Carolina Challenge Recap

CARY, NC – The state of North Carolina is loaded with talent and that become clear Saturday at Dave Telep's Carolina Challenge. The event, which was held at Cary Academy, featured some great match ups and individual performances.

Story By Evan Daniels; Photos By Arianna Hoffman

Carolina Challenge Photo Gallery I

Carolina Challenge Photo Gallery II

Ty Walker had the opportunity to prove his worth, and he stepped up to the challenge. Going up against Victor Davila and Catalin Baciu, he put together dominating defensive performances and proved himself as the best player in the state of North Carolina. The 7-footer can block shots with the best in his class and he will make a major move in the national rankings.


Walker, Davila Have A Meeting At The Rim!

But Walker wasn't the only one that made his presence known. Andre Cornelius turned heads and guys like J.T. Thompson and Ken Gabriel stood out as well. A number of young kids got the job done too, including J.T. Terrell, C.J. Harris and Reggie Bullock.

Ty Walker, C, New Hanover – The 4-A state championship MVP made a statement right away with three blocks in the first three minutes of his opening game against Victor Davila. His wingspan (7-foot-6) is unreal, put that with his timing and he is likely the best shot blocker in the class of 2008. Walker finished with 10 blocks to go with 10 points and 5 rebounds. He also showed off a jump shot that extended out to the three point line.

Petey Haulsey, PF, Fayetteville Academy – This 6-6 post player went right at Ty Walker (who was blocking everything) and finished over him a trio of times. He's a strong, quick junkyard dog type player that plays extremely hard and hits the glass. He didn't shoot a jumper, as he did most of his work close to the rim.

Seth Curry, SG/PG, Charlotte Christian – With his brother averaging over 20 points a game this year for Davidson, Seth will likely get strong looks from coaches this summer. At camp on Saturday, Curry showed off a jump shot similar to his sibling's. He has great range and clearly knows the game of basketball.


Cornelius Was Impressive
Andre Cornelius, PG, Victory Christian – He has to be the performer of the day. In his second game of the day, he lit up the competition with 18 points and three triples. His handle is superb and his ability to see the floor is special. Cornelius is a competitor and his stock should soar on the circuit . In a class that is obviously thin at the point guard spot, we expect this guy to start getting some serious looks.

Catalin Baciu, C, Veritas Christian – One of the best parts about the Carolina Challenge was seeing the talented big men go head-to-head, so when the schedule had Ty Walker and Catalin Baciu going at it we had to be front and center. Much like the Davila/Walker match up, Baciu struggled getting shots off over the 7-footer. However, Baciu showed he can use either hand around the basket and if he got it within five feet it was a guaranteed bucket.

Marcus Wright, PG, Winston-Salem Prep – When Wright's hot, he's hot. The 5-foot-11 lead guard took over the first half of his last game by draining four three-pointers off the dribble. Although he tends to force the issue at times, Wright had a solid handle and is quite the athlete, as he caught a few off the back board jams in the lay up line.

J.T. Thompson, PF/SF, Hope Christian – The Virginia Tech coaches should give themselves a pat on the back for getting this one done early. Thompson is a big time athlete that uses his 6-foot-6, 215-pound frame to take and deliver hits when driving to the tin. One of the highlights of the entire day was when he went vertical and threw down a one handed tomahawk on Reggie Johnson.

Miles Plumlee, SF/PF, Christ School – The more skilled and older Plumlee had a productive day. He's equipped with a jump hook, three-point range, and the ability to use both hands around the basket. The most inspiring move he made all day was an up and under on the baseline, while finishing with his off hand. At 6-foot-8, 190-pounds coaches should continue to monitor his progress as he should end up at a high-major school.

Damier Pitts, PG, Charlotte Christian – While Pitts can run the show he's also a very proficient scorer. His jump shot finds the bottom of the net more often than not and he favors the floater when driving to the basket. In his second game on Saturday his court vision and break down ability was on full display as he continuously created shots for his teammates.

Ken Gabriel, PF/SF, Hope Christian – The transition to the wing has begun for Gabriel. The 6-foot-8, 190-pound forward drained threes in each of his three games. He flaunted the ability to post up smaller defenders and take the bigger ones out to the perimeter. His jumper is much improved and he even drilled a few off the dribble. If his mid-range game improves look out as high-majors are giving him a strong look.

Reggie Johnson, C, Winston-Salem Prep – At 6-foot-8, 285-pounds Johnson was the biggest prospect in the house and he certainly demands his space when he's on the court. He struggled to get into a rhythm on Saturday, but he can maneuver in the paint and does have some nice post moves.

Justin Watts, SG, Durham – The scoring mentality is certainly there for Justin Watts. He can get to the basket and he finishes well once he gets there. We'd like to see him be a little more unselfish with the ball and tighten up his dribble, but he does have a knack for scoring and he does it well.

Victor Davila, PF, Starmount – Davila didn't have his best performance against Walker as he got swatted his first three shot attempts. However, he made a great pump fake, step through move and he's added a few post moves to his arsenal. Once he gets in to college he'll add muscle to his frame and should grade out to be a solid power forward at the next level.

Decario Tidwell, SF, Central Cabarrus – This athletic forward impressed us with his bursts and activeness. In his opening contest he went to work inside by tipping in misses and outworking people around the basket. Throw in a decent handle, an ability to run the floor and a 15-foot jump shot and we have ourselves a player.


2009's Marhold
Andre Marhold, SF/PF, North Mecklenburg – Marhold did his damage inside and out. He's a smooth and strong forward that possesses a good-looking jump shot. In his first game he knocked down a 15-footer and had a couple of finishes at the rim.

C.J. Harris, SF, Mount Tabor – One thing this camp didn't lack was three point threats, and Harris proved that he was among the many on hand. He knocked down a bunch of triples and also went to the basket with purpose. He can finish with either hand and favors the up and under move when driving baseline.

David Chadwick, PF, Charlotte Latin – This is your typical old school type player. He plays hard, smart and knows his limitations. While his shot wasn't falling on Saturday, the 6-foot-8 versatile forward got a handful of put backs and it's clear that he has a solid mid-range game.

Akeem Richmond, PG/SG, Southern Lee – In the lone game we watched Richmond scored all of his buckets off pull up jumpers. He can pull up on a dime and drain a mid-range jumper, and that's something most kids his age can't do. However at 6-foot, Richmond projects to be a point guard at the next level, so he must continue to work on his penetrating and creating for others.


Big Day For 2009's Wall
John Wall, PG, Word of God – A 6-foot-1 athletic point guard, Wall surprised on lookers with his ability to break down defenders and get to the rack. While he had trouble finishing on a few occasions, he did look for teammates and also showcased a lethal spin move that he used in traffic.

Ryan Kelly, PF/SF, Ravenscroft – Kelly put together a solid day, by playing hard and knocking down shots. The 6-foot-7, 185-pound junior can shoot it out to the three-point line, plays hard, and has a soft touch in the paint.


Freshman James "JT" Terrell
J.T. Terrell, SG, Cummings – At 6-foot-4, 175-pounds Terrell is a terrific talent that can stroke it from deep off the catch or dribble. In one game he drained a trio of threes, including one from 3 feet behind the line. This high major prospect is also capable of using either hand efficiently in the open court and at the rim. His game is also equipped with a floater, a solid mid-range game and above average athleticism.

Reggie Bullock, SG, Kinston – Shooter Alert! In a drill session put on by former college coach Dennis Kuiper, Bullock absolutely STROKED it from elbow-to-elbow. Then he moved back to the three-point line and looked just as impressive. His pretty stroke carried over into the games, he even drained one from a good 4 feet behind the line. This kid could end up being a big time two-guard and certainly can fill the roll of designated shooter.

Maurice Nash, SG, Wakefield – Blessed with a nice frame already, this 6-foot-3, 185-pound freshmen took it right at the upperclassmen and more than held his own. He got in the passing lanes on occasion and that led to dunks on the offensive end. Keep an eye on Nash as he's a physical guard with above average athleticism.

Tashawn Mabry, SF/PF, Rocky Mount – Mabry disappeared the first game we watched, but the second time around he was recharged and looked like a scoring machine. The lefty's stroke is sweet and he mixed in some nifty drives and finishes to go with a couple of a three-pointers. He's a competitor and looked to be clutched as he hit the game winner in his last game of the day.

Ken Gabriel said Clemson, Miami and Wake Forest are showing him the most interest right now. He was in Winston-Salem for an unofficial on Friday.


Espinosa's Heating Up
Eladio Espinsosa said Clemson has shown him a lot of love as has High Point and South Carolina.

"Bugaloo" as Reggie Johnson is known by most is hearing the most from Xavier. He also said Clemson, Fairfield and Virginia Commonwealth are firmly in the mix.

Andre Cornelius lists scholarship offers from Clemson, South Carolina, Georgia and East Carolina. Virginia Tech, VCU and Florida State are keeping tabs.

Justin Johnson said he's visited Clemson and Wake Forest and is also hearing from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Elon and Gardner Webb.

Harry Rest, of Boo Williams, when talking to Reggie Johnson and Marcus Wright about Ty Walker: "You know when his birthday is don't you? It's on January 12th, 13th and 14th. He's so long they have to give him three days."


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