Kingwood: UNC Target Evals

Last weekend, over 750 summer teams converged on Houston for the massive Kingwood Classic. Of those teams, roughly 300 of them were competing in the 17 and under division. With that many teams in attendance, there was no shortage of potential North Carolina recruiting targets on hand.

Not surprisingly, Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams and assistant Steve Robinson were in the stands for the entire weekend and were in constant motion moving from gym to gym.

Andrew Steele - Just exactly how interested North Carolina is with the younger brother of Alabama point guard Ronald Steele remains to be seen, but the 6-3 guard has been listing Carolina lately. He's a strong kid who is a load on drives to the basket from the wing. He takes pretty good care of the ball but is more of a scorer than playmaker and looks to be a little better fit for the wing. Steele's got a college ready body and a pretty good stroke out to the three-point line.

Xavier Henry - Both Williams and Robinson spent time watching the 6-6 sophomore from Oklahoma City. While the well built lefty never really went off, there's not much questioning his status as one of the premier wing prospects in the country, regardless of class. He's got range to 23 feet, gets his shot off quickly and already has a college body. Most importantly he has significantly improved his dribbling in the last year and the added threat of him attacking off the bounce has made him almost impossible to stop on the high school level. It's a three horse race between Kansas, Memphis and North Carolina.

Derrick Favors - An impressive looking 6-9 power forward, Favors is among the elite in what is a good looking crop of bigs in the class of 2009. He's fundamentally sound around the hoop, has terrific hands and explodes over defenders for big jams when he needs to. He's very comfortable scoring within eight feet and likes to use the glass with either hand to score. The mechanics on his shot look pretty good and it's a pretty safe bet he'll extend that range to at least 12 feet in the next year.

Al-Farouq Aminu - Some people will point to the 6-8 junior's inside/outside skills as the most attractive part of his game, and they wouldn't necessarily be wrong. However, what might really set Aminu apart from his peers are his glue like hands and incredible instincts on the offensive and defensive glass. He can put the ball on the floor and is a threat to make jumpers out to the three-point line, but he does need to be careful not to hunt down jumpers quite as much as he's starting too. There's a chance he could play the three down the road, but he's clearly a face up four man at this juncture.

Tyler Zeller - Zeller has been on the UNC radar for some time (having visited Chapel Hill last September) and he's starting to play like a kid deserving of looks from high level basketball programs. Standing 6-11, the thin big man moves pretty well up and down the court and is the owner of the best looking shooting stroke of any big man in the class of 2008. In desperate need of another 25 pounds of bulk, he's intriguing because he's willing to at least try and bang around and his improvement in the last nine months is quite evident.

Jordan Hamilton - A likely top 10 prospect in the class of 2009, the 6-6 wing from Los Angeles is a smooth, but powerful operator on the offensive end. A fairly accomplished ball handler given his age and size, Hamilton is an effective slasher who really likes to get to the basket. If an alley to the hoop isn't there he's an above average pull-up jump shooter and a guy who is respectable from the three-point line. He'll force some shots and could be a better defensive rebounder given his strength and athleticism, but there's not much to complain about with this youngster's game.

Elliot Williams - There are few wing players in the country as athletically explosive as the lefty high riser. A 6-4 guard from Memphis, Williams uses a quick first step and deadly crossover to get his shoulders by defenders and create driving lanes to the hoop. He didn't look to take many jumpers and misfired on the few he did shoot, but the mechanics on his stroke look workable. Just a few weeks ago he was a regional recruit, but he's exploded into a high profile national recruit and he's got the tools to be in the conversation when it comes to discussing potential McDonald's All-Americans.

Drew Gordon - While still fairly raw as an offensive player, Gordon is showing signs of improvement. He's learned to use his impressive leaping ability to his advantage on quick jump hooks and has developed a turnaround jumper to eight feet. What he really likes to do is dunk, though. Defensively he's as good a shot blocker -- whether it be straight up or from the help side -- as there is in the class of 2008. Looks like he's grown an inch or so in the last year and he's pretty close to 6-9.

Scott Suggs - The slender 6-6 wing from just west of St. Louis was up and down while we watched. He missed a bunch of jumpers Friday, but bounced back well on Saturday. He can handle the ball, has a good feel for the game and his shot is pretty to watch. What he lacks at this point is strength and therefore physical players will cause him trouble. Thinking long term, he's still a very nice looking prospect who will continue to be watched closely by some of college basketball's top programs.

John Brandenburg - A teammate of Suggs' on the St. Louis Eagles, Brandenburg is a defensive force and does a nice job on the glass. He runs the floor extremely well from North to South and makes life tough for those looking to get shots off on him around the rim. Added bulk has allowed him to bang around a bit more, but he still needs work offensively where his post moves are a bit on the mechanical side.

Shawn Williams, II - Another wing scorer from the class of 2009, Williams is a 6-6 (maybe even 6-7) shooter with unlimited range and a pretty shot. Give him any space and he'll make you pay from behind the arc and he's got easy range, and willingness to pull it, to 23 or 24 feet. A good, but not great, athlete he's filled out some across his shoulders and is just starting to add an in between game. He'll be recruited at the highest level and the Heels have shown early interest.

Jrue Holiday - Maybe the number one target for UNC in 2008, Holiday did what he does best and that's make plays. The strong 6-3 guard is a super ball handler who is equally comfortable with his right or left hand. That ball handling ability really sets him up to be a playmaker because he's continually drawing help defense after breaking his man down off the bounce. His jumper is streaky, but very respectable and he'll dunk on somebody with little warning. Clearly, he's one of the top players in his class and there's a chance he could play some point in college.

Larry Drew - In his first weekend of the spring, the 5-11 PG struggled a bit to find his game. There were some uncharacteristic turnovers, forced shots and ultimately an ankle injury that ended his weekend a little early. In all fairness, it's tough to be too critical of him given the injury and with him still shaking the rust off his game. Struggles aside, he's still among the top handful of PG's in the class of 2008.

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