FRIDAY NIGHT STANDOUTS
Greg Monroe - The biggest knocks against Monroe has been a sometimes lacking motor and a tendency to hang around on the perimeter a little too much. After a little bit of a slow start on Friday night, the future Georgetown Hoya did neither as he controlled the glass and fought hard around the basket. Not one to show much emotion, the big lefty was animated during the second half as he begged his teammates to get him the ball, jawed with opponents and did everything he could to get his team back into the game. Helen Cox’s comeback effort against fiery Waynesville (MO) High fell a little short but Monroe was pretty good in scoring 21 points (9-10 FG), grabbing 15 rebounds, blocking four shots and coming up with five steals.
DeMarcus Cousins - The 6-10 junior from Mobile is one intimidating dude. He’s strong, has a mean streak and is the owner of some of the strongest hands in the country. On the other hand, he’s not in the best shape and you wouldn’t categorize him as an all-out player at this point in time. Still, there’s no questioning his dominance and ability to completely control a game on both ends of the court. While he’s a decent athlete, Cousins biggest asset is that he’s actually a skilled scorer who can face up, shoot hooks and burn double and triple teams with his terrific passing ability. Cousins racked up 21 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four blocks in just 22 minutes of action and he’s got the potential to do way more than that if he ever commits to playing to his size and strength on every possession.
Erving Walker - During the third quarter it looked like Christ the King was in big trouble in their game with McCluer North, that’s when the pint sized floor general put his team on his back and willed them to overtime and ultimately a victory. Making things happen on both ends thanks to his super quickness, Walker turned the game around during a one and a half minute span where he hit two deep threes, and then got a steal and bucket plus the foul to energize his teammates. A fearless gunner and super competitor, Walker finished the game 33 points, four assists and six steals.
Torres Roundtree and Anthony Booker - Southern Illinois has landed a pair of potential impact players in Roundtree and Booker who both went for double-doubles. A hard nosed 6-4 guard, Roundtree (17 points, 10 rebounds) is a physical defender, makes plays off the bounce and is the guy who wants the ball during crunch time. He had some shots rim out on him but his jumper is coming along and you have to love a wing who does the type of work on the glass that Roundtree does. In Booker (18 points, 11 rebounds), the Salukis have landed a lean 6-8 forward who is a high level run and jump athlete capable of making plays well above the rim. While his dunks are crowd pleasers, Booker’s ability to stretch defenses with his jumper and shot blocking are maybe the most attractive parts of his game. Once he gets a little stronger and learns to embrace physical play he’s a potential player of the year type talent in the Missouri Valley.
Alex Hall - Hometown favorites Kickapoo High scored a big upset over Opa Locka (FL) Pace and the sharp shooting 6-2 junior was a major part of it. The proud owner of a picture perfect jump shot, Hall hit a handful of jumpers and came up big at the line on his way to 28 points (8-14 FG, 9-10 FT). Already being watched closely by hometown Missouri State, Hall figures to pop up on more mid major radars over the next year and his toughness on the glass (nine boards) is a nice bonus.
Verdell Jones - Still open and looking around, the 6-3 PG is one of the top unsigned floor generals in the country. Sure he’s still skinny, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a skilled dribbler with excellent feel and tremendous vision. Not lacking for toughness, Jones is completely willing to take a shot on drives to lane and he’s improved considerably on the defensive end. A point guard’s job is to make his teammates better and that’s exactly what he does. He did have five turnovers -- several of them on teammates drops -- to go along with 14 points and six assists but he more than made up for the turnovers by recording six steals.
MORE NOTES FROM SPRINGFIELD
Nobody has ever questioned Femi John on the defensive end, but the 6-3 wing’s jumper has been questioned in the past. At this point, it’s fair to call the SLU signee’s jumper a work in progress as he’s improved his mechanics and looks much more willing to shoot. After coming out smoking hot from deep, the top notch defender misfired late during his 21 point effort. … Dusty Allen is a perfect example of why you should never judge a kid by the way he looks. The 6-4 post from Springfield Kickapoo who will play his college ball at Drury College straight up kicked the tails of much more highly publicized Terrance Saintil (VCU signee) and top 100 junior Rakeem Buckles of Pace. Allen used fakes and clever spins to get his foes in the air and outclassed the bigger and more athletic Floridians to the tune of 28 points nine rebounds to their combined 14 points and 12 rebounds. … Teammate Greg Monroe gets most of the ink, but 6-3 shooting guard Justin Fairman of Helen Cox is a legit mid major prospect. He’s got good range and a nice frame and will help somebody out as a team player … Nobody can blame Florida recruit Ray Shipman’s effort level in a Pace loss. The 6-5 utility wing’s jumper wasn’t dropping, but he attacked the rim relentlessly and did what he could to try and stave off Kickapoo’s upset bid. … Another guy with the potential of landing on the mid major level during the Spring signing period is Champaign (IL) Cenral’s Donald Stewart. A relatively athletic 6-5 wing, Stewart makes just enough medium range jumpers to keep defenders honest and is a fine finisher in traffic … Probably the biggest surprise of the evening was Waynesville (MO) High’s win over Helen Cox. Looking further into it, maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise that the team made up of a bunch of tough kids who just got done winning a Missouri state football championship didn’t budge an inch. Coming up particularly big for Waynesville was 6-5 wing Domonique Long. A good jump shooter and fine athlete, Long went for 16 points and stretched the Helen Cox defense early during Waynesville’s wire to wire win. On the eve of his Tigers battle with undefeated Kansas, Missouri head coach Mike Anderson dropped in to check on DeMarcus Cousins. … Finally, a nod of appreciation to the folks in Springfield for their support of the TOC. The Road Show travels to lots of events in lots of places and there’s simply not a better attended or supported event in the entire country. …
Schools in attendance- Missouri State, Missouri.
- Total teams seen- 173.
- Total games watched- 95.
- Total distance traveled- 11,768.
Up next- King Holiday Hoopfest, Seattle (WA), Monday Jan. 21, 2008.