The first was Lawrence (KS) Free State BF/WF Keith Wooden, a well-known name to anyone following Kansas basketball, who played for the Kansas City Nets alongside fireplug PG Mike Jefferson and the rest of the KC crew. While Wooden's reputation varies among those familiar with him, his play in Atlanta was quite convincing of his talent. Wooden is every bit of 6-9 and has a big frame and enough muscle to bang in the post, and on appearance alone, he would be considered a post player -- that is, until he gets the ball in his hands.
Wooden is capable of handling the ball better than any prospect his size should be able to. On one sequence, he brought the ball up the court, dribbled around his back and fed a teammate with a pinpoint pass for an easy lay-up. He's also agile in the post, out-quicking opponents for buckets, and can take a bigger opponent away from the basket and beat him off the dribble or drain a jump shot in his eye. Some question his attitude and effort, but his play this weekend was inspired--likely a result of the criticism he receives in the media. I don't think there's any reason he shouldn't be considered at very least top 40 player, if not better than that.
The other potential Kansas prospect in attendance was Hempstead (TX) High BF/C Tyrone Nelson, who plays for the Houston Superstars. The wiry Nelson, who I had previously seen have a solid showing at the Tournament of Champions with Texas Top Prospects in Chapel Hill, had a very good weekend in Atlanta.
On Friday, Nelson scored 37 points in workmanlike fashion, and was a cold second half at the free throw line away from dropping 50. Nelson poured in buckets on putbacks and probably had at least 15 rebounds in the game. He runs the floor like a deer, and his ability to run allowed him to beat the other team down the floor and get himself open for easy buckets on assists from teammates Lanny Smith and Michael Umeh.
Nelson is an agile post player, and uses his agility to create opportunities for himself on offense. Nelson also is a capable shot blocker on defense, although he needs to add some serious bulk before he'll be a strong defender and rebounder. Still, he gets the job done, and there's definitely something to be said for that.
This weekend, Nelson made a strong case for a position among the top 100 players in the country, and if he continues to play as he did in Atlanta, there's no reason to think that he won't be ranked there when its all said and done.
Photos and article (c) Jeff Markman, 2002
Originally published June 24, 2002
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