Hoops stars shine in T-town

TUSCALOOSA--- It was a basketball recruiting junkie's heaven. <br><br>Coleman Coliseum played host to its annual Southeastern Challenge AAU Basketball Tourney this past weekend, and no less than nine potential future Tiders and at least three possible opponents were on display.

Here are some brief impressions, based purely on this amateur's speculation and some talks with hoops gurus on hand:

TOP PROSPECTS: There were literally too many to mention, but we're going to give it a shot, starting with those young men we feel have a legitimate shot to end up in crimson in the next two years:

Akini Adkins, Tallahassee: Akini is around 6-9 and has a game comparable to that of Kenny Walker. Still learning the game of basketball, Adkins is great at running the floor and very athletic.

Chris Richard, Tallahassee: Chris is a bit shorter (though not much) than Akini and more muscular. He is sort of a slightly more athletic Erwin Dudley, for comparative purposes. He patrols the paint and loves to slam home putbacks, much like...

James Lang, Alabama Ice: James is a 6-10, 310 or so kid who plays at Birmingham's Central Park Christian School along with Ice teammates Anthony Grizzard and Kendaris Pelton (who transferred from Goshen to CP). James has worked to get his weight down and developed his game to the point where, in the SEC, he could be a "Shaqalike." James is working to qualify and is a very strong possibility to ink with UA in this fall's signing period.

Justin Jonus, Alabama Ice: Justin is sort of a cross between Jim Farmer and Mark Gottfried in that he's athletic enough to help an SEC team and a great outside shooter. Jonus plays for Douglas High near Gadsden, and is giving and receiving some interest from UA staffers.

Jai Miller, Alabama Ice: Jai is 6-4, athletic and still learning the point guard position. If he stays instate, UA is the team to beat. However, Jai may opt for a football scholarship. Now, UA has offered him in that sport, as well, so he could be a two-sport athlete, but that is up in the air. Jai, too, spends a lot of time up in the air, having great hops and the ability to take it to "the rack." If the Selma HS quarterback were to concentrate on hoops, he would be a truly fine player. As is, he ain't bad.

Kenny Hooks, Mississippi Rise And Shine: This Gulf Coast area native is as athletic a small forward as you'll find and he can shoot the rock, too. Hooks is legitimately interested in UA and word is the feeling is mutual. Kenny is the kind of kid, much like new Tider Kennedy Winston, who can two-hand jam one trip down and drain a three the next. Hooks is around 6-7 or so, and his game has very few weaknesses.

Emmanuel Willis, Mississippi Panthers: Emmanuel has battled injuries but appeared plenty healthy Saturday. Tough around the basket and on both the offensive and defensive backboards, Willis is around 6-8, 220. He plays at Mendenhall High School and is a furious competitor.

Glenn Myles, Raptors: Glenn is a 6-4 combo guard who is Mo-like in his basketball skills. A Birmingham playground legend in the vein of Ennis Whatley, Glenn has two years left on the high school squad at West End (coach T.R. Dunn's alma mater). Glenn can handle the "rock," shoot it, pass it and stick his man on "d." Glenn is very interested in UA.\

Mike Williams, Raptors: Mike is a 6-7 post player who may not grown much more but has a fine game regardless due to his athletic ability and soft touch shooting the ball. Mike plays at Antoine Pettway's alma mater, Wilcox Central High in Camden, and will be a national recruit. UA will be in the thick of it for Mike, but he'll be able to name his school.

FUTURE OPPONENTS: Travis Outlaw, Alabama Ice: Travis plays at Starkville High School, and if he does not jump to the NBA will certainly wear the maroon of MSU. At 6-8, Outlaw can dunk, lead the break and (occasionally) pass the ball. His jump shot is erratic but will come in time. He's a bit thin, but a good weight program such as the one at State will have him striking fear in the hearts of opposing fans and coaches.

Jackie Butler, Raptors: Butler is similar to Willis in that he plays hard, eats glass and has a nice inside game. UA will recruit Butler hard, but the instate schools in Mississippi where he hails from (McComb) will be tough to beat. Jackie is around 6-9, 235.

Jordan Howell , Alabama Pepsi Challenge: Jordan is an athletic two-guard who, when on, can really drain the outside "j." He is an early verbal to UGA, but who knows what will happen should the Harrick/NBA rumors be true. Jordan plays at Bob Jones High in Madison and is the classic "gym rat," much like Jonus. He's a little shorter and a tad quicker than Justin. One of Jordan's AAU teammates is best known for his prowess in another sport, but Jemarcus Russell did have some good moments dunking and shooting the three in an overtime win over the Georgia Ballers.

LEAVE THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN: ..at home, because the language between AAU coaches and officials is profanity-laced. Whew. Two words, men: grow up.

FACES IN THE CROWD: Volunteering in various capacities such as running the scoreboard, keeping the book etc were several current and former Tiders, including Mo Williams, Rod Grizzard, Kenny Walker, and Earnest Shelton, to name a few. Interested observers in the crowd included Antoine Pettway, Evan Brock and his dad, and Demetrius Smith.

NEXT HOOPS REPORT: The annual Alabama/Mississippi All Star Classic will be this Saturday in Clinton, MS. Tide signee Chuck Davis will play for sure, and he may be joined by Kennedy Winston.

Jonus, Miller and others will be on display in late July in Montgomery at the North-South AHSAA All-Star Game at AUM. We'll be on hand to report our impressions.

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