But that was the case at the Boo Williams Invitational. After watching a loaded Alabama Challenge squad dismantle D-One Sports in the first game, we took in a handful of 16's games, and it was a great move.
The 2011 class has the look of a deep and talented class, which is something we've seemingly lacked since O.J. Mayo, Derrick Rose and Kevin Love were in high school. On Friday we saw legit star power in Rakeem Christmas and Rodney Hood, while guys like Shannon Scott, Wayne Blackshear, Sam Thompson and Rod Days all put together solid efforts.
Derrick Martin, PF/C, Alabama Challenge – According to people around him, he's just starting to scratch the surface of his talent. Martin, a 6-foot-8 big man, is equipped with a set of long arms and a lean frame. Offensively he squared up and hit jumpers from 12 to 18-feet. Defensively his length affects shots and helps him corral rebounds. An area for improvement would be his strength, but he still has the look of a possible high major prospect.
Meyers Leonard, C, Mac Irvin Fire – Every time we see him, we leave the gym liking him a little more. On Friday we got a good feel for his desire to rebound. When a ball went up, Leonard found his man, boxed him out and soared for the board. Once the ball was firmly in his mitts the 6-foot-10 Illinois commit looked ahead and tossed out perfect outlet passes. Scoring wasn't a problem for him either. In a blowout win over Playground Elite, he scored by running the break and showed off a few moves around the basket.
Jereme Richmond, SF, Mac Irvin Fire – There aren't many 2010 wings with the ceiling that this 6-foot-7 small forward has. When he's in transition, he's at his best. He's still a pretty talented scorer in the half court offense though, as his jumper has improved, and he's quite an athlete that doesn't have any problem finishing at the rim.
Rodney Hood, SF, Alabama Challenge – The day was full of a number of big time performances by 2011 prospects and Hood was among the guys that stood out the most. He seemingly did it all for the Challenge. Playing on the ball, and off, Hood made crisp passes in transition, pulled up for long range jumpers and even showed an ability to take defenders to the block. The 6-foot-7 wing is extremely versatile and is capable of filling a variety of rolls.
Tavareas Sledge, PF, Alabama Challenge – This active and aggressive 6-foot-8 big man was all over the place. His skill set still needs to improve, but he makes up for what he lacks in skill by playing hard on both ends. With that said, he still has some offensive ability and got on the board with some tips and a mid-range jumpers.
Darrel Longstreet, PG, Playground Elite 16's – His coach says he didn't play a very good game, but we were still able to spot his talent and ability. His quickness and handle was impressive and he seemed to get in the lane anytime he wanted to. Offensively he showed a mid-range game that was tough to stop, while he struggled to get it going from behind the arc.
Shannon Scott, PG, Southern Kings Red 16's – Throughout the Kings win, Scott was always in control. He rarely, if ever, forces the issue and displayed impressive court vision and touch on passes. Already the 6-foot-3 lead guard has a developed mid-range game that consists of pull-up jumpers. He may not have elite speed, but he's crafty and handles the ball with ultimate care.
Rakeem Christmas, PF, Team Final 16's – Early on Christmas let the game come to him. But as the game developed, the 6-foot-9 big man began to establish himself, especially on the defensive end where he showed a dominant side. Every time the City Rocks drove to the rim they were met by Christmas. Although we didn't get a running tally, he blocked at least a dozen shots. Offensively he was no slouch either, as he hit a pair of mid-range jumpers and finished with contact in the paint. If there was any question about him being one of the top bigs in his class, he answered it.
Malcolm Gilbert, C, Team Final 16's – Gilbert is every bit of 6-foot-10 and his length makes him seem even taller. Playing alongside Christmas, Gilbert was nearly as dominant defensively. He didn't swat quite as many shots, but still got his hands on a number of attempts. Offensively Gilbert is still developing, he did, however, hit a right jump hook, and scored a few buckets on the fast break.
Rod Days, SF, Team Florida 16's – We just took in a half, but it was clear that this 6-foot-6, possibly 6-foot-7, wing is solid looking prospect. He's a big, long wing that showed a nice looking stroke from mid-range, can get to the rim and isn't afraid to mix it up inside. Like many sophomores, strength is a factor right now, but he still has plenty of time to add some weight to his frame.
Wayne Blackshear, SF, Mac Irvin Fire – Playing on a loaded Mac Irvin squad, it's hard for a number of guys to stand out, that is unless you win by 30 and score over 100 points. Blackshear put together a solid game in their large win. The 6-foot-5 wing has a terrific body and build for the wing spot and has the look of a big time prospect. To go with finishes in transition, Blackshear hit a handful of deep jumpers.
Tony Parker, Southern Kings Red 16's – There aren't many freshman as big as Parker. Standing 6-foot-9 and weighing in at over 240 pounds, Parker uses every bit of his frame to bang with the opposition in the paint. He's load to handle in the paint, and extremely tough to keep off the glass. The offensive glass is where majority of his damage was done on Friday as he patrolled the paint looking for offensive put backs.
Dai-Jon Parker, a 6-foot-3 wing, listed Texas, Virginia Tech, Auburn, Northwestern, Florida, Georgia Tech and Georgia.
Deante Saunders, a 6-foot combo guard, was active in Team Florida 16's loss to Mac Irvin Fire 16's. He's athletic, gets to the rim and is equipped with a strong frame. Mac Irvin Fire 16's won on a last second shot. Their best-looking prospect, Sam Thompson, a 6-foot-7 wing, worked it out from mid-range. Savon Goodman, a 6-foot-5 freshman, was active in Team Final 16's win. He's a good-looking athlete that finishes well at the rim. Dai-Jon Parker didn't have his best game, but it's clear he's super talented. At 6-foot-3, he's built well and has a good-looking stroke. Parker's teammate Julian Royal has a nice skill set. He hit a few face-up jumpers and made a nice move on the baseline for a reverse finish. Quincy Miller did all he could for D-One Sports. He was active inside, blocked a few shots and hit the offensive glass.