Southern Invitational: Friday Notes

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – There weren't a whole lot of Tar Heel targets to see Friday night at the Southern Invitational, but the one on display, sophomore Kevin Durant, was pretty impressive. News and notes to follow.

Kevin Durant, 6-9 SOPH WF/BF, D.C. Blue Devils: The aforementioned Durant showcased his versatile skill set against an overmatched Magic Hoops-Gold squad to the tune of 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in time limited by the lopsided score. The lithe 6-9 forward showed a very nice handle for someone his size and some impressive ball skills, including a step-back 18' jump shot and a penchant for driving to the hoop and finishing with sweet floaters. His long arms and bouncy legs hold the potential for becoming a dangerous shot blocker and generally disruptive defensive force. He still needs strength and weight, but even at well under 200 lbs., Durant is an impressive talent and a player to watch and belongs among the top prospects in the Class of 2006.

Tywon Lawson, 6-1 SOPH PG, D.C. Blue Devils: Another impressive sophomore on the Devils squad, Lawson is a strong, well-built lead guard with quickness to spare and tremendous speed in the open court. He's a tough finisher in traffic, absorbing contact well in the lane. Lawson, who has expressed interest in North Carolina in the past, also showed a capable outside shot, making two of his four attempts from outside the arc. Most impressive was a short stretch in the early second half where he took the game over, racking up seven points and an assist in just over two minutes. All told, he had 18 points (7-10 FG), four assists, 3 steals. We're looking forward to seeing him again tomorrow.

Eric Price, 6-1 JR PG, D.C. Blue Devils: As good as Durant and Lawson were, it was Price who set the tone for the Devils in their 30-point victory. Price has truly elevated his game over the past few months, making a strong case for his inclusion among the top tier of point guards in the rising senior class. His explosive first step and slick handle allow him to get in the lane at will, and he finds open teammates with accurate passes and a flair for the unexpected. He also has upgraded his athleticism, as evidenced by a completely ridiculous baseline drive and reverse lay-up finish. He did take a few ill-advised shots in the second half, but his team had a huge lead and he played impressive on-the-ball defense throughout the game, making his mistakes forgivable. In fact, the entire squad's defensive effort was laudable, especially given the fact that the game was a blowout almost from the onset. Per his recruitment, Price said that Michigan State and Florida led Kansas and Illinois at this juncture.

Jeff Allen, 6-7 SOPH BF/C, D.C. Warriors: He probably won't ever make it onto the UNC radar, but Allen was a nice surprise against East Coast-Black. He's got pretty good hands and an athletic frame that could hold a fair amount of muscle, and he showed as much hustle as anyone else did all evening. He runs the floor extremely well, and was active on both ends. He also made a few nifty passes (including a sweet no-look), and we loved his 8' hook shot. He finished with 10 points and 14 boards.

Jose Garcia, 6-4 JR WF, Lynchburg Hoops: He once garnered ACC-level interest, but Garcia's rep is taking a huge hit. He wasn't able to create shots for himself against a weak team, and he never managed to break his man down off the dribble. He also looks to have lost some of his bounce and even appeared a step slow. Here's hoping the multi-lingual import gets back on track, though he still finished with 10 points, four assists, and three rebounds in a losing effort.

A final note: We don't think there's a more entertaining match-up waiting to happen than slim D.C. Blue Devils' 7-1 C Matt Hewson and Team Texas' similarly slender 7-0 C Bamba Fall. Team Texas isn't in Charlottesville, but here's hoping the Nike powers-that-be make it happen later this summer.

On the schedule for tomorrow: Brandon Costner, Ryan Ayers, Marcus Ginyard, Stefan Walsh, Kevin Durant, and Tywon Lawson.

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