City of Palms: Day One

Tasmin Mitchell went out and won a ballgame for Denham Springs. The all-american did his best work in the game's closing seconds at the 32nd annual City of Palms Classic.

Denham Springs 76, Mater Dei 74
Episcopal 76, Reserve Christian 62
Arlington Country Day 65, Athens 34
Niagara Falls 82, Raines 67
2005 Checklist

Tasmin Mitchell, SF/PF, Denham Springs: The all-american senior won this basketball game for his team, plain and simple. In the waning seconds, he stole a pass and then drilled the 3-pointer to tie it. On the ensuing possession, he picked up a rebound, was fouled and sank the game-winning free throws. This was a man putting in work to the tune of 35 points and 12 rebounds. Mitchell shot 73% (14-for-19) from field in the most athletic and explosive effort we've seen him have in over a year. He's one of the most competitive guys in the country and he feels the game. Give him his props: he knows how to win. However, his best move of the night was keeping a bleeding hand out of sight of the referees for an entire quarter; he just didn't want to come out of this game.

Richard Hendrix, PF, Athens: He doesn't have a whole lot of help and against a team laced with D-I prospects, well, there just weren't enough bullets in the gun. We had Hendrix with 21 points and 10 rebounds (official stats gave him just 4) but it was a tough night as he went 8-for-19 from the field and 1-for-6 from downtown. Hendrix is destined to have a Wayne Simien-like college career and that's going to be pretty impressive.

Derwin Kitchen, G, Raines: Tough day for the defending state champs as Niagara came out hot early and held on for the win. Kitchen, with his future college coach looking on, went for 24. He'll play both guard slots at UF but will need to steady his jumper and get by guys on occasion. He's a savvy player who can drive and kick with proficiency and is trustworthy with the ball.

2006 Checklist

Gerald Henderson, SG, Episcopal: He was the guy E.A. leaned on in the second half when it was time to pull away and Henderson delivered. Outstanding game from the guard spot with 22 points and 15 rebounds to go with a 7-for-9 from the line. This is a more aggressive version of Henderson than some are used to seeing and it's great to see a terrific prospect on the verge of cranking his game up another notch. He's got one of the best scoring packages and he's not done rounding out his game yet. Appears destined to play in the ACC in the fall of 2006.

Wayne Ellington, G, Episcopal: Paced his team with 28 points and really had an outstanding initial half before Henderson exerted himself in the second. The junior is a model of efficiency: 9-for-17 FG, 2-for-3 3s, 8-for-8 from the line, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 turnovers. The young man can create it with the best of them and by all accounts this was more of an average performance than a spectacular one!

DeMond Carter, PG, Reserve Christian: The future Bear had a tough shooting night going 8-for-22 from the field as he was matched against bigger, more athletic guards in Henderson and Ellington all evening long. Reserve Christian is a good team but they'll need a more efficient 24 points from "Tweety" to win games down here in Florida. Plus, Carter's too good a guard to only have a single assist.

Jason Bennett, C, ACD: Living up to the expectations that come with being a 7-foot-3 center ain't always easy. Bennett deserves a lot of credit for standing his ground inside and eventually contributing to Hendrix's flirtations behind the arc. He's taking baby steps as a prospect and that's fine because he's only 18 and he's developing. All you need to know about him was summed up in a single sequence when he ran the floor and got a block in transition. Most bigs can't change ends that easily. Throw in a foul line jumper and a jump hook over Hendrix and it was an extremely productive 8 point and 7 rebound night.

Paul Harris, CG, Niagara Falls: He's really strong at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds. This guy is a power guard who knows that his best asset is getting to the rim. Shot just one jumper on Friday and played in attack mode to the tune of 14 points and 7 assists. To take the next step as a player he'll need that mid-range jumper. Excellent drive and kick guy.

2007 Checklist

Taylor King, SF, Mater Dei: A loss is tough to swallow when your best player goes for 28 points, including 5 3-pointers. Make no mistake about it, King wore the crown for most of the second half when he had his stroke working. The kid is as skilled a shooter as you'll see in high school ball and he had it working Friday night.

News & Notes

Junior Gerald Henderson said that he'll definitely officially visit North Carolina and Wake Forest. He makes no secret of the fact that he favors the ACC. …

Florida coach Billy Donovan was in the gym watching David Huertas and Derwin Kitchen. … Juwann James has grades and is getting interest from ODU and VCU. He could do a spring AAU tour to improve his recruitment. … Niagara's Paul Harris said that right now his two schools are Pittsburgh and Syracuse. He won't be at Niagara next year as he's used up his high school eligibility. He could matriculate to either South Kent or Mount Zion. …

Florida State were in the house watching Jason Bennett. … Josue Soto of Arlington Country Day said Indiana and Florida were recruiting him the hardest at this point. …

Scout's Views

Jason Bennett showed something against Hendrix early. He dropped in a hook shot over the big fella and ran the floor to get back and record a transition block. With the size (7-3) the expectations are really high and he's always struggled to live up to the hype. However, the light goes on at different times for bigs and you must watch him with a close eye. …

Jonathan Flynn was the shooting sensation for Niagara with 22 points and it seemed like each of his 3 3's came at a huge time. … Juwann James, a mid-major power forward prospect at 6-foot-5, was effective early but ran into foul trouble. … Some of the best hands in high school basketball belong to Richard Hendrix. He catches everything and they're soft to boot. … Here's a remarkable statistic and might help sum up the whipping Athens received: as a team they were able to only muster up one assist. … Mike Gerritty was an early sparkplug kind of guy for Mater Dei. …

Mike Yocum of Episcopal is a 6-foot-7 power forward prospect in the junior class. He screams Ivy or Patriot league. Slightly mechanical, Yocum is a reliable mid-range face-up guy. … When you are sub-six-feet you better have a way to score and Soto does. He's excellent at shooting on the move, in particular the floater going to the basket. … Tasmin Mitchell is a patient player. Even on a team where he must score for them to win, he'll survey the defense and look for cutters before whipping in precision passes to teammates out of the post. …

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