I'll do some thoughts and highlights from Friday night later on this evening or early Saturday.
PREVIEWING BOO WILLIAMS
So, I’m sitting on my flight between Kansas City to Baltimore and just like seemingly every other Southwest flight I’ve taken in the past year or so the flight is completely full. But, hey, at least my bags are flying free, right?
Anyway, I needed a time killer for the flight so I decided to take a look at the schedule and highlight some of what I thought would be the best matchups and most interesting stories to keep an eye on over the weekend. I’ve yet to figure out exactly which games I’ll be watching, but there are a lot of guys that I’m real interested to get a look at.
To keep things easy to follow, I’m just looking at the 17 and under schedule and I’m just going to go time by time and mention some things that catch my eye. I’ll warn you in advance, this could be lengthy!
FRIDAY EVENING GAMES
6:00 PM- The First game that catches my eye is Boo Williams versus the New Jersey Playaz. For the first time in a while, Boo Williams will be fielding a team that is a bit of an unknown. We do know that North Carolina bound 6-foot-8 power forward James McAdoo figures to be the centerpiece, but each year Boo produces a few high major guys that springboard to prominence at their own tourney. The Playaz, feature a group that is big with Derrick Randall and 6-foot-8 string bean forward Desmond Hubert and experienced in the backcourt with Myles Mack and Myles Davis. The other game that looks intriguing is the Oakland Soldiers with skilled 6-foot-9 power forward Kyle Wiltjer and 6-foot-2 combo guard Nick Johnson taking on D-One Sports and Quincy Miller. Any time Brian Clifton’s D-One squad hits the floor, you can be sure there are going to be athletes all over the place.
7:30 PM- It’s a pretty safe bet that there will be lots of scouts and fans on hand to watch Austin Rivers and Each 1 Teach 1 take on a LOADED Team Final team headlined by 2011’s #1 player Michael Gilchrist and imposing big man Rakeem Christmas. One thing’s for certain, no player will be interviewed by more North Carolina and Duke fan sites than Rivers will be this weekend.
Actually, it’s hard to go wrong during the 7:30 grouping. YOMCA vs. the Arkansas Wings is a great matchup and it will be interesting to see how far the Wings Ky Madden has progressed in the last year. The feeling among many is that the versatile 6-foot-4 guard is poised to make a big leap up the rankings to this is his first chance to prove it on the floor. Also, keep a close eye on the BABC vs. The Family matchup. Speedy Walker’s Family group was really good on the 16 and under level last summer and BABC features much improved Michael Carter-Williams. The silky 6-foot-4 combo guard who has committed to Syracuse will leave the weekend a legit candidate for the 2011 McDonald’s All-American game candidate if he plays even half as well as he did during February’s National Prep School Invitational.
9:00 PM- The Baltimore Elite vs. Team Takeover tilt will undoubtedly be a fierce battle between regional foes. It’s DC versus Baltimore and there’s not likely to be a lot of love lost here. The guy to watch out for is Team Takeover’s Mikael Hopkins. The 6-foot-9 Center/Power forward has generated a ton of buzz with high level college coaches. Not to mention, 6-foot-6 wing Michael Gbinje will be looking to show why he was able to give an early commit to Duke. Also looking forward to seeing the future Texas !&M backcourt of Jamal Branch and Jordan Green hit the floor for Team Texas. Watch out for Kentavious Caldwell’s Georgia Blazers vs. Marquis Teague’s Spiece team as well.
9:30 AM- Again, D-One Sports plays in a game that has a lot of intrigue. They’ll face off with the Saint Louis Eagles and their pair of stud wings Brad Beal and Ben McLemore. Beal is a well known and proven commodity, however McLemore has been all the rage lately and is coming off of a monster junior season. He’ll get his chance to prove that he’s for real in this game. The Southern Kings figure to be one of the better teams on the circuit this spring and summer and Ohio State bound Shannon Scott, 6-foot-3 shooting guard Dai-Jon Parker, 6-foot-8 forward Julian Royal and 6-foot-7 Henry Brooks seem like they’ve been playing together forever. Hopefully, 2012 point guard Nino Jackson is suiting up against the King for Athlete’s First. He and 2011 wing Josh Richardson could be breakout guys this weekend.
11:00 AM- This time slot seems as good as any to catch up on Seattle Rotary Select’s Tony Wroten. The 6-foot-4 guard missed his junior year to an ACL tear and he’s looking to prove that he belongs as an elite prospect. He’s been a youtube sensation since the 8th grade, but he’s one of the more hotly debated prospects amongst scouts. Some love him while others remain skeptical of him as a long term prospect. The weekend should also serve as 6-foot-2 combo guard Gary Bell’s intro to the spotlight and hopefully 2012 guard Anrio Adams is in attendance with them as well.
12:30 PM- Anybody who has watched grassroots basketball for a while knows that Team Florida’s Tom Topping is as good as it gets when it comes to coaching ability. Anybody who likes watching a well run team that plays together and has athletes will enjoy watching Topping’s group here.
5:00 PM- The Jackson Tigers always seem to have a bunch of young, long and athletic talents. But, since Al Jefferson left the program for the NBA, the Tigers haven’t ever seemed to win as much as their talent would suggest they should. All eyes will be on their big man tandem of Johnny O’Bryant and Tyler Adams along with wildly athletic wing Ladarius Page. Can O’Bryant finally put together production that matches his potential? While the Tigers battle with the Charlotte Royals, the Houston Hoops will be taking on the Playaz. The Hoops 6-foot-3 point guard L.J. Rose confirmed his status as one of the premier 2012 floor generals during the high school season. Meanwhile his running mate J-Mychal Reese continued to put up huge numbers. However, at just 6 feet tall or so, it’s time for Reese to prove that he’s really a point guard prospect and not just an undersized two guard. He’s been highly acclaimed for some time, but others have him in their sites.
6:30 PM- Team Final vs. Rotary Select may be the single most anticipated game of the weekend.
8:00 PM- This time figures to be a perfect time to check out Mac Irvin’s group as they take on Athlete’s First. 2011 studs Wayne Blackshear and Sam Thompson are big time wing prospects and they’ll be surrounded by athletes and an underrated point guard in Macarri Brooks.
8:00 AM- A top to bottom great round of games (Southern Kings/Ark. Wings, Mac Irvin/NJ Playaz, D1/Gauchos and others)but ouch that 8am tipoff is going to be a tough one to make and odds are the games will be sloppy. 8am games are always sloppy.
9:30 AM- Dion Bethea is one of the best guys on the circuit so it will be time to check out his South Carolina Ravens as they take on another good guy Mike Hart’s Albany City Rocks. Neither team features anybody that is particularly well known, but the Ravens DaMarcus Harrison is a rangy and athletic shooter.
11:00 AM- Norm Parker’s Georgia Stars and the Southern Kings will hold a battle for Atlanta bragging rights all the way up in Hampton. Regional pride will be on the line in this one and the Stars were very successful on the 16 and under level last summer.
12:30 PM- Each 1 Teach 1 vs. the St. Louis Eagles is a great storyline. Austin Rivers is now back on the market and rumors persist that Brad Beal will eventually reconsider his Florida commitment as well even though he continues to deny those rumors. Of course, Rivers was denying them last April and May as well and we see how that turned out. Either way, that’s a battle of two big time scorers and of course there’s the Ben McLemore factor as well. Not to mention, Eagles point guard Shaq Boga is trying to make a rep of his own.
2:00 PM- The final round of games in the 17 and under division offers up plenty of options. But, it’s going to be hard to not want to watch Team Final’s Rakeem Christmas do battle with the Jackson Tigers up and down big guys.