Talent abounded at the T.O.C.
Events like the Tournament of Champions are loaded with hundreds of teams from across the nation boasting exceptional talent. With limited time, it's impossible to see every team and player first hand. However, from Friday night at 6:30 until 10:30 Saturday night we saw over 30 games and watched literally hundreds of the nation's best high school basketball players.
One fact is quite apparent after seeing that many games and players. The class of 2004 is extremely deep and talented. While most fans like yourself are familiar with the top names..Livingston, Telfair, Howard and Tangara, I thought I'd introduce some of the other top players that are not yet house hold names.
Hope you enjoy reading about these players as much as I enjoyed watching them this weekend!!!
Class of 2003
Sylvester Mayes Hardy's Blessed INJ teammate, Mayes is a 6'1 combo guard with good athleticism and size. Mayes has a scorers mentality and isn't afraid to let it fly. While he didn't have his best shooting night when we saw him, Mayes is clearly one of the better guards in the midwest in class of 2003. Academics will force Mayes to the junior college ranks next year.
Class of 2004
James Hardy 6'6 guard has plenty of size and ability. Hardy hails from Fort Wayne, IN and he's got one of the better strokes in the class. Saturday evening in the Deam Dome, Hardy got hot and drained threes from all over the court. He's one of the better players in Indiana and likely will find a home in the Big 10.
Ron Steele Steele is a 6'1 point from Birmingham who took it right to the Derek Smith All Stars Rajon Rondo and Chris Lofton Friday night at Duke. Steele has the strength and quickness to explode by his defender and create in traffic and also can bury the jumper if left open. Steele recently committed to Alabama.
Devon Hardin 6'9 forward for Belmont Shore (CA) was impressive Friday night at Cameron. He's quick off his feet, extremely athletic and an excellent shot blocker. Blocked three shots in the second half of the game we saw and had a few putbacks on the offensive end. Hardin recently committed to California.
Taureen Green 5'10 guard can really shoot the ball. Knocked in three triples against Fort Sooy Friday night and continued to shoot well Saturday against LA sports academy. He has good quickness and solid point guard skills though he's really a two guard in a point guard's body.
Justin Cerasoli Shaun Livingston's runningmate is a solid player in his own right. At 6'5, Cerasoli often runs the point and handles the majority of the ball handling responsibilities for Fort Sooy. He has excellent ball handling skills and is a solid all around player. He's going to make some college coach very happy.
Jermaine Bell Rail thin, athletic 7'0 footer from Rochester, NY. Teamed with Telfair and did considerable damage Saturday night against the North Carolina Gater frontcourt of Cedric Simmons and James Mays. Runs the floor like a deer, dunks offensive putbacks and alters and blocks plenty of shots on defense. He needs strength and weight to be real scary.
David Gomez 6'8 225 PF teams with Glen "Big Baby" Davis for Louisiana Sports Academy. Resembles Kendall Dartez in terms of looks and style of play. He's extremely athletic and active and has solid skills. Played well Saturday against the Florida Hoopsters in the Dean Dome.
Roy Bright 6'6 forward from Mount Zion Academy played well for the Michigan Hurricanes this weekend. This guy has all the ability in the world and does many things well on the court. Had a terrific second half performance against DeMarcus Nelson and Belmont Shore Saturday night leading the Hurricanes to a big win to close out pool play. Took over offensively with his jumper and hurt Belmont in transition with his ability to finish and find the open man. Hits the boards, leads the break and has big time scoring ability. Bright is receiving interest from the Cards but must improve academically to get big time offers.
Churchill Odia 6'6 guard compliments Bright well for the Hurricanes. This kid is an athlete deluxe and has scary upside and potential. He's terrific in the open court and has great vision and passing ability. Odia really pushes the tempo on the break and could develop into one of these big, athletic point guards down the line. Big time prospect with outstanding ability.
Alex Galindo 6'8 guard/forward for the Playaz. Think poor man's Francisco Garcia. He's long on the wing and his versatility is his biggest strength. Plays hard and gets after it on the press. Solid all around skill package.
Sean Singletary 5'11 point guard for the Playaz is quick and has the ability to get in the lane and make good things happen.
Cedric Jackson 6'1 natural shooting guard is a bit undersized for the position but is a terrific athlete and possesses a nice looking stroke. He's very active in the press for the Playaz and his defense forcing turnovers Friday night keyed a second half comeback victory over a good shooting Middlesex (MA). Jackson has interest in Louisville and several Big East level schools.
David Burgess 6'10 forward has good size and is solid rebounding around the basket. Had a quite game Saturday offensively in a blowout loss to Schaumberg (IL). Doesn't appear suited for an uptempo style of play, lacking the quickness and athleticism to keep up on the break. Footwork needs considerable improvement. Burgess lists Louisville and UCLA at the top of his list and his father has keen interest in Coach Pitino and the Cardinal basketball program.
Class of 2005
Deandre Miranda 6'7 forward has good size and athletic ability. Livingston's high school and AAU teammate, Miranda is active on the boards, runs the floor well and is a good interior passer. Showed solid skills on offense, draining a jumper from the elbow and converting a short jumper off the glass off a pick n roll.
Tyler Smith 6'6 forward has big time athleticism. Runs the court exceptionally well and excels in transition. Smith ranks as one of the top forwards in the junior class.
Joey Cameron 6'9 center is athletic and plays above the rim. Cameron likes to mix it up in the paint and excels as a rebounder in traffic. Big time rising junior.
David Weaver 6'9 center from Black Mountain, NC played down in class but showed the ability to run the court and finished several breaks with thunderous dunks. Played in the 15-Under division and won't turn 16 until next October. Blocked several shots and snagged quite a few rebounds. He could develop into a very good player down the road. Comes from the same high school as former North Carolina standout Brad Daugherty.
Class of 2006
Kevin Durant Another teammate of Nolan Smith. 6'7 forward attends National Christian Academy in Ft. Washington, MD. Durant has excellent athletic ability and is active around the basket. He blocked shots in the paint, pulled down tough rebounds in traffic and threw down a couple of thunderous dunks.
Stoney Polite 5'10 point guard for Team Heat pushed the ball up court and forced tempo against D.C. Assault. Showed he could get in the lane and knocked down a sweet turn around jumper in the lane. Good looking prospect in the backcourt.
Class of 2007
Nolan Smith 6'2 guard is the son of former UofL great Derek Smith. Has a great looking stroke and can create his own shot. Has long arms and big feet suggesting he could grow to 6'6+. Great looking prospect with loads of skill and ability. He's a fierce competitor on the court and a player Cardinal fans will follow the next few years. Big time prospect.
Taylor King 6'6 8th grader saw considerable time for the Southern California All Stars 17-Under squad, which should indicate what kind of player this kid is. Scored 16 points Friday night and showed an outstanding looking stroke Saturday afternoon. Despite playing against players three years his elder, King didn't back down against the older players and really got after it on the court. According to his father, doctors think he'll be 6'9 or 6'10 before he's finished growing and if that happens we're talking about one of the top white big men in the nation.
Mike Beasley 6'7 teammate of Nolan Smith will attend Laurinburg (NC) Academy next year. Beasley wears a size 20 shoe and looks like he'll reach 6'10 or 6'11 before he's finished growing. Beasley showed promising perimeter skills, knocking down two threes from the corner and rebounded the ball well in the paint. Has the potential to be an excellent player in the future.