Notes From the National Prep School Invitational

Friar Insider recently saw one the better collections of future Division I college basketball talent on display at the National Prep School Invitational hosted by the University of Rhode Island the weekend on February 12, 2005. The invitational consisted of three days of nearly non-stop matchups in Keaney Gymnasium in front of college coaches and a few pro scouts from around the country checking out college prospects.

There were even a few players with NBA aspirations, like Brandon Rush and Shawne Williams. While we were unable to catch every player of note, we did manage to take in the play of a number of a number of Providence recruiting targets as well as a number of other players of interest who may or may not have committed to a Division I university..

We'll begin with an evaluation of those players who have already committed to the Friars and played over the weekend:

Providence Commitments

Weyenmi Efejuku (Brewster Academy) 6-4 1/2, 205 lbs point guard
Committed to Providence

Weyenmi Efejuku is a strong, tough guard who sees the majority of his time at the point for a very talented Brewster Academy team. He does a good job penetrating into the teeth of the defense with a very quick first step and finishes well. Efejuku also makes solid decisions with the ball in his hands and appeared very composed under ball pressure. He still need to work on his perimeter shooting to become a big time point guard in the Big East. However, he is a big and tough defender at the guard spot and can also take his man off the dribble and finish at the basket. Given his size, he should also be able to help on the boards. Efejuku did not dazzle at the Invitational due to the fact that he was a hampered by an injury (possibly a bad back), but he still managed to run the Brewster team capably when playing. We expect him to be an immediate contributor next year for the Friars.

Jonathan Kale (St. Andrew's) 6'8, 245 lb power forward
Committed to Providence

Jonathan Kale again demonstrated what most Friar fans already know. He is a true power forward with the scoring ability, rebounding, and defensive presence to step right in and be an impact freshman in the Big East. While not the most high flying post player in the tournament, Kale uses his strength and anticipation to defend and rebound while usually going up against the opposing team's biggest defender employing his developed post game. Even when up against mountainous center Franklin Jones of Mt. Zion Academy (6-10 270 lbs), Kale was able to use ball fakes and spin moves to put the ball in the basket. His most impressive effort of the tournament was against Protor Academy in which he put up 23 points and was a monster on the backboards. It would appear that the Friars have the front court player they need in Jonathan Kale.

Other Providence uncommitted recruiting targets:

2006 Jerome Dyson (Proctor Academy) 6'3, 180 lb combo guard

A young man who's stock seems to keep going up, Jerome Dyson is Mr. Everything on his team. In an impressive display against St. Andrew's (Proctor lost 86-80 in OT) Dyson made jump shots, dunks, and showed an aggressive fast breaking game, all done with athletic flair. It clear why the Friars would love to have this player suit up in the black and white, however the competition will be stiff for him as programs like Georgia and Florida State were on hand to view his game as well and speak with Dyson's coach after the game.

2006 Kyle Wright (Brewster Academy) 6'5, 190 lb shooting guard

Kyle Wright is a player who has a lot of upside and high major athleticism. With quickness, a decent jump shot and explosiveness to the basket when receiving the ball on the wing he's a player with the potential of really improving over the next year. Kyle's two biggest problems are that he currently comes off the bench on a senior led and very talented Brewster squad and that he also really needs to hit the weights to get stronger. If he manages to do that, his stock on the recruiting trail will quickly grow and the high major offers will come. If his body requires more time to develop, he may be a good candidate for a redshirt or an extra prep year.

2005 Dionte Christmas (Philly Lutheran) 6'5, 180lb shooting guard/small forward

A well regarded swing player with a number of high major offers, Dionte Christmas has a reputation as big time scorer as he led the state of Pennsylvania in scoring last year. Christmas may indeed be able to light it up but that type of production really wasn't on display in Lutheran's game on Friday against Notre Dame Prep. Christmas had a somewhat quiet game in the box score but showed the versatility that he is known for. Both Villanova and Pittsburgh have extended him offers in addition to Providence and USC.

2005 Colin McIntosh (Northfield Mt. Hermon) 6'7, 195 lbs. small forward

For a player who had to transition from a post player to a small forward on the wing, Colin McIntosh has progressed nicely at Northfield Mt. Hermon. Although a wiry 6'7, McIntosh plays aggressively and is not afraid of contact at either end of the floor. He is also an above average shooter with a good jump shot. He played well at the Invitational and appeared to be the leader on his Northfield squad. He will have to continue to get stronger if he were to compete in the physical Big East, but the rest of his game seems to be getting there as other high majors like Wake Forest, Georgia, and Vanderbilt are now showing interest.

2007 Rakim Sanders (St. Andrew's) 6'4, 190 lbs (est.)

Rakim Sanders is only a sophomore but has the body some high major college freshman right now. He is an natural athlete in every regard showing explosiveness to the basket, extremely quick hands on defense, and a smooth stroke from the perimeter. In a tightly contested overtime game against Proctor, Sanders was all over the floor on defense and knocked down four big three pointers as part of a 22 pt. effort. He is already the leading scorer at St. Andrews, which includes Top 100 Providence recruit Jon Kale. Given his big upside and relative youth, it is clear that if Rakim Sanders stays on track in the classroom, he is one local prospect who is a must get for the Friar program.

Odds and Ends

There were a number of players who were either once Providence recruiting targets or otherwise caught our eye. Here are a few comments and observations on them:

2005 Jeff Adrien (Brewster Academy) 6' 6, 220 lbs power forward
Committed to Connecticut

Many Uconn fans are hoping Jeff Adrien is the second coming of Kevin Freeman and he may very well be with a strong body and a relentless work ethic around the basket. The challenge for Adrien as with all undersized power forwards will be to get his shot off against the big men that roam the Big East paint. He showed his scoring skills and ability to power his way for baskets in traffic at the Invitational but did not shoot much outside of the paint. He may have been hampered by a heavily wrapped hand. He is a solid defender and is quick enough to some small forwards. Another solid pickup for Jim Calhoun.

2005 Chad Millard (Brewster Academy) 6'8 195 lbs small forward
Committed to Louisville

Chad Millard may be the shooter that Rick Pitino is looking for but it remains unclear how more much more Millard will provide the Cardinals next year. He is primarily a perimeter player who lacks the strength, quickness, and handle to be a slashing swing player. Millard will thrive on a talented team where he can play the role of sharp shooter. However, he did not demonstrate the kind of physical play that is so often required to succeed in the Big East. If he gets stronger, he could help on the boards because he does have good size.

Diamonds in the rough... From The Winchendon School... Lorenzo Keeler and Ollie Harrison Jr. Keeler is tough combo guard and natural floor leader who does a little bit of everything. He's quick, possesses a good jump shot, and pushes the ball up the court showing good passing ability. His game is reminiscent of some of the quietly effective guards that Al Skinner has recruited in recent years to Boston College. Ollie Harrison Jr. is two guard and another good athlete who runs the floor well, grabs rebounds, and is a very good three point shooter. He's got good size for a shooting guard and may grow into the three spot in time. Watch his stock rise in the coming year.

From Redemption Christian Academy... Philip Bofia is 6'6 senior player who should be getting more attention. He is very strong as a 3/4, has a very quick first step, can hit the mid range jumper, and also can play with his back to the basket. He rebounds the ball well and often guards players much bigger than himself. I would describe him as a player who is very efficient - he understands how to move on the floor and there is very little wasted motion when he gets the ball. He is not an undersized power forward and can run the floor well. Provided his academics are in order, he is a high major talent that is clearly under the radar.

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