TOC: Pack Targets in Action

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Here's a look at how several NC State targets peformed on the second day of the Gibbons Tourney.

CP3 All-Stars 2G/SF C.J. Williams: Williams played sparingly for CP3 All-Stars, who had a blowout victory over the United Celtics. Williams finished with nine points on 2-of-2 shooting from the floor and 4-of-4 free throws. He was fouled on a 3-pointer in t he first half, and knocked down all three from the line. He had a nifty reverse layup in the second half, and late in the game he drilled a 3-pointer while getting fouled. His successful free throw attempt ended the game early for CP3.

Williams has a really smooth game. He never tries to do too much, and he is always under control. He has deceptive athleticism and is comfortable attacking the basket on both ends of the floor. He actually looked really good considering he hasn't played competitive basketball in seven weeks after injuring his back two months ago.

With Williams, Earnest Ross, Justin Johnson, C.J. Harris, and a few other talented in-state players, CP3 looks to be a force in the tourney. Also, Miami signee Julian Gamble is suiting up for the Winston-Salem based team, adding a presence in the paint.

Atlanta Celtics PF Derrick Favors: WOW! Favors has been the most impressive player we've seen thus far, and it isn't really close. This morning, he reportedly posted a 24-point, 17-rebound, 13-block performance (unofficially) effort and he followed that with a 15-point, six-rebound, four-block outing against a pesky squad based out of Philly.

At 6-foot-9, Favors has great hands around the basket, snatches every rebound at its highest point, and has a knack for blocking shots and keeping them on the floor. He's athletic and strong in the paint... an intimidator. If there are five better prospects than him in the 2009 class, then that class is REALLY loaded.

His strong play helped the Celtics advance out of pool play, and currently he claims no leader as he is open to "everyone." This is going to be one of those elite recruitments, as Favors is the total package.

Atlanta Celtics 2G/SF Noel Johnson: Johnson might play in the huge shadow of Favors, but he is also an elite prospect in the 2009 class. Looking all of 6-foot-7 (maybe taller), Johnson has a sweet stroke and plays much more under control than other players his size at his age playing on the perimeter.

Unoffically he finished with 15 points in the game we watched, with just four shot attempts. He knocked down 1-of-2 3-pointers and was 10-of-10 from the free throw line.

Like Favors, Johnson maintains that his recruitment is just now taking off and he has no favorites. Expect high-major programs to be all over this smooth wing.

Lamar Odom All-Stars G Jordan Hamilton: One of the most highly regarded players attending the event, Hamilton is a big-time talent. A five-star prospect in the 2009 class, the California native is already Team Odom's go-to player. "We can run our offense through him," said his head coach.

Hamilton had 21 points against the Birmingham Raptors, as the 6-foot-8 combo guard worked exclusively at point guard. Lanky with a smooth mid-range game, Hamilton plays under control on offense but, as with a lot of young players, he lacks the intensity on the defensive end of the floor. He has a strong handle, quick release on his jumper, and plenty of range. Now he just needs to maintain his focus and start taking over basketball games.

On the recruiting front, Hamilton stated that he will take unofficial visits to North Carolina and NC State, and the Wolfpack have already offered. NC State appears to be in great shape, and the main reason is head coach Sidney Lowe and his NBA connections. We will have much more on Hamilton later this week.

D-One Sports (16-U) F C.J. Leslie: Leslie was once again active and productive for D-One, who bounced back from an opening-night loss to defeat West Virginia Swoosh in an early Saturday morning game at Cary Academy.

With long arms and good agility, Leslie banged the boards and finished around the rim. The 2010 prospect is stil realizing his potential, but it is obvious to everyone that the talent is there. "That Leslie kid can play," said one parent watching the game. "He's the best big man they've got, but I guess the coaches don't realize that." A newcomer to D-One Sports, Leslie hasn't been starting but has outplayed fellow 2010 frontcourt prospect Melvin Tabb.

Leslie, a frequent visitor at NC State games this past season, let it be known how much he likes the Wolfpack. "They just show me so much love," said Leslie. "I already feel like a part of the family."

Leslie spent his freshman season at Holly Spring (NC) High, but he might be taking his game to Raleigh (NC) Word of God Academy in 2007.

D-One Sports (16-U) G Akeem Richmond: Richmond bounced back from an absymal opener to score 13 first-half points that gave D-One an early advantage. The 6-foot guard is on pace to break JamesOn Curry's state scoring record, and according to his father, college programs are taking notice. "Akeem already has some offers," said Mr. Richmond. "We've got some camps coming up and he is just now starting to play for D-One."

Richmond has to improve his ballhandling and decision making because he is currently an undersized two-guard and he has hopes to play at the highest level. The 2009 prospect's game is geared towards putting the ball in the basket, whether it is from three-point land or on tough pull-ups in the game. Most importantly, he wants to win.

"All Akeem cares about is winning," said his father. "That's one thing he likes about his high school team so much. They lost late in the playoffs last year to Kinston, and return every player off the team. In two years, they will return four of five starters."

In-state high school basketball fans will become very familiar with Akeem Richmond and Sanford (NC) Southern Lee.

NC Gaters (16-U) F/C Xavier Nixon: At 6'6 and 260 pounds, Nixon might be a fringe mid-major basketball prospect, but the lefty has some game. He can finish around the rim and was able to get to the free throw line early and often for the 16-under North Carolina Gaters. On the downside, he was the first player we've seen get "posterized" this tournament, as Clemson commit Devon Booker banged home a wicked tomahawk jam on Nixon late in the contest.

With that being said, Nixon's future is on the gridiron where he already projects as one of the state's top three prospects in the 2009 class. The Fayetteville (NC) Jack Britt standout will secure his fair share of scholarship offers, as he has all the tools to be a dominating offensive lineman. The early buzz is that he really, really likes NC State, and he is close with NC State commit and Jack Britt teammate C.J. Williams.


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