Bull City Classic Rundown

DURHAM, N.C. – Tyreke Evans got it done. After a foot injury set him back, Scout.com's second-ranked player in the Class of 2008 led a holiday charge through the Bull City as his American Christian team got it done. Scout.com gets you up to date on Evans and a host of emerging prospects from the Bull City Classic.

Mount Zion made a run at it but American Christian captured the Bull City Classic championship Saturday night on the campus of North Carolina Central.

Evans, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who is ranked No. 2 in the Class of 2008 by Scout.com, scored 32 points as his team defeated the host program 85-77.

Tracy Smith, an N.C. State commitment, paced the Mighty Warriors with 30 points of his own. The event was Evans' first action since sustaining an injury in a scrimmage game earlier in the month. He didn't play in the prestigious National Prep Tip Off but was ready to go once his team arrived in Durham.

"I got something to prove this year (I had to play)," Evans told Scout.com. The event was a special one for Evans since he's got relatives in nearby Fayetteville and keeps North Carolina on his list of interested schools. Roy Williams crossed enemy lines from Chapel Hill into Durham to watch Evans last weekend.

With kids committing at a record pace, there's speculation that Evans may be on that quick decision track as well. "It's just getting started," Evans said of his process. Publicly, UNC, Louisville, Connecticut, Texas, Villanova and Illinois are the programs he mentions.

Privately, there's a feeling that he's got an even shorter list but he's not saying. "I don't want to say but I've got a couple of schools … I got a couple of schools but I don't want to say."

When Evans talks about being in the early stages of his recruitment he's not kidding. Of the programs he lists, he's only unofficially visited Louisville. He's played at UNC and been to a game at UConn but in terms of taking a visit, sitting down with the coach and mingling with students on a campus tour, only the Cardinals have gone down that road with him.

Like most kids in his class, he's got a staple of questions he needs answered. "Who's going to be there, how many minutes I'll be playing, who am in going to be playing for?" Evans said.

More comfortable at the shooting guard than any other position, Evans said he's wired up to be a scorer. In his two games last weekend he did just that netting 21 and 32 points respectively in his two games in the Tar Heel State.

Evans wasn't the only high level player getting it done at the Classic. We used the event to identify and do a little homework on some players operating slightly below the radar.

Justin Safford, PF, Charis Prep – Line the mid-major programs up for the Illinois native. He was impressive when we saw him in the fall and frankly performed completely different than our last observation. Normally a face-up power forward, Safford went to work in the paint for 18 points and 8 boards. Combine that effort with what we know he's capable of on the perimeter and you have a guy who should be pinging a lot of mid-major radars.

Mount Zion's Rhodes
Bennie Rhodes, SG/SF, Mount Zion – The chatter heated up when word leaked out that Kansas recently watched him play. Rhodes is a good wing player who is reclassifying (?) at Mount Zion. There's a little question as to which grade he'll occupy – 2008 or 2007 – but he's a prospect. He uses his athleticism to get shots and went 8-for-12 in a rout of Our Savior in his opener. Finished with 17 points and 2 rebounds. Solid talent and teams are doing their homework on him but none have made him a priority to date. You'll hear his name quite a bit throughout the season.

Sean Carter, PF, Laurinburg – We've been hearing whispers that the Fayetteville native wants to reclassify but he indicated that right now he's treating this as his senior season. Carter played well in Friday's action to the tune of 16 points. He's got great size and finished in the game. If he can be consistent with his effort he'll become a spring commodity.

Gabriel Was A Surprise
Hope Christian Frontline – These guys are strong, athletic, talented and operating below the radar as a unit. The big name is Laron Dendy who essentially slid himself into the Class of 2008. J.T. Thompson is the electric, energy player who is one of the top members of the junior class in North Carolina. He's a more cut up, athletic version of P.J. Tucker in high school. If he can put up the numbers Tucker did at Enloe we'd be inclined to finish off the comparison. Ken Gabriel is guy building his reputation and he's a long, wiry power forward with high level potential. As a unit they are capable of taking guys to task inside.

Catalin Baciu, C, Veritas – This young man learned English by watching cartoons so you know anything is possible. Our first viewing was a positive one. This guy is a prospect who is capable of going out and getting points and rebounds. Though he didn't stroke it we know he's got perimeter to his game and is crafty inside. He'll be a high-major signee next season. He's more productive than most foreign kids. He honed his skills against older players in Romania and he's a grounded, level headed player.

Terrance Jennings, C, Charis Prep – He arrived last month from California and he's intriguing at 6-foot-10. He's got some post offense and is long, strong and a good looking athlete. We need to learn more about him because he looks the part.

Andre Cornelius vs. Adam Raye – The two point guards, similar in stature, are very likely to find themselves receiving the same mail from college programs. They played head up Saturday afternoon with Cornelius' team winning. However, on the surface they are different players. Raye is more run your team, knock down the open jumper kind of guy. Cornelius, who has improved his jumper, seems to be more offensive minded. The mid-majors are going to be all over both as the season progresses.

Eladio Espinosa, PF, Victory Christian – Our first look yielded a power forward who plays to his athleticism, has bounce to his game and will get after it inside. He's got to put some polish on his offense but he's a kid who is flying under the radar and deserves ink. Mid to potential high-level talent. If the baseline spin for a dunk is any indication of where he can be then this guy has a chance.

C.J. Harris, PG/SG, Mt. Tabor – He should be popping up on the regional mid-major radars very soon. Tasked with being a scorer for Andy Muse's young team, Harris could find himself cast as a point guard long term. He had 19 in the game we caught.

Winthrop coach Gregg Marshall was in attendance evaluating prospects. The school seemed particularly interested in Justin Safford. … Baciu has St. John's, Memphis, N.C. State and Utah on him. Clemson, N.C. State and Davidson have had him on for unofficials. Wake Forest has seen him and so has North Carolina. …

Baciu Has Suitors
Evan Fjeld of Durham Academy is exactly what the doctor ordered for Vermont. A skilled power forward, Mike Lonergan has the blueprint of how to use him. The kid knows his way around the court and picked a level where he can make a great impact. … Andre Cornelius added a floater/runner to his arsenal and its working for him. Both he and Raye looked improved from the summer. … Tracy Smith's dunk Friday night against Our Savior was a classic Bull City moment. … Mindauges Mankevicius, a junior SG out of Roanoke Catholic, has to be on the mid-major radar after he went off from 3-point land. …

Scout Hoops Top Stories