SUWANEE, Ga. -- There is usually little time allotted for evaluating younger players at an event who are not playing up in the U-17 division of a spring or summer tournament, but with Nike Elite Youth Basketball League and the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions going on during the same weekend, the Bobby Hussey Memorial Day Challenge was an excellent opportunity to catch a glimpse of more 2012 and 2013 prospects.
Gavin Ware (Starkville, Miss./ Starkville)
2012, PF/C, 6-foot-8, 245 pounds | Team: Phenoms
He has continued to develop since the last time we evaluated him (which is a great sign for big guys). Ware has great hands and showed improved footwork in the low-post area, making some tough catch-and-finishes in traffic. He needs to become a more consistent rebounder on the defensive end, but that will come with technique and time. He has developed into a solid high-major prospect.
Robert Carter (Thomasville, Ga./ Thomasville)
2012, PF, 6-8, 240 pounds | Team: Atlanta Express
He is already well-known in the Southeast, but if he continues to play like he played here, the rest of the country will know him soon. The big man made plays both inside and on the perimeter. He looks like a football tight end with a jump shot. He likes to play facing up a little too much at times; he has the ability to be a punisher in the trenches. Carter is definitely one of the high-major prospects to follow.
Player to watch
Justin Touyo (Lovejoy, Ga./Lovejoy)
2012, PF, 6-8, 190 pounds | Team: Southern Kings Gold
His game is all about controlling the paint with his shot-blocking and rebounding skills. He reminds me of Jarvis Varnado because he can impact a game without scoring a point. He is still raw offensively and needs to develop his frame, but his athleticism and work ethic should help him overcome those deficits.
• Brandon Morris (Lithonia, Ga./Miller Grove) is slowly transforming into a legitimate high-level prospect as he led a scrappy group to their second notable championship of the spring circuit.
• The Arkansas Wings are fun to watch. They remind you of the Illinois teams of the 1980s with a bunch of interchangeable players who create matchup problems. They are led by Archie Goodwin (Little Rock, Ark./Sylvan Hills) and Jalen Jackson (West Memphis, Ark./West Memphis).
• The best prospect in the gym, Jonathan Williams of the Memphis YOMCA, was unable to play; he was wearing a precautionary boot to force him to rest, keeping him off the floor. He said he should be cleared to go full throttle in less than a week and is chomping at the bit to get back out there and compete.
• Devonte Pollard (De Kalb, Miss./Kemper), who plays alongside Ware for the Phenoms, played inconsistently early in bracket play, but showed why he is considered a top prospect in the 2012 class. The smooth 6-7 lefty is a difficult matchup and is excellent at attacking of the dribble. He needs to rev up his motor more often to play up to his full potential.
Michael LaPlante is a recruiting coordinator and has more than 20 years of coaching and recruiting experience.