Mississippi AAU State Basketball Tournament Info.

Some of the top freshmen and sophomores from the state of Mississippi (and a few from Louisiana) were playing in Jackson, Mississippi this past weekend at the 14U and 16U State AAU Championships. Included is a first-hand report from the event.

Before I get into the AAU Mississippi 14U and 16U state championship tournament information, there is a rumor that I would like to talk about, the Kenneth Cooper rumor. As some of you know, there has been a rumor floating around that Monroe, La. basketball player Kenneth Cooper may be trying to get out of his NLI with Oklahoma State and sign with Mississippi State. While at the tournament, I ran into Kenneth. He played with the Jackson Panthers last season and was at the tournament watching them play. I asked him about the rumor and he said it wasn't true. He said he signed with OSU and that is where he will be playing. So, we can finally put that rumor to bed. Now, to tournament news.

The Jackson Panthers won the 16 and under championship, while the Oxford Running Rebels won the 14 and under.

Ole Miss head basketball coach Rod Barnes was in attendance for the Oxford Running Rebels games. His son plays for the 14U Oxford team.

One of the top players at the tournament was freshman Romero Osby (6-7, 210) of Northeast Lauderdale HS in Meridian. Osby plays for both the Jackson Tigers' 16U and 15U teams. During the game for third place in the tournament, Osby turned it on in the 4th quarter and helped his team defeat the Columbus Titans. As for who is showing him attention on the recruiting front, he has received questionnaires from North Carolina, Cincinnati, LSU, Houston, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama, Florida State, Murray State and Oregon. Auburn SMU and Georgia Tech have inquired via the phone and conversations with his coach at the Next Level Tourney. Alabama and Mississippi State visited his school during the spring recruiting period. According to Osby, his top teams are, "Wake Forest, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Kansas, Mississippi State, Duke and Georgia Tech."

Osby's Jackson Tigers teammate, 6-9, 212-pound freshman center Jacolby Pittman (Terry HS) showed loads of untapped potential during the tournament. He has received questionnaires from Mississippi State, Oregon, Tennessee, Florida State and Virginia Tech. Pittman told me his top teams are, "Mississippi State, Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina and Duke."

Several sophomores stood out. Of the guards, the Jackson Panthers Biko Paris (6-2, 205, John Curtis HS in New Orleans) looked the best. Paris showed tremendous one on one skills and almost scored at will during the tournament. The one thing he didn't try much during the tournament was a three-point shot. Mainly, his scoring was on drives or short outside jump shots. Paris told me that his top teams are, "Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Arkansas, Louisville and LSU."

Although he didn't score a lot during the tournament, I was told by a couple of the AAU coaches at the tournament that Chris Hyche of Provine HS has tremendous untapped talent. According to one of the Jackson Tigers coaches, he is almost unstoppable in practice. Chris, who is 6-5 and 180, scored 12 points and pulled down 5 rebounds per game as a 10th grader. A Monta Ellis look-a-like in the face, Chris, who plays for the Jackson Tigers, likes, "Alabama, Mississippi State, Florida, Texas, Tennessee and Connecticut."

One of the top sophomore forwards was the Jackson Tigers' Malcolm Kirkland. Kirkland, who transferred to Madison Central HS from St. Joe's in Madison, is 6-7, 210. He has received questionnaires from, "Mississippi State, Syracuse and Ole Miss." His top five are, "Mississippi State, Syracuse, Maryland, North Carolina and Ole Miss."

Although I didn't get to talk to them, two big men at the tournament that impressed onlookers were Mitchell Hampton (So., C, 6-8) and Storm Warren (Fr., F, 6-7), both of whom plays for the Jackson Panthers. One AAU coach couldn't say enough good things about Hampton. At times, he was a dunking and rebounding machine. Both play for high schools in Monroe, La.

A player with a tremendous upside is Jackson Tigers forward Lavorius Weathers (Greenwood HS, So., 6-7.5, 220). One AAU coach at the event said he has tremendous untapped potential. As a sophomore starter for Greenwood, Weathers averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots per game. His early list of favorites includes, "Ole Miss, Duke, Illinois, DePaul, Mississippi State and Cincinnati." He has received questionnaires from, "Illinois, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Florida, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Alabama."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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