Woods impression. Hall scored 22 points in a difficult defeat and did so with a number of thundering dunks. His chin up demonstration on the rims was fun to watch in the first half and he collected a half dozen dunks in a six minute span.

Hall, much like Woods at this same stage, is raw and an untapped talent. He's been a performer this spring and solidifying himself as a high-major guy. Hall has two things on his side: big time athlete and he wants to rip the rims off the goal.

Glen Rice, the son of the former NBAer of the same name, is another good looking prospect for the Stars. The 6-foot-4 guard from Walton High School does a little bit of everything on the floor. He's not quite the dead eye shooter that his father is but he's a guy that gets it. Rice gets better (and bigger) every time we see him and could very well end up at a high-major program.

Trae Golden is next in line for the Atlanta Celtics. The 6-foot power guard bullied his way to 24 points in a big win over the Southern California All-Stars. The McEachern High School product has an old school flavor and does a nice job of getting to the basket at will with the dribble drive. Golden is good with both hands and does everything with the dribble. Already a physically developed guard, Golden still needs to round out his attack with a more fluid jump shot.

The freshman said Georgia head coach Dennis Felton has been in to see him this spring and plans to attend camp at Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

2010 kids open eyes

The state of North Carolina is shaping up awfully nice in the 2009 and 2010 classes. The talent in these classes is a major upgrade compared the amount of high-major prospects produced here in the last while.

The CP3 All-Stars have a number of good looking players for the future. Wing Reggie Bullock didn't have the best game on Saturday morning but one viewing of him, it is easy to see why the locals are excited about the 6-foot-4, 175-pound rookie from Kinston (N.C.) High School. He's a long bodied kid that moves well, handles well, passes well and is a good, not great, perimeter scorer. High-major? You betcha.

Also catching an eye was Tashawn Mabry, a long and muscular four man from Rocky Mount (N.C.) High School. He enjoyed a big freshman year and he's already enjoyed some time above the rim. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound prospect is a well built youngster that does his best work down low at this level. Two or three more inches on his frame will do him some good down the road.

Big man Robert Crisp won't blow you away with numbers but the 6-foot-7, 250-pound center from Chapel Hill (N.C.) High School is a big bodied post that has a good array of moves. When he sheds the baby weight and put his body into overdrive, we could be talking about a nice looking prospect in time.

The Ohio Basketball Club 15 and under club has been very successful this spring and it is easy to see why. With a starting five of Division I prospects, the youngsters play well as a collective unit and their unity mixed with high skill level has served them well.

Led by 2010 point guard Noah Cottrill, a Poco (W.V.) product, OBC has speedy and gutty leader in the backcourt. The 6-foot-2 guard is known as primarily as a shooter but he's pretty darn good at whipping passes to his offensive weapons. Cottrill zipped a number of passes with some juice on them. He finished with 20 points in the 8 a.m. game and certainly put a stamp on his position early on in 2010 was a big time spring.

Cottrill found his big man, Dakotah Euton, often and the 6-foot-7 power forward from Rose Hill Christian (Kent.) knew what to do with it. The 2010 forward has the luxury of using his banger's mentality on the young stage. He scored 20 points in the victory. How much better will Euton get over the next three years? That's the big question.

Combo guard Chad Jackson, Euton's teammate at Rose Hill, is a good looking prospect. Also a 2010 kid, Jackson has a frame that will fit in nicely at the next level. He's wiry and strong despite his thin frame. He has a good understanding of the game for a youngster. In fact, he could be the best pure prospect on the team and is a sure fire high-major guy at the end of the day.

Also making a strong impression was Josh Sewell, a 6-foot-5 wing from Louisville (Kent.) Trinity, and Aaron Ashley, a 6-foot-3 guard from Cleveland Heights (Ohio). Sewell is an intriguing athletic wing that scored 10 points while Ashley knocked down a couple of perimeter shots and finished with 16.

News from the notepad

Few players had a better morning on the 15 and under circuit than Baltimore Stars guard Antonio Barton. The 6-foot-2 sophomore from City College High School was an assassin from deep beyond the arc. Barton finished with 34 points in a tough loss to the Ohio Basketball Club. Word is, he's been a constant 25 point per game guy this entire spring. It's easy to see why with his confidence range from deep and his quick trigger.

Big surprise here - the Illinois Wolves have a couple of nice looking guard prospects. Joseph Bertrand and Diamond Taylor.

Bertrand is holding offers from Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Iowa and Southern Illinois while Illinois, Michigan State, Bradley and Purdue are all seriously looking. Taylor has offers from Bradley and Northern Illinois while the Missouri Valley Conference has him high on the list. Wisconsin and Purdue are also in the mix.

No one played with a bigger and better motor on Saturday than Delaware Sharpshooters forward Isaiah Philmore. The 6-foot-7 sophomore parlayed his high-energy into 24 points in an emotionally draining loss to the Illinois Wolves.

Philmore crashed the boards, knocked down a couple of threes and looks more refined as a player than from what we saw of him back in December.

The Marquis Daniels Showtime Ballers have been one of the most successful teams on the 16 and under circuit this year and one of the reasons why is the team's balance. The kids from Florida know that anyone can be the go-to guy in any given game. On Saturday morning, Dexter Fields was the player that had the ball in his hands the most when it mattered.

Fields scored a team high 21 points in a sluggish morning win over the New England Playaz. The 2009 combo guard from Orlando Olympia High School has a handful of programs monitoring him early on. Fields said Georgia, Virginia Tech, Miami and Clemson have put out early feelers.


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