Nike MDC: Day One

NASHVILLE, TN – Although nothing spectacular took place, it was a solid day of hoops at the Nike Memorial Day Classic. There were plenty of big time match ups and a few surprises that kept our interest.

At most circuit events the first day is more of a tease for what is to come, but that's not how it work at the Nike MDC. Games tipped at 8 am and ran for 12 hours.

There were quite a few of sweet match ups in pool play. Greg Monroe and Al-Farouq Aminu played each other for the second time this spring, however neither played inspiring ball. Another big man battle took place between JaMychal Green and Draymond "Day-Day" Green, and the Alabama native came to play and willed his team to victory.

Although there weren't many surprises, Ralph Sampson III displayed a new and improved game that should have high-major coaches making this 7-footer more of a priority.

JaMychal Green, PF, Alabama Challenge – Known as one of the best bigs in the south, Green certainly backed up the hype. The Montgomery (AL) St. Jude standout threw a block party and invited the entire Family squad. The 6-foot-8 PF blocked at least eight shots and showed tremendous length, athleticism and timing. Green did work on the offensive end too. Although most of his points came off of dunks, he did show a jump hook and a drop step move.

Draymond Green, PF, The Family – He worked and played hard, but struggled up against JaMychal Green. The Alabama Challenge product's athleticism bothered Green and forced him to the perimeter. Green did, however, knock down a pair of threes and finished on a few strong drives. If he devotes himself to getting in shape, he can be a solid high-major undersized PF at the next level.

Walker's stock soars
Kemba Walker, PG, New York Gauchos – This might be the hottest name on the circuit and after watching him today it's hard to argue against the attention he's getting. The New York (NY) Rice standout led the ‘Chos to a pair of comeback wins on the opening day of the Nike MDC. Walker has a nice cross over and can consistently break down defenders. He also showed an ability to knock down threes, take hits at the rim and lead his team. Walker's spin move into a lay up on a fast break was among the most impressive plays of the day.

Greg Monroe, PF, Louisiana Select – His match up with Al-Farouq Aminu never fully materialized. Although they were matched up against each other at times, Monroe's squad couldn't keep up with the Stars and the nations top rated player struggled to finish. He showed some big time moves and did turn some heads, however it wasn't vintage Monroe.

Al-Farouq Aminu, PF, Georgia Stars – The 6-foot-8 wing was good, not great against Monroe and company. He played his typical versatile game and was able to make things happen driving the lane. While his deep balls weren't falling its clear he has legit range.

Sampson improves
Ralph Sampson, PF, Georgia Stars – When the Stars faced off against Louisiana Select the Al-Farouq Aminu vs. Greg Monroe match up was the main draw, but Sampson stole the show. The Doluth (GA) Northview standout wasn't by any means dominant, but it was his improvement that was so impressive. The 7-footer was stroking 15-foot jumpers with ease, looks much stronger and more confident since the last time we caught his act.

Julius Mays, PG/SG SYF Players – This isn't a player that's going to wow you with many facets of his game, however, he's a solid ball handler with an impressive mid-range game. His step in jumpers, pull-ups and deep balls were on point in his opening game against Boo Williams, as he went for 22 points.

Rotnei Clarke, PG, Team Texas Elite – Clarke is clearly a long range specialist, and he can certainly shoot it with the best of them, however, he's an underrated ball handler with possibly one of the best floaters in high school basketball. The 6-footer can handle pressure and loves to toss up floaters over outstretched arms. He put up 32 points in a win against Memphis YOMCA.

Best in 2009?
Xavier Henry, SG, Athletes First – This 6-foot-6 guard proved he's among the most talented guards in the country…regardless of class. The southpaw has the whole page: athleticism, a pretty stroke and the ability to put it on the deck and take defenders off the bounce. His long arms help him snag rebounds and blocks shots as well. I think it's time to start considering him for the top spot in the 09 class. Renardo Sidney is likely the favorite, but Henry deserves a look.

Johnnie Williams, PF, Memphis YOMCA - Although he didn't have much competition in the paint against Team Texas, the 6-foot-8 PF showed a nice skill level and an ability to finish around the basket. He clearly needs to develop a few more moves in the paint, but the spin move into a jump hook certainly caught our eye.

Rodney Williams, SF, Howard Pulley – The Panthers have themselves quite an athlete in Williams. The 6-foot-6 long, slender wing did majority of his work around the basket by flushing put backs and throwing down jams on the break. He'll needs to expand his game, but there's clearly a lot of potential in this freak athlete.

Durand Scott, SG, New York Gauchos – Coming off their Arizona Cactus Classic championship the Gauchos looked sluggish in the first half of both of their games today. Scott was, however, one of the main bright spots. At 6-foot-4 he has a sweet looking stroke and is crafty with his finishes at the rim.

Xavier Gibson is in attendance, however, the 6-foot-9 PF isn't playing. According to his AAU coach the plan is to hold him out until NBPA camp due to an injury to his right hand.

Xavier Henry, a standout at Oklahoma City (OK) Putnam City, listed Kansas, North Carolina, Memphis, Kentucky, Texas, Ohio State and Louisville.

JaMychal Green said he's hearing the most from Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, Florida and North Carolina. Green indicated that he'd like to play close to home.

Green's teammate, Andrew Steele, mentioned North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Kansas, Mississippi and Kentucky. He's being recruited mostly to play shooting guard.

2009 standout Johnie Williams said he's picked up interest from Memphis, Tennessee, Clemson, Florida State and Florida.

Leslie McDonald is already being courted by a ton of schools. Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Florida, Florida State and Memphis were the ones he mentioned.

Tyreke Evans list is still at five and consists of Louisville, North Carolina, Villanova, Memphis and Texas.

Kemba Walker, who is clearly the best remaining point guard in the 2008 class, has scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Florida State, St. John's, Connecticut and Miami. Kentucky and Memphis are in the mix.

"It's a grown mans shoe with just a touch of whip lash" – An aging courtside scout said when asked to describe his fresh Air Forces.

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