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April 26, 2004The 10th annual Kingwood Classic is now in the books. But the stories, news and notes are still rolling ahead. In this look back at the event, RivalsHoops.com National Recruiting Analyst Justin Young takes a look at the event's top performers in today's Just A Minute.
Georgia head coach Dennis Felton and assistant Mike Jones sat behind the Georgia Stars bench on Sunday and loved every minute on the stiff bleachers. They should. They reeled in the Peach State's top two talents in the class of 2005. Louis Williams and Mike Mercer were two of the top players at the prestigious Kingwood Classic and helped the Georgia Stars win the event.
Williams gets better and better. He is instant offense and loves to pull up from the parking lot for threes. The 6-foot-1 guard sports a 40-inch vertical jump and defenders know it. He's good for a handful of mind-boggling dunks a game.
Mercer is becoming Mr. Versatility. The 6-foot-4 prospect can play the point to the small forward spot. He is comfortable at any position. His rebounding skills have improved as have his shot and selection. If defenses key on Williams, which they usually do, Mercer is usually there to take advantage.
The duo won a hard-fought Georgia state title last year at South Gwinnett High School. Looks like their trophy case needs an upgrade. Their Georgia Stars AAU team has already taken home the hardware at two of the top AAU events this spring (Kingwood and Boo Williams).
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
The class of 2005 isn't as strong as the class of 2004. That's what the consensus has been when discussing the rising juniors. But several guards at the Kingwood Classic did a good job of keeping their position out of that conversation. A number of backcourt wizards stepped up to the challenge and captivated the crowd last weekend.
Bobby Frasor was a must see for coaches and he gave them something to ponder on their flights home Sunday night. The 6-foot-3 sharpshooter from Brother Rice (Ill.) was one of the deadliest players all weekend. The J.J. Redick comparisons have already begun and while Frasor isn't quite at that level yet, he's getting close. DePaul, Georgia Tech, Marquette, NC State, Stanford and Wisconsin are his early favorites and all were in the gym on several occasions. So were Duke, Illinois, Michigan State, North Carolina and Texas. Watch his list grow even more in the next week.
Blink and you'll miss Jovan Adams. The speedy guard is one of the quickest guards in the country. He uses that to his advantage by penetrating to the basket for buckets and beats his man off the dribble nearly every possession. The Houston Elite guard is capable of scoring 40 points in any given game. He did on Sunday afternoon. Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt was there to see the offensive output.
Last weekend in Las Vegas, Mario Chalmers established himself as one of the most impressive scorers in the class of 2005, if not the best. In Houston, he still managed to do the same but it was his defense that made coaches talk on the sidelines. The Alaska guard can (and will) pick pocket opponents one on one in the open court. He has long arms and covers a lot of ground on the defensive end. Chalmers has elevated his status to elite in April. It's no surprise that Wake Forest's Skip Prosser, UNC's Roy Williams, Hewitt and Arizona's Lute Olsen all saw him in person at the Kingwood.
Future Duke point guard Greg Paulus is making a strong case for top 10 status for the remainder of his high school career. The quarterback/point guard runs an offense like a pro and when things aren't clicking on offense, he'll tuck the responsibility under his belt and score like a two guard. He's explosive with the dribble (with either hand) and masters the art of the bounce pass. It's no wonder why the Blue Devils tried to lock him up early. He may be the top point guard in this class.
HI, MY NAME IS...
Every prospect, whether ranked or not, says the same thing heading into tournaments like the Kingwood. "I just want to make a name for myself," they almost say in unison. These unknowns not only made a name for themselves, they earned several potential scholarships and the respect of high majors across the country.
AAU coaches are known for promoting their players. It's almost expected. So when Gary Graham of the Smyrna Stars (Ga.) ran into coaches, he made sure they knew who Kovotney Barber was. The 6-foot-7, 210-pound forward from Manchester Co. High School had the look of a player but it wasn't until the ball was tipped when he actually played like a high major. He's a dunk machine, he can handle the ball and rebounds like his life depends on it.
We asked an ACC assistant coach how many offers he thought Barber would have in a week. He quickly said, "How many offers do you think he'll have tonight?" The Georgia schools have all peeked into him, as have some SEC schools. There is more to come on Barber.
Courtney Fells's telephone number became an instant speed dial number for coaches over the weekend. The 6-foot-5 wing for the Lighthouse All-Stars/Shannon High School (Miss.) became a must see player for a number of ACC and SEC schools. His jumper is a thing of beauty and his athleticism isn't exactly average, either. Ole Miss and NC State have both extended scholarship offers.
Recruiting addicts know about O.J. Mayo. He's been a national recruit even before he enrolled in high school. The 6-foot-5 class of 2007 superstar lived up to his billing in the opening game of the Kingwood, going for a near triple-double. He's even more impressive off the court with his eerily similar personality to NBA Rookie of the Year LeBron James. Ready for the next?
Mayo's teammate on the D1 Greyhounds and at Cincinnati's North College Hill High School, Bill Walker is a dunking machine. The 6-foot-5 wing made sure everyone knew that on Friday night with a thundering dunk on 6-foot-8 Isaiah Rusher of the Houston Hoops. Walker challenged gravity for a second or so when he was in the air. The moment will be remembered for some time.
While the Georgia Stars are sweeping the nation, a younger Nike team is being cultivated into the next AAU powerhouse. Memphis YOMCA has a number of high major players waiting in the wings. Led by sophomores 6-foot-8 wing Thaddeus Young, 6-foot-9 beast Pierre Niles, 6-foot-9 Wayne Chism and 6-foot-1 Willie Kemp, Memphis is becoming a new hotbed for high major talent.
Young is an ultra athletic small forward with good ball skills and great athleticism. Niles is one of the biggest and strongest players in the class. Chism is right there with his teammate. Kemp is a good shooting guard with room to grow.
Playing with Greg Oden and Josh McRoberts, Daequan Cook emerged as Spiece Indy Heat's top offensive threat. He's all over the court and knows how to score buckets. He's equally solid on the defensive end with his wingspan and good rebounding skills.