GSK: Uchebo, Word of God Bounce Back

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Word of God Christian Academy wasn't expected to be playing in the 4:00 game on day three of the 2010 GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational. But after an opening round loss the Holy Rams found themselves competing for a chance to just play on the final day of the event.

Word of God faced Norfolk (VA) I.C. Norcom in the opening round and led by 20 points at halftime, but they scored only 18 second-half points which allowed Norcom to fight back into the game. The teams eventually went into overtime where Norcom pulled out the 64-62 victory.

NC State signee Joseph Uchebo tallied 13 points and 16 rebounds in the loss, but he missed a layup with six seconds left that could have sent the game to a second overtime.

Uchebo and Word of God's next matchup came against the Kiski School (PA) who was playing with a lineup expected to feature seven-foot brother Sim and Tanveer Bhullar who left the school prior to the event.

Both teams were facing elimination and to their credit they played with the intensity needed to win.

Word of God jumped out to an early 18-12 lead at the end of the first quarter behind strong efforts from Uchebo and 2012 NC State target T.J. Warren. A 6-foot-7 wing, Warren had his midrange game working and hit a couple of nice pull-up jumpers while Uchebo once again controlled the glass.

However, Kiski took the lead at halftime by attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line. The Cougars led 25-24 at the break, but Warren (9 points) and Uchebo (8 points, 8 rebounds) paced the Holy Rams.

Corey Sanford and Casey Carroll kept Kiski out front heading into the fourth quarter, and it looked like Word of God, one of the favorites to win the event, wouldn't even make it to the final day.

That wouldn't be the case because another talented 2012 prospect with a Wolfpack offer made his presence felt: Torian Graham. The explosive shooting guard slashed in for slams and knocked down jumpers in the fourth quarter, leading a WOG comeback that gave the Holy Rams a 57-48 victory.

Warren finished with 18 points and Graham tallied 17, and many of those came in the final eight minutes. Uchebo recorded another double-double, as the 6-foot-10 center totaled 14 points, 12 rebounds, and six blocks.

Next up for Word of God is a 2:20 matchup today against Brandon (MS) High School and Georgetown signee Tyler Adams.

Player Observations
C Joseph Uchebo: The Wolfpack signee appears to have slimmed down a bit and it has helped improve his athleticism. However, Uchebo is never going to be confused for an elite athlete, but that doesn't matter much because each time out he's extremely productive in the areas you need him to be.

He is an above-average post defender and has to be considered one of the top rebounding big men in his class. He has the knack for making plays around the basket and play with some savvy and skill in the post. Uchebo has a chance to come in and help NC State's frontcourt right away.

SF T.J. Warren: Warren played the best we've seen him in this game. Extremely efficient, he isn't an explosive athlete but has a strong body for a wing and uses it to create space for pull-up jumpers an crafty finishes around the basket.

Warren's effectiveness played a major role in WOG's win... look forward to seeing him again.

SG Torian Graham: Liked him a lot and feel he has big-time tools. His ceiling is higher than Uchebo and Warren due to his elite athleticism, and he definitely knows how to use it.

Graham floats around the floor looking to stroke deep 3-pointers or knockdown mid-range jumpers. He has terrific elevation on his shot and a nice release, but would like to see him have better shot selection at times.

He's at his best in transition or an uptempo system where he can use his physical tools in transition. As a 2012 wing he has all the tools to play on the highest level of college basketball.


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