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May 10, 2008

Prather: Saturday action

ATLANTA, Ga. -- Saturday was all about the match-ups at the Wallace Prather Memorial Classic. Some of the top players in the event squared off in the second day of action from Georgia Tech.

MUST-SEE MATCH-UPS

One of the staples of the Prather Classic are the match-ups. On Saturday, there were three of the best match-ups of the spring period.

Highlighting the day was a match-up of some of the best guards in the country in Kenny Boynton and Brandon Knight of Team Breakdown paired against Joe Jackson of the Memphis Pacers.

A match-up of Derrick Favors of the Atlanta Celtics and DeMarcus Cousins of the Birmingham Storm were paired together in a clash of the titans.

Finally, on-lookers had a glimpse of the future as LaQuinton Ross of MBA Elite and Trevor Lacey locked horns. The two are rising stars in the class of 2011.

Favors finally had his signature game of the spring.

The big man from nearby South Atlanta High School has been solid at the national events this spring but hasn't really had his game that had people talking. He might have played that game on Saturday

Favors was relentless in his attack to the basket. There were a couple of possessions where he was either blocked or had his shot altered and he grabbed the loose ball, went right back to work and scored through a defender and converted the and one play.

His back to the basket game was impossible to stop and his work on the glass as a rebounder was trademark Favors. The five-star big man scored 31 points in the victory.

Cousins scored 25 points in the victory and played like he generally always does. His love affair with taking 17 foot (and deeper) jumpers was in clear and present view. The future UAB star hit more than he missed and when the 6-foot-10, 250-pound big man put the ball on the floor, he was like an 18-wheeler rolling down the highway. No one was slowing him down.

The knock, if that is the right term, with Cousins is that he falls in love with the perimeter game. The argument is fair and if and when he discovers his ability to score in the paint as a pure post player, the sky truly is the limit with him. Cousins was good in the match-up against he and Favors. Don't misunderstand that. He just could have done a little bit more inside to make him more deadly as a producer.

  • Two is always better than one. That was the case in the Boynton and Knight against Jackson.

    Boynton's killer instinct was evident as he hit some big shots early but the senior to be was content to let Knight shine in the match-up of the top class of 2010 prospects. Boynton finished with 22 points in the match-up.

    Knight's ability to hit big shots at the right time was the blow that put the Pacers on their heels in the second half. The five-star guard showed why he's one of the most coveted players in the class of 2010 and why he is developing that same kind of ability to take over in the spotlight that Boynton has shown over the years. Knight put in 24 points in the win.

    Jackson's game is similar to Boynton's in the sense that he's a smaller guard but an elite level scorer. The class of 2010 five-star guard drilled his first four three-pointers he shot and, like Boynton, is oh so confident in his ability to score from the perimeter.

    Jackson finished with 24 points in the defeat but certainly proved himself as an elite level scorer in the match-up.

  • Ross, the versatile 6-foot-7 forward from Mississippi, scored 24 points to Lacey's 16 points in a one-point win for Ross and the MBA Elite squad.

    Ross's 28-point performance in a mercy-rule win against the Columbia Hoyas was outstanding. He scored it in every imaginable way. His ball-handling, passing and court vision is good enough to be a point guard and he played good minutes at the position. In fact, if official stats were recorded, Ross probably recorded a triple-double.

    HI, MY NAME IS...

    Emery Kelly opened some eyes at the Real Deal on the Hill with the Jackson Panthers. Now here with the Birmingham Storm, the 6-foot-7 forward is opening some mouths with his skills as a wing forward. Against the Atlanta Celtics, Kelly hit a pair of important threes at a key moment and swung some momentum back to his new teammates. A little undersized as a four man, Kelly has shown flashes of good things as a perimeter based prospect. He's worth watching again in the July period.

    Team Breakdown had received great interior production from 6-foot-7 forward Guillaume Sabour Pina of Westlake Prep (Fla.). Pina has played his role as rebounder and shot-blocker very well this spring. His play has earned offers from Auburn, Missouri and Texas A&M per his AAU coaches.

    Statesboro (Ga.) outbound senior Eric Ferguson was one of the come-from-nowhere surprises on Saturday. The wiry 6-foot-5 wing for the Smyrna Stars scored 21 points in a 20-point win. The class of 2008 prospect said he is looking at prepping at Hargrave or Wincendon next season. A prep year could do him good as he needs some more weight on his 170 pound body. His recruitment is nearly blank at this point, he says. If he preps, he could be a nice high-major surprise and a no-brainer mid-level player.

    THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

    Georgia's class of 2010 is rather thin for high-major talent compared to years past in the Peach State. However, Jalen Kendrick is clearly one of the better high-level prospects in his class not only in Georgia but the Southeast.

    The 6-foot-5 wing showed his stuff on Saturday evening, scoring 29 points in a tough loss. He's always been a player that can shine as a ball-handler, passer and glue guy on the offensive end of the floor. Lately, Kendrick is showing more aggression in his attack to the basket and overall offensive feel, which is good to see. Kendrick has always been a no-brainer high-major guy. He continues to cement himself as a player for the top level.

    The United Celtics 16 and under team relied on the strong play of Jarrell Eddie and Ian Miller early in the morning on Saturday. The two class of 2010 prospects combined for 32 points in a win over Fastbreak USA.

    Eddie, a live wire 6-foot-6 forward did his best Antwan Jamison impression. He crashed the boards with authority and did a great job of getting the rebound and sprinting up the floor on the break.

    His hard work was rewarded for the easy transition score. He knocked down some big shots and was comfortable as a combo forward that knows how to produce. His recruitment includes Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Clemson and Miami.

    Miller, a high-major prospect at the point in 2010, played as good as any point guard we saw in his class on Saturday. The 6-footer was relentless to the basket with the dribble drive. Miller finished with 18 points in the victory.

    Miller rattled off a list of UCLA, Richmond, Virginia Tech, Florida State, UNC Greensboro, Oregon, Oregon State, Oklahoma and Illinois.

    After helping his Lou Will Elite 15 and under team win the King James event last month, 6-foot-7 forward Henry Brooks played very well in a win on Saturday at the Prather. The class of 2011 prospect is proving his worth as a combo forward this month. He put the ball on the floor and created nice opportunities to score from the wing. He's always been a flash here and a flash there type of prospects. Now the flashes are starting to roll all together as he gets older.

    Jelani Hewitt is next for Team Breakdown. The 6-foot-2 guard from the class of 2010 has big scoring potential. He dropped 35 points against the Alabama Challenge

    SCHOOL LIST CENTRAL

    Worldwide Renegades guard Brandon Reed said he has picked up offers from Richmond, West Virginia, Nebraska, Toledo and Cincinnati.

    Friday night's most intriguing player - DeAndre Daniels - said he is moving to the Nashville area from Los Angeles. The 6-foot-8 forward from the class of 2010 will take a list of schools that include UCLA, Texas, Georgetown, Wake Forest and Pepperdine with him.

    Malik Stith, a native New Yorker, will take a prep year at Bridgton Academy after a dynamite season at East Mecklenburg in Charlotte, N.C. His play in the spring at the point for the United Celtics has earned him a scholarship offer from St. John's, he said, while Wichita State, Winthrop and George Mason have shown interest.

    Florida Assault guard Dexter Fields scored 20-plus points in the morning game and his physical brand of basketball is tough to defend at the high school level. The bull tough guard is hearing from Nebraska, Penn State, Winthrop, Jacksonville, Central Florida, Georgia Southern and Murray State.

    NOTES FROM THE NOTEPAD

  • Future Vanderbilt guard John Jenkins has game-changing ability as a perimeter threat. The 6-foot-5 guard drilled six three-pointers in a tough loss to the Worldwide Renegades Black team.

    When he shot the ball, chances are it was going in. And you didn't have to think about it. He's a major threat on the wing. Vanderbilt took advantage of it's regional strength with Jenkins and plucked him away early.

  • The Tennessee Tigers have a pair of big men to keep an eye on. Blake Jenkins and Demonte Simpson should draw some high-major peeks in July. Jenkins is a bouncy 6-foot-7 wing that did a nice job of getting to the foul line and converting. Simpson is a lumbering 6-foot-8 forward that has a body to work with.

  • Torin Walker of the Georgia Blazers may not win any battles above the rim from an athletic perspective but he's a skilled and smart player in the post and has a soft touch as a face up shooter. The 6-foot-8 forward

  • The Jacksonville Lee Bulls always have sleepers and prospects. This year is no different.

    From the sleeper department, Anthony Nwadigo, a 6-foot-3 guard from Gainesville (Fla.) High School, shined a physical defender and tough-guy scorer. Nwadigo said he is hearing from Belmont, North Florida, South Florida and Ole Miss.

    Chris Rozier, a 6-foot-6 forward from Wolfson High School in Jacksonville, was the team's most productive player inside the paint. The blue collar forward said he's heard from Tulane, Coastal Carolina, Jacksonville and South Florida.

    Aaron Bowen and Patrick Young, both class of 2010 prospects, showed some promise, too. Bowen, a 6-foot-6 forward, said Marquette, Florida, Jacksonville, Marist and Auburn. Young, a 6-foot-8 post, said Florida State, Virginia Tech and College of Charleston have shown interest.

  • Titus Robinson, a 2008 Buffalo signee, said he is contemplating a year at prep school. The 6-foot-7 combo forward signed with the school in mid-April but admitted to having second thoughts about his decision. His play over the last month has been intriguing.

  • Worldwide Renegades big man Jeremy Olsen verbally committed to Utah.


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