- Joel Francisco
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The Wallace Prather Memorial Classic was held this past weekend in Atlanta on the beautiful campus of Georgia Tech. The event, which was hosted by the Atlanta Celtics, was filled with high level athletes and players in all classes. Wallace Prather was a pioneer of the rise of basketball in Atlanta and the state Georgia.
The showcase displayed some of the outstanding talent that the Southeast has to offer. It was a great opportunity to evaluate a few of the elite players from the Class of 2010 as they competed against some excellent talent. There are definitely some sleepers who should emerge from this event.
What really stood-out during this event was the impressive potential talent and depth of the 2012 class. There were a number of rising sophomores, especially the bigs, who played up in both the U-16 and U-17 divisions and represented themselves very well. Trying to forecast the future of a 14 or 15 year old is not an exact science, but it is easy to see the potential for many of these outstanding youngsters.
The Championship game of the U-17 division was an all-Florida final with Team Florida, led by Florida State commitment Okaro White (19 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks) and French import Will Yubette (11 points), outlasting the Jax Lee Bulls headed by the trio of Patrick Young (Florida commit), Aaron Bowen (Marquette commit) and Stacy Poole, 63-53 to claim the title in the fourth edition of this annual event.
The U-16 division championship featured another Florida-based team winning its bracket of the tournament; South Florida Elite, anchored by mammoth 6-10 center Ismail 'a Dauda (a Class of 2012 that has pledged for Miami), edged out DTA 54-53 in a game that came down to the wire.
In the U-15 championship game the host team, the Atlanta Celtics took on another Florida based team, SE Elite. This time, the Celtics prevailed with a 73–67 victory.
Brandon Knight, PG (6-3), Southeast Elite
2010, Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Pine Crest
Knight continues to separate himself in the Class of 2010. As he prepares for his season, this point guard is a difference-maker with his game and presence. He is at his best in the open court , advancing the ball down the middle of the floor with speed and vision. He rebounds down from his defensive board and runs with the ball, attacking the basket, looking to score from his penetration or making the assist to open teammates. He has added the throw-ahead pass to his game -- he takes the outlet looks down the floor first with vision and throws a pass to the open man. That method is the way great point guards handle the break. In the half court, he can go by his defender at will with an explosive quick first step. Recently he has shown a change of speed with the ball as he attacks his defender using a nice hesitation crossover then blows by the defense. Once he gets in the lane, he possesses a strong pull-up jumper middle game or displays good body control and finishes through contact with his stronger body frame. His long-range jumper is improving as he demonstrated the ability top hit the 3 off the catch or dribble. Although he still is not considered a shooter, he does now make shots more than ever. He used to try to get to the rim every time he touched the ball, now he reads the defense and takes the appropriate shot. Defensively, he works at getting back in transition to stop the ball. His to put pressure on the ball is a very valuable skill. Knight floor leadership and basketball I Q are evolving along with his poise. With his skill and reputation, he now becomes the target. Each time out, he's the guy the opposing team wants to stop. There's no doubt in my mind he can, and will, rise to this challenge.
Joe Jackson, PG (5-11) Memphis Magic Elite
2010, Memphis, Tenn./White Station High School
A lighting-quick point guard who is clever with the ball in his hands, Jackson does a good job of handling the break as he pushes the ball coast to coast with a speed dribble or will look up an advance the ball with the pass. This scoring point guard can take it all the way to the rim and score or make the pass from his penetration to an open teammate. He is in control of the game when the ball is in his hands. In the half court setting, he can create for himself with a quick first step, blow by his defender and usually beat the help defense to the basket. From his penetration, he does a good job at reading the help and dumping off to an open teammate under the basket or behind the line for the long-range 3. At times, he will overpenetrate and really get himself into trouble -- he a bit charge prone. He needs to develop and utilize his floater in the lane and refine his middle game. Jackson long-range shooting ability is good enough to keep the defense honest, but he must improve this aspect of his game right now. Defensively, his is a pesky on-ball defender who will pressure his opponent effectively in any area of the court. He gets into passing lanes with good anticipation as he does get some steals. He is competitive on the court and must keep his emotions in check at all times as a leader on the floor. Jackson has a knack for making a big play when game clock is winding down; he has the tools to be one of the top point guards in the 2010 class.
Okaro White, PF (6-9,190)
Junior, Clearwater, Fla., committed to Florida State
White has grown a few inches since last season. He has carried a small forwards game into his taller, longer frame. He is a very good looking athlete who has long arms and runs the floor extremely well. He possesses the basic skill set to be able to handle the ball on the perimeter and hit an open jump shot consistently from the midrange. His skills will have to be developed more at the college level for him to be considered a threat from behind the line. Still, White has a nice first step and with his length can get into the lane make short floaters over the top of defenders. Currently though, White is more suited as a face-up 4 who can catch the ball at 15' feet square up and take one dribble to finish at the rim. On defense, White is a solid shot-blocker with good timing who has a high defensive I.Q -- allowing him to come from the weakside to challenge, change and block shots. One area that he will need to improve upon is his perimeter defense; he struggles with his lateral movement on smaller defenders and relies on his length and shot-blocking ability too often. White needs to make the strength and conditioning coach at Florida State his best friend, but if bulks up he has real potential.
Andre Stringer, PG (5-10, 165)
2010, Jackson, Miss./ Forest Hills
Stringer has developed into a steady point guard with the ability to score in bunches -- largely because of his solid 3-point shooting range. He is becoming a better decision-maker while setting up teammates in transition, and he also has figured out that overpenetrating in the half court only gets him in trouble. The kid plays with a confidence and swagger that is characteristic of most successful point guards; he is not afraid to make the tough play or take the big shot at the end of games. He has good lateral quickness and harasses the ballhandler, creating turnovers. His obvious strength is his 3-point shooting ability, but he is becoming a more complete player. Stringer needs to improve his midrange game and would be aided by adding a floater to his game when he penetrates into the paint. He is a pit-bull who is already on the radar of many SEC schools and should develop into a good high-major player get when it is all said and done.
Ryan Harrow (5-10, 155, PG)
2010, Marietta, Ga./Walton, committed to NC State
Harrow is a quick point guard who uses his speed to get into the paint or create separation for his jump shot. He was the most consistent player on his team throughout the tournament -- scoring in transition, knocking down open 3s and creating for his teammates. His slight build and size are a concern, but he makes up for what he lacks with length and quickness; he is able to go get his own shot and is effective at finding angles to attack the rim in transition with great body control. I think he has the ability to be a leader on the floor, but I would like to see him be more vocal and demonstrative with his teammates. Because of his size, bigger, stronger point guards may give him some problems. Harrow's body is physically immature, but he should gain strength and fill out with time in the weight room.
Patric Young (6-9, 240) PF
Jacksonville, Fla./Paxon, committed to Florida
This athletic power forward keeps working and improving. Young's ability to dominate the paint on both ends of the court is what makes him such a strong prospect. He has the ability to run the floor and does so at times to look for an easy transition basket or an early post up. His back-to-the-basket game is developing and needs polish; he scores mostly on power and athletic ability although -- but he does display a good touch inside. His jumper facing the basket is extends to about 12 feed, so that area needs development. Young great is on the glass -- he is active and will go and get rebounds out of his area on both backboards. He does a good job scoring second-chance points and finishing dump-off passes up to the rim quickly and with power. On the defensive end, he is a physical presence who works on not letting his man catch and score. He also rebounds and blocks shots consistently. If he works on his skills and continues to play hard, he has the potential to be a top power forward in 2010.
Aaron Bowen (6-5, 180) SG
2010, Jacksonville, Fla./Wolfson, committed to Marquette
Bowen has continued to impress during the spring period of events. He followed up a strong showing at the Real Deal with another outstanding weekend in Atlanta. He is a thin, smooth 2-guard who continues to improve his overall game. Bowen constantly is attacking the rim scoring at a high percentage whether it's going over or around defenders. He has a great first step by his defender and showed he can make the pull-up jumper. He made a couple big 3s throughout the tournament in leading his team to the championship game. In transition, he sprints the lane looking for opportunities at the rim; he is explosive or spotting up outside the arc. He was active on the glass getting his team some second-chance scoring . On the defensive side of the ball, Bowen showed good lateral quickness and was fundamentally sound; his size and length will give him a great advantage against most opponents.
Will Yubette (6-8) SF
2010, Melbourne, Fla./Florida Air Academy
Yubette is a fantastic-looking athlete who is capable of playing either the small forward or power forward position at the college level. He has the ability to step outside and knock down the open 3 pointers or take his man off the dribble to the basket, Yubette is more suited to play the wing, but he is also extremely active around the basket grabbing loose balls and using his physical style of play to handle the rough play in the paint. On the defensive end, Yubette's length can give smaller guards problems making passes. He must continue to improve his jump shot to make him a constant threat from outside, and he will need to improve his ballhandling a little more to handle pressure situations at the college level.
Wanaah Beal, F, (6-8, 185)
2012, West Houston, Texas/ Village School
Beal is a high-energy player who is still learning to use his exceptional length and quickness to the best of his ability. With above-average ballhandling skills, Beal can step out on the perimeter and handle the ball well enough to take other post players off the dribble and finish at the basket. Currently, he is at his best in the post where he has a nice baby hook shot that he uses very well by protecting the ball with his body and using his long arms to get the basketball up and over his defender. On the defensive end of the floor, his above average athleticism allows him to guard smaller defenders while his length gives post players trouble shooting over top of him. Beal will need to work on his strength to handle more physical players at the college level and will also need to improve his ballhandling skills to be considered a true perimeter threat while also continuing to improve his shot outside 12 feet.
Dai-Jon Parker (6-3, 170) SG
Parker has exploded on the scene as an excellent all-around player who can beat you in a lot of ways. He is subtle at first, allowing the game to come to him, but he had some brief stretches where he was the dominant player on the floor. His ability to finish in transition from any direction is impressive. In the half court, he forces his defender to stay close to respect his 3-point shot and can blow by his man with a quick first step. He has a nice feel off the dribble and made quite a few plays for his teammates with a well-timed pass. He is a good defender with the potential to guard multiple positions while he uses his length and athleticism to keep his opponent off balance; he is good in the passing lanes and causes problems off the ball with his help-side defense.
Adonis Thomas, SF, (6-6, 195)
Thomas is a big-time athlete with a big-time motor. He has a great nose for the ball and always seems to be in the right place to make a play. He is at his best in transition; he can use his quickness and explosiveness to finish at the rim. Defensively, he can guard multiple positions and is a surprisingly good shot-blocker with excellent timing. I loved his attitude and competitiveness playing up against the U-17s; he challenges everything and will chase down every loose ball and long rebound. His offensive game is still developing, but he is a threat from 15-18 feet and can put it on the floor for two or three dribbles to get it to the basket. He also showed the ability to play in the post and be effective in the trenches. He is only a rising junior, but you can tell the future is bright for this young man.
Trae Golden (6-1, 185) SG
2010, Powder Springs, Ga./McEachern
Much has been written about this young budding star that was an early Ohio St. commit/de-commit. Golden is a pure scorer who can light it up from well behind the arc. He took over in the quarterfinal game versus Florida Breakdown knocking down four 3-pointers in a row to put the game out of reach. He is a combo guard who is probably more 2 at the moment and is not overly explosive in getting by his defender to the paint. He is developing an improved midrange game and showed a couple nice plays of the dribble for a pull-up jumper. His size as a 2 and his playmaking as a 1 are his biggest question marks, but if a team needs a scorer who can consistently knock it down and is willing to overlook his size, this young man will fill a void.
2010 Stacey Poole (Jacksonville, Fla./Andrew Jackson H.S) is the son of former Florida great Stacey Poole Sr. He had a terrific weekend playing a big role in his team's advancing to the championship game in the 17 under division with his scoring. He is very comfortable with the ball in his hands, penetrating into the lane and displaying great athletic ability to finish.
2010 prospect Josh Corry (Spartanburg, S.C./Gaffney) had a great weekend for the Carolina Celtics constantly showing a high basketball I.Q. that allowed him to get open for short jumpers and 3-pointers. Corry needs to work on his ballhandling to play the point guard position at the next level. However, with his offensive game and quickness on the defensive end, he is a player to continue to watch throughout the AAU season.
Renaldo Dixon (Fairfield Beach, Fla./Zion Lutheran) seemed to come out of nowhere playing for the Southeast Elite. The 2009 big man has yet to commit anywhere, but showed solid defensive skills as a rebounder and shot blocker that could make him a sleeper late in the recruiting process.
2011 Kentavious Caldwell (Greenville, Ga./Greenville) got a late start playing with his Georgia Blazers but he wasted little time making up as he showed an impressive all around game late Saturday afternoon. Caldwell is a long athletic wing player that does a great job on the defensive end of deflecting passes and being aggressive with his on ball coverage. On offense, Caldwell is a slasher wing player that attacks the rim at will constantly pressuring the defense.
Jackson Tigers had nice squad with some outstanding athletes. 2012 prospect Ladarius White (6-4, 175, SG) from McComb, MS showed a nice stroke from behind the arc and an advanced ability to pass the ball for a young kid playing up against the 2010 kids. Rashand Perkins (6-6, 185, SF/PF) out of Starkville, MS turned a lot of heads with his aggressive work around the basket.
The future bigs from the class of 2012 were very impressive in while playing up 1 or 2 divisions. Tony Parker (6-8, 250, C) Miller Grove, GA, who had a nagging injury and missed much of the tournament, when he did play he showed why he is a dominate force with huge hands that catch everything while possessing a soft touch. Ismail'a Dauda (6-10, 250, C)Lauderhill, FL, Wanna Bail (6-8, 185, PF) West Houston, TX and Kyle Meyer (6-9, 220, C) Duluth , GA were four young bigs with bright futures that stood-out.
Paul Biancardi is a veteran of the coaching ranks with years of college experience. He has recruited on a national level with stops as an assistant coach at Boston University and Boston College, associate head coach at Ohio State and most recently as an assistant at Saint Louis University. Biancardi was head coach at Wright State University from 2003 to 2006. In 2003, he was named Horizon League Coach of the Year. He is a selection committee member for the prestigious McDonald's All-America Game and the Gatorade Player of the Year award.