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June 29, 2008

GBOA South brings out the stars

NORCROSS, GA -- Rivals.com spent Saturday at the GBOA South event at Norcross High School and caught 16 teams from the Southeast in action. There were a number of five-star players in the event and a number of top young prospects also in the field.

STAR POWER

The DeMarcus Cousins versus Derrick Favors match-up played out for the third time on Georgia soil on Saturday. The first match-up two years ago during the high school season was a push. Favors took the bragging rights last month at the Wallace Prather Memorial by a landslide. On Saturday, Cousins took the rights back.

The UAB bound big man seemed to be motivated for the match-up while Favors was clearly fatigued from a recent trip to Africa with the adidas Nations team. Cousins scored a modest 16 points in the match-up. The five-star forward is always good for a half dozen NBA moves in any game he plays. His focus appears to be getting better and better, too, which is always a good sign to see. His impact at UAB will clearly be felt right away.

After flying from Newark to Atlanta from the Steve Nash Skills camp, the Team Breakdown duo of Kenny Boynton and Brandon Knight went right to work at the GBOA South regional.

The 1-2 punch has shined all spring long and don't appear to be slowing down any time soon as the July period quickly approaches either. Get ready for a fun summer because the two don't appear to be coasting into the final month of the circuit.

Boynton was dialed in from deep against the Richmond Squires and didn't appear to miss any shots from deep all game long. Knight ran the team with efficiency and poise. There are few guard tandems that work on the same page quite like Boynton and Knight either. A pairing against Abdul Gaddy and Avery Bradley in Las Vegas looks like the must-see ticket next month, too.

North Carolina bound big man John Henson arrived to the GBOA event a tad late after navigating Atlanta's giant airport and the sprawling highway system downtown. When he joined his Franchize All-Stars club, he saw a lowly six points on the board with four minutes left to play in the first half.

His presence was felt immediately. Using his freakish length, Henson blocked seven shots officially but probably finished with double digit swats against Team Florida. The Sunshine State team had no answer for him inside as Henson went on to score 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a little over a half of a game's work.

One will be hard pressed to find a more consistent and productive big man in the Southeast than Richard Howell. The 6-foot-7 big man is a nuts and bolts guy on the blocks and scores with defenders clawing up his back and can pick and pop when needed. He's also one of the finest passing big men in the country.

Teammate Ari Stewart made some big time basketball moves, much like he made last July at the Reebok U camp, where he was one of the top underclassmen in the camp.

The 6-foot-7 superfreak athlete scored a couple of times with a nice looking step back jumper on the baseline and, as always, he bent the rims with some monsterous dunks in the halfcourt.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

Memphis Pacers guard Joe Jackson was one of the main attractions in the event on Saturday and a number of people wanted to get a good look at the five-star prospect. He didn't disappoint with his scoring touch and blazing athleticism.

Jackson scored 17 points against the Worldwide Renegades in what was arguably the best game of the day. The sub six-footer is a blur to the basket and does his best work off the dribble as a shooter. His calling card is his scoring ability and in this match-up, he played the part of a fiery competitor quite well.

While a number of on-lookers wanting to get a good look at Jackson in action, getting a chance to see 6-foot-7 rising junior Tarik Black go to work inside was a nice added bonus. Black owned the paint against Hoop Planet, scoring at will against a 6-foot-10, 270-pound defender.

Black was relentless in the paint and was one of the most impressive post performers of the day. He's an aggressive athlete that wouldn't be denied around the cup. He put his stamp on the day's event with his 19 points in the win.

Playing with the Atlanta Celtics, Mississippi youngster LaQuinton Ross had moments of brilliance with his new weekend team. The 6-foot-7 prospect from the class of 2011 showed flashes of Tracy McGrady at different moments on Saturday.

Ross, one of the elite players in the 2011 class that Rivals.com has seen so far, can play the one, two and three positions with little trouble. He can shoot, handle and attack the basket. As you'd expect with a young player, his continued development hangs largely on his ability to get stronger but so far, so good at the 17 and under level with Ross. He's been one of the top players on the circuit all year, even with the big boys.

Down by 18 points at one point against Florida Assault, Hoop Planet made a huge comeback thanks to offensive firepower of Rivals100 rising junior Jalen Kendrick.

The long and lanky point forward scored the majority of his 16 points in a run that disintegrated the double digit deficit. Kendrick does his best work with the ball in his hands and knows how to create scoring opportunities for himself. While still not the greatest of athletes nor the greatest of shooters, he's a crafty scorer with size.

Kendrick's teammate, Donte Williams, gets better and better each time out onto the floor. The 6-foot-7 forward from Morrow (Ga.) High School is still very much a raw prospect but the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together for the skinny class of 2010 prospect. He's shown ability to shoot from deep and in the midrange as well as being productive inside as a scorer and rebounder.

Team Florida has a trio of class of 2010 prospects worth tracking over the next couple of years. Leading the way is 6-foot-3 guard Stacey Poole out of Jacksonville Raines High School. He scored 19 points in a tough loss to the Atlanta Celtics in the nightcap but he was the best player on the floor for the majority of the game.

Guard Dennis Mavin, a 6-foot-1 guard from Gainesville Eastside was a pleasant surprise at the event. He's a heady passer with a strong frame that allowed him entry into the lane any time he wanted to venture into the land of bigs. He's a crafty passer and certainly one to watch in 2010.

Big man Ty Armstrong would show a flash here and a flash there and showed enough over the course of the day to prove himself to be a guy to watch develop even more over the next couple of years. The 6-foot-8 rising junior didn't wow with his scoring touch but didn't mind throwing his body around inside the blocks.

Jacksonville Lee Bulls big man Patrick Young looks like he might be turning the corner on just how good he can be. The 6-foot-8 post player from the class of 2010 certainly passes the look test and now he's starting to pass the productivity test, too. He'll be at the Reebok All-American camp next week. Don't be surprised to see his recruitment take off after his time in Philadelphia.

Worldwide Renegades point guard Phil Taylor showed his scoring touch throughout the day, dropping 18 points against the Memphis Pacers and 16 against the Florida Assault.

HI, MY NAME IS…

There were a number of small guards in the field on Saturday that got it done on the offensive end. Throw Isaiah Grayson's name into the mix, too. The 5-foot-10 guard from Dunwoody (Ga.) High School can put points on the board with the best of them. When he's open on the wing, Grayson is automatic from deep. His speed from end to end will give defenses headaches. He said he's likely off to a prep school and will re-classify to the 2010 class, too.

Perhaps the most productive and impressive player all weekend for the Birmingham Ice club was Brandon Peterson, a long-armed and bouncy forward from Erwin High School in Birmingham.

Peterson used his reach on both ends of the floor very well, scoring above the rim, grabbing rebounds and blocking shots. His energy led to good production down low and was consistent with his effort in all three games the Ice won on Saturday. Peterson scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a big win over Team Breakdown to start to the day.

He's a perfect fit at the mid-level and his recruitment is entering into that realm of talent heading into July. Peterson said he's hearing the most from Jackson State, Murray State, Missouri State, Georgia State, Chattanooga and he said he holds an offer from Southern.

Arkansas Hawks big man Anthony Borden is in intriguing prospect. The 6-foot-9 big man from West Memphis (Ark.) didn't fill the stat sheets in Atlanta but he'll have a play here and there that will make on-lookers perk up with interest.

Team Breakdown forward Guillaume Sabour-Pina will find his way to a high-major team. The 6-foot-8 forward serves in his role with Breakdown quite well as a rebounder and shot-blocker. There isn't any fancy to his game, just simplicity. Blessed with good natural strength and a knack for doing what he's told, he could be a nice sleeper to watch in July.

NOTES FROM THE NOTEPAD

  • Known as a strong to the basket scorer, Florida guard Dexter Fields proved himself as a shut-down defender for his Florida Assault team. The quality mid-level guard locked down Kendrick, Hoop Planet's top prospect, down the stretch in a tight game. Fields scored 17 points in the win, too.

  • Speaking of playing with high energy and always strong to the rim, Ben Eblen of Nike Team Florida is cut from the same cloth. The class of 2009 point guard is one of the top mid-level point guard prospects in his class. He's strong to the rim and knows how to run a team.

  • The trio of Henson, Ray Turner and Kelly Lawson will be a fun group to watch in July for the Franchize All-Stars. Henson, perhaps one of the most unique players in the class of 2009, has good balance around him with Turner and Lawson. Turner, a rugged and raw 6-foot-8 bouncy forward, is on a number of must-watch-more lists at the high-major level while Lawson, a 6-foot-7 skilled forward with grades, has a number of mid-level schools keeping tabs.

  • Auburn has a steal in Andre Malone from the Atlanta Celtics. His confidence is high as it ever has been and he's playing like someone that is completely comfortable in their own skin. Don't be surprised to see him make a strong contribution right away in the SEC.

  • Southeast Elite rising sophomore Trevor Lacey scored 26 points in a win over the Richmond Squires.

  • Mychal Parker, a rising junior, was the best basketball prospect on the roster for the Squires over the weekend.

  • Oklahoma State bound guard Fred Gulley looked strong for the Arkansas Hawks and was probably the team's top performer all day on Saturday. He's a jet from end to end and with his long arms, he's a pest on the defensive end, too.

    SCHOOL LIST CENTRAL

    Kenny Boynton said Duke, Memphis, Texas, Georgia Tech and Florida are the five schools recruiting him the hardest at the moment. Sources within the Breakdown organization said Florida State is also very much in the picture.

    It looks like Memphis is still the team to beat for Joe Jackson, he says, while Tennessee, Louisville, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and UMass are also in the picture.

    Teammate Tarik Black picked up an offer from Memphis this week. Ole Miss, UMass and Mississippi State have also offered, he said. Tennessee and UCLA have also inquired, he said.

    Tim Peete, a class of 2010 guard with the Memphis Pacers, said Arkansas has offered while Virginia, Clemson, UTEP, Middle Tennessee State and Baylor have shown interest in him.

    Birmingham Ice point guard Eric Bledsoe, one of the few point guards that values the pass and defense more than his own offense in the class, said South Carolina and Minnesota have shown noticeable interest of late. UAB still remains at the top, he said, while Mississippi State and Florida have also shown interest.

    Lorenzo Brown said NC State remains the team to beat while Memphis, Florida and Texas, who recently perked up with interest, are also in the hunt.

    Lou Will Elite teammate Ryan Harrow said he will travel to Raleigh, N.C. early next week to meet with NC State head coach Sidney Lowe. The 5-foot-9 point guard from Walton High School in Marietta, Ga., said he hopes to commit to the ACC while in town. Harrow is a 2010 prospect.

    Ray Turner, the bouncy forward from Houston and the Franchize All-Stars, said he has offers from Texas A&M, Baylor, Marquette, Missouri, Houston, Texas State, Oklahoma State and Nebraska while Arizona, Memphis, Kansas State and Oklahoma are also showing interest.

    Kelly Lawson, Turner's teammate, said Stephen F. Austin and Tulane are his two offers at the moment while Wichita State, Texas A&M, Lehigh and Rutgers are also in the picture.

    With college coaches allowed to call rising juniors for the first time this month, Phil Taylor said he has received phone calls from Oklahoma, Xavier, Florida State, Georgia and Richmond.

    Isaiah Grayson said he is high on Virginia Commonwealth and has had interest from Clemson, South Carolina, Georgia, Georgia State and Florida State.

    Teammates Donte Williams and Jamail Jones have seen a spike in their recruitment as well. Williams said Georgia, Xavier, Cincinnati, Florida State, LSU, UMass, Georgia State and Temple have reached out. Jones, a versatile 6-foot-6 rising junior from Greenforest Christian (Ga.) has heard from Cincinnati, Temple, Marshall, Auburn, Georgia State, Florida and Georgia.

    Georgia center Raymond Gregory said he's heard the most from Princeton, Tennessee Tech (offer), Furman, LaSalle, South Florida, Sam Houston State, Miami and Marquette. Harvard, Army, Liberty, Chattanooga, Binghampton, Middle Tennessee State and Elon are also interested, he said.


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