Towey: Thoughts On Southerland & Company

Reporter Brian Towey shares his thoughts on several players he watched yesterday at Hofstra University ...

Reporter Brian Towey spent his day watching several games at Hofstra University during the fourth annual Tom Crotty Memorial Classic. Here are some of his thoughts, including a look at the game of James Southerland (pictured in story) of Cardozo High School:

Notes: We were looking forward to seeing the match-up between Lutheran's Henriquez and Trinity Fields, a pair of 2008 guards in the mid-major/mid-major plus ballpark.

Fields checked Jeriel Henriquez defensively for a good part of the game, and did a pretty good job of neutralizing the speedy Harlem native, who didn't get a lot of clean looks on the night.

To his credit, Henriquez did not force the action often, and he seems to be handling structure relatively well since transferring into Brian Carey's program from Cardinal Hayes in the Bronx. Henriquez is extremely fast with the ball and a natural for the transition game, a guy who really excels in the open floor. He's exceedingly quick at both ends. He did a pretty good job of going to the glass on Sunday.

Fields was held to six points on Sunday, but made a couple of key plays down the stretch to help ensure the victory. In addition to his steal within the last minute, he created scoring opportunities twice for teammates off of penetration in the last couple of minutes, spinning through traffic and finding Abney for a dunk and getting into the lane and dumping off a pass to another open teammate in another situation.

Fields is great with the ball in his hands. He's able to change speeds/gears and break defenders down off the dribble. He can get into the lane and find guys. He plays things a little bit fast and loose with his handle sometimes, and you'd like to see a little less nonchalance. That being said, he has a good feel for the game, and is hard to guard off the bounce. Still not completely sure how consistently he shoots it.

Gangly and somewhat slight of frame, Fields, who transferred in from Holy Cross his fall, definitely has to improve his strength, particularly in his upper body.

-The 6-foot-7 senior Chris Abney gave Cardozo a boost down the stretch, getting to the line and going to the glass. The Christ the King transfer shot 7-for-9 from the line on the game. He struggled finishing around the hoop at times. Abney definitely looks the part, with a sturdy frame, and he runs the floor well. He's got pretty good hands and is a decent athlete.

-The 6-foot-7 junior power forward/small forward James Southerland is a guy who may not be physically very close to being ready to play at the next level, but his shooting ability will make him a valuable commodity.

He has a slight frame, and is more comfortable on the perimeter than in the post. But with his shooting stroke, Southerland is going to find a home out there. His shooting motion is effortless, a little flick.

James is a pure shooter who is now knocking down shots beyond the arc. Southerland is beginning to show the ability to shoot it off the dribble. On Sunday, he stuck a 16-footer off the bounce, and looked good doing it. His ball skills are slowly coming along, although he is more of a four than a three right now.

James still has a ways to go in terms of strength to be ready for the next level, and probably tips the scales in the 180s. He's got a lengthy frame, and may not be done growing. There are times when he disappears a bit out there, and you'd like to see him play with consistent intensity.

With that in mind, the thing that makes him attractive is his ability to flick it. We don't think it's an exaggeration to call him a gifted shooter; it's a thing of beauty.

Southerland has previously stated interest in schools like Virginia Tech, Miami, Syracuse, St. John's, etc. The summer ahead is very big for James and should determine the level of serious interest.

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