eBoss Road Show: National Prep Tip-Off

When you think of high school hoops hotbeds, Barrington, RI doesn't come up very early in the conversation. For a weekend though, St. Andrew's Academy in Barrington was the center of the prep basketball universe as it hosted the National Prep Tipoff. With plenty of talent and several prominent prep school programs in attendance, it wasn't tough to decide on the NPT as the first event of the year for the Road Show.


Brady Morningstar - The Lawrence native realized his dreams earlier this month when he signed a letter of intent to play hoops at Kansas. With that formality out of the way, the 6-3 ½ PG/WG is free to concentrate on getting stronger and improving his all-around game during his post graduate year at New Hampton (NH) Prep.

While he didn’t put up huge scoring numbers -- 13 points in each of his two games -- Morningstar made it pretty clear that his commitment to Kansas was warranted. Few players in the prep school ranks take the court with a better feel for the game than he does and he’s already established himself as a leader for his new squad.

He is one of the few players out there who is not only willing to, but excels at, putting the ball on the floor and pulling up for mid-range jumpers. He loves to use the backboard and gets his shot off in a hurry. Another notable improvement is that he is exploding off of the floor and shooting his jumper with a much higher release point. He’s added a solid 10 pounds of muscle since the end of the summer and impressed coaches in attendance with the way he makes his teammates better.

Davon Jefferson - It’s no secret that the 6-8 native of Los Angeles is looking to enter his name into the 2006 NBA Draft. Because of his status as a fifth year guy, he’s also the only prep prospect in his class with a legitimate chance of making the direct jump. What he may lack in polish he makes up for with a level of athleticism that nobody in the class can match. He doesn’t just jump out of the gym though; he’s got incredible body control, superior quickness and keeps you on the edge of your seat because you never know when he’ll use his athleticism to completely change a game.

With a plethora of NBA guys on hand to watch him play, Jefferson drew mixed reviews. The good is that he’s improved his ball handling and developed a pretty reliable stroke from 12 to 17 feet, but he still relies entirely too much on his athleticism. After making his name as a hustling, hard working player who played the game at a blur, there are legitimate questions about Jefferson’s attitude and willingness to involve others.

At this point he isn’t reacting very well when things don’t go his way. Whether it be scowling at opponents, complaining to officials, failing to cross half court on some trips, or poor body language, Jefferson is going to have to take a better approach. As it stands right now, he’ll do himself a huge favor by returning to the smiling, hard working and team oriented guy that he used to be or he’ll risk turning off more than just NBA scouts.


Vernon Macklin - Ever since a standout freshman year at Portsmouth (VA) Norcom, the 6-9 BF who is now a senior at Chatham (VA) Hargrave has carried a rather lofty reputation as he quickly became known as the “Big Ticket”. Now a senior at Chatham (VA) Hargrave, the Georgetown bound forward is known to everybody simply as “Ticket” and he’s living up to his nickname. Always a physical freak, Macklin has committed himself to dominating on the glass, getting stronger in the weight room and perhaps most importantly he’s accepted that he isn’t a wing. The renewed focus on his interior play produced big results as VA’s finest averaged 18 points and 15 boards in his two games at the NPT.

Paul Harris - Pound for pound, you won’t find a tougher player than the 6-4 native of Niagara Falls who is prepping at Fitchburg (MA) Notre Dame. He uses his NFL body to beast opponents big and small and plays each possession like it was his last. He’s a very creative passer and a terrific defender too boot. However, after dominating the AAU circuit over the summer, the weaknesses in his game became pretty evident in a more structured environment. He’s got to become more of a threat as a shooter, learn to exercise a little control and patience. There has been some speculation that he could consider a jump to the NBA because he is a fifth year guy, but he’d be well served to put his NBA aspirations on hold for a few years in order to become more fundamentally sound. Nit-picking aside, he’s a ton of fun to watch play and should be an impact player in the Big East when he arrives at Syracuse.

Derrick Caracter - Ever since bursting onto the national scene as a rising 8th grader, the exquisitely skilled native of New Jersey who is at Notre Dame with Harris has fought a battle with his weight. After finally looking like he’d gotten it under control over the summer and playing as well as he ever had as a result, the 6-9 Louisville commitment has packed on the pounds again and looked to be at least 300 pounds. Save for a few incredible passes and a few flashes of his skilled shooting, Caracter was a complete and total bust in Rhode Island averaging just six points and 4.5 rebounds a game at the NPT.

Kiwan Smith - It was good to see NYC native -- and Road Show favorite -- back for another tour of duty at Laurinburg (NC) Institute. The 20 year old played like well, a 20 year old, and used his athleticism and experience to his advantage during a pair of fine performances. Because of his age there are going to be questions about how much room for improvement he has, but there is no doubt that he is a talented individual. He’s a terrific offensive rebounder and can always find a way to score even if he isn’t the greatest ball handler or a classic jump shooter. Provided one of the more interesting moments of the weekend when he got a steal and tried  to throw himself an alley-oop off the backboard, from halfcourt, in a game that his team trailed by four points at the time.

Bobby Maze - A new favorite of the Road Show, the 6-1 Iverson clone from the Patterson School was dazzling in Rhode Island. From the tattoos, to the cornrows, to the headband and even the way he moves, it’s really incredible how much he resembles the 76er’s star. He’s a long and bouncy athlete who took any and every defender who tried to stay in front of him off of the dribble and score. He hits pull-up jumpers, makes some threes and is a threat to get to the hole and dunk on people. A native of Washington DC who has seen some hard times, he desperately wants to make something of himself and he’s focused on being as good a player as possible. His size may be somewhat of a question, but his talent and combo guard abilities are going to draw him high major looks this winter.

Jeremiah Kelly - A prep school tournament won’t normally be a place where a sophomore is going to shine. However, playing against other players who as many as three or even four years older than him, this 2008 point guard from Chicago (IL) Boys To Men Academy played very well. He’s quick, a capable shooter and he gets his teammates the ball in scoring position. He’s pretty good defensively as well and if he is able to add strength and continues to improve, he could end up being pretty heavily recruited.


Odds are the Road Show is going to see lots of teams who do something together as a show of unity. However, it is going to be tough to top the fellas at Bridgton (ME) Academy who all showed up sporting mohawks. …The best shooter in the senior class may not hail from the United States. Montreal (Can.) Champlain St. Lambert guard William Archambault is an absolutely unreal shooter from deep. The 6-5 wing elevates well off of the floor, has a quick release, unlimited range and the ability to always get square to the hoop before releasing, even if he starts off balance. … He’s headed to Davidson and somewhere down the road in the NCAA tournament he could cause a big name team headaches.

Surely Chatham (VA) Hargrave’s starting backcourt of Armon Bassett and Stefan Walsh will play better as the season progresses. The guards who are bound for Indiana and Arkansas respectively, experienced a terrible outing. It’s one thing to have an off shooting night, but the two combined to make just 15 out of 60 total shots which included a goose egg from the three point line where they missed all 16 of their shots.

It is going to be tough to find a tougher individual than New Hampton (NH) Prep post player Radar Onguetou. Although he’s only 6-5, at best, the native of Cameroon is blessed with one of the most powerful bodies anybody could imagine. His intensity and hustle matches his chiseled physique and he’s going to be very welcome next year at New Hampshire.

Prep School is a completely different animal. There are so many kids from different countries and who have bounced around from high school to high school it is often difficult to determine exactly how old a player may be, or what class they even belong to. With that in mind, you have to (we guess?) give Centereach (NY) Our Savior credit for at least putting on their roster that it hadn’t been determined yet whether their star 6-10 big man Teeng Akol is a member of the class of 2007 or 2008. The real question is when and how do they decide which class he is in? … If you really want to know why so many kids are choosing prep school, take a look at a partial list of the schools that were on hand for parts of the event. Talk about exposure. …

Special thanks to Scout.com’s Jeff Goodman and St. Andrew’s coach Mike Hart and his staff for all of their help and hospitality over the weekend. …

Schools in attendance- Drexel, Purdue, VMI, USC, George Mason, Tulane, Akron, Western Illinois, Eastern Illinois, Charlotte, Arizona State, St. Louis U, St. John’s, George Washington, Lipscomb, Louisville, UTEP, Providence, UC Irvine, Rhode Island, VCU, Navy, Iowa, Siena, Ball State, Notre Dame, Memphis, Kent State, Jacksonville, Washington, Youngstown State, Marshall, Ohio, Auburn, Coastal Carolina, Wichita State, Iowa State, Northwestern, Wake Forest, Indiana, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Binghamton, Boston College, Tennessee, Villanova, South Florida, Clemson, Michigan, Indiana State, Wisconsin Green Bay, UNLV,  Utah, Virginia, Illinois, Nevada, Albany, St. Bonaventure, Georgetown, Eastern Kentucky, St. Mary’s, Niagara, Arkansas Little Rock, Penn State, UAB, Evansville, Robert Morris, Stanford, Murray State, Bradley, Virginia Tech, UNC Wilmington.

Total teams seen- 19

Total games watched- 19

Total miles traveled- 2,920

Up next- Kansas City (MO) Central vs. Kansas City (MO) Lincoln Prep, Nov. 22.

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