Carolina Challege: Stock Boosters

CARY, N.C. – The Carolina Challenge was a unique setting for most of the state's top players to fine tune their games before AAU season swings into full gear. Here's a look at some players who helped up their stock.

All Photos Courtesy Arianna Hoffman

Ty Walker, C/PF – There is no debating the state's top prospect as Walker cast aside any doubts with a dominating defensive performance. Defensively, he's to the state of N.C. what Greg Oden is to Ohio State's backline. Improving with each season, Walker set the tone at the camp with his litany of rejections. A spot in the national Top 25 should be in his near future.

Miles Plumlee, PF – Fresh off a state title run, this was Plumlee's signature moment. Many had seen him previously but few had seen the array of offense – and defense – he displayed at the Challenge. There's a lot to like and this event may well springboard him further up the high-major radar.

Thompson Is A Beast
J.T. Thompson, PF/SF – The word "monster" only begins to do him justice. Last Saturday dunked the ball, faced up and drove his man with authority. Super effort for the future Hokie. Find a comfort zone from mid-range and he's a Sam Young (Pittsburgh) clone. His athleticism and leaping ability are elite.

Andre Cornelius, PG – Nationally, the Class of 2008 point guard crop appears down. There is significant opportunity for guys to rise up not only in prominence but in scholarship opportunities. By being the single hardest guy to guard in the backcourt at this event, Cornelius was a star here. Do that in front of the college guys next month and his stock will receive another bump. We thought he shared the ball extremely well.

Catalin Baciu & Victor Davila – Credit these guys for accepting the challenge that is Ty Walker. Now, against Walker, each experienced a dip in production but there is no shame in getting slowed down by one of the top shot blockers in the class. Baciu had 28 in one game, including an overtime game-winning tip. Davila, though he didn't score at his normal clip, once again gave another strong competitive effort.

Petey Hausley, PF – An injury couldn't slow down one of the most productive players in the state. A month from now there will be a long line to nab this undersized insider with a motor and a competitive streak. Mid-majors are always asking for undersized warriors and this is one of them.

Watts Averaged 17.3 Pts.
Justin Watts, SG – His day began with a stat stuffing scoring outburst and was solid throughout. The Durham Jordan product finds himself on the mid-to-high level fence and the spring AAU season will determine his final destination. Replicate this performance and the admirers will come. Also a big time student.

Kenny Gabriel, PF/SF – It appears as though he wants to move more to the wing and that's going to take time. Having said that, "KG" provided onlookers with a taste of the perimeter package. He had lots of energy and bounce inside as well. The high-majors in the region are supremely interested and April will be a proving ground for him.

Blake Smith, SG – A strong student, Smith spent Saturday playing within himself and showcasing his feel for the game. He made shots from different spots on the court and should be a mid-level signee in the fall.

Eladio Espinosa, PF – During the season he showed flashes and the same can be said here. He busted his tail, played with passion and a smile and appeared to enjoy the moment. At 6-foot-7 he's a tad undersized but should have no trouble finding at least mid-majors to salivate over him this spring.

David Pellom, SF/PF – He came off the bench for New Hanover but that role is going to expand big time next year. Athletic and multi-positional, mid-major programs should be on full alert.

Wall Opened Eyes
John Wall, PG – There's work to be done but on the flipside, there's lot to work with. A tricky dribbler and a crafty driver, Wall is an athlete with tools. If he can lock in and make outside shots we could be talking about a real riser statewide in his class.

Julius Brooks, PF – A part-timer at Page H.S., Brooks' game expanded in a matter of hours. At 6-foot-8 he's still very thin but the potential surfaced and in time he'll ping the mid-major radar.

Harris Showed Improvement
Andre Marhold, SF/PF – From the wide shoulders to the tough finishes to the occasional perimeter strikes, Marhold showed off a big ceiling. Time will tell but he made a great impression.

C.J. Harris, SG – Like Watts, his first game out was his best. Bigger and stronger since the middle of the high school year, Harris performed with a hoop IQ, used his long arms to be rangy on defense and made 3s.

Mabry Fared Well
The entire freshman crop was on display and it looked tremendous. Jarell Eddie was one of the big stars and wing Reggie Bullock wasn't far behind. Tashawn Mabry was able to move around and play multiple positions and looked excellent in doing so. C.J. Leslie, one of the most talented youngsters regardless of class, never got on his game but you know its in him.

In terms of surprises, we'd have to say Jay Canty's athletic ability and overall scoring package were impressive. Tiny Earl McLaurin ran a team and passed the basketball. Plus, center Robert Crisp stood his ground and learned what it takes to succeed with the big boys on the floor. Overall, for the 19 freshmen that attended the day was quite valuable.

2010's Jay Canty

THE HUSTLERS – These kids played as hard as anyone we saw and left impressions on their coaches/media members: PF Willis Hall (2009), Justin Johnson (2008), Maurice Nash (2010), Garrius Adams (2009), Nelson Kirksey (2008), Kevin Powell (2009), Stan Okoye (2009), Angelo Sharpless (2008)

Injured (Could Not Participate) - Dee Giger, 2009, Christ School; Chasen Campbell, 2009, Charlotte Independence; Darius Leonard, 2009, Wakefield; Melvin Tabbs, 2010, Raleigh Enloe.

  • Catalin Baciu, 17.5 (2 games)
  • Justin Watts, 17.3
  • Andre Cornelius, 16.6
  • J.T. Thompson, 16.0
  • Angelo Sharpless, 14.7
  • Will Carpenter, 14.0
  • Petey Hausley, 14.0
  • Ken Gabriel 14.0
  • Justin Johnson, 13.3
  • Jarell Eddie, 13.3
  • Marcus Wright, 12.6
  • Garrius Adams, 12.0
  • Kevin Powell, 12.0
  • Ty Walker, 11.3
  • Miles Plumlee, 11.3
  • Damier Pitts, 11.3
  • Eladio Espinosa, 11.3
  • Akeem Richmond, 10.6
  • J.T. Terrell, 10.3
  • Carter Cook, 10.3
  • Earnest Ross, 10.0
  • Chris Richardson, 10.0
  • Ryan Kelly, 10.0

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