Next Level: Day One

It was a night for the little guys at the Next Level tournament in Dallas. Guys like Sherron Collins and Tajuan Porter put up big games on Friday night. Check out plenty of news and notes from Dallas.

Sherron Collins proved his performance at Boo Williams was no fluke.

The undersized 5-foot-8 point guard scored just 8 points, but controlled the game and make his Illinois Warriors teammates better in an easy victory against the San Antonio Celtics.

Collins didn't take many shots; he got guys like Alex Tyus and Jeff Ryan the ball where they needed to get things done.

However, Collins' highlight (believe me, they'll be a Collins highlight in every game you see) on this night was a monster block he pinned off the backboard against a San Antonio guard who appeared to have an easy fastbreak bucket.

Don't compare Collins to former Crane High (Ill.) star Will Bynum, either. Collins has a few of the same attributes, primarily the explosiveness, but he's a true point guard who knows the difference between a good shot and a bad one.

Collins is ultra-athletic, plays with poise and has shown the ability to be far more of a set-up guy than Bynum ever showed.

The player whose benefited the most from Collins is Tyus, who will head to a prep school next season after a dispute with his coach resulted in him quitting the Hazelwood Central (Mo.) team.

Tyus, who finished with 20 points, is a terrific athlete who was the beneficiary of several alley-oop passes from Collins. Tyus' lengthy school list includes, Arizona, UNLV, Miami, Florida State, UConn, Syracuse, Arkansas, Texas and Washington.

BOO HOO

Boo Williams didn't need a trio of its guards in a rout against the Grand Prairie Wizards.

Scott Reynolds, Eric Hayes and rising junior Chris Wright couldn't make Friday night's game because of the weather down south, but they are expected to be in attendance on Saturday when things heat up at the Next Level Ballers.

Stefan Welsh, known more for his scoring ability, filled in nicely for Boo Williams as the floor leader. Welsh, who took an official visit to Xavier this past weekend along with undersized power forward Duke Crews, finished with a handful of assists and made sure to get everyone involved before looking for his own offense.

Welsh connected on a pair of trifectas and finished with 10 points while Crews had 11 points and 5 rebounds. Boo Williams was led by Vernon Macklin, who had 15 points and 10 boards. Macklin started the game slow, but dominated on the glass and also played the passing lanes well.

Despite the fact that the three guys missing were all guards, one player who benefited playing-time wise was Norfolk Collegiate (Va.) 6-10, 260-pound rising senior Karolis Petrukonis.

The big Lithuanian got into the game and wasted little time trying to make an impact. On the defensive end, he was a shot-blocking machine – swatting a pair of shots within the first minute upon entering the game. However, offensively he began slowly – missing badly on his first shot attempt in the paint and then making poor decisions with the ball on the next two trips down the floor.

However, Petrukonis calmed down and displayed an impressive skill package, knocking down mid-range jumpers with ease and also scoring in the low-post. Petrukonis said that Clemson, Virginia Tech and William & Mary were a trio of schools already showing interest. That list is sure to grow if he keeps getting playing time.

PORTER POWER The knock on nearly every little guy is that they can't shoot. Whether it's Spud Webb, Muggsy Bogues or whoever.

However, Tajuan Porter is the exception to that rule. The Detroit Renaissance (Mich.) 5-foot-7, 155-pound point guard is one of the top shooters around – regardless of his size.

While he's being recruited primarily at the mid-major level (he said that Detroit, Dayton and Oregon were the three that came into his school already), high-majors such as Providence, who have thrived with a smaller guard in the past, shouldn't pass up on a guy like Porter.

Not only can he shoot from the perimeter; he can also get into the paint and he creates havoc on the defensive end.

``I just want to get better," Porter said.

``They want to say he's not a high-major player," The Family's Durand Walker said. "I dispute that. He consistently shoots the ball from the outside. I don't know what else he has to prove. There are very few guys in the country who can shoot the ball like Tajuan."

Recruiting Notes: Welsh admitted that Xavier remains his favorite, but he'll wait it out – along with Crews. Welsh said that Virginia Tech is the other school showing a lot of interest while Boston College, Illinois and Miami are expected to come into Woodside High (Va.) this week. … Crews mentioned Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, St. John's, Clemson, Tennessee, Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Maryland and Georgetown in addition to Xavier. … Wisconsin Playground Warriors combo guard Jerry Smith is on a visit to Wake Forest.

Notes: Boo Williams forward Lewis Witcher is a good prospect despite the fact that he didn't get a whole lot done. He's long and can run the floor. … Another guy to watch on Boo's squad is Darrion Pellum, a 6-5 wing from Hampton High (Va.) who canned four trifectas and also showed some explosiveness. … Among the no-shows for the event were the D.C. Blue Devils tandem of Kevin Durant and Tywon Lawson, who had class this weekend. … Illinois Warriors wing Jon Scheyer sat this one out due to assorted injuries. He had a school visit this past week from Duke head coach Mike Kryzewski and will head to Illinois for an official visit next weekend. … Bobby Maze, who was at Philadelphia Lutheran, will likely spend another year at prep school. … Maze's D.C. Blue Devils teammate, Bobby Shannon, really struggled to score on Friday night in a win against NorCal Elite. … Literally, a couple hundred feet away from the main gym, Georgia Tech signee Austin Jackson was roaming center field and batting second for Denton Ryan in a road baseball game against Colleyville Heritage High. Jackson was 0-for-3 and is expected to be taken in the Major League Baseball Draft, but it planning to attend Georgia Tech and play basketball. Jackson could be the starter from Day One if Jarrett Jack leaves for the NBA. … We got our first look at Alabama-bound guard Mikhail Torrance and the Crimson Tide have gotten themselves a pretty good player. He can score, has a good body and plays under control. … Baylor forward Tim Bush was working the clock for one of the games at the tournament. … The Family's Leon Freeman didn't make the trip due to a foot injury. … Word is that rising junior guard Randy Culpepper drained seven 3-pointers for YOMCA on Friday night. Overseas Report: Leo Papile's BABC team is in Italy playing in the Victor Rho tournament, which boasts some of the top younger club teams overseas. BABC is off to a 2-0 start with Anthony Gurley leading the way. Gurley scored 25 points in the opener and had 36 last night in a victory against Alba Berlino. Team Florida's Jeremiah Rivers is playing in the event for BABC and is averaging 8 points per game while splitting time between both backcourt spots. Here's a name you should remember: Alex Oriakhi. He's only a rising freshman, but the 6-5 ½ power forward has been called up to Papile's under-17 team because of a need for an inside, rebounding presence. Oriakhi averaged 15 boards in the first two contests.


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