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April 29, 2007
King James: Saturday notebook
AKRON, Ohio -- There was a lot of action to see and a lot of miles to cover on Saturday as the King James Shooting Stars Classic was spread out over Northeast Ohio. The action picked up as the games went along. Here's more from the action.
Greyhounds aiming for return trip to title
The D1 Greyhounds are putting in work here at the King James thanks in large part to the 1-2 punch of Darius Miller and William Buford. The duo could have last year's champs back in the championship game.
Miller has been a must-see guy for the head coaches in town. Bob Huggins, Billy Donovan and Bruce Weber trailed the four-star wing forward. Assistants from coast to coast were also keeping tabs on the 6-foot-5 Kentucky native.
Miller is playing well in Akron and should be a tough match-up problem on Sunday for the Florida Rams.
Buford, an Ohio State commitment, is playing like one of the top shooting guards in the country. He's looking like a guy that can make an impact as a freshman with his quiet scoring touch and his efficiency. He's not making mistakes and taking good shots. Buford is valuing the basketball and has helped the Greyhounds win big games so far this spring.
Sunshine State studs shining
The Florida Rams are hitting their stride here in Akron. The Sunshine State crew has a roster deep with prospects and perhaps the one that has really helped himself the most is wing Dago Pena.
The 6-foot-6 wing is athletic and plays with great focus and passion. He might be making the move from the mid-major must-have list to the high-major list. Pena has interest from Virginia Commonwealth, Ole Miss, Florida Atlantic, Pittsburgh and South Florida.
His play is one of the reasons why the Rams are in the Elite Eight of the 17 and under division right now.
Of course, it never hurts when Ray Shipman has games of 26 and 30 points, respectively, in tournament play. The athletic slashing wing picked apart the South Carolina Ravens in the first round of tournament play and then had his way with a good New England Playaz team.
Rams big man Kenny Kadji is one of the top center prospects in this class and he's quickly becoming a top priority for programs like Florida, Kansas State, Memphis, South Florida and Rutgers. New USF head coach Stan Heath has made a quick liking to the Rams and promptly shadowed guys like Kadji.
Kadji has the tools to be a McDonald's All-American level five man in this class and he's quietly putting in the work to be one of those guys. A tournament championship could certainly help his cause to make the prestigious burger game and other accolades.
Against the Ravens, reserve guard Shay Shine came off the bench and scored 10 quick points. Shine is a terrific mid-major guard because of his scoring mentality. The 6-foot-2 guard from rural DeSoto County High School used the King James tournament to play himself onto the watch list for a number of schools.
Georgia sophomore Richard Howell had a huge game for the Worldwide Renegades Orange against the Maryland Crusaders. Howell put in 18 points, 18 rebounds, four steals and seven turnovers in the victory. The five-star sophomore is a difficult player to defend because he is such a great rebounder and good inside and out.
Howell is having a productive spring on a 16 and under team playing up on the 17 and under division. The class of 2009 is also a hot target for Michigan State. Tom Izzo watched him closely. The Spartans got in very early and their persistence is paying off.
Michigan State is joined by Texas, Georgetown, Florida and Georgia in this race.
Another promising Georgia sophomore, Lorenzo Brown, is a smooth operator and his Worldwide Renegades Black team's best perimeter threat. The 6-foot-3 guard can play both guard positions. When he wants to take games over, he can. Sometimes, he needs to do it more often. Wake Forest, Connecticut, USC and UCLA are in early and putting in the work.
Other news & notes from Saturday
Since helping his Indiana Elite/Team Indiana squad win the Kingwood Classic, Deandre Liggins has picked up offers from Texas and Kentucky, he said, joining Memphis, Illinois, Purdue and Kansas in the race. Liggins said Memphis, Kentucky and Kansas are on him the hardest and could be attending Memphis's elite camp in June.
Indiana Elite/Team Indiana was bounced out of the tournament a little earlier than most people would have expected. Playing without Tyler Zeller, Lewis Jackson, Matt Roth and others, the Kingwood Classic champs were bounced by D1 Sports from North Carolina.
Michigan Mustang big man Jason Washburn had it rolling on Saturday morning. The 6-foot-10 center was very efficient inside the paint, scoring 20 points while grabbing 13 rebounds and collecting five blocks. Tom Izzo came in early to see Delvon Roe, who played a game later, and saw Washburn in action.
Washburn said Michigan, Michigan State, Oakland (offer), Indiana and Iowa are his schools of interest. The Michigan native said he'd like to stay in the Big Ten.
Stacy Waters, one of the rising guards in the Midwest, played another strong game on Saturday morning. He scored 17 points in a quality win and makes jump shots. As expected, his recruitment has begun to rise right along with his game. The 6-foot-3 said he has heard from Penn State, Oklahoma and Cincinnati since the Pitt Jam Fest. He already has interest from Central Michigan, Detroit, Kent State and a host of MAC programs.
Sean Carter is a hot name in the class of 2007. The 6-foot-8 big man from Laurinburg (N.C.) Institute has a number of options waiting for him late in the game. South Florida (offer), St. John's (where he is planning on a return visit in two weeks), Miami, Charlotte, Maryland, Oklahoma and George Washington are on his short list.
The list for South Kent (CT) big man Christian Morris is Virginia, South Carolina, Rutgers, Miami, Wake Forest and UCLA.
Eight teams remain in the gold division of the tournament bracket. The 8 a.m. games are as follows:
1 - Florida Rams vs. D1 Greyhounds
2 - Michigan Mustangs vs. Westchester Hawks
3 - King of the Court vs. Triple Threat
4 - Georgia Stars vs. Juice All-Stars
Semi-finals are as follows:
Winner of 1 vs. Winner of 2
Winner of 3 vs. Winner of 4
Both games are at 12 p.m. at the University of Akron.
Justin Young is the Senior National Basketball Recruiting Writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.