My list started ambitiously with 10 games but I just couldn’t get to all of them, nevertheless I got my first glimpse of a ton of players today.
My first stop was to check out the New York Gauchos – minus Edgar Sosa and minus UCONN commit Curtis Kelly. 2007 point guard Terrell McKenzie ran the show and ran it well. It took about 2.4 seconds to see why UCONN is interested in the Paramus, New Jersey native. The ball-handling wiz likes to run, run, and run some more. Terrell can get the ball up the court in a hurry via the pass or the bounce and is effective doing either. His decision-making in that area was always right on and that’s mostly because he has his head up at all times.
“The New York Gauchos we’re a run-and-gun team, that’s what we do. Watching UCONN they sort of do that to,” said McKenzie.
On the other side of the ball, Terrell likes to apply the pressure. He’s a terrific on-the-ball defender who really grasps the concept of position defense.
“I like playing defense because that helps me with my offense,” admitted Terrell.
Terrell told me that he’s hearing the most from ACC and Big East schools like Virginia, UCONN, Florida State, and Virginia Tech. He’s also hearing from Illinois but states that his top 3 schools right now are Virginia, Virginia Tech, and UCONN.
I checked out Boo Williams Summer League’s terrific trio of Vernon Macklin, Maryland commit Eric Hayes (a Steve Blake type of body and game), and Duke Crews. The joke of the day was Vernon Macklin listed as 6’4” on the roster --- he’s 6’9” and probably has a wing span of 7’5” at least! The only weakness I saw was his hands. If they ever get stronger he will be virtually unstoppable. Macklin played the point man on the 1-2-2 press and created havoc with those long skinny arms. He’s a true weapon on the offensive glass and has the reach to gather anything above the rim. We asked Vernon for his list of schools and they pretty much remained unchanged -- Georgetown, Carolina and Wake Forest, in that order. A few weeks ago he had Ohio State on his list but did not mention them today. Unofficial visits are next on his list and he does have them scheduled. Crews is listed as 6’7” but seems a tad shorter. He’s certainly not afraid to mix it up and has a nose for the ball. Duke can really elevate and the crowd was treated to quite a show above the rim from Crews and Macklin.
On to Brandan Wright, ranked 3rd in the class of 2006, and it’s easy to see why. It’s amazing how much big-time game is packed in that slender 6-9 body. He possesses a sweet lefty J, and can do it all. I saw him play two games today and in the afternoon session turned into a free throw fest for Wright. He was also a bit passive offensively in this contest. The Brentwood Academy star plays at an even keel and has a calm demeanor which I think translates to his game at times. You want to see him play with more aggression because you know he can take over– he’s that good. In the night session he showed the entire package – from hitting the 15-foot J, to bringing the ball up and assuming the ball handling duties, to blocking shots -- all of his skills were on display. Wright threw down several dunks that had a large crowd of coaches salivating. Brandan finished with 21 points, and 2 blocks, and that doesn’t even take into consideration how many shots he altered with his long arms. I think he makes excellent decisions when to go for a block and when not to. If he’s out of position, he won’t go for the block which allows him to avoid needless fouls. It was a quality effort for Wright in front of Kevin Stallings (Vandy), Paul Hewitt (Ga Tech), and assistant coaches from Kansas, Kentucky and Duke.
My surprise player of the day was Jeff Robinson an athletic 6-5 forward out of St. Patrick High School in New Jersey. The New Jersey All-Stars were minus Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas but Robinson had no problem taking center stage. Robinson is an unreal athlete who’s extremely aggressive and not afraid to flaunt it. He managed to score 10 of his team’s 21 points in the first quarter in a variety of ways. Jeff had the 3 ball working and can really rebound in traffic -- and when he dunks, he dunks HARD! I hope to talk to Jeff tomorrow and check out his current recruiting situation – according to our last update he likes UCONN, Syracuse, Wake Forest, and Rutgers. Coaches that watched this game had to be impressed by this strong, versatile forward. We also got a glimpse of the future from 2008 recruit Jeff Jones. Jones can really stroke the 3 and according to his father, already has an offer on the table from Georgia Tech. Head Coach Paul Hewitt had a seat front and center for Jeff’s terrific shooting day from long range. Villanova commit 6-9 Andrew Ott also plays on this team.
I also took a peek at the Metro Hawks and Mt. Vernon, New York’s Mike Coburn. Coburn did not have one of his better games and in fairness to him he was nursing a sore ankle. He made some nice knifing moves to the basket but also made a few poor turnovers. Coburn can push the ball in transition and excels in the open court. I didn’t get a good look at his jumper because he didn’t take very many. We’ll check in on Mike’s list of schools tomorrow along with fellow Mt. Vernon star Jonathan Mitchell. Mitchell last stated his favorite as Marquette while Coburn’s list featured all Big East schools.
- Biggest crowd so far of coaches plus spectators was Boo Williams Summer League noon game against the St. Louis Eagles and honestly, any game Boo Williams plays draws a crowd. Brandan Wright’s presence brought plenty of attention but neither could compare to the crowd that gathered to watch Michael Jordan’s son Jefferey play for the Rising Stars 16U team. His Airness was in attendance and had Disney security working overtime for this one.
- Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend was in town watching Brandan Wright and a few other Jayhawk prospects. Townsend will also spend tomorrow here in Orlando at the Super Showcase.