Jayhawk Targets at Nike MDC Recap

Memorial Day weekend has turned into one of the bigger weekends in grassroots basketball. While the Tournament of Champions was taking place in the triangle area, Nike's top travel teams were assembled in Nashville, TN for the shoe company's Memorial Day Classic.

Among those in attendance were a handful of potential Kansas recruiting targets and Phog.net was in the house checking them out.

POTENTIAL KU TARGETS AT THE NIKE MDC

Xavier Henry - Probably the top prospect of the entire event, he’s extremely polished for a 16 year old. He’s just as comfortable playing with the ball in his hands and creating his offense off of the dribble as he is working away from the ball and using movement and smarts to free himself for easy looks. When the game is on the line he looks to make plays and all of that combined with great size, NBA range on his jumper and much improved effort on the defensive end make him a potential star. He’s got a chance to be the top player in the class of 2009.

Willie Warren - A pretty nice weekend for the strong 6-3 slasher. He’s a guy who dribbles the ball very well with either hand and because of that he’s extremely difficult to guard in a one on one situation. He’s got a very quick trigger on jumpers and pretty much has free license to shoot when he wants to. Warren has improved as a playmaker but he’s a guy who looks much more comfortable with the ball in his hands where he can look to score. Would like to see how well he can operate when he doesn’t get to dominate the ball. Few players in the class of 2008 are capable of going on scoring tears like he does, but with that you have to live with some cold snaps. Heading to Oak Hill is going to be a good move and it will be interesting to see how/if his playing style changes when he’s surrounded by other high level players at every position.

Rotnei Clarke - Just like Warren, Clarke has the green light to let it fly whenever he wants to for Team Texas and he’s not bashful about getting his shots up. A noted shooter from deep, he shakes off misses as if they didn’t happen and keeps firing. He handles the ball well and doesn’t turn it over, but it would be nice to see him create for others a little more. The improvement in his mid-range game is notable. According to Clarke he’s still wide open.

Daniel Orton - The huge Oklahoman had a nice weekend as he helped control the glass and served as an intimidator defensively. Because of the makeup of the Athlete’s First team, he doesn’t get a ton of shots but he’s got some developing offensive skill. His shot is nice to 12 feet (he even drilled a couple of three pointers, but that’s not what you want your 6-10 center looking to do too much of), he’s an excellent passer and has terrific hands. When he gets mean, it’s nearly impossible to get an uncontested shot in the lane and he eats up a lot of space. Hard to believe he’ll only be a junior when you look at him and all indications are that his recruitment will be a Big 12 battle.

Scott Suggs - The smooth 6-6 wing from outside of St. Louis had a very productive outing. He’s got a pretty shot, handles the ball pretty well and is the owner of one of the better mid-range games in the class of 2008. Coming off of an ankle injury that had him in a boot for a couple weeks, he played tough and made things happen offensively. His lack of strength is still a bit of a concern, but he proved over the weekend that he’s willing to mix it up a bit. His STL Eagles team fell in the playoffs to Xavier Henry in a playoff game, but Suggs more than held his own in a very entertaining and physical game.

Greg Monroe - He’s still hanging onto the spot as the #1 prospect in the class, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have some up and down moments in Nashville. Saturday morning, against a smaller Charlotte Royals team he looked pretty good. Played more on the inside than he has during the spring, went stronger to the basket and then mixed in some skill plays. Later against a huge Georgia Stars frontline (The Stars go 6-11, 6-11, 6-8 across the front), Monroe struggled. At 6-10, the lefty has legitimate face up skills and is a good ball handler, passer and shooter for his size. However, he sometimes makes things more difficult than he has to and has had some turnover and free throw problems late in games. When he commits himself to playing with his back to the hoop and mixing it up in the lane, he’s terrific. Right now, he’s going through the same thing that pretty much every other #1guy over the past few years (save for LeBron) where people start getting really critical -- and sometimes overly -- because they’ve seen him play so much.

Storm Warren - Warren may be a new name to some fans and it’s questionable as to just how involved KU is. But, he’s got a lot of high level programs -- including Florida -- after him pretty hard. He plays alongside Greg Monroe and basically he’s a designated athlete. He’s very bouncy, attacks the glass and really likes to dunk the ball. He never got to show much outside of eight feet. He’s a quality four man and a legit top 100 type player nationally even if at only 6-7 he’s a bit undersized for an interior player.

Elijah Johnson - The Vegas native was impressive again for the Houston Hoops. At 6-2, he’s a sensational athlete who can create for himself at will. Jumper looks ok and he looks as if he can get others involved. He’s being played at the two so it makes it tough to get a true sense for how his feel for the game is. Had a scary moment in his final game where he got clobbered trying to assault the rim and then suffered what some said was an asthma attack on the bench. He reiterated that KU is pretty involved early.

Rodney Williams - Another fine showing for the high flying 15 year old. He’s going to have people watching him a lot more closely now that he’s gotten some exposure which means he’s got to tighten some things up. His ball handling is a little sloppy at time and he’s a little passive at times. But, he’s still a really young guy with a nice jumper and off the charts leaping ability and quickness when he gets on a roll.

Murphy Holloway - It’s hard not to enjoy watching him play. There aren’t many kids who get after it harder than the does for the South Carolina Ravens. However, at 6-6 (maybe 6-7), he’s still pretty lean and a bit undersized for a power forward. Make no mistake, he’s much more power than small forward and it’s his quickness and relentlessness in the lane that make him a matchup problem. The southpaw is a very good rebounder for his size and a transition starter and finisher. Confident kid with some personality, he lists KU but odds are he isn’t headed to far away from home.

A FEW MORE KU RELATED NOTES

Kansas hasn’t really started to recruit him, but don’t be surprised if they at least inquire about 6-0 PG Kemba Walker. Walker has been one of the biggest surprises of the spring and has emerged as one of the top remaining points in the country. He is strong with ball and a winner. … Tony Woods didn’t mention Kansas when asked who was recruiting him. The Jayhawks had taken an early look but it doesn’t look like there is that much interest from either side at this point. … A name from the class of 2010 to potentially monitor is 6-1 PG Kendall Marshall. From the DC area, Marshall is going to get interest from pretty much every big program in the country. The lefty is a pure PG with a terrific feel for the game and a nice mid range game. To be the starting PG on the 17U level for always loaded Boo Williams is very impressive for a kid that young. … Finally, Danarius Robinson was very quiet. He’s an athletic specimen but is struggling to put it all together right now. …


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