TOC: McCauley, Johnson, And Horner In Action

RALEIGH, NC -- The first night of the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions is complete and several Wolfpack targets impressed observers at Weisiger-Brown.

RALEIGH, NC -- The first night of the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions is complete and several Wolfpack targets impressed observers at Weisiger-Brown.

McCauley Struggles Against Blessed IJN Loaded Frontcourt
7 points (1-7 FG, 0-3 3FG, 5-8 FTs), 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 steal, 1 assist

NC State '05 signee Ben McCauley is playing with the Pittsburgh JOTS this weekend mainly so he can spend some time in Raleigh and play in front of Wolfpack fans. He probably didn't think his first night out would be this tough.

Ben McCauley With The Slam

Playing against a Blessed IJN squad that starts 7'0 forward Kyle Luckett and 6'11 forward Phillip Jones, McCauley was never able to get into the flow offensively. He didn't start the game for the JOTS, and after entering early in the first half he quickly picked up two fouls while defending Jones in the post.

McCauley looked to be in solid physical shape and did a good job attacking the basket, drawing contact, and getting to the free throw line. He didn't have much help in the post and was often double-teamed when he did receive entry passes therefore he spent most of the game roaming the perimeter looking to drive to the hoop.

Defensively he played well using good footwork and did a nice job of playing position defense. He has active hands and is a presence on the glass, a place he should help NC State right away.

Ben is a "system" player that should excel at NC State. He'll develop his body even more and at 6-foot-8, 230-pounds, he has the size to play the power forward and/or center positions for the Wolfpack.

He finished the night with eight points and seven rebounds, but he'll have a chance to put up better numbers tomorrow against South Jersey Select and the Jackson MBA Club.

Johnson Runs The Show
13 points (5-10 FG, 1-3 3FG, 0-1 FTs), 8 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals

There's no question as to who is the leader of Blessed IJN... it's point guard Marques Johnson, and yes he's a point guard. At 6-foot-5, Johnson is almost too unselfish at times, as he showed tonight against the Pittsubrgh JOTS.

Marques Johnson Talks With The Media

He can break his man down off the dribble and does a terrific job attacking the basket where he can finish with nifty floaters off the glass or crafty passes to his teammates.

Johnson is also a solid ballhandler in the open court, where he looks to push the ball at every opportunity and constantly apply pressure on the defense. I'd like to see him look to score even more, which is surprising given how much some analysts try to say he's not a point guard. He finished the night with eight assists, but could have easily had four or five more if his big men had finished better around the hoop.

Because he has such a great frame, Johnson can also hit the glass on both ends and defend multiple positions. He's the type of guard NC State's system covets.

Johnson is the engine that makes Blessed IJN go. Late in the game when the JOTS made their run, it was because Johnson didn't have the ball in his hands. When he did, the JOTS didn't have a player that could stay in front of him all night.

He visited NC State this past week and openly admitted that they are his current leader. He seems to have developed a strong relationship with coach Sendek and assistant Mark Phelps, and even hinted that if he takes an official visit in the near future he could make an early decision.

Regardless, I look forward to seeing him again in action tomorrow because he simply makes plays. Let's not look ahead, but a playoff matchup tomorrow night against Mike Conley, Greg Oden, and Spiece Indy Heat would be dandy!

Horner's Versatility Gives Fits
12 points (3-7 FG, 0-3 3FG, 7-10 FT), 5 blocks, 3 rebounds, 1 assist

South Jersey Select combo forward Dennis Horner was probably surprised by what he saw tonight as Jackson MBA Club, the scheduled opponent, couldn't make it leaving Select to play a game against two teams. Garner Road 16-under and Winning Ways 15-under each played a half against Select, which won the game by forefeit. Because of the nature of the contest, South Jersey Select rested the majority of its players including Horner.

Dennis Horner Takes The Jumper

A 6-foot-9, 190-pound prospect, Horner is Mr. Versatile. He can do a lot of things well and is more athletic than he has been given credit for. He's very comfortable with the ball in his hands on the perimeter, moreso than in the post, and looks to drive off the dribble and finish around the rim.

He did a great job of drawing fouls against the smaller opponents, and looked to have a solid shooting stroke, although his jumper was off for the most part.

Horner plays hard on both ends and finished the game with five blocks, surprising given his slight frame.

He'll need to add weight, but the talent is there and it's obvious why teams like NC State, West Virginia, Seton Hall and Virginia Tech have already offered scholarships. Tomorrow night's late contest against Blessed IJN should be a good one, as Horner will likely square off against the same frontcourt that neutralized McCauley.

Notables

  • Wolfpack players Cameron Bennerman and Gavin Grant were tonight's scorekeepers, and Engin Atsur was also in the seats watching the games. Levi Watkins, who recently accepted a position in the basketball office, was also in attendance.

  • The Pittsburgh JOTS 16-under have a couple of intriguing prospects in forward Herb Pope and power forward Dejuan Blair. Pope has committed to Pittsburgh but is listening to other schools and Blair, who is coming back from a knee injury, has definite interest in NC State. Both '07 prospects should be on the Wolfpack's radar. Also playing for the JOTS was Ben McCauley's younger brother, Andrew.

  • Saturday morning Reggie Redding, Julian Vaughn, Corey Fisher, and Will Walker will all be in action on NC State's campus.


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