AAU Nationals: Our Coverage Begins

ORLANDO, Fla. – Pool play ended on Monday at the AAU National Championship. Now, the race for the title begins. We'd expect to see the level of play continue to improve as the field is dwindled down. We're arriving in Orlando with the tournament in progress so here's a quick catch-up lesson on the event.

Early Round Surprises

Upon arriving at the AAU's, the word from the college coaches was that FL PG Steven Cowherd, NC athlete Eric Hicks and WV PF Kevin Pittsnogle were in the process of winning over some programs. In the case of Pittsnogle, Orlando is a city that's been kind to him in the past. Last year, he scored 25 points against Amare Stoudemire as he used his perimeter game to take Stoudemire outside and plays to his own strengths.

Cowherd had been receiving low to mid-major recruiting attention prior to a fine effort on Sunday night. Monday's reports indicated that he wasn't able to duplicate Sunday's effort. Plenty of mid to high-major schools looking for a lead guard are stopping by to see him.

Hicks is one of those guys that some coaches will question where to play him while others will just figure that he's good enough to insert into the lineup and worry about assigning him a position later down the road. Regardless, he appears to be duplicating a Nike effort where he was a dunkmaster who ran the floor with reckless abandon.

Caught Our Eye

Corey Rouse, SF, Wilson Kings He's successfully grabbed the attention of numerous coaching staffs that are presently evaluating his potential He's a nice looking athlete who shoots it well to mid-range.

Matt Kiefer, PF/SF, Warrick County The Purdue-bound forward did what he does best: he shot it well. He can also successfully get from the wing to the rim. He's looking like a guy who can help the Boilers.

Ryan Moore and Mike Williams, Guards, Tallahassee Wildcats These two guys unleashed their athleticism on the AAU's and it was exciting. Both are top ranked football prospects that are being recruited by Florida State and Florida, to name a few schools. These guys play above the rim and could certainly have a future in college hoops, but the word is football reigns supreme for them.

Dedrick Finn, PG, Warrick County We've seen him play better, but 18 points ain't too shabby. He had some problems with holding onto the ball, but it's clear that while the Class of 2002 is loaded with good prospects at the point, few demonstrate the leadership capabilities of Finn. You know he'll be there when it's winning time.


Ivan Jenkins, PG, North Carolina Gaters He signed last season late with Winthrop and he's a fine get for that program. The Durham guard is fast and competitive. He made a fine choice in picking a program where he can really make an impact.

Ray Bristow, PG, Central YMCA Hornets Here's a kid who is likely a low-major player but the perfect change of pace point. He's fast, extremely fast. His crossover is tough to guard and gets him where he needs to go. He has to improve his perimeter game and finish strong in the lane if he's to look at schools on a higher level.

News and Notes …

We caught a red-eye flight from Las Vegas to Orlando this morning. On that same flight was center Mario Boggan. Just hours earlier, Boggan had fought hard and come up short in the title game of the Big Time. He then jumped on a plane, traveled cross-country and was inserted into the North Carolina Gaters lineup in the second quarter. He should receive mucho toughness points for the effort. Obviously, he was a little lethargic in the game and passed more than he's used to, but you can't overlook the effort it took to get to Orlando.

Texas Tech could be close to a commitment. We hear that shooting guard Josh Washington of Team Texas might just be the first prospect to commit to Bobby Knight this year.

Wake Forest is still looking for a point guard. Assistant Jeff Battle was all over the AAU's, watching all kinds of point men. Obviously, this is an important decision for the staff. As far as we know, the Deacs haven't settled on a player but we hear Justin Gray just may be the guy they are waiting on. Our sources hint strongly what while Todd Galloway feels like he has an offer, one might not have formally been extended to him just yet. This is getting interesting.

SG Denham Brown's destination for this year could wind up being Toronto Westhills High. …

Kevin Pittsnogle is drawing nice crowds these days. Drew Catlett of West Virginia, Mike Jones of Richmond and reps from both NC State, Mississippi State and Pittsburgh were on hand watching him. … Memphis swingman Derrick Byars also drew a nice crowd. Tennessee head coach Buzz Peterson and Vandy head coach Kevin Stallings made the trip to watch him. So did Mike Brey of Notre Dame, Andy Kennedy of Cincinnati and the entire Clemson staff.

IL PF James Augustine has drawing power. The head coaches at four major schools – Wake Forest, Illinois, Purdue and Xavier – checked out his game Monday night. When that many head coaches come to watch you, you know you are big-time.

Swingman Corey Rouse lists East Carolina, NC State, Virginia and Charleston as a few possibilities. … Tennessee Thunder C Justin Herndon says that Alabama and Vanderbilt have already offered him scholarships. Wake Forest, Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State and Austin Peay are also involved on some level. …

Athletes First center Julius Lamptey likes Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Purdue and Michigan. He has not taken the SAT to date. … PF Shelden Williams says that Duke, Illinois and North Carolina clearly remain the top 3 schools on his list followed by Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, Arkansas and Southern Cal. …

MI PG Dedrick Finn says that Xavier and Michigan State are his top two schools. He's planning a first week in July unofficial visit to Xavier and an official visit to Michigan State in early September. Mississippi State is also involved. …

PF Donte Minter likes Xavier, Marquette, East Carolina, Appalachian State and The College of Charleston. …

Forward Marques Hayden likes Iowa State, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Miami and Michigan. …

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