GSK Invitational: Day 1 Rundown

RALEIGH, N.C. – St. Raymond's and St. Benedict's needed overtime to settle a local score. Meanwhile, Larry Drew and Taft advanced to the title tilt.

Corey Stokes, SG, St. Benedict's – If Corey Stokes had been as hot late as he was early, we wouldn't have needed overtime to settle the score. The Mitch Richmond-clone had 20 and there are times (like in the first half) when his stroke looks as good as anyone of his peers. The wing has been very good for a long time and shouldn't be taken for granted. He's in the conversation for the McDonald's game and rightfully so.

Gamble On The Rise
Julian Gamble, C, Southern Durham – Here's a guy that went from mid-major to flirting with the Top 100 in a calendar year. Miami took a small gamble on Julian after just a handful of viewings and it's paying dividends. Though he's not in prime condition he's able to pound away inside. Against ECU-bound Daquan Joyner he made it tough for the forward to score. His first half was more energetic than his second but the sum of the two parts produced a 23 point, 13 rebound effort. Anthony King (Southern H.S.) worked out well for the ‘Canes four years ago and we anticipate Gamble doing the same.

Brock Young, PG, Broughton – No question he's on track to have a big career at East Carolina. In the first half against Middle Creek, Young sliced them up and dropped 16 points. As mid-major player of the highest caliber, he's shifty, a shot maker and with talent around him he'll distribute the basketball. Young finished with 21 points and the win.

Yorel Hawkins, SF, Apex – For a guy who's played post much of his high school career the transformation into collegiate small forward is coming along nicely. He's easily one of the more improved players in the state since last season. His calling card at one time was his athleticism but his mid-range fade away has overtaken his leaping ability as his go-to-move. The Stags are in business as they used their N.C. connections to mine a strong mid-major player from the region. We had him for 25 points on 10-for-22 from the floor.

Duke Watches Drew
Larry Drew, PG, Taft – Classic example of "you don't have to score to standout." He had 9 points and 4 assists but may have made the biggest impression. The amicable youngster will run a team, share the basketball and create shots. His teammates left a slew of assists on the rims at Reynolds but he never showed frustration or displeasure. Instead he led his club to a win, constantly directed traffic and kept plugging away. Few have the ability to run a high level program with the precision he'll do in college.

Samardo Samuels, C, St. Benedict's – The official stats listed him as missing 3 shots. Our unofficial version credited a perfect 8-for-8 from the field and a human 6-for-14 from the line. Toss in a blocked shot to end the game and his blue collar effort was complete. The kid's a horse inside and nationally its tough to find a handful who are more productive; maybe guys with bigger upsides but few who match his effort. John Wooden said "the goal in life is just the same as in basketball: make the best effort to do the best you are capable of doing." This tenet applies to the native of Montego Bay.

Victor Davila, C, Starmount – He's got to be getting used to the mugging teams put on him these days. Starmount's inside anchor shot 7-for-10 from the floor and we gave him 16 points and 14 rebounds. Much of his offense came in the first half while his best rebounding effort was in the second. All in all, he scored the bulk of his buckets right at the rim and showed a nifty half hook. Big challenge on the final day against Gamble should prove noteworthy.

Stanley Okoye, SF, Knightdale – He's a new name on the Raleigh scene and he's worked on his game. He's a team guy, one of those glue kids that others expect to make smart decisions and hustle plays. If he can expand his range and become a threat to 18 feet he'll be all the better for it. His high school is in its third year and he may be the leader of the new era for Knightdale.

Omari Lawrence, SF, St. Raymond's – We're interested in learning more about him and finding out what kind of perimeter game he's got. Lawrence carries himself like a player, communicates, leads and most importantly defends. He sought out Corey Stokes and didn't back down in the second half. Scored 12 for the contest and we're anxious to read the next chapter.

The biggest recruiting splash of the night was the shot over the bow Duke threw at Larry Drew. "I haven't talked to anybody from Duke," Drew said after his game. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski showed up specifically to watch Drew and then exited stage left before St. Benedict's took the floor. Were the Blue Devils sending a message to best uncommitted PG in 2008? Sure looked that way. …

Here at we keep hustle stats and the biggest winner Thursday was Rutgers assistant Jim Carr. After losing to North Carolina, Carr got in his automobile and trucked over to N.C. State where he watched Samuels and the Gray Bees in action. …

Hawkins Expands His Game
Marcus Kitts (24 points, 3 rebounds) should factor into William & Mary's rotation early in his career. The CAA is laced with athletes and that's where he'll have to adjust. He likes to face and get a head of steam toward the basket. Big kid, excellent size in the post. … Gerald Coles, a guard wired to go fast and score, had 27 for St. Raymond's. He's a good one for the Drexel Dragons who have the tall order of replacing Loren Stokes. …

Bryce Smith out of Taft should heat up as atleast a mid-level prospect. If the stroke he showed against Riverside gets replicated again (which it should) then he'll have the elite mids tracking his every move. … St. Benedict's Greg Echenique is getting closer to reaching his potential. A huge inside presence, his body is slimming down and as a result he's able to move better around the court. Lock high-major recruit. …

Kinston plays a lot of kids. Therefore freshman Reggie Bullock's playing time can be sporadic. First time observers beware it's a marathon and in the end he's a very good prospect. … As he continues to advance as a small forward, the next step for Yorel Hawkins is tightening up his handle. … Here's a new name: Marcus Wells. He's a talented sophomore guard out of Southern Durham. ...

After the game a list of offers for Davila read: North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Memphis, Charlotte, Virginia Commonwealth and Appalachian State. …

UNC is now Drew's leader. He reiterated the point Thursday night and also included UCLA, Arizona, Washington and Florida on his short list. Drew pointed out that Kentucky's Tubby Smith recently began calling him. ….

Head Coaches In The Gym – Mike Krzyzewski, Duke.

Assistant Coaches In The Gym – Duke, Georgetown, Fairfield, Virginia Tech, Charlotte, Appalachian State, East Carolina, UNC-Wilmington, Elon.


  • Broughton 73, Middle Creek 55
  • Kinston 66, Apex 54
  • Taft 57, Riverside 39
  • Starmount 62, Knightdale 56
  • Southern Durham 67, Goldsboro 59

    "He's a quarterback back there. We use his intelligence, not only on offense, but also on defense."

  • – Taft coach Derrick Taylor commenting to the News and Observer about Drew

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