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May 30, 2004

TOC: Saturday’s Spotlight

As the Tournament of Champions rolled on, a number of players showed why they are high major prospects. RivalsHoops.com bounced around the tournament and took in the action of several top prospects. Here is a look at the rest of the field from Saturday night at NC State and UNC.

Monta Ellis defines the term high-major. He scores at will however he wants to. The future Mississippi State guard has scored a minimum of 30 points each game this tournament. In fact, the only defense that could keep him from putting up the numbers is a possible injury. He suffered a rib injury against the Southeast Elite on Saturday night. Ellis's return to action is up in the air.

Joining Ellis in the Magnolia Stars backcourt for the TOC is Courtney Fells. The 6-foot-6 shooter has one of the prettiest shots in all of prep basketball. He turned it on when playing at NC State, one of his top schools, and gave Wolfpack fans something to desire. With he and Ellis pouring in the points, we could not find a better backcourt in the entire field here.

In every tournament, the roster for Blessed IJN has a couple of surprises. At the Tournament of Champions the surprises were Vernon Goodridge and Stephon Jackson of Philadelphia Lutheran High School. Each of the players added different facets to an already deep and ultra-talented roster.

Goodridge showed great shot-blocking skills and rebounded the basketball like he'd never see one again. The New York native has high-major skills and runs the floor better than most 6-foot-9 players. A bevy of schools have shown considerable amounts of interest this spring he said.

Jackson filled up the box score against Garner Road, scoring 21 points in a variety of fashions. The 6-foot-4 guard said he had scholarship offers from Providence, Penn State, Rhode Island and UTEP. Schools such as Louisville, Seton Hall, Temple, St. Joseph's and Drexel have all shown interest, too, he said.

Derwin Kitchen had a strong game against a very good Belmont Shore team, scoring 26 points. The Jacksonville Lee Bulls guard said he has offers from Wake Forest and Georgia Tech. High majors love his ability to attack the basket time and time again. Kitchen knows how to get the job done in a hurry.

New Orleans Jazz big man Kenneth Cooper opened some eyes with his solid play inside the paint. The 6-foot-10, 230-poud center from Richwood High School (La.) fills the lane with his wide body and creates space on the blocks, making it nearly impossible to get around him for a rebound.

Texas Tech landed a terrific player in 6-foot-5 Louisiana native Terry Martin. Playing with the New Orleans Jazz, Martin was able to capitalize on the double teams that Mitchell drew by scoring on the wing. He is one of better players we saw on Saturday.

2007 super prospect Eddie Rios took a while to heat up against the aforementioned Jazz team but when he did, he showed why those in South Florida have been shouting his praises all year. The 6-foot combo guard scored 20 points in the second half and rallied Team Breakdown after being down by 20 points in the first half. Rios loves to stop and pop from the perimeter and has confidence that it is going in. He'll be one to watch closely over the next three years.

Giving Rios a run for his money in the rising sophomore class is uber-recruit Jerryd Bayless. The Arizona Magic product already has an offer from the home state Wildcats and for good reason. He'll contend for top honors in his class until graduation day. The 6-foot-2 guard from Phoenix St. Mary's High School is calm, cool and collected when he steps onto the court. It will be hard to find many better than him regardless of class.

Still somewhat of an unknown nationally, Danny Williams is doing just about all he can do to make his name known outside of his home state of California. The combo guard is one of the most athletic players we've seen here and he didn't do anything to hurt his reputation as one of the top scorers on the West Coast. Playing for H-Squad, the Freemont High School product was the top point producer all weekend for Rick Isaacs' team.


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