eBoss Road Show: City of Palms

As pleasant as winters in the Midwest can be, it's awfully tough to turn down a trip to sunny Florida. When you add one of the nation's premier holiday season high school hoops tournaments, Florida gets awfully appealing.<br>

On Friday afternoon the Road Show landed in Ft. Myers, FL for the annual City of Palms Tournament. This year, tournament director Donnie Wilkie has put together perhaps the premier field of the winter and some pretty well known kids got things started on opening night.

SOME SELECTED FRIDAY PERFORMANCES

Wayne Ellington - A 6-5 combo guard from Merion (PA) Episcopal, Ellington has already built a pretty lofty reputation and is generally considered one of the premier perimeter prospects in the class of 2006. All he does is continue to enhance that reputation each time he takes the court. Long and rangy, Ellington combines a lethal high arching jump shot that has plenty of rotation with the ability to get to the hole or create mid-range opportunities at will and it showed during a 28 point outing

He does need to continue to get stronger and could tighten up his handle a little bit, but it isn’t out of line to think he could be one of the top 10 in the class of 2006. There had been speculation of some mutual interest with Kansas, but according to Ellington he really likes the ACC and the only school away from the Eastern Seaboard he has serious interest in at this point is Arizona.

Gerald Henderson - A 6-5 WG Henderson combines with Ellington as part of what has to be considered the most lethal wing combo in the class of 2006. He’s a powerful athlete who explodes to the basket for sky-walking jams but is also comfortable pulling up and using the glass from 15 feet. On Friday night he was good for 22 points, but what really sets him apart from other wings is his ability to rebound the basketball and he showed it by corralling 14 caroms. He does need to become a little more comfortable handling the ball and could stand to see the court better from foul line to foul line, but is a potential top 10 prospect in his own right.

Taylor King - UCLA’s 2007 commitment is at a bit of a crossroads, is the 6-7 King a very skilled four, or a three with deep range? Right now he’s more of a mix of both thanks to his deep range on pretty looking lefty J’s and his ability to score on jump-hooks in the lane with either hand. Despite a slow start, King put on an impressive shooting display nailing three’s -- six of them to be exact -- from as deep as 32 feet after catching fire during the second half. The key for him is adding a little more game off of the dribble and upgrading his athleticism because he is clearly one of the premier shooters in the country.

Kevin Branch - Another 2007 player to keep an eye on, the 6-5 WG from Laplace (LA) Reserve Christian didn’t back down from Henderson or Ellington. His numbers, 11 points and five rebounds, weren’t out of this world but he looked confident and doesn’t get as many looks as he deserves playing with 2006 Baylor commitment Demond Carter. Branch is already listing the likes of Kansas, Baylor, LSU, Oklahoma and several others.

OTHER NOTES

It would be interesting to hear what Florida head coach Billy Donovan thought about the performance of  6-4 WG’s David Huertas and Derwin Kitchen who have both committed to the Gators. Huertas from Jacksonville (FL) Country Day can knock down open looks from deep as can Kitchen from Jacksonville (FL) Raines. Huertas was good for 15, but most of them came after ACD’s game against Athens (AL) High was well out of hand and most of them were on wide open jumpers and he still hasn’t shown much of an ability to score off of the dribble. Kitchen is perhaps even more dangerous from long-range and looks to have enough game off the bounce to possibly slide over and play some minutes at the PG spot when he gets to Gainesville next fall, his team fell to a very athletic and deep Niagara Falls (NY) High team, but Kitchen did everything he could to keep them in it with 18 points on a night where his shot wasn’t dropping as much as it usually does.

There’s no question that 5-10 PG Demond Carter is a dangerous perimeter jump shooter and capable of creating his own offense, but he’s going to have to learn to involve others a little more before getting to Baylor in the fall of 2006. He got 22 points in Laplace (LA) Reserve Christian’s loss, but as a PG he needs to rack up more than one assist and you can’t help but scratch your head about how a kid who makes 6-11 three’s, only goes 1-10 on shots inside of 19’9….

Maybe he didn’t get the court time to really show off what he’s capable of, but at 6-11 with surprising burst to the bucket Alex Jacobsen from Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei has to be on the 2007 radar. He shoots skillfully out to 12 feet and showed a willingness to mix it up with LSU bound Tasmin Mitchell. He’s young so foul trouble is an issue but premier programs like Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA, Arizona among others are already keeping close tabs on his progress at Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei. ….LSU, scratch that, all college basketball fans, are going to enjoy watching 6-7 BF Tasmin Mitchell perform on the next level. Mitchell always plays aggressively, smart, and leaves everything he has on the court. All he did was turn in a heroic 35 point night that included a leaning pull-up three to tie up Mater Dei with 17 seconds to go before hitting a pair of free throws with just under three seconds to win the game.

You won’t find a more impressive looking specimen in the class of 2006 than Paul Harris a 6-4 WG/WF from Niagara Falls (NY) High. It’s time for him to use that body to his advantage and work on scoring form mid-range and in while continuing to keep teammates involved, something he already does a nice job of doing….

The NBA was certainly well represented on Friday night as scouts from Golden State, Houston, Washington, Philadelphia, Detroit and other teams were spotted in the building. Odds are even more will turn out on Saturday when guys like Louis Williams, Martell Webster and Spencer Hawes make their debuts at the event.

Colleges in attendance- Miami, Florida, Appalachian State, Charlotte, South Florida.

  • Total teams seen- 65
  • Total games seen- 39
  • Total miles traveled- 4,250

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