Crazy Eights: Sleepers Emerge

There were plenty of guys who emerged from no-names on the national scene last week in Houston. We take a look at our "Crazy Eight" - the top players who built a national name for themselves at the Academy National Invitational.

Come the holiday season, there are always presents under the Christmas tree (or the Hanukkah bush) that you didn't expect. With that in mind, we take a look at eight guys who went from unknowns to guys who should be in demand after the New Year after their performance in Houston this past week.

1) Marcus Simmons, 6-5, SG, JR, Peabody High (La.) – This is a guy oozing with potential. He played center at a small school a year ago and is still getting used to playing on the perimeter at Peabody. Long, really gets after it on the defensive end and can also score in a variety of ways. Had 10 points in a loss to Oak Hill, 17 in a loss to Kingwood and 13 in a double-overtime win against LeFlore. Had the unenviable task of having to try and contain Tywon Lawson and Nic Wise – both about six inches shorter – on successive days. Simmons said that USC, Tulsa, Texas Tech, Kansas State and most recently, Texas, have expressed interest.

2) Beas Hamga, 6-11, 235, SOPH, Cornerstone Christian (Texas) – You'd never know he was banged up with injuries because he competes – and will be a big-time recruit in a year or so. Great body, runs the court well, rebounds and blocks shots. Can also score, but just doesn't get the ball in the post consistently. Had 13 points and 14 boards in a loss to Jones High and 15 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks in a win against Eisenhower. Hamga mentioned Iowa State, UNLV and Baylor.

3) Nick Williams, 6-4 ½, F, SOPH, LeFlore (Ala.) – He's forced to play on the inside because of his tenacity and rebounding ability, but he can step out and play on the wing. Finishes well around the basket and is athletic. Plays hard and could develop into a high-major guy. According to Williams, Alabama and Florida are his early leaders. Averaged 11 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in the event.

4) Lawrence Gilbert, 6-7 F, SR, Wheatley (Texas) – The unsigned senior came to Houston from Higgins High in New Orleans and has gotten a chance to shine. He's long, athletic and got plenty done each game. He went for 24 points (16-of-19 from the line) and 10 boards in a win against Eisenhower and had 20 points, 9 boards and 4 blocks in a win against Jones. He said that USC and Tulane are the schools showing interest to this point. That'll likely change.

5) Larry Davis, 6-3, SG, JR, Alief Hastings (Texas) – Smooth and versatile who fills up the stat sheet. Can heat it up from long-distance and is also adept at putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket. Had 25 points (5-of-10 from 3-point land), 7 rebounds and 4 steals in the win over Gary Johnson and Aldine and scored 15 in a win against Cornerstone.

6) Johnny Mayhanne, 6-5, 185, SG, LeFlore (Ala.) – For some reason, Mayhanne hasn't gotten any pub despite being qualified and possessing good length and the ability to score. Had 18 points in the loss to Bellaire and 21 against Peabody. Good mid-major pickup who turned down South Alabama and has also received interest from Alabama, Tulane, Southern Miss and Virginia Tech. Needs to get stronger, but still finds a way to slither to the basket – and can also shoot it from 3-point land.

7) Desmond King, 6-6, PF, SOPH, Peabody (La.) – Here's a kid to watch over the next couple years. If he grows another couple inches, it'll be scary what he's able to do. Even if he doesn't grow, he can still be dominant because of his relentless style of play. He was inconsistent over the week, but really showed flashes of a big-time player against Oak Hill – when he put up 26 points and 14 boards – including 11 on the offensive glass. Gets to the line and also can step out and knock down mid-range jumpers with regularity. Oklahoma State has shown early interest.

8) Brandon Dison, 6-4, 180, SG-SF, Westfield (Texas) – He's intriguing because of his versatility. Like Gilbert, he came over from New Orleans and has helped make Westfield arguably the top team in a loaded Houston area. Had 19 points against Eisenhower and put up 19 in the Texas Division title game victory against Eisenhower, but struggled (6 points) in a win against Hightower. Texas A&M, USC, Baylor and Louisiana-Lafayette have all shown interest.

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