2001 Beach Ball Classic - Player Evaluations Class of 2002
Moussa Diagne, F, Evangel Academy: Diagne doesn't get the attention that a lot of players do, but there aren't many unsigned seniors with his combination of size and athleticism. The wiry 6-8 combo forward showcased great leaping ability and quickness combined with good hands and an effective jump shot. Schools still in search of an athletic midrange scorer this year ought to make the trip down to Shreveport to see Diagne play. He had 12 points (1-1 3pt), 7 rebounds and 3 blocks when we saw him play.
Bam Harmon, PG, The Colony: Harmon was a top rated WR prospect, but chose to play hoops in college instead. The strong Rhode Island-bound senior was part of a talented Colony backcourt, and often brought the ball up court to set the table for Big 10 bound teammates Bracey Wright and Deron Williams. Overall, a very solid lead guard signee for the Rams.
Raymond Felton, PG, Latta: Felton was his amazing self, but couldn't overcome the depth of talent that Lincoln had when he matched up with Sebastian Telfair. In the loss, he had 35 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, and a block. Felton played every position on the floor for Latta at one time during the game, and his effort was evident by the look of sheer exhaustion on his face in the waning moments. He never gave up, and fought to the bitter end in the defeat. North Carolina has a future superstar in this small-town South Carolinian.
Alex Kireyev, C, Evangel Academy: The media would have you believe that Kireyev is being recruited by UNC, but I refuse to believe it based on his performance here. The seven-footer has great size, decent touch, and can move up and down the floor, but little else. Against a much smaller Scott Co team, Kireyev was completely absent on defense, and was abused by smaller players in the paint and on the baseline. He has elementary post moves, but isn't athletic (even for a big man) and can't put the ball on the floor. The physical foundation to be a solid college player is there, but certainly not in the ACC.
Kevin Pittsnogle, C, Martinsburg: The West Virginia signee has good size and shooting touch out to the perimeter, and was able to bang against a rail-thin Socastee big man (Josh Fowler), but I'm not sure he'll be able to do so against more physically imposing opponents. Down the stretch, he couldn't be the difference maker, and Socastee overcame a halftime deficit to win the first round game. Pittsnogle had 19 points and 14 rebounds in the loss.
Alex Spotts, WF, Lexington: Alex played a very different role for Lexington than he did this summer on his AAU squad, moving from a perimeter sniper to more of a post player. His outside shot wasn't falling like it was last June, but he played tough inside and gave his team a chance against a strong White Station club. He finished with 9 points and 10 rebounds. Rice University has a solid wing player in Spotts.
Melvin Wilkes, PG, White Station: The word for Wilkes is QUICK. The Memphis point guard had four steals in the first 2 minutes against Lexington, which set the tone for the rest of the game. Wilkes is a great defender, penetrator and distributor, but his scoring is lacking. Should be a great pickup for a mid- to low high-major in search of a point guard this spring.
Deron Williams, PG, The Colony: Deron Williams plays like Jason Kidd in a linebacker's body. The strong Illinois-bound point guard is the assist MAN, and should be a great compliment to Dee Brown next season. He makes great passes, sees the floor very well, and has underrated quickness as the under-control creator in The Colony's offense, netting 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists against Wilson. Capable of a lot on the next level.
Bracey Wright, SG, The Colony: Wright, like Felton, seems bound to be a future superstar. He has really improved his midrange game since I saw him last (not to say it wasn't good then), and now hits Joseph Forte-like floaters and pull up jumpers in the lane with consistency. His strength, though, is still the long range bomb, and he snaps off NBA-range three pointers with beautiful arcing consistency. Came out of the gates hot, scoring 12 of his game-high 26 points in the first three minutes against Wilson, and showed potent defense, rejecting four shots and grabbing three steals.
Class of 2003
Dane Bradshaw, PG, White Station: Bradshaw throws passes reminiscent of another player in Memphis, the Grizzlies' Jason Williams. The strongly-built guard had 4 assists, but at least 9 other opportunities that his teammates failed to convert. He's quicker than he looks, sees the floor well, and definitely likes to throw the jaw-dropping dime regularly. He also uses his size to back down smaller guards in the lane, and loves to go to a fadeaway after driving and posting up an opponent. Tennessee fans should pay attention to Bradshaw, as the Vols may be a major player in his recruitment.
Elijah Clarke, WF, Lincoln: Clarke was one of the big surprises of the tournament. The 6-6 wing forward was the difference maker against Latta as Felton and Telfair played to a draw. Clarke, who finished with 21 points (1-1 3pt), 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal, showed a fluid stroke on his jump shots, rebounded well against the smaller Latta squad, and found open teammates with strong passes. He handles the ball extremely well for his size, and also harnesses exceptional athleticism-- he is an explosive leaper. Look out for his name climbing recruiting lists across the country as time moves on. A solid top 50 prospect at worst.
Shayle Keating, PG, Seton Hall Prep: The skinny point guard ran the show for Seton Hall, and was the perfect compliment to scorers Anthony Drejaj and Jamar Nutter for the Pirates. Keating played great defense, utilizing his quick hands (4 steals), and set the table well for his teammates. A nice lead guard prospect.
Reggie Harwell, WF, Villa Angela St Joseph: Harwell was the best player on an overmatched VASJ squad. The wing forward has a nice handle to complement his 6-6 size, and even ran point at times for the Vikings. He's stronger than his skinny frame might lead one to believe, as evidenced when he picked a teammate straight up off the floor by lifting the back of his jersey. His good-looking shot wasn't falling, though, and he finished with 8 points in the loss to Seton Hall.
Nate Newell, SG, Evangel Academy: Newell is a skinny, baby faced guard that is reminiscent of Brett Nelson (in appearance. Don't let his looks fool you, though, because like Nelson, he can score in bunches, as he showed against Scott County, dropping 18 points on 3-5 shooting from downtown. Not sure where exactly he fits in to the big picture in the class of 2003, but keep an eye on him as time goes on.
Jamar Nutter, SG, Seton Hall Prep: Nutter looks like he spent the entire fall living in the weight room. The talented shooting guard has beefed up and filled out his 6-3 frame with muscle to go with the finesse of his game. Nutter could have scored at will against VASJ, but was content to play within the team in the blow out victory. He has a sweet stroke, though, and moves very well without the ball. He can get to the rack off the dribble, and anticipates well on defense. He dropped jaws in the crowd with a show-stopping around the back pass on a fast break. One of the top wing guards I've seen so far in the class of 2003.
Major Wingate, C, Wilson: Wingate has been on the national recruiting radar for a long time, as he is an immensely talented, well-built, athletic post prospect, and an adept shooter, passer, and ball handler. The story in Myrtle Beach, as always, was the question of his effort. He came out of the gates hard, keeing his overmatched squad in the game against Bracey Wright and the Colony. The offense flowed through him, and he finished the game with 5 assists to go with 10 points and 10 rebounds. However, Wingate has a reputation for cruising through games rather than dominating the way he can, and that reputation reared its head in the second half. I wasn't sure he even came out of the locker room with his team until he picked up a foul (his first, a tell-tale sign of his aggressiveness) in the waning moments of the game. Bottom line -- light a fire under Wingate and he has the potential to achieve greatness on every level.
Class of 2004
Sebastian Telfair, PG, Lincoln: I still shudder replaying moments of Telfair's performance against Latta. He is every bit as good of a guard as I have seen in high school. His 28 points, 6 assists, and 3 steals were the most impressive performance of the first two days in Myrtle Beach. The statistics don't even begin to tell the story. The lightning-quick guard is a transcendental flash as he slices up defenses, a ball-hawking human muscle twitch on defense, and a jaw-dropping playmaker as he leaves defenders in his wake with an unreal slidestep and dish to a teammate. Add to his skills his incredible intensity, vocal leadership, and the confidence enough to call out the top rated Felton in an isolation play, and you have all the makings of a future superstar -- and he's only a sophomore. Just plain scary.