Notes From Atlanta

<b>ATLANTA – There are 24 teams in the main bracket of the 17-and-under division of the Atlanta Basketball Classic. The games are played at three separate gyms, so it's tough watching everyone. Here's a rundown of what we watched on Friday.</b>

Friday's A.B.C. Notes

It's bound to happen, everyone knows it.

The Class of 2002 is going to have a member or two declare for the NBA Draft out of high school. Word out of Atlanta is that Atlanta Celtics PF Sani Ibrahim could be one of those men. The 6-10 Ibrahim, originally from Nigeria, is easily one of the five best prospects in the class. On Friday, he was a dunking machine alongside Amare Stoudemire, but he also reinforced the thought that he's pretty darn skilled with a variety of jumpers and drives from the wing to the basket.

Right now, Ibrahim isn't receiving the same kind of interest from high-major programs that guys like Shavlik Randolph and Shelden Williams are. Alabama would love to have him and so would some others, but no one is holding their breath. Celtics AAU director Wallace Prather admits there is a lot of merit in Ibrahim going to the league. So long as Ibrahim doesn't lay an egg this summer, expect the NBA to be the primary option.

On Friday, Atlanta Hawks GM Pete Babcock, a scout and current Hawk Dion Glover were on hand to watch Ibrahim play.

Felton Comes Through For Beach Ball: Raymond Felton's first game on Friday certainly wasn't a vintage performance. He scored 14 points in a non-descript win over the Alabama Roadrunners. However, against Team Reef – a squad sponsored by current NBA star Shariff Abdur-Rahim – Felton turned on the jets and sparked a 4th quarter Beach Ball rally. He finished with a game-high 27. Remember, Felton had problems with his stroke last week at USA Camp. This morning they weren't falling either, but in the second game he found the range.

Davis Getting SEC Interest: Power forward Chuck Davis from Selma, Ala., will wind up being a versatile collegian. He looks comfortable as a four-man with some face-up skills that will allow him to move out to the perimeter. On Friday, he led his Alabama Ice to victory of the Georgia Stars in one of the games we watched. Davis said afterward that Alabama, Auburn, Louisiana State, Arkansas and Boston College are very interested in his services. He believes most have offered scholarships heading into July.

Goodwill Games In Atlanta: Pole Antilles is a group of French players participating as one team in the Atlanta Basketball Classic. The team is loaded with athletic players, but skill and savvy seem to elude this bunch that play hard. Having not seen much of French-style basketball I offer the following observations: the French, in particular the Pole Antilles team, love to chase the basketball. When you chase the rock with more than one defender, guys get open for easy layups against you. The team was composed of guys who love to pass. However, on the other end of that pass has to be a catch and that didn't happen too often. The international set of rules is a tad different than the ones you and I use everyday. Next time, a refresher course might help but there's no shame in being unfamiliar with our rules. Surely, the same would happen to a U.S. team playing in France under international rules. Finally, I noticed that some curse words transcend language. With some elementary French in my background, I was easily able to distinguish a mad player from a happy one and noticed a few other words sound the same in English.

Good Performers and Hot Rumors: One of the juicy rumors floating around the A.B.C. surrounds PG Anthony Roberson. The latest rumor hints that Florida has gotten stronger and Roberson might be tempted to make a move in the near future. Stay tuned. … Gaylord Hayden, a potential mid-major combo forward, turned in a nice effort against Beach Ball Select. Hayden is a 6-5 member of the Class of 2003. He attends Minor High. … Class of 2003 SF Elijah Clarke played well last weekend at the Rumble In The Bronx. He's playing pretty good for Team Reef in Atlanta as well. The 6-5 Clarke is a very good athlete who has some variety in his offensive game. … He's originally from New York but will be playing in Washington, D.C., at Spingarn next year. … Stoudemire and Ibrahim again put on a dunking exhibition against the Middle Georgia Bucks as the Celtics won by nearly 50 points. Some AAU programs will go out and recruit a player or two. Not the Celtics. They went out and recruited an entire team. Four members of Fastbreak USA joined forces with the Celtics to give them a talented roster of close to 15 players. Granted, not that many will play in a normal game, but the Celtics are loading up. There is talk that Prather's bunch might add another star or two before they leave in July for the Big Time. … One Fastbreak/Celtics newcomer is SG/SF Chet Stachitas. The rising senior flashed a diversified offensive game, which includes a medium-to-long-range jumper and plenty of athleticism for his position. His recruitment should pickup after July. … Celtics PG/SG Michael Ford has some academic work to do before he can seriously pursue collegiate options. …

Teammates DeMarco Polk and Justin Flatt nearly led the Midstate Ballerz (TN) to a comeback win against Southeast Raptors. Both are Division I players and the summer will depend which level they schools will pursue them. Plenty of low and mid-major schools will show interest early. Polk is a strong, albeit undersized driver, while Flatt is a 3-point shooter. … SE Raptor Mike Williams is a 2004 PF. He excelled at the Tournament of Champions, and he's proving himself in Atlanta. Williams is an extremely skilled young post prospect. Teammate Chadd Moore is having a solid tournament at the point.

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