Courting Kings

After four members of the Georgia-based Southern Kings visited Evanston last week, Purple Reign had a chance to speak to John Cross, the co-director of the Southern Kings program and head coach of the 16U team. In an exclusive interview, see what Cross had to say about his players and their nationwide recruitment.

With the unofficial visits of Henry Brooks, Julian Royal, Shannon Scott, and Dai-Jon Parker, it is clear the Northwestern basketball program is making the 2011 class and out-of-state targets a major priority. All four players are highly touted nationally and come from a Southern Kings program that is one of the best in the country.

In July, the Kings won the Adidas Super 64 division for 16 year olds in Las Vegas and also played in the prestigious Nike Peach Jam. At events like these, coaches from all over the country get a chance to view the Kings play.

Henry Brooks might not have the publicity nationally of the other three, but he is on the radar of many schools including Northwestern. The Wildcats have offered, and Southern Kings co-director and 16U John Cross also mentioned Georgetown, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Iowa, Oregon State and USC as schools recruiting Henry. The 6'8 Brooks also has offers from Xavier, New Mexico and Virginia Tech.

"Henry has a tremendous mid-range jumper and plays very aggressively. He just never takes a play off," said Cross. "He's long and athletic and that gives him the ability to guard the two, three or the four. He can guard on the perimeter or guard in the post. He's automatic on his jumper from 15 feet and in and is always hustling. He never seems to get tired."

Brooks' teammate and frontcourt mate Julian Royal is currently rated No. 56 nationally according to and is regarded as the nation's 13th best power forward in the Class of 2011. Besides an offer from Northwestern, Royal told Purple Reign earlier this week that he has visited Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee and is looking to visit Florida, Auburn and Wake Forest. He is also receiving interest from Georgia Tech, Maryland, USC, Texas, UCLA, Duke, Oregon State, Cincinnati, Florida State, Kentucky and New Mexico according to Cross.

"Julian is so skilled and so fundamentally sound," said Cross. "He has great touch. He's probably the best shooter on our team. He's a great athlete with a 7'2 wingspan. He's 6'8, blocks shots, rebounds and can put the ball on the floor and drive."

In the Kings backcourt they are led by floor general Shannon Scott. Scott is currently rated as the 17th best point guard in the country in the class of 2011 according to Besides an offer from Northwestern, Shannon is getting interest from Alabama, USC, UCLA, Wake Forest, Georgia, UConn, Clemson, Florida, Kentucky and Iowa. He also has offers from Maryland, Ohio State, Florida State, Oregon State, New Mexico and Virginia Tech according to Cross.

"Shannon has a great feel for the game, probably the best on our team," said Cross. "His handles are unreal; he finishes well at the basket and has a great pull-up jumper. He can shoot three's, defends, has quick hands and is a great passer. He's very unselfish. He gets the ball to the right places."

The fourth visitor, Dai-Jon Parker, is currently regard as the 23rd best prospect in the country for the class of 2011 while being the 6th best shooting guard. To go along with a Northwestern offer, Dai-Jon is receiving interest from Kansas, North Carolina, UConn, Kentucky and Alabama. He also has offers from Virginia Tech, Maryland, Texas, Penn State and USC.

"Dai-Jon is a shooter and a great defender. He reminds me a lot of Ben Gordon," said Cross. "He's an undersized two-guard who is a natural scorer. He's athletic and goes strong to the basket."

While the four Southern Kings prospects visited Evanston together, they are taking more of the individual approach on the rest of their visits this month, according to Cross.

In terms of a time frame on a commitment, Cross said that they could commit by the end of their junior season, but will be ready when they are comfortable with a school. He also mentioned that playing together in college could be a very real possibility.

"I think that could definitely happen," said Cross, "They've been playing together since they were 11 years old and have been playing AAU and high school ball on the same teams. College is something they could do together as well."

While most colleges are keying in on Brooks, Royal, Scott and Parker, Cross was also quick to mention another one of his other players, Alige Key.

"Key is definitely the x-factor on our team," explained Cross. "He's 6'4 and can handle the ball. He's our second ball handler when Shannon is not on the floor. He is so versatile that he can defend one through four and he creates a lot of matchup problems. He goes really strong to the hoop. He's underrated nationally but was the 4A sophomore of the year in the state of Georgia."

Key is getting interest from Northwestern as well as USC, Auburn, Xavier, Georgia, VCU, Oregon State, George Mason, Davidson, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech.

For the latest on Northwestern Wildcat basketball, stayed tuned to Purple Reign.

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