UNC Recruits Shine At Hoopfest

BENTON, Ky. -- Over the weekend, a handful of high school players who are of interest to North Carolina fans were on hand at the Marshall County Hoopfest in Benton, KY. Kevin Durant and Tywon Lawson from the class of 2006 were in town playing a pair of games for Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill while future Heel Tyler Hansbrough did his thing for Poplar Bluff (Mo.) High as well.

It is fair to say that all three were able to show why they are so highly thought of, and North Carolina head coach Roy Williams had to have liked a lot of what he saw on Saturday.

Tyler Hansbrough - You probably wouldn't be able to get Tyler to come right out and admit it publicly, but Carolina fans can be sure that there was a part of him that wanted to come out and really abuse Jason Bennett. Bennett is a class of 2006 kid from Jacksonville (Fla.) Arlington Country Day who stands 7-2 and generated some hype at an early age.

Hansbrough is the kind of kid who wants to go out there and beat his man into submission, and he wants to earn your respect. Add to that Hansbrough had to sit out last year's Hoopfest with an ankle injury so he was perhaps even more intense than usual in the Bluff's tough 65-56 setback to ACD.

His numbers -- 35 points and 11 rebounds -- certainly speak for themselves but he also looks improved and even more motivated. He used several jump hooks, spins, fakes and plenty of well placed elbows and contact to completely wear out Bennett. To Bennett's credit he hung in there and blocked a few shots, but Hansbrough proved that he can still light up much bigger opponents. His face-up game needs some refinement still, but his power game is so good that he'll be productive regardless.

Here's what makes him such a great prospect and what the real difference between him and some other players is. After he lost, you knew that he wanted to get right back out on the court and didn't care about the numbers he'd put up. Off the court he's a good kid and he was surrounded by people, young and old, after the game for good reason.

Kevin Durant - Durant is quickly becoming one of the more talked about players in the country. He's always been able to dazzle people at times because of his ability to run the court and shoot at 6-9.

Yes, he is on the slender side and needs to exert his will a little more often but there are far more strengths than weaknesses in his game. On Friday night he went out and scored 23 points and grabbed around 10 boards and almost seemed to make it look pedestrian. Maybe some of how well he played was lost in the eruption of Mount Monta (51 points for Monta Ellis against Oak Hill), but Durant certainly tantalizes.

He looked confident in stepping out and hitting three point jumpers. He is light on his feet, has soft hands and also showed the ability to be a very dangerous passer. At times he didn't focus on rebounding quite as much as he could, but Durant said afterwards that rebounding is his favorite part of the game.

On Saturday night he struggled at times with Julian Wright in Oak Hill's 68-67 loss, but even on a night when he struggled he was able to get 12 points and 10 rebounds with limited touches. He's still growing and has to get more consistent but his style of game is somewhere between that of Rashard Lewis and Kevin Garnett when he's on.

According to Durant he likes Georgia Tech, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, UConn and Wake Forest. Durant also acknowledged that he spent a lot of time watching North Carolina vs. Kentucky, won't name a leader, and for the moment is doing his best to dodge any NBA speculation.

Tywon Lawson - Just like his teammate with the D.C. Blue Devils (Durant), Lawson transferred to Oak Hill in hopes of adding strength and improving his overall game. So far the results look pretty good as Lawson was very good during his two outings in Kentucky when he went for 23 and 21.

First of all, he's gone through some changes physically. He's grown a little and could be a true six-feet tall now (was about 5-10 during the summer) and he has added a pretty significant amount of muscle mass. Lawson looks like a tailback but didn't lose any of his trademark speed despite adding a noticeable amount of muscle.

Right now he is still a guy who is a bit more comfortable getting his offense first, and then setting up his teammates. He's an accurate three-point shooter who is also quick off the dribble and has a nice arsenal of floating jumpers and slick finishes around the hoop at his disposal. In the open court he's very athletic and the biggest thing for him to improve in his scoring package is the form on his jumper. He shoots with a little bit of a low, shoulder releasing, jumper that he'll have to speed up for the next level.

On a team as talented as Oak Hill, Lawson will be well served to set up his teammates a little more because he is a talented passer and he certainly has the players around him to finish. Also, as he matures he'll need to give more effort on the defensive end where he is already solid, but has the ability to be terrific thanks to his quickness.

It is probably fair to say that he is one the top three PG's in the country (along with D.J. Augustin and Mike Conley, Jr.) and the battle for his services is likely to be pretty intense because the class of 2006 is very thin on quality PG's.

Maryland was thought behind-the-scenes to be the leader, but after they took a point guard this fall, right now Lawson says Wake Forest and Georgia Tech have emerged of late.


Inside Carolina Top Stories