Houston Event Yields New Star

KINGWOOD, Texas – The last time I can remember a guy coming out of basically nowhere and "blowing up" was Gerald Wallace at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in 1999. Vakeaton Wafer's emergence onto the national scene is the best story recent in memory.

Waffer Capitalizes On Chance For Exposure

Believe it or not, no one, including his AAU coach knew what to expect from Vakeaton Wafer (pronouncd 'way fer') this weekend.

Arkansas Wings Red coach Tim Loring had seen him in action once in a game and then again at Wings practice. He knew he had a player, but just how good was he? How would he react in his first foray into the delightful world of AAU basketball? How good is he really?

Well, it probably took one game, maybe two to answer those questions. On Friday night he handed the Georgia Stars a loss and 30 points. Word leaked out quickly to those who weren't at the late game on Friday and by Saturday morning, everyone knew there was a big timer "blowing up."

By late morning on Saturday, most of the major schools were scheduling stops to watch him in action later that day. Programs like Florida and North Carolina were dropping by his games. By halftime of the 7:30 a.m. game on Sunday a pretty nice crowd had developed.

Word was out: Vakeaton Wafer had unofficially, officially "blown up." By late afternoon on Sunday, we had heard that Mike Davis of Indiana, Stan Heath of Arkansas and Rod Barnes of Mississippi would be in Homer, La., for a visit on Tuesday, the final day of the contact period.

Taking it a step further, Charlotte was sending an assistant down and Texas was last heard to be scrambling to get Rick Barnes on a plane by Monday to see him. Think about this, those are just the rumblings we heard as to who plans on visiting him. What's going on at travel agencies around the country, who knows? But know this: a lot of schools are scrambling to make arrangements to head into his neck of the woods in the next few days. Tiny Homer will be hoopin' soon.

Why? What's the reason for the excitement? Well, for starters it's not everyday a young man from a town with just one McDonald's and no Walmarts makes a meteoric rise up the recruiting lists.

In a span of three days, Waffer proved that he's a terrific prospect; one of the best wing prospects in the country based on this past weekend. Off this one single tournament, a case can be made that he's one of a handful of elite level prospects at the wing position.

The kid understands how to play. He's 6-5 and weighs about 210 pounds. He's a big-time athlete. We didn't see it, but we heard he nearly decapitated Fort Worth's Warren Carter with a drive and dunk on Sunday morning.

But, athleticism and size aside, the kid is skilled. He shots 3s with accuracy. He moves well off picks and screens and wastes little time in getting his shot up. He can drive it with the best of them and has instincts to be a big time scorer.

Had I not seen it myself, I would have had a hard time comprehending how gifted he is. For someone who prides himself on at least being familiar with a ton of kids, I was feeling a little embarrassed that I had no heard of him. Then it really hit me, no one in the gym had an idea of who the kid was or what he was capable of doing.

Vakeaton Wafer was so good on Sunday that we wouldn't be surprised if there were colleges waiting at the airport to greet him once his plane landed.

Vakeaton, if you happen to be listening, it doesn't stop here. You can't just tease us; you've got to do it again.

It's doubtful we've heard the last from the pride of Homer, La.


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