<i>Inside Carolina</i>'s Clint Jackson evaluates many of the top players at the Boo Williams Invitational this weekend.
The hype may be a bit premature on Greg Paulus, but the kid has a lot going for him. He made a high percentage of his long range jumpers on Friday night (13 points, 3-5 3pt) and showed the capacity to create very well for the rest of the team (3 assists), and on occasions – himself. He has a great feel for the point guard position and understands spacing very well. He's got good – but not spectacular – speed and plays defense with as much effort as his offense. He's 6-1, 177 and has a good looking frame for a sophomore. Duke and Notre Dame were the first schools to roll off his tongue, followed by UNC, Syracuse and Xavier – "I feel like a Big East/ACC kid, but I like Xavier, too." Is there a leader? "There definitely is, but I'd rather not say." The mention of Duke brought the biggest smile to his face, but he was later spotted wearing a Notre Dame sweatshirt, so speculate what you will.
While Brian Johnson had his usual solid, but quiet performance Saturday morning, Marcus Ginyard was terrific. Simply put, this was the best we've ever seen Ginyard play. His 17 points (6-8 fg, 1-2 3pt), 3 assists and 3 steals were VERY impressive. It's been clear for two years that this Class of 2005 guard is going to be great, but we were excited to see the potential translate into significant stat production. He asserted himself, attacked the rim, created for his DC Blue Devil team and played tough defense. On a team with about seven high Div. I prospects, it's easy for many of the talented players on this team to fade into the background, but it was great to see Ginyard step forward and shine. On Saturday afternoon, in an easy win, he had 13 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
Ra'Sean Dickey was a man on a mission Friday night. He played insanely well. I feel that he certainly won his head-to-head matchup with D.J. White and used his girth to pound the thinner White underneath the hoop on a few occasions. He crashed the boards, boxed out and showed a nice jump-hook. Props to Dickey for a great game against a very talented Alabama Lasers squad – 21 points (8-13 fg, 5-7 ft), 7 boards, 2 blocks and 4 steals. He led his team to victory and if he plays like this for the entire weekend – his stock will certainly rise. (Postscript – On Saturday, he posted 19 points – 7-11 fg, 7-19 ft – and 8 boards)
Some folks will look at D.J. White's numbers this weekend (5 points, 3 boards Friday night) and think that he isn't as good as advertised. Those folks are wrong. Dead wrong. White is a future pro and that's not up for debate. His perimeter skills and inside skills combined might make him the most versatile player in the country in his class. He's got extremely quick feet, a fantastic handle and a pull-up jump shot that looks beautiful. White's skills at 6-9 are fabulous. Quick crossovers, change of directions, pull-up jumpers off the bounce, with oodles of elevation and a high release. He's a pro.
I always have been and always will be a fan of Jason Horton. He's so solid with the ball in his hands and remains a true point guard. He's quick, he thinks pass first but can straight out stroke the three-ball from the top of the key. The kid can read and exploit a defense like the Coalition Forces in Iraq.
Richard Hendrix is an anchor. Big, thick 2005 prospect who's just a strong ox. Dickey bounced off of him a few times in the paint. He's a great rebounder and can't be pushed out of the blocks by anyone. ANYONE! He had 8 points, 7 boards and 3 blocks Friday night.
Aside from my article on Louis Williams, his teammates had some talent as well. I loved Rashad Chase, a 2005 PF. At 6-8 and 225 pounds, he has a Brandon Bass-like physique and game. He's real aggressive and can do some things off the dribble or posting up. His strength and workhorse mentality on the inside are admirable qualities. And guess what? This stud is only 15.
Mike Mercer, a legit 6-3 pointman from this team was solid as well. He's a good athlete who sees the floor well and can flush it on the break. Georgia sources consider Mercer and Williams the best guard tandem in the entire state for South Gwinnett High School. I find it hard to disagree with that assessment after seeing the chemistry that they have with one another.
The Illinois Warriors have two high major kids on their roster as well. D'Aaron Williams is the best prospect on the squad at 6-5. Williams had a dunk on Ra'Sean Dickey's head that brought the crowd to its feet. He rose up and thunder-dunked it directly over Dickey during an afternoon matchup that left the South Carolina big man on the floor in disbelief. Williams has that special fire inside of him .... He attacks the basket, he shoots it well and his assertive nature are all big time. Count me in as a big fan. The other stud prospect for the Warriors was Eric Vierniesel. A 6-7 junior combo forward from Jacobs High in Algonquin, Ill. – he was terrific this weekend. He had a beautiful jumpshot and the ability to create it off the dribble. He's got a great basketball body and was very energetic out on the hardwood. He's got a nice handle. He defends well. He runs the floor. He can defend the post and rebound. This kid is a winner and he'll play at the high major level, no doubt.
Got to catch some of Rob Kurz as well. He still has many of the same qualities as former Duke All-American Michael Dunleavy. He's 6-8, savvy, he has a good handle and his shot is a nice high-release with plenty of backspin. He didn't play his best game Friday, but anyone can see how talented this kid is. 210 – up 20 pounds. Notre Dame, Indiana, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Syracuse, UConn, UNC, Villanova.