Because my flight caused me to miss the first game or so of Friday night's action at the 2010 Boo Williams Invitational, I never really married myself to a schedule for the night's activity. Instead, I rolled in looking to get a feel for Nike's new Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) concept and a lay of the land.
First, the EYBL really is something new to the grassroots world. Not only are the kids set up in leagues, but Nike has all the coaches wearing matching polo shirts and slacks. With Position Sports running the event, management of teams, volunteers, scouts, fans and workers was outstanding. All in all, an impressive start.
Of course, it's the players that mattered most and I had a chance to see some guys who caught my attention.
Dajuan Coleman, C, Albany City Rocks- Considered by some to be the #1 player in the class of 2012, Coleman grows on you. He's a bit beefy and not really tall (6-8 probably), but he's very effective. He's not quite as skilled as Jared Sullinger, but he has very similar hands, strength and willingness to dominate the glass.
Gary Bell, SG, Seattle Rotary Select- Granted he didn't put up huge numbers. But, he doesn't get a lot of shots and remains committed to being a team player. He's learning to play the one, but is clearly most comfortable as a two or SG/PG combo. Excellent athlete and potential lock down defender. Hard to see how he won't eventually help a college coach win a lot of games.
Stock on the Rise--------
Eric Katenda, PF, Albany City Rocks- A long and lean 6-foot-9 insider from Cheshire in Albany, N.Y., Katenda is an interesting prospect. He's quite lean, but he runs well, has some skill to him and is a willing rebounder and help side shot rejector. Looks just like the type of player who has been very productive in the A-10 of late.
Torren Jones, PF, Arizona Stars- A member of the class of 2013, Jones boasts tremendous physical gifts. While he's likely closer to 6-foot-7 than his listed 6-foot-8, he's an impressive looking post prospect. He runs very well, has good balance and super hands. However, he looks unsure of himself and would likely benefit from playing on the 16 or 15 and under level so he can develop his skills a bit more and mature physically. Clearly, though, he's a pretty high level prospect.
Joe Coleman, SG, Howard Pulley- A solid athlete with some physical toughness, Coleman is a relentless competitor. He plays hard on both ends and can get to the rim or stroke the jumper. He showed some high major flashes last year, but the 2011 guard is looking pretty legit right now.
Shai Fields, SG/PG, Team Texas- Generously listed at 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, he's a quick and fearless combo guard. He scores at the rim, is streaky from deep and has tremendous burst off the dribble and heading to the rim. Looks like an excellent mid to upper mid major level prospect.
More Friday Notes---------
There's no way I watched the Arkansas Wings long enough to draw too many conclusions. However, Aaron Ross (Arkansas commitment) really looks to be more of a PF/SF combo at 6-foot-6 and not a true three man like many expected him to be. Ky Madden definitely looks like more of a SG/SF than a point guard. Athletic, quick and can hit some pull-up jumpers. Hunter Mickelson doesn't look like he's added much weight. The guy I continue to think has a lot of potential is 2010 wing David Rivers. He's a slinky 6-6'ish wing that is oozing upside. ... There's no question who the best (at least hottest) shooter I saw on Friday night was. That honor goes to the Arizona Stars Judd Wolfinger. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard was smoking threes all over the place. That said, I didn't see Shabazz Napier (11 threes for BABC) and only got a brief look at Kentavious Caldwell (10 threes for Georgia Blazers). ... After playing for Pump 'N Run in the past, Sacramento guard Josiah Turner is in town with the Drew Gooden Soldiers. Word is the 6-foot-2 combo guard looked good. Will see him on Saturday.
During the winter, Huntsville's Devin Langford was touted as a 6-foot-6 point guard. When I saw him play, he struggled mightily and looked disinterested. Playing alongside Austin Rivers for Each 1 Teach 1, Langford looked like a high major wing prospect at times. A solid athlete with some versatility, it'd be interesting to see what he would do if he got much more aggressive. ... Last April I wrote about Irving, Tex. scoring machine Keith Frazier at the Real Deal on the Hill. He was an 8th grader at the time. Playing for the Houston Hoops 17 and under squad, the slender 6-foot-3 SG looked quite good. The Hoops are loaded with young guard talent. ... Liked what I saw from Howard Pulley's sophomore point guard Syanni Chambers. He's little at 5-foot-10, but he's quick and in control of the game on the offensive end of the floor. ... I noticed that Ricardo Gaithers is now playing with the Jackson Tigers 16 and under squad after running with Louisiana Select's 17's last spring and summer. Kind of an interesting switch. ... Memphis Southwind's Jonathan Williams is mistakingly listed as a 2014 guy (he's 2013), but that doesn't change the fact that he's a BIG TIME prospect. ... Rest assured, Playground Elite's Cimeon Bowers is going to get his shots. A strong 6-foot-6 power forward, he's quicker than you might think and a bull on the offensive end. He's going to cause some pretty serious debates about what level he best projects to at the next level. ...
Yes! It appears that the Boys To Men Academy has opened it's doors again. A few kids for the Meanstreets are listed there and the BTMA coach Loren Jackson is an assistant. I guess it is hard to say goodbye to yesterday..............