UNC Prospects at Kingwood Classic

HOUSTON -- Last weekend the North Carolina coaching staff found themselves in a situation where they had to make a tough decision. With both the Kingwood Classic and the Next Level Tournament taking place on the same weekend in Houston and Dallas respectively, the Heels had to decide whom to send where considering both tournaments were loaded with Carolina targets.

On Saturday, assistant coach Joe Holladay held things down in Houston while Roy Williams scouted in Dallas. By Sunday, Williams had joined his assistant in Houston and there were plenty of prospects for them to watch. Following are some evaluations and notes on some of the players the North Carolina staff watched in Houston.

Spencer Hawes - Each time he takes the court, the 6-11 big man from Seattle (Wash.) Prep becomes a little more dominant. Last spring and summer he was a role guy playing alongside folks like Martell Webster, Jon Brockman and Micah Downs but it's clear to see that the Friends of Hoop is his team now. Hawes barked out directions, took care of working the refs for calls and dominated the interior with his play. His footwork is advanced for a young post and he's comfortable scoring with either hand, spinning in either direction or working off of either block and you just don't find many young bigs that versatile.

He's looking to dunk more often while at the same time improving his ability to step out and face the basket and he's a legitimate threat from three point range. Carolina coaches were spotted at several of his games and Inside Carolina will have more on him later today. After naming a top three earlier this month, Hawes backed down a little and indicated that all of the schools involved are on a level playing field and that his recruitment will stretch into next fall.

D.J. Augustin - More than likely Augustin is going through a bit of an adjustment period right now and he frankly struggled at times. You've got to take into consideration that his high school team played him off of the ball much of the time, people have been gunning for him for three years now and he simply doesn't have the same cast of characters -- most notably Tasmin Mitchell -- surrounding him on his New Orelans Jazz team anymore.

There were a couple of occasions where the usually confident floor general looked unsure as to whether he should score or set up his teammates. When he did set up his teammates, they all too often left easy shots on the rim costing Augustin some assists. He can still thread passes through the lane with pinpoint accuracy and looks to have added a little more bulk/strength which is important because of his 5-10 height. Word around the tournament was that his recruitment is pretty much in a dead heat between North Carolina and LSU right now. Augustin also admitted that he hadn't played much lately and that he was perhaps a bit out of shape causing him to be a half step or so slow. He is aware of the other guards that North Carolina is recruiting but said "I'm not going to let other guards being recruited influence my decision," and is in no rush.

Richard Semrau - The 6-9 BF from Ohio currently has a top three of Illinois, Florida and North Carolina and it looks like he'll be taking a visit to Illinois (possible leader) this weekend. Coach Holladay was on hand to watch him -- and his 2005 teammate Maurice Thomas -- play with Blessed IJN in a pair of games on Saturday.

After lighting up the club circuit last spring, Semrau struggled in Houston. The Blessed offense is designed to showcase guard Marques Johnson and it seemed as if Semrau was unsure of what to do once he got the ball. On a few occasions he got defenders off their feet with smart shot fakes that opened up a clear path to the lane. However, instead of attacking the basket he launched awkward jump shots. In the past he's been a workhorse on the glass but didn't make much of an impact in that regard either. For a player who has shown the ability to dominate offensively in the past it was really a rough weekend.

Kevin Love (2007) - Upon his arrival on Sunday, Roy Williams looked to be concentrating heavily on the 6-8 BF from Lake Oswego (Ore.) High. It would be hard to blame him for doing so either because Love is easily one of the most offensively advanced big men at his age in quite a while. Other than some limited athleticism and the need to lose 10-15 pounds to take some stress off of his kness, Love has zero holes in his game.

His footwork is probably the best of any big man in the country regardless of class. He shoots with a perfect stroke out to the three-point line, grabs rebounds and is an exquisite passer. On top of that Love is a hard worker who plays pretty good defense despite a lack of explosive athleticism. It's fun to watch him operate on the low blocks because he's made sure that he's going to score an easy basket two passes before the ball even gets to him and he always presents the passer with a big target and an open passing lane. Love has already made it clear that he's got plenty of early interest in North Carolina and it looks like it is being reciprocated.


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