Roscoe Smith among Bob Gibbons stars
The Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions is in its 16th year and has become a tradition on Memorial Day weekend. This tournament, which is held in Raleigh and Durham, N.C., is invitation only with high level travel teams from around the country attending. There are 64 17U teams, 32 16U teams and 32 15U teams that compete in the heart of ACC country on the campuses of Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State. Bob Gibbons is regarded as a legend in the world of high school basketball scouting and does an outstanding job organizing the TOC.
There were high level games and players in each age group with a terrific finish on Sunday in the National Tournaments. Dream Vision (San Diego) beat Indiana Elite 80-64 in the 15U division. Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman), a 6-4 super athletic wing, took home the MVP. Five-foot-eight scoring machine Myles Mack (Patterson, N.J./ Patterson Catholic) was the 16U MVP; he led the Playaz (Patterson, NJ) to a 68-65 win over the Long Island Lighting (New York). Team Final (Philadelphia) and the CP3 All Stars( Winston-Salem, NC) battled for the 17U crown in a game loaded with high-major talent. Syracuse commit Dion Waiters (Burlington, N.J./Life Center Academy) was the MVP. The 6-4 power guard led Team Final to a 72-64 victory with 27 points.
Roscoe Smith SF/SG (6-8, 190)
Smith is a big-time shooter with a quick trigger and great confidence. He can score in bunches with ability to knock down open jumpers in transition and in the half court. He sprints the lane for spot ups, slides to the open area and comes of screens ready to shoot. He has excellent form and elevation to go along with length that enables him to shoot over smaller defenders with ease. Smith also has a tremendous shot fake that he uses to move defenders and get them out of their defensive stance to set up his smooth midrange pull-up that he can shoot going both ways with one or two dribbles. Defenders must learn to make Smith dribble into a shot under stress because if the defense is not in position to contest his shot on the catch, he will knock down jumpers all game. He is a decent defensive rebounder and could be a better offensive rebounder. He is a good enough ballhandler to lead the break -- although he must work on his passing on the move at high speeds. Smith must add strength and he will force shots from time to time. Still, this young player can flat-out change the scoreboard.
Reco McCarter SF/SG (6-7, 190)
2010, Goldsboro, N.C./Wayne Country Day
This long and wiry strong lefty is smooth and scores in a variety of ways. McCarter runs the floor in transition and can finish above the rim with flare. He has an excellent midrange game and can knock the 3 down off the catch with space by spotting up, space to the open area while reading penetration or coming off screens. He has excellent form and elevation and shoots over smaller defenders with ease. McCarter can also handle the ball; he likes to execute the left to right crossover, although at times he will cross the ball to close to the defender which results in a turnover. He has a good hesitation move. When under stress, his left-handed speed dribble comes to the rescue. He must add strength, but does a good job sprinting to the basket from the perimeter to hit the offensive glass where he scores on tip-ins with his length and athletic ability. On defense, McCarter does a good job taking advantage of his length to keep the ballhandler in front of him, which takes away the threat of getting beat off the dribble on a regular basis. McCarter is a true scoring wing that is capable of big numbers when he is in rhythm.
Reggie Bullock SG/SF (6-7, 195)
This long, athletic wing has continued to impress with his overall skill package. Bullock made 3s off the dribble in transition and off the catch in the half court by reading dribble penetration and moving to the open area of the floor. His great size and length allow him to shoot over most perimeter players with ease. Bullock also showed his ability to post smaller defenders, executing a power drop step and scoring through contact. He also does a great job reading the defense and making the appropriate cut that sometimes results in an uncontested layup. His midrange pull-up was also very affective. He likes to attack left and elevate after one or two dribbles, and he also has a tight spin move in the lane. Bullock displayed good ballhandling while being pressured, as well. He broke pressure with a low speed dribble on which he does a good job using his body to protect the ball. On defense, he did a nice job using his length to keep his man in front and also hit the defensive boards. He made a few nice passes by drawing a second defender and hitting a cutting teammate for a layup. Bullock played a complete game at a high level.
Kyrie Irving Pt/G (6-2, 175) 2010, Elizabeth, N.J., St. Patrick's
There is no question that Irving is an elite point guard with his advanced skill, confidence and high basketball I.Q. He runs a team with poise, excellent peripheral vision and an ability to score at anytime from anywhere on the floor. His range was out beyond the arc on a consistent basis; his shot selection from behind the arc also was good. His middle game is superb; he pulls up on a dime and scores with ease before the help defender gets close. Equally impressive, on his drive to the basket he knows how to -- and when to -- change speeds and score at the rim with good body control. He exhibits a beautiful retreat, cross-over attack dribble to create space when he see's the double-team running at him or when his defender is really applying strong ball pressure. On his penetration, Irving demonstrates the ability to read defenses, see the assist and deliver the correct pass on time and on target. In the transition game, when Irving receives the outlet pass, he has his eyes and head up as he looks to throw ahead or push the ball with the speed dribble. When playing off the ball and being overplayed, he sets his man up and back cuts to rim. Knowing the importance of getting open, he runs off screens and works to free himself for a score. He needs to get stronger because when he did get trapped he struggled. Still, Irving is one of the most dangerous guards in the nation. He can create for himself, create for his teammates and still is a student of the game.
Dion Waiters 2G (6-4 215)
2010 Burlington, N.J./Life Center Academy
This strong, tough scoring guard has made great strides in his game. Waiters is living up to his potential; he can change the outcome of big games like he did this weekend. He plays the game in an attack mode offensively and is always a triple threat to shoot, drive or pass the ball. You can see the patience and maturity in his game; he played much more under control this weekend than he did in the past. He is knocking down open 3s behind the arc and shows a little pull-up jumper that he still needs to work on. He dominates the game with his aggressive drives to the basket. With his deceiving quick first step and power dribble, Waiters carries defenders with him all the way to the basket and has no problem finishing through contact. His smooth stroke from the free-throw line is also a major asset. Defensively, Waiters does a good job anticipating the pass point to wing and turning it into two points. He get his share on defensive rebounds and starts the break by himself. For such a dynamic scorer, Waiters has been passing the ball more frequently. This indicates he is seeing the entire court.
Mike Gilchrist SF (6-7, 190)
2011, Elizabeth, N.J. St. Patrick's
Gilchrist, the top player in the Class of 2011, showed his tremendous potential at this event. He is beginning to display what all great players have: a swagger on the court. Gilchrist continues to dominate games with his middle game. He is doing a little bit more of everything on the floor: rebounding, ball-handling, jumpers from 15 feet, block shots and finishing at a high percentage in transition or in the half court. Gilchrist is particularly adept putting the ball in the basket in the paint and finishing from a dump off passes. He plays the game with a high energy and effort. His explosive athletic ability enables him to beat his opponents inside and up at the rim. He still needs to continue to work on his 3-point shooting, which is not up to speed with the rest of his game. Defensively, he is versatile enough, with his good lateral foot speed and long frame, that he can guard 1 through 4 positions and switch screens or hand-offs at any time.
Akil Mitchell SF (6-7, 205)
2010, Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian
Mitchell is a long and athletic wing. He is thin and needs to add strength, but is skilled, active and very productive. Mitchell looks to score and has the ability to knock down the open 3 off the catch with time. His has great length and can shoot over smaller opponents with ease. Mitchell is a good open-court ballhandler for his size. He likes to attack the rim along the baseline and can finish with a dunk if the helpside defense is late. He can also score with midrange pull-ups with good form and elevation. Mitchell plays with great energy; he runs the floor with long strides and changes directions on the court effortless. He is a good defensive rebounder who can initiate the fast break with a quick bust-out dribble. At times, Mitchell will force and take closely guarded shots, but most of the time he has decent shot selection. Defensively, he has the athletic ability to defend both wing positions and even a small power forward. Mitchell also has quick reaction time and with his length; he gets his share of steals in the passing lane and does a great job working to contest and block shots. Mitchell has tremendous upside and could be a special player once he becomes stronger.
Chris Jones PG/SG (6-1, 165)
This point guard can break open a game with his scoring flurries. Jones has a quick release and can knock down deep jumpers off the catch or dribble. He is a terrific ballhandler who probes for openings to hit pull-up or step-back jumpers. Jones loves to freeze defenders with his between the legs and crossover dribbles before he elevates. He has that ability to attack off the dribble both ways but seems to prefer going left. Jones also pushes the ball in transition and will take it coast to coast if he is not brought under control. He can drive draw and kick to open teammates but he is clearly thinking score first. Jones is tough and competes on both ends; he plays with good energy and even helps on the defensive glass. He is also a serious on-ball defender with his quick hands and excellent lateral foot speed. At times, he will force and take bad shots but that is something his coach will have to live with because in most cases he will shoot a decent percentage and drop 30-plus points. Jones is tough to defend because he can score in a variety of ways. He plays more like a shooting guard trapped in the body of a point. Still, this young man is fun to watch change the scoreboard.
Jacob Lawson PF (6-7, 195)
2011, Greensboro, N.C./Northern Guilford (NC Gators Blue)
This long, athletic forward is constantly active and very productive Lawson runs the floor at high speeds and finishes above the rim with ease. He plays with great energy and competes on both ends of the floor. Lawson is an excellent rebounder in and out of his area. He does a great job keeping the ball alive by tipping it to a teammate when he can't gain possession. Lawson scores not only in transition, but he's very effective posting on the left low block and execute the baseline spin move. He also finishes drop-off passes and has developed a comfortable range from 12 -15 feet. Lawson is a work in progress and still very raw skill wise. He must work to improve his perimeter ballhandling and extend his shooting range. On defense, Lawson has quick hands and feet that enable him to defend both forward positions. This young forward is easy to keep an eye on because he always seems to be near the action on the floor.
Justin Coleman SG/SF (6-5, 210)
2010, Richmond, Va./Henrico (Petersburg Elite)
Coleman is an aggressive wing who can score in bunches. He is an above-the-rim finisher in transition and can hit the open 3 with regularity. He has a smooth stroke and shoots with great confidence. He's more than capable of shooting 3s off the catch or dribble are not a problem for Coleman. He does a great job of spotting up on the side of the floor where dribble penetration is occurring and he sprints off screens locked and loaded. The one or two dribble midrange pull-up is also in the scoring package. Coleman has great size and strength to get to the rim. He is a good enough ballhandler to beat his defender off the dribble with spin moves, and he is strong enough to attack the lane and score through contact or draw the foul. At times, Coleman's decision-making is questionable. He will take fully contested shots and can be charge-prone; when he makes up his mind to score he is determined to get the ball on the rim. Coleman should work on his passing on the move and look to kick out to open teammates when he draws a second or third defender. Defensively, he needs to play in a stance more often because he has the strength and athletic ability to be an excellent wing defender when motivated. Overall this kid's a terrific offensive talent. At times, he reminds me of Lance Stephenson.
Damien Leonard SG (6-5, 180) 2011, Greenville, S.C. /JL Mann Leonard is a skilled SG with the ability to make shots. Leonard has excellent range on his jumper. He is a good athlete but must add strength. Leonard is capable of scoring in bunches; he sprints the lane in transition, receives kick outs from dribble penetration or coming off screens. He has great confidence, shot preparation and a quick trigger. Leonard has a decent midrange pull-up but must work on his scoring moves off the dribble because as defenders learn his game the catch and shoot jumper will be limited. Leonard must also continue to build his game. He needs to go to the boards more on both ends because he is quick and athletic enough to be effective. Leonard is a true two guard with good basketball instincts and upside and is one to watch as he continues to develop.
R.J Slawson PF (6-8 185)
2010 Charleston , S.C. / Fort Dorchester
Slawson is a long and active forward with great length when he finishes around the basket. Whether it's a dump-off pass, offensive rebound put back or a post move this young man impressed us with his scoring inside. He also displays a strong set of skill as he can put the ball on the floor and gets into the lane and scores. He shows good body control on the finish. He is comfortable on the perimeter as he hit open 3's coming off screens feet set in a catch/shoot style. With his size he easily get a great look at the basket on his long-range jumper. Defensively, he utilizes his length to change and block some shots. He needs to get stronger, develop a middle game and rebound more on both backboards. As he continues to practice, compete in games, with his ability to score from the perimeter he can develop into a small forward in time. In order to do that, he must show he can defend out at the 3-point line and chase his man off screens. He reminds of Khris Middleton from South Carolina who is a terrific prospect going to Texas AM.
On point in Carolina
The point guard crop at this event was outstanding. Here are a few players at the position we thought deserved extra mention:
• Bruce Ellington (Monks Corner, Berkeley) pushes the ball with great speed and plays with a high motor.
• Andre Stringer (Jackson, Miss./Jackson Forest Hill) makes 3's, scores when needed and finds open teammates.
• 2011 prospect Deville Smith (Jackson, Miss./Callaway) is aggressive and tough. He excels in transition.
• 2010 Ray McCallum (Beverly Hills, Mich./Detroit Country day) never gets rattled and knows how to run the show. He handles with great change of direction and change of speeds. For a point guard, he's a guy who scores the ball with the best of them.
• Cory Joseph( Henderson, Nev./Findlay Prep) shoots and makes 3's consistently. He has also improved his on-ball defense.
• 2011 prospect Myck Kabongo (Newark, N.J./St. Benedicts) slashes with the best of them. He plays with great energy and effort. He's still learning the point guard position, but he has tons of natural ability.
• 2010 Emaneul "Poobie" Chapman (Raleigh, NC Enloe) plays with energy and has great court vision. He's quick and clever with ball.
• 2010 prospect Ryan Harrow (Alpharetta, Ga / Walton) is very athletic and quick of the dribble. He attacks in transition and drives, draws and kicks with excellent court vision. The N.C. State commit can also knock down the open 3 and finish above the rim with a clear path.
• 2011 PG Jamal Branch (Humble, Texas./ Atascocita) has good size, a pass-first mentality with a tight handle and excellent court vision. The Texas A&M commit can also score when needed.
• 2010 prospect Joe Jackson (Memphis/White Station) is super quick and athletic. He excels in transition and gets in the lane at will. (Memphis Magic White)
• When it comes to experience and championship coaching, the staff of the Florida Rams is second to none with Derek Heard (Orlando Oak Ridge), Kareem Rodriguez (Port St. Lucie), Mark Lieberman (Miami Pace) and Travis Jones (Winter Springs) who are all high school head coaches that have combined for five state championships.
• Class of 2010 shooting guard 6-5 Jeremy Jeffers (Wilson, NC. / Greenfield School) is a lefty that plays in attack mode. He can get to the rim with slashes and knock down three's off the catch or dribble. One to watch. 88/MM+ (Carolina Flight)
• The Atlanta Celtics have a new addition to their 17U team who is an enforcer in the lane. Class of 2010 6-9 PF Shawn Jackson (Live Oak, Fla./ Melody Christian) is a strong and physical rebounder, shot-blocker and finisher. Stay tuned for his progress.
• Team Breakdown (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) guard 6-3 Jelani Hewitt(Fort Lauderdale, Fla./ Northeast) had a monster game scoring 45 points including 10 three's in a hard fought loss to the Rising Stars. Paul Biancardi contributed to this report.