Not many college coaches were in attendance in the main gym opening night but recruiting analysts were in abundance. Scout.com's Dave Telep, Eric Bossi, Greg Hicks, and Tracy Pierson were all on hand as were independents Rob Harrington, Clark Francis, and Van Coleman.
The Georgia Stars are loaded with exceptional talent. Unfortunately for them, they could not make all that talent mesh tonight and they got their heads handed to them by a less talented but disciplined Ferrari Youth Basketball team, 70-55.
One of the players that really struck me tonight was JaJuan Jones. He is a highly skilled 6-foot-5 wing player that handled the ball better than many point guards on the floor tonight. The Douglas County High School product can really lead a break, has great floor vision and can be an excellent passer in the open court. Jones drew a number of "ooh's" and "ahh's" with his pin-point no look passing. He is solid around the basket offensively and has a soft touch on his medium range jumper. If there is a chink in the armor, he lacks a killer instinct. His court demeanor is reminiscent of Tayshaun Prince (not that this is bad). Jones is going to turn some college coaches heads this weekend. He can effectively play both guard positions and small forward.
Stars Teammate Landon Milbourne is another outstanding small forward. The 6-foot7 Roswell, Georgia product is silky smooth around the basket, slipping by defenders for lay ups. He has big hops and is fast. He is already spoken for, however. Landon is headed to Maryland.
Avery Jukes is a 6-foot-8 forward from South Gwinnett. He is incredibly athletic but missed several outside shots. His style is slightly awkward looking and he appeared rushed. Other elements of his game, particularly his defense, were superb.
Avery's high school teammate, Delano Howard, also played for the Stars. The 5-foot-10 product is extremely fast and showed flashes of brilliance on the floor. But he also played out of control at times and showed a very inconsistent jumper tonight.
Gani Lawal, a 6-foot-9 PF potential target for Kentucky, plays for the Stars but was not with the team tonight. It is unknown whether he will be here for any of the tournament.
The Ferrari Youth Basketball team used their superior size to dominate the Georgia Stars on the boards. Brian Carlwell looked and played bigger than his listed 6-foot-10. He was always around the basket, quick to the ball defensively and consistently called for the ball on virtually every possession. The big guy got most of his points on put backs and probably needs to work on his footwork. He has a number of schools on his list but is essentially open.
Ferrari's other big man was Jeff Wilson from Hales Franciscan. Jeff has an NBA-caliber 6-foot-8 frame and is a superb position rebounder. He had a tough time hitting free throws and may be a touch slow of foot for a top twenty program.
One player, listed by Scout.com with a 2-star ranking is Gilbert Brown of the Delaware Sharpshooters. If the rest of Gilbert's tournament goes like tonight, he will be seeing some more stars appearing by his name soon. The 6-foot-6 South Kent, Connecticut product played several feet off the ground the whole night. He made several spectacular dunks even though the greatest crowd reaction came from one he missed. Gilbert took off about eight feet from the basket flew by a defender and came down with a thunderous dunk. Unfortunately the ball hit the back of the rim and bounced and 25 feet in the air. Brown played great defense, ran the floor well, moved very well without the ball.
Jawan Carter, the outstanding 6-foot point guard, played tonight but his performance was uneven. He opened the game by nailing a three-pointer. But subsequent long range shots clanked harmlessly off the rim. He would make several spectacular passes but then follow those passes with an unnecessary turnover. The talent is certainly there. That is unmistakable. Carter is an exceptional ball handler. He gets out on the break and blows past his defender in transition and is a strong finisher.
One bit of news that Kentucky fans will not like is that Carter failed to mention the Wildcats when asked which schools were recruiting him.
The festivities begin again at 8:00 AM Saturday morning.