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December 10, 2012

Hill shows leadership at Florida event

MORE: Wiggins shows glimpses of what he can do

Friday night and Saturday afternoon, Hoop Exchange Worldwide hosted the Center Court Classic at the new gymnasium on the campus of Montverde Academy. The event featured 14 teams from the state of Florida and attracted several college head coaches.

Center Court Classic standouts

Kasey Hill, PG, Montverde Academy: The 6-foot 1 Florida signee is the clear leader of his team. He has the speed and quickness to push the ball in transition and the athleticism to get to the rim and finish. On defense, his quickness enables him to be disruptive in passing lanes and helps him with his on-ball defense. In two games over the weekend, Hill had 38 points, including 23 in the Friday night game that featured a matchup against Solomon Poole.

Dakari Johnson, C, Montverde Academy: A 6-foot-10, 265-pound post man who gets it done in the paint, Johnson is a reliable finisher when fed the ball. Johnson has good hands, and he reads the double team well and makes the appropriate pass. He's a shot-blocking presence in the lane. Johnson recently reclassified into the 2013 class.

Grayson Allen, SG/PG, Providence School: A 6-foot-4 junior combo guard, Allen got it done at both ends of the court Friday night with five steals and a filthy chase-down block that will get plenty of views in the mix-tape world. Allen can score from the perimeter and drive to the rim. He has great size for either guard position and is a solid ball handler and a good passer who sets his teammates up well. Against Freedom High School, Allen almost had a triple-double with 15 points, nine assists, eight rebounds, and five steals.

Kobe Eubanks, SG/SF, American Heritage: The 6-foot-5 junior wing has improved his ball handling since March. Eubanks is a deadly 3-point shooter, whether he spots up or creates his own opportunity. Saturday, he showed NBA 3-point range. Eubanks has all the physical tools you'd want at his position: speed, lateral quickness, running ability and good lift. Although his team was on the wrong end of a lopsided game, Eubanks had 17 of its 46 points.

Juwan Durham, PF, Tampa Prep: The 6-foot-9 Durham picked the right day to have a good game with 24 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in front of several Division I coaches. Because he runs the floor well and has long arms, Tampa Prep uses him at the point position on its full-court zone press. He gets pushed around a bit by stronger players, but that is understandable. We first saw him in September and thought that he had the chance to be a high-level prospect, and he appears to be well on his way.

More Center Court notables

Jonathan Jean Laurent, Wing, Freedom High School: An athletic 6-foot-4 sophomore wing, he almost glides in the lane with long strides. He's a streaky shooter who also loves to attack the rim. His shot wasn't falling Friday night, but his mechanics looked good and he finished with 19 points. He doesn't force the issue, preferring to play under control, showing a good basketball IQ. Laurent is a good rebounder and ball handler for his position. He plays with a high motor and sees the floor well.

Wyatt Walker, C, Providence School; He is not a great run/jump athlete, but he moves well. Walker catches the ball on the move, has good court vision and has the size and strength to back down the other bigs his size. He seals off his defender well and can make the jump hook in the lane or use the drop step to score. If this sophomore can develop a more consistent face-up game, he'll get high-major looks. Walker contributed 17 points in his team's win Friday night.

D.J. Bowles, PG, Oldsmar Christian: The Wichita State commit was solid on Saturday. He's a good decision maker at full speed in transition or when running half-court sets. He has a solid frame that allows him to take the bump and finish at the rim or with a floater in the lane. His strength allows him to be physical on defense to create turnovers. Bowles can shoot from the perimeter well enough to keep the defense honest.

Jeffrey Prophete, SG/PG, Coral Springs Christian Academy: This 6-foot-2 eighth grader, yes eighth grader, plays with poise beyond his years. He seems better suited to play off the ball, but Saturday he was used at both guard positions. He showed that he knows how to get his shot, but on this day only one of them went down. He has good court vision and typically makes the right pass. His on-ball defense is very good.

Josh Heath, PG, Tampa Prep: This was my first live look at the 6-foot-2 USF signee. Anyone who thinks the only reason he's going to USF is that father, Stan, is the head coach should think again. Heath has the makings of a high-major prospect. Whether it's feeding the post or setting up his teammates for easy shots, he demonstrated that he knows how to play the game. His game almost has a throwback feel to it, right down to his "Dr. J" afro.

D'Angelo Russell, SG, Montverde Academy: Russell is a versatile player with the skill set to play more than one position. His 6-foot-8 wingspan allows him to play longer than his 6-foot-4 size. His shot wasn't falling Saturday night (four points), but he made smart plays whether on or off the ball. He'll drive to the rim and flush it when he sees the opportunity.

Alex Owens, PF, Oldsmar Christian Academy: He's a 6-foot-7 forward who primarily likes to play from 10 feet in, but early foul trouble sidelined him for much of the game Saturday. He doesn't shy from contact when the ball goes up and showed good instincts (particularly on the offensive boards) and athleticism. Owens has lots of upside, and as a sophomore he has time to hone his skills. His is a name to keep in mind.

Justin Bibbs, SG, Montverde Academy: Bibbs is a bouncy mid-major-plus player who would start on most teams in Florida (or anywhere else, for that matter). He can shoot from deep, create his own shot and beat most defenders off the dribble. He also has great leaping ability. In a reserve role, he had 12 points Saturday night in a blowout win.

Final notes and observations

A freshman, Marcus Dodson, Leesburg High School point guard, is a name to remember. He handles the ball well, whether it is in the fast break, half-court or against full-court pressure. He makes good decisions, sets up his teammates and gets his points within the offense. Dodson has good court awareness. He's not very vocal, but his teammates show confidence in the freshman. At the other end of the court, he's a capable on-ball defender. He's not a big guard, looks like a legit 5-foot-9, but he gets the job done.

Among the college head coaches in attendance were Florida's Billy Donovan, Louisville's Rick Pitino, Georgia's Mark Fox and South Florida's Stan Heath. We also noted assistant coaches from several Division I and Division II schools, including Florida, South Florida, Central Florida, Florida Atlantic, Georgia State, UMass, Coastal Carolina, Florida Gulf Coast, Rollins College, Paine College and Eckerd College.

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