NATIONAL (Dave Telep)
The King James Shooting Stars Classic was a knock-em-down, grind-it-out 3-day war. When the dust settled on one of the spring's top events, the Georgia Stars had taken home the trophy. Al-Farouq Aminu, a Scout.com Top 10 prospect, chipped in as forward Travis Leslie played the role of energizer rabbit in the 56-52 victory over the DI Greyhounds.
Aminu had his moments all tournament long but it was Leslie's tip-in to win a semifinal contest that gave the Georgians the edge they needed. On the Greyhounds sidelines Ohio State-bound stud William Buford proved worthy of his Top 15 ranking.
King of the Court's Delvon Roe, a recent Michigan State addition, did all he could to capture the elusive title but came up short. After his team survived a buzzer-beating attempt against Triple Threat, Roe emptied the tank against the Stars.
WEST COAST (Greg Hicks)
With the April evaluation period in the books, now is a good time to take a look at the players that helped themselves with their performances over the past month. In no particular order, here are some of the West Coast players who boosted their stock with strong play in the April tournaments.
James Rahon, 6-2 JR SG Encinitas (Calif.) Torrey Pines. Rahon made a very strong claim this past weekend for the title of Best Shooter in the West Coast Class of 2008. While he's just an average athlete, Rahon does have the ability to change gears and he can fool defenders with a nice change of pace. Rahon doesn't need much room to get his shot off as he's got a quick release. Rahon was hearing from multiple mid majors prior to this month, but look for the high majors to come calling soon.
Jerime Anderson, 6-1 JR PG Anaheim (Calif.) Canyon. When UCLA's Ben Howland offered Anderson a scholarship last August, there were more than a few raised eyebrows among folks who really didn't understand Anderson's potential as a prospect. After a series of stellar performances by Anderson this month, let's just say the naysayers are suddenly awfully quiet. Anderson's skill level is considerable, but it's more than just skill that makes him one of the elite point guards in the country. Anderson is an underrated athlete, with big hops and better quickness than many people realize. His feel for the game is outstanding and he's a very good defender. His defense, in particular, is an asset that will get him early playing time at UCLA.
Garrett Sim, 6-0 JR PG/SG Portland (Ore.) Sunset. Sim isn't a true one, but he's got the ball skills and feel for the game to play the one. He's got a live body and he might not yet be physically mature. A quick, compact stroke from three is a weapon for Sim, but he can also make plays off the bounce. Like Rahon, he's another guard prospect that was getting a lot of mid major attention, but will now get hit by the high majors.
Reeves Nelson, 6-6 SO SF Modesto (Calif.) Modesto Christian. After Nelson ran roughshod over anyone who got in his way at the Kingwood Classic. Nelson's skill level, athleticism, heart and competitiveness make him, conservatively, one of the Top 50 prospects in the country. Nelson was the talk of Houston and rightfully so. He consistently out rebounded, and out-fought, bigger players in the paint. He's got a very nice touch around the basket, including a very good left hand. His outside shot is good enough at this time and should only get better.
Mark McLaughlin, 6-4 JR SG Kenmore (Wash.) Inglemoor. McLaughlin's Seattle Rotary team got knocked out early in the Double Pump tournament, so he didn't get seen by many coaches this past weekend. But we saw him Friday night and he was very impressive in that game. He's a smooth, skilled wing with a very good feel. His shot is good to the stripe and he rarely makes a bad decision. He's a good, not exceptional, athlete and he's got a considerable upside. He'll be one of the top wings in the west when it's all said and done.
EAST COAST (Mike Sullivan)
Syracuse University wasted no time in showing its undevoted love for James Southerland, a 6-foot-6 swingman from Cardozo High School in Bayside, New York. The coaching staff at the Big East Conference school had recruited Southerland extensively over the past six months and recently made an offer to Southerland. He accepted almost immediately.
"The Cardozo colors are orange so James doesn't have to worry about changing any of his school gear," said Cardozo head coach Ron Naclerio with a laugh. "James has worked very hard over the past year and the way he has to approach games has changed too."
Zamal Nixon, a 6-foot-1 senior guard from Boys & Girls High School in Brooklyn, New York, had a tremendous month. He finished up his high school career by competing at the Jordan regional All Star game held inside Madison Square Garden. And he made his college decision.
Nixon was ecstatic about both opportunities. "I committed to Houston," said Nixon, who has the ability to score around the basket and create chances for his teammates with his passing skills.
Nixon took an official visit to the University of Houston three weeks ago. He had flown to Houston directly from New Orleans, where he also visited Tulane. Zamal also considered Fairfield and Wichita State at one time during his recruiting process. "I had a great time on the visit to Houston," Nixon stated. "I got along great with the coaching staff. I felt comfortable there."
The lefty averaged 16 points and five assists last season. He had transferred into Boys & Girls for the 2006-2007 after competing at Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, New York. "It was exciting to play and finish my high school career here (at the Garden), Nixon said. "I am looking forward to playing at Houston. I think with their style of play I have a chance to play and help the team. It's why I decided to sign there."...
"I am looking to set up a visit to Providence," Gabriel said last night after competing in the regional Jordan All Star game held at Madison Square Garden. "I have to talk to the coaches at Providence and set up the visit. I am not sure when it will be but it will be soon." Gabriel, a player who makes his living around the basket, scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds in 18 minutes of action playing for the City team. His ability to grab rebounds and score on putbacks has other schools showing interest too. "I am also considering Manhattan and St. John's," Gabriel said. "I am probably going to take a look around St. John's in the next week. I have seen it before but this time I will take more time."
Manhattan has also offered Gabriel a scholarship.