Things got kicked off Friday night with a short evening -- in comparison to what will be a 15 hour day of hoops on Saturday -- but there were plenty of noteworthy performances.
I'll start with some prospects that have been linked with Kansas at one time or another and then work my way through some first night observations.
KANSAS PROSPECTS, PAST, PRESENT AND IFFY AT BEST
Lawrence Hill - Hailed by many as Arizona's finest in the class of 2005, the 6-7 BF/WF from Phoenix (AZ) Deer Valley is an interesting prospect. In many ways he is similar to Illinois freshman Brian Randle in that he isn't really a WF or a BF, he is just a BF. He does a nice job operating around the basket , bangs more than you would think and finishes with either hand. He can knock down jump shots, but he will have to speed up the pace and lose some of his sideways rotation in order for it to translate to the next level. He's a high major because of versatility and he is a year young for his class which suggests he'll get a lot better. Time will tell if he is a legitimate Elite High Major.
Henry Dugat - After an explosion last weekend in Las Vegas, Dugat is sure to get plenty of attention this weekend in Houston. Perhaps it was his Houston Select squad's 37 point blowout win or an off night, but Dugat wasn't particularly impressive on a ho-hum evening. He operates with the ball in his hands for the entire game when he plays with his Dayton (TX) High team, but the 6-0 PG spends enough time on the wing in a club setting to make one wonder if he is really more of a combo guard. He's got a great scoring package and super quickness, but do you give him the keys to a Porsche or an RX-7 on the next level?
Andray Blatche - Whether or not Kansas is still truly involved is up for debate, but the 6-9 BF does carry some interest with the Jayhawk fans. On the plus side, the skilled big man from Syracuse (NY) who will be prepping at South Kent (CT) Prep next season could be a top 10 player if he put his mind to it. Unfortunately, Blatche likes to spend a lot of time wasting his skills roaming the perimeter in search of WF glory that he isn't likely to ever see. No doubt he is skilled and he can pass the duchy to the left hand side, but he falls in love with those skills and strays from the basket to give the gift of turnovers a little too often. He is a quick athlete who gets to rim and he's got a long live body. It will just be up to him to be as good as he wants to be.
Julian Wright - Granted the viewing of Wright wasn't as long as originally intended on Friday night, but it was more of the same for the 6-7 WF from Homewood (IL) Flossmoor. Again he doesn't put up eye popping scoring numbers, but he just brings some intangibles and effort all the way through the game. He had a ridiculous hanging and stretched finish while getting hacked that can't really be described, but his Charlton Heston 10 Commandments type long arms had something to do with it. When other players quit, Wright turns up the intensity.
Angel Santiago - Santiago is listed here mostly because his name has been brought up in connection with Kansas lately. He's a nice looking lead guard who will make a few threes but he isn't Kansas good. Chicago produces plenty of tough 6-0 PG's and the Von Steuben product is just that, a tough 6-0 (maybe) PG who will find a place to play but probably not on the high major level.
Marcus Johnson - Wild shot, wild shot, wild shot, turnover, dunk, dunk, did he just do that shizzy? Those are the first seven notes from the 6-5 WF from Los Angeles (CA) Westchester's Friday night performance. He's a super athlete who gets to the rim and he is an incredibly clever finisher around the bucket which suggests some basketball smarts. Getting back to the first six notes, the "did he just do that shizzy" is a reference to him hitting his second jump shot in a row. Therein lies the problem.