AAU Nationals, Day Three Notebook

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Who was in the gym for Andrew Lavender? What rising junior is drawing the attention of some big programs? Who does veteran and four-time champ Boo Williams think will win the AAU title? All of this and more in the latest edition of "Around The Gym."

Around The Gym

Early in the day on Tuesday, UNC head coach Matt Doherty and NC State assistant coach Mark Phelps watched NC Gaters forward James Mays, a rising junior. … New Orleans assistant coach Pat Harrington watched senior guard Mike O'Donnell of Team Florida intently. … Team Florida junior Jason Rich will be recruited at the highest level. He says that his dream school is North Carolina. …

Look for Tallahassee Wildcats guard TJ Bannister to take an unofficial visit to Florida State this coming weekend. Bannister's list appears to be still forming. His father informed us at the AAU Nationals that his son would be taking the trip. We aren't sure if the Seminoles have offered as of the AAU Nationals.

The St. Louis Eagles 16s and Boo Williams drew an impressive crowd. Presumably watching the Eagles was Ball State's Tim Buckley, Illinois Billy Gillispie, Missouri's Marcus Perez, Tulsa's Pooh Williams and an assistant from St. Louis. There for Boo was Clemson's Darren Tillis and Virginia Tech's Mark Cline. …

At the AAU Nationals on Tuesday, Boo Williams guard Mario Taybon said that he liked St. John's, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Virginia and UCLA. Taybron says that the Cavaliers would like to have he, JR Reynolds and junior Marquie Cooke. Taybron said that all three are friends and there is interest in coming to school together. Very interesting.

Watching Ronnie Brewer today was Arkansas head coach Stan Heath. Florida's Donnie Jones was also in the building. Previously, we had seen a lot of Kansas at his games but didn't see the Jayhawks on this occasion. Meanwhile, Arkansas appears to have a good problem on its hands. The Hogs are recruiting Brewer, Vakeaton Wafer and Olu Famutimi. We think they would take the first combination of any of the two who wants to commit. Who wouldn't?

Arkansas Rockets forward Vince Hunter is drawing nice galleries at the AAU Nationals. Hunter is a high-major prospect down the road and the Jonathen Bender look a like has everyone's attention. He'll need a year to redshirt, that much is for sure. However, there are some academic issues as well. Watching him on Tuesday were coaches from Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tulane, Alabama, Illinois and Western Kentucky.

Renaldo Balkman of the Tallahassee Wildcats is getting real popular these days. So popular that schools are sending their entire staffs to watch him play. Marshall sent its head coach and assistants Kevin Keatts and Jeff Bowles for Tuesday night's game. Charlotte head coach Bobby Lutz was also in the gym as was Seth Greenberg of South Florida. However, Balkman isn't sure who is recruiting him because he hasn't been home to check his mail.

Patrick Ewing, Jr., was injured and did not play in the Georgia Stars semifinal game. Instead, he hobbled around the gym on a set of crutches.

Andrew Lavender of the All-0hio team has successfully guided his summer club into the finals of another major championship. His 27 points in the semifinal win over the Georgia Stars came with a Tiger Woods-like gallery. In the stands was Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson, UNC's Matt Doherty, Cincinnati's Bob Huggins and Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser who was waiting for Chris Paul's game to start. We have no information to speak of this but we did hear a July rumor that the Bearcats might be backing off of Tack Minor. If they in fact do that, it would make sense that Huggins was at a Lavender game and would be putting in some late time with the guard. Stay tuned on that front.

Boo Williams has captured four AAU National titles in the 17-and-under division. He's also won some titles in the next age group. Anyway you look at it, he's a veteran of this deal. Williams thinks the Kappa Magic will roll to the title. The pick makes sense considering they are by far the more rested of the two teams with Kappa having played little as a team since June and All-Ohio winning the Peach Jam and then getting to the semis of the Super Showcase.

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