FAYETTEVILLE - Derrick Favors wowed onlookers at the University of Arkansas HPER Building, using his 6-foot-9, 225-pound frame to effortlessly score points, snag rebounds and block shots.
It all came easier than usual Friday night for the junior from South Atlanta High. His 17-and-under Atlanta Celtics team didn't face the 17-and-under Louisiana Tarheels as expected in its opening game of the Real Deal on the Hill.
The Tarheels pulled out of the tournament, and the 16-and-under Arkansas Warriors were a last-minute, vastly overmatched replacement.
But Favors, regarded by many recruiting services as the top prospect in the Class of 2009, didn't treat the Warriors any differently than he would have the Tarheels. That didn't surprise Ryan Falker, who has seen Favors play since the sixth grade and has watched him blossom into a high school All-American.
"The biggest thing about Favors is he is consistent," said Falker, who coaches the 17-and-under Worldwide Renegades, the other main AAU program in Atlanta. "Every game, you know what you're going to get. It doesn't matter who he is playing, he's going to get a double-double. Well, actually, you might get a triple-double."
There was no triple-double - or even double-double - for Favors on Friday night but only because of how lopsided the game became. Favors scored 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting, grabbed six rebounds and blocked three shots in just 14 minutes during the Celtics' 72-36 victory.
Throughout his brief time on the court, he proved why every high-profile coach in the nation has Favors in mind. He finished around the basket with ease with both his hands. He showed incredible leaping ability, darting to the basket to throw down an alley-oop dunk on an inbounds play. And he exhibited an overall smoothness that has helped turn the recruiting process into a mini-circus.
"Lots of calls, lots of letters - it is (overwhelming) sometimes," Favors said. "But all I try to do is stay humble, work hard and I'll worry about where I'm going when I really have to."
When asked which schools he was considering the most, Favors simply responded, "all of them," with a wide grin on his face. Those who know Favors well aren't surprised by the bombardment of attention, even if Favors is.
Favors has been known to possess an unmatched work ethic at South Atlanta High, often beating out the guards during post-practice sprints. And Falker said Favors' off-court demeanor surely has made him more desirable for college programs.
"He's quiet, unassuming and unselfish," Falker said. "He's well-mannered. He's a great student. He's just a great kid."
Terrence Shannon, Favors' Celtics teammate and also a Division I prospect, said the school that eventually lands Favors will immediately improve because of his commitment and personality.
"He's like a brother to me," Shannon said. "He was the first person I met when I joined the team four years ago, and he's done so much to help me get better. He makes everyone around him better. He creates for everyone else, and he's never been a selfish player."
Position: Power Forward
AAU Team: Atlanta Celtics
High School: South Atlanta High
Notable: Posted averages of 23.7 points, 17.1 rebounds and 9.1 blocks this season for South Atlanta High while tallying 19 triple-doubles in 30 games. ... Helped lead the Celtics to the Adidas Super 64 title last summer. ... Averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds per game as a freshman on South Atlanta High's varsity team.
REAL DEAL ON THE HILL
Locations: Bud Walton Arena, University of Arkansas HPER Building, Fayetteville High, Bentonville High, Springdale Har-Ber High, Rogers High Sophomore Center, Fayetteville Christian High, All Star Sports Arena, Fayetteville Boys and Girls Club, Ramey Junior High, Elmwood Junior High, Woodland Junior High, George Junior High, Oakdale Junior High
Dates: Starting at 8 a.m., Saturday and Sunday
Tickets: $8 for an all-day pass
For more information, including detailed schedules, go to RealDealOnTheHill.com.
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