Carolina Challenge Report

DeaconSports was on-hand on Saturday to cover the 2008 Carolina Challenge that featured North Carolina's top high school basketball talent.

The Carolina Challenge was a very good event with about 80 top North Carolina prospects from the 09, 10 and 11 classes. Players were broken up into teams and stayed with those teams throughout the day in 5 minute increments. Each team had ten players and the coaches would substitute the entire 5 for the 5 on the bench at those intervals.

Class of 2009 Players
Earnest Ross - Quite a physical specimen and plays very hard but does not handle nor shoot well. Not an ACC level recruit at this point in my opinion but has potential.

Ryan Kelly - An interesting kid who is being looked at by several big-time schools. He stands out in this class because there is a dearth of tall players in the 09 NC class. Has a nice shooting touch out to three-point range but needs to gain stregth and and is thin. DeaconSports caught Kelly play's in one game where he was not good and saw another when he played very well. He did have a flurry in one game where he scored 7 quick points, had 3 blocks and gathered 5 rebounds in a 5 minute segment. Could become a high ACC level recruit with hard work and good eating habits. Wake is involved but has not offered yet, nor is Wake in his top 7. He handles the ball very well for a 6'9-10" kid but could use more lateral quickness.

Andre Marhold - Bouncy, strong forward with a suspect shot who works hard on the boards. Mid-major prospect who could help a high mid-major as a role player or a low high-major as a starter.

John Wall - Very athletic and fast PG who shoots okay but primarily attacks the rim and scores in close. Has a VERY good handle but tends to showboat quite a bit. Said to be leaning to UK or NCSU but would jump at a UNC offer if it ever comes.

Kevin Powell - Good all around player who has a good looking stroke from three but needs work on his handles and his strength. Probably will be a high major signee.

Brandyn Curry - Very slightly built but has a nice stroke like another Curry from the Charlotte area, Stephen, does. Does not yet have the overall level of play that Stephen does but could blow up quickly like he did. Did not see him enough to make judgement on his level of recruitment.

C.J. Harris - Disappointing play when I watched him. He seems reluctant to take the open outside shot and did not make any the few times he did. Ghis future will have to be at PG but has some work to do on his passing and handles to be effective there. Would need to improve to be an ACC level player.

Julius Brooks - Very effective, workmanlike performances. Not great at any one thing but solid overall and will not hesitate to dive on the floor after loose balls. Solid high level mid-major recruit.

Mason Plumlee - Probably the top, or at least in the top two, big men at the camp. Very polished moves and good speed in running the floor. Likes to play on the perimeter too much though and tends to play smaller than he is. Needs more strength and girth but could become a very good player with time.

Akeem Richmond - Tyreke Evans without the game Evans has. Shot 11 times in a five minute period, and while he made some nice shots, he was not a team player in the game I saw him.

Class of 2010 Players:
J.T. Terrell - One of the best looking strokes at the camp. Can score from three or hit the mid-range jumper but could get better at taking it to the basket to score. Sometimes gets enamored with shooting the ball and doesn't always look to pass but has a good basketball IQ and definite skills which have two years to be refined and developed more before college. Was a very nice young man as well from our talks with him. We'll have a full interview this week but just as a hint, his top two at this point are Wake and UVa., in that order.

Jordan Downing - A pleasant surprise to me. Good shooter who also has a knack of finding the open man with good passes. Gets out of control at times but has a lot of potential and is a solidly built youngster for being a sophomore. This is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Reggie Bullock - Very unsteady performance and a bit of a let down from what I had seen from him earlier. Did not seem that involved in the games and certainly did not stand out. Probably just an aberration but disappointing nonetheless as his shot looked flat and he did not hustle the way he has in the past. We were unable to get a report. As speculation, he may have been sick as he did leave early.

Tashawn Mabry - Good looking athlete who is somewhat of a tweener. Not quite big enough for the 4 but does not yet handle well enough to play the 3. He did play hard and you could see some potential there schools will be willing to continue to monitor him because of his bouncy play and hustle. Definite high major possibility.

Brian Richardson - Solid player but it is questionable whether he could play at the ACC level and be a real contributor but he does have some skill. Looked more like a combo guard than a PG.

Jay Canty - Really did not stand out in any way and looks to be a notch below the top 2010 guys athletically.

Mychal Parker - Pleasantly surprised with his scoring ability and think he could easily develop into a high level player with some work. Had an awesome throw down on a fast break.

Jarrick Brown - Very solid PG who was a revelation to me. Maybe he just had a good day but I was impressed with his handle and his passing. His shot looks pretty smooth as well. One I will want to watch more closely in the future.

C.J. Leslie - NCSU commit who probably was the most talented big man there. Notice I did not say best player as a big man because, quite frankly, he has a leisurely approach to the game and plays hard when he feels like it. When he decides to play, he is a lights out type player who can do it inside or outside. His coach was getting on him constantly for his lack of effort and he seldom hustled back on defense but could effortlessly block shots when he did. One reason he looked so talented was the absence of many top flight big men at the event.

Reco McCarter - While he has his faults like not passing inside to the big guys and tending to showboat some, he was one of the most complete players I saw. He grabs the ball off the boards and immediately, and very quickly, heads down the court with a very slick handle. He is a very good passer and his shot looks much better than a year ago. He is an unselfish player who will battle you on defense and could easily be a shut down type defender at the next level. very athletic, with a tremendous first step but he needs to continue working on his shooting and strength. Has the potential to be a big-time player in college.

Class of 2011 Players
John Cannon - 6'10" center who is a big boy for being a freshman. While he is not as athletic as some of the other big men, he is not a slouch in that department either. Runs the floor pretty well and has a good touch in close but needs to get stronger and a little meaner. Pretty impressive and will likely get bigger and taller before his senior season. Lateral quickness may hinder him if he bulks up much but he is very young still.

P.J. Hairston - Wow! One of the best looking players at the camp regardless of class. Can shoot it, is very strong for a freshman, and has a nice handle and boy can he get up. Sweet three point shot and will fly by you to the rack if you get too close to him. He could probably play for a lot of college teams even today. Sky is the limit for this kid and he will likely be 6'6" before it is over.

Marshall Plumlee- Younger brother of Miles and Mason who is already 6'9" and has a pretty smooth game already. While he needs strength and to continue to grow into his body, he could be a very good one. Did not look overmatched matched up with Mason although Mason is clearly the better player right now

Quddus Bello - Hard to believe he is a freshman, considering how well built and strong he is already. Has a very good stroke and can sky to get rebounds. Surprisingly good ball handling from one so young and already 6'4". Very bright future.

Bishop Daniels - Okay, no way this kid can be a freshman! What an athlete and missed very few of the threes he took - and he took a bunch! Only 6'1" but had a throw down eerily similar to Jeff Teague's against State and it brought the house down! Better learn his name because if he can continue this type of play, he will be special.

The 09 class appears to be a weak one in the state but 2010 is loaded at the guard and wings. The absence of big men in the 2010 class is very noticeable but there are some superior athletes at the other positions. The 2011 class looks very, very good and I thought the 2010 class was the best in 10 years in our state but 2011 might be better, especially at the top.

Please note: These are my views from the games I saw on Saturday and I may have missed some very good players as well. These are evaulationss from just one day of basketball at the Carolina Challenge and should be taken as such. As some of the younger players add exposure and maturity, you can expect their game to continue to progress and change as well.

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