Last weekend we dropped in on the Elite 75 and it yielded a checklist of young kids to follow for the coming season. The 2-day showcase gave known commodities and blossoming prospects a stage to show their talents.
While play was the focal point of the event, Charlotte Vance head coach Will Robinson spent 30 minutes breaking it down for the campers with an impassioned speech. Robinson asked the kids to be honest with themselves and pay as much attention to character development as skill work.
Many of the kids we're about to speak of have yet to play a high school game. Having said that, we collected a notepad full of information on top talents from the states of North Carolina, Virginia and beyond. Camps like these provide youngsters with a chance to enhance their reputations and measure themselves against their peers. The next challenge is to keep things in perspective and lock in on their high school seasons.
Andre Marhold, SF – The Charlotte native is going to be one of the more talked about members of the 2009 class in the state of North Carolina. A 6-foot-6 athlete, Marhold used that talent in the game we watched. Right now he's best when he plays in attack mode. He'll need to tighten up his mid-range game but at this stage in his career he doesn't need to settle for jumpers when he can burst to the rim.
Karron Johnson, PF vs. Matt Wilson, C – Since its football season we'll draw the obvious analogy: Johnson is to high school basketball what Jevon Kearse is to defensive linemen. The Richmond native is a freak athletically. Wilson, a developing big man, showed skill and an improved game from a year ago. He also got to see what its like to toe the line with an elite athlete. Johnson was one of the top performers of the day as he chased balls at the rim and provided first time observers a peek into his usual array of athletic antics.
C.J. Leslie, PF – These showcases set up perfectly for Leslie's game and he usually shines like he did here. On a short court, Leslie was able to handle it, drive and score when needed. He killed it at the rim. As good as he is, he's still somewhat of a raw talent with a huge ceiling.
The North Carolina State commitment has size, ability and an overall package that stood out as one of the elite talents at this event. He can run all day and in settings like this he points himself at the rim and explodes as he did Saturday morning.
Larry Savage, F – One of the big contributions the state of Virginia made to the event is this guy. He chased balls, operated at the rim and was active. He's got enough skill that he could project at either the small or power forward down the road. We didn't attend Sunday's games but the word was he impressed as much or more the second day out.
Jarrel Rankin, PG – Charlotte Vance has a pair of stud freshmen as he and Davis will team up and set their sights on championships. Rankin is a smooth operator and at 5-11 he's a steal maven with a unique feel for both passing and scoring. He's a purposeful player and should track as one of the top young talents in the state.
Stevie Taylor, PG – For a guy who has yet to play in a high school basketball contest, Taylor has a mature way about his play. He's a little guy – 5-foot-6 - who will fight the battle versus bigger kids his entire career. Opponents challenge's will be to match his intelligence and poise. He's already got a winning resume and a serious approach to the game. In evaluating point guards its important to take into account a kid's presence – especially at this position – and Taylor leaves an imprint on his team.
Jacoby Davis, CG – He's a strong freshman guard who can shoot it deep and turn digits on the scoreboard. This will be one of the top freshmen in his area – and beyond -- and because of his physical gifts and hoops talent his high school transition in his first year will be smooth.
Matt Giorski, C – Another Virginian and this one has center size. He was listed at 6-10 and since he's a freshman its safe to say he's likely to make it to 7-feet. The kid runs well and he'll mix it up every now and then inside. The reality is kids with his size who can run are almost pre-destined to be higher level recruits.
Lavon Harper, C – When you block as many shots as he did people notice. A long 6-8, Harper is a specimen as a rejector and he's got a skill package inside. He'll ping the high-major radar early in his high-school career.
Jervon Pressley, C – At 6-7 and graced with size 20 sneakers, we'll bet this kid turns himself into a player. He's got wide shoulders and fought Harper. He got in trouble when he tried to handle the ball but we'll forgive his youthful aggression and focus on his shot blocks and tenacity to score in the paint. Loved him as a prospect.
Things happened at a quick pace during the event and looks at players were brief. Having said that, here's a few more names to jot down from their respective classes:
2010 – Small forward Kendall Wicks, athletic wing Maurice Nash and 6-5+ power forward Manny Diaz; Guard Elijah Johnson had to have sunk more 3s than anyone here
2011 – PG Marvin Whitt (a speedster), PG Brian Darden, C/F Quashad Williams; SG Michael Gbinije (didn't see him but played well on Sunday)
2012 – Justin Anderson won't play high school hoops next season but he's ready! The lefty is a major talent and a name to remember a year from now. It's tough to wrap your mind around him being an 8th grader because he's 6-5 with a high ceiling as a prospect.