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Part I

May 5, 2003 Columns No Comments

2003 Kingwood Classic Recap – Part I

by Phil Kasiecki

Part I: Class of 2004 | Part II

Texas is a state known for doing things big, and the 2003 Kingwood Classic was just that. With 329 teams participating, including 236 in the high school age ranges, it was the largest event of the spring and one of the most highly anticipated. It was bigger than last year’s, which had a very good turnout. As expected, Hal Pastner and his staff did a terrific job throughout the weekend making sure everything went according to plan, and it made for a great time. The talent was tremendous, the operations were terrific, and the setting could hardly be better than metropolitan Houston at beautiful middle and high school facilities.

This tournament and the Charlie Weber Invitational in Washington, D.C. are the final events of the spring that are sanctioned for Division I coaches to attend, and coaches certainly turned out en masse for this. Included were head coaches that recently changed jobs, such as Bill Self (Kansas), Roy Williams (North Carolina), and Ben Howland (UCLA). Assistants from many schools were in attendance, and of note is that not one coach from Illinois was to be found, which will not help the Illini.

In the 17-and-under Gold Division, the New York Gauchos jumped out to early leads of 14-4 and 26-10, never looking back in an 85-57 thumping of talented YOMCA Team Memphis. Russell Robinson (6’2″ SG, New York (NY) Rice HS) led the winners by scoring 14 of his game-high 21 points in the first half, including four three-pointers in an early stretch when the Gauchos broke the game open.

The 17-and-under tournament alone had a great deal of talent in all of the high school age levels. On that note, here are notes on some of the players, grouped by class.

Class of 2004

One player whose recruitment should take off is James Gist (6’8″ SF-PF, Wheaton (MD) Good Counsel HS), who played very well towards the end of the tournament. He’s an exceptional athlete, active on the glass at both ends and uses his long arms well, and the ball skills are coming around as well as the scoring touch aside from put-backs.

One of Gist’s teammates that many had their eyes on was Brian Johnson (6’9″ PF, Arlington (VA) Bishop O’Connell HS). He has a solid body on the post and is very athletic, reminding one recruiting analyst of James Worthy. He was very active on the offensive glass this weekend, while he was inconsistent on the defensive boards, very aggressive and showed a touch on short jump shots. The big-time prospect has a mature body and has interest from ACC schools.

Isaiah Swann (6’2″ SG, Mouth of Wilson (VA) Oak Hill Academy) had some highlight-film plays as usual, as the flamboyant wing is a great leaper who will throw down a mean breakaway dunk given the chance. His shooting was streaky and he showed some ball-handling ability, but he also tended to over-dribble. His body control leaves a little to be desired, but he’s a good high-major prospect.

Another Blue Devil of note is Jerome Habel (6’8″ PF, Bethesda (MD) Walt Whitman HS), who will attend National Christian Academy next year. He’s not rail thin, but could use more strength, and he’s an active forward who makes some plays, runs the floor well, and can score on the post though the jump hook could be more reliable. He’s a high-major minus prospect. Cheyenne Moore (6’6″ SF, Colora (MD) West Nottingham Academy) will attend South Kent School in Connecticut next year. He had his moments this weekend, showing his athleticism and hitting a couple of jumpers, but not doing much else. Brad Farrell (6’5″ SG-SF, Herndon (VA) High) looks like a mid-major prospect, as he’s a scrappy player who can shoot from mid-range. Peter Prowitt (6’10” PF-C, McLean (VA) Potomac School) will bring his size and mobility on the post to Stanford next season, as he has given them a commitment.

Russell Robinson was mentioned earlier, but the championship game was not his only good work of the weekend. He shot the ball well from long range for most of the weekend, while still showing great body control and a smoothness to his game when he drives to the basket. He can flat-out score, and he’ll get plenty of high-major interest as a result.

Robinson’s teammate, Sundiata Gaines (6’2″ PG-SG, Queens (NY) Archbishop Molloy HS) had an excellent weekend as well. Gaines is solidly built and doesn’t shy away from contact, finishing if he gets hacked, and used his good quickness to slice through defenses. The surprise was that he then knocked down several three-pointers later in the weekend, including one from NBA range. Gaines will get plenty of high-major looks.

Alongside Robinson and Gaines, Ronald Ramon (6’1″ PG-SG, Bronx (NY) All Hallows HS) looked good this weekend, scoring on drives and making some jump shots out to three-point range, and running the show capably.

Runners-up YOMCA Team Memphis was loaded with Division I talents from this class. Andre Allen (5’11” PG, Memphis (TN) Booker T. Washington HS) is probably the most highly-regarded, but he didn’t play his best ball this weekend. He’s a quick, solidly-built point guard with a scorer’s mentality who had some trouble finishing this weekend and generally doesn’t shoot from behind the arc. Shawne Williams (6’8″ SF-PF, Memphis (TN) Hamilton HS) probably had the best weekend of anyone on the team, as he’s a good-size forward who has the ball skills and athleticism to be a good high-major prospect. He got better as the weekend went along. Charles Hampton (6’1″ SG, Memphis (TN) Bishop Bryne HS) is a great athlete, though a bit undersized for shooting guard. He shot the ball well, slashed to the hoop for some baskets and showed off the leaping ability a couple of times on the break. Frank Holmes (6’9″ PF, Memphis (TN) Fayette-Ware HS) got better as the weekend went along and showed some good post abilities along with good size and mobility. Jerrell Houston (6’8″ SF-PF, Memphis (TN) East HS) is a nice athlete who hit some mid-range jump shots later on, and should get better with added strength.

Riverside Church brought a loaded team, led by A.J. Price (6’1″ PG-SG, Amityville (NY) High), who is getting looks from Big East and some ACC schools. Price is a very quick scorer and active defender whose jump shot didn’t consistently fall this weekend, but he’s still a good high-major prospect. Arturo Dubois (6’7″ PF, New York (NY) Rice HS) is a solid finesse post player who keeps playing well. He’s active, running the floor well, and with added strength will be able to use power to score in the post as well. Keith Benjamin (6’2″ PG, Mt. Vernon (NY) High) is a steady point man who finished well and gets his offense in flow, including a good jump shot. High school teammate Dexter Gray (6’7″ SF-PF, Mt. Vernon (NY) High) is an active athlete who got some offensive rebounds and a few put-backs.

One day after the tournament, LaMarcus Aldridge (6’11” C, Dallas (TX) Seagoville HS) committed to Texas. One of the elite big men in this class, Aldridge is a very athletic post player who finishes strong and has some finesse post scoring ability, and he won’t try to do too much (though we saw him hoist a three-pointer once). He has long arms and uses them well for blocking shots and rebounding. All of that said, he seems to lack a killer instinct, as he didn’t dominate games like he should have, and reportedly his high school team has not made the playoffs in his three years. He’s a big-time prospect, but there’s still plenty of room to improve before he reaches his potential.

Aldridge had some Team Texas Elite teammates that the coaches watched closely, most notably Jason Horton (6’1″ PG, Cedar Hill (TX) High). Horton didn’t play his best ball, as he struggled shooting it (and that’s not his forte), but he showed his quickness and he’s a confident ball-handler who is getting interest from plenty of high-majors. Pavlius Packevicius (6’9″ PF, Oakridge (TX) High) was impressive, as he’s a good post scorer with good body control, hit some face-up jumpers, and also can block some shots. He’s a high-major prospect. Kevin Langford (6’8″ SF-PF, North Crowley (TX) High) looks like a nice high-major minus prospect, as he’s an athletic forward whose skills are more those of a power forward, unlike older brother Keith. He’s reportedly a very good student and a nice young man. Teammate Rell Porter (6’6″ SF, Pittsburg (TX) High) is a nice athlete who is a role player on this team.

Alexander Kaun (6’11” C, Melbourne (FL) Florida Air Academy) is one of several great prospects on Nike Team Florida. He gets good position inside, is aggressive and knows what he wants to do when he gets it down low, and runs the floor well. Jason Rich (6’3″ SG, Orlando (FL) Dr. Phillips HS) is an exceptional leaper and knocked down some jump shots in addition to using his quickness to drive to the basket. This high-major prospect is quick off the ground and made a couple of great dunks. Greg Carr (6’6″ SF, North Marion (FL) High) is a quick, active athlete who slashed to the basket and finished well, and was around the ball a lot. Robinson Louisme (6’8″ PF, Ft. Myers (FL) High) has good size on the post and could be a nice player once his skills catch up. Trey Hopkins (6’1″ PG, Cypress Creek (FL) High) quietly ran the show with his talented teammates, showing some quickness and knocking down some three-pointers.

More talent from Florida rolled in with the Florida Hoopsters. Taurean Green (6’1″ PG, Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy) solidified his standing as one of the top guards in the class. He’s a slashing scorer who really accelerates and finishes his drives very well at the basket. Jack Berry (6’6″ SG-SF, Orlando (FL) Dr. Phillips HS) is getting Ivy League looks since he is a straight-A student, and after not shooting well early, he found his stroke. Brandon Johnson (6’1″ PG, Orlando (FL) Edgewater HS) is a teammate of Darius Washington, but a nice guard in his own right. Kenny Ingram (6’6″ SF, Orlando (FL) Edgewater HS) is a teammate of both and a nice athletic role player who can help a team at the mid-major level.

Arizona commitment Jawaan McLellan (6’6″ SG-SF, Houston (TX) Milby HS) showed his great stroke and athleticism for the Houston Hoops. Teammate Matt Wheaton (6’6″ SF, Houston (TX) Mayde Creek HS) might be the best of several athletic forwards the Hoops had in the 6’5″ to 6’7″ range. He’s a well-built athlete who can score going to the basket and got some offensive put-backs. Texas commitment Daniel Gibson (6’3″ PG-SG, Houston (TX) Jones HS) didn’t play much with a wrist injury and being a little under the weather, but he did nothing to hurt his standing as one of the top 10-15 players in this class.

A few California teams came with some good talent, with California Team Select making it further than any other. USC commitment Robert Swift (7’0″ C, Bakersfield (CA) Highland HS) is certainly one of the top 3 big men in the class, as he looks stronger and was assertive in the post, and ran the floor like he usually does. He showed some good post moves, blocked some shots, and had a few nice follow-up dunks. Jordan Farmar (6’1″ PG, Woodland Hills (CA) Howard Taft HS) capably ran the show, as the scoring point guard isn’t overly quick, but very effective. He’s not afraid of contact despite his slight frame, uses both hands well, and is around the ball a lot. He shot very few jumpers, which can be good and bad. Josh Shipp (6’4″ SG-SF, Los Angeles (CA) Fairfax HS) is like his brother, but with a better jump shot. He’s an athletic wing scorer who can handle and hit long range jump shots. Gabe Pruitt (6’4″ SG, Los Angeles (CA) Westchester HS) played well, showing his ability to get to the basket and finish the break. He’s more of a slasher than a shooter, as he likes to use his quickness.

Belmont Shore was one of two California teams knocked off by Nike Team Florida, and they brought their share of talent. Lorenzo Wade (6’7″ SF, Las Vegas (NV) Bishop Gorman) played very well, as he’s an athletic lefty who can handle the ball and scored posting up and on the move. He was around the ball a lot and is quick off his feet, allowing him to rebound well. DeMarcus Nelson (6’3 PG-SG, Sacramento (CA) Sheldon HS) played well before he took an elbow near the hip in his team’s playoff loss. The future Duke Blue Devil is a solidly built athlete who can stroke it from long range. DeVon Hardin (6’9″ PF, Newark (CA) Memorial HS) had a good showing and is getting interest from many of the top west coast schools. He’s an active athlete on the post with good size, he rebounded well and showed some quick post moves to score.

Dorrell Wright (6’7″ SF, Lawndale (CA) Leuzinger HS) probably had the best weekend of any player on his Southern California All-Stars team. A big-time baseball prospect who will do a year of prep school next year, he’s a big-time athlete who excels in the open floor and finishes the break as well as anyone. He’s a slashing scorer who made some jump shots and showed ball-handling skills as well. Marcel Jones (6’6″ SG-SF, Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei HS) wasn’t far behind, as he showed some good improvement on his game off the dribble and played good defense. He’s a good athlete who didn’t shoot it as well as he has before, but he has one of the best strokes in the class and is a good high-major prospect. David Burgess (6’10” PF-C, Irvine (CA) Woodbridge HS), an excellent student, looked like he did last year: he had trouble finishing in close, but was solid on the glass and can block some shots. His lack of athleticism is a concern, but he doesn’t try to do too much and is a good high-major minus prospect. Chris Henry (6’8″ PF, Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei HS) has a big body on the post, moves it well, and can score when he gets the ball, looking like a high-major minus role player.

Recent UCLA commitment Aaron Afflalo (6’3″ SG, Compton (CA) Centennial HS) didn’t have his best weekend with new head coach Ben Howland watching. He’s quick and has a good stroke, but his shot wasn’t falling, and he also sat out a game battling food poisoning. He doesn’t seem to like Kingwood very much, as he wasn’t very impressive at last year’s tournament, either.

The Arkansas Wings made it to Sunday again this year, but did it with several good contributors. Arkansas commitment Steven Hill (6’11” C, Branson (MO) High) showed some enforcing ability in the post and ran the floor very well, which will be important in the SEC. He’s certainly not a finished product by a long shot, but with more upper body strength and polish at the offensive end, he’ll be a nice player. Jamaal Anderson (6’7″ SF-PF, (LA) Parkview HS) has good size and athleticism, and blocked some shots in the low post. Myron Jackson, Jr. (6’0″ SG, North Little Rock (AR) High) shot the ball well from long range and showed some good quickness, looking like a good mid-major as he’s an undersized shooting guard. Brad Jones (6’0″ PG, Marked Tree HS) is a quick point man who was able to get to the basket, and wasn’t afraid to battle inside.

Cyrus Tate (6’8″ PF, Homewood-Flossmoor HS) is an athletic power forward with good size and the athleticism to one day play small forward if the skills develop. As it is, the lefty is effective on the post and battles inside. Teammate Eric Viernesiel (6’7″ SF-PF, Jacobs HS) showed some athleticism and could be a nice role player, while D’Aaron Williams (6’6″ SF, Bartonville (IL) Limestone HS) is an athletic wing who was able to get to the basket and finish or draw fouls.

Maarty Leunen (6’7″ SF-PF, Redmond (WA) High) was the star on the Portland Elite Legends. He’s a very active combo forward who grabbed his share of rebounds both from boxing out and from being in the right places, and he scored in several ways. He won’t make highlight films, but he looks like a solid high-major prospect.

Texas Top Prospects had a few players who stood out. Justin Wilkerson (6’7″ SF, Greenville (TX) High), who has committed early to Texas Tech, showed his good stroke to go with his size. With added strength, he’ll be a very good player for Bob Knight. David Farmer (6’9″ PF, (TX) Hebron HS) is a nice athlete in the post who plays stronger than he looks. Kenneth White (6’2″ PG, Molina (TX) High), also a football player, is a strong point guard who played well, showing some quickness and knocking down some three-point shots.

The St. Louis Eagles had some good talent, though big-time post player Kalen Grimes (6’8″ PF, St. Louis (MO) Hazlewood Central HS) was not with them after attending his prom the night before. With him gone, the top rising junior was cross-state star Brandon Rush (6’6″ SF, Kansas City (MO) Westport HS), a very athletic wing who could use more upper body strength. He didn’t star, but showed plenty of potential. Xavier Price (6’4″ SG, O’Fallon (IL) High) showed off some great athleticism on a few plays, but looked like he could have played better. Tommy Liddell (6’4″ SG-SF, East St. Louis (IL) High) is a nice lefty who got to the basket a few times and handled the ball well. Matt Shaw (6’7″ SF-PF, Centralia (IL) HS) looks like a nice role player, as he’s not a great athlete or superbly skilled, but was around the ball a lot and made plays at both ends of the floor. There were stretches where he was the Eagles’ best player on the court.

It’s never a surprise to see some good talent from the state of Georgia, and Georgia Elite certainly had that. Mohamed Tangara (6’9″ PF-C, Durham (NC) Mt. Zion Christian Academy) seemed a bit foul-prone at times this weekend, but he has good size, strength and mobility, plays hard at all times and is very active on the glass. Robert Dozier (6’8″ SF-PF, Lithonia (GA) High) looks like an excellent prospect, as he’s long and showed some good athleticism at the offensive end. With some added strength and more improvement on his jumper, he looks like a nice high-major prospect.

The Arizona Cagers Blue had some impressive talent and almost knocked off Georgia Elite in pool play. The most impressive was DuBois Williams (6’6″ SG-SF, Tempe (AZ) Marcos De Niza HS), who has great size with his guard skills. He’s not overly quick, but showed good ball skills and should get high-major looks. Xavier Kilby (6’7″ SF-PF, Phoenix (AZ) Desert Vista HS), who is getting high-major interest, is an active forward who won’t make many mistakes. He’s not overly athletic and looks a little clumsy with the ball, but he makes plays at both ends and doesn’t shy from physical contact. Calvin Chitwood (6’7″ SF-PF, Phoenix (AZ) Paradise Valley HS) impressed, as he’s athletic and uses his long arms well at both forward spots. Germaine Calvin (5’10” PG, Phoenix (AZ) McClintock HS) looked solid running the show, as he’s strong and quick with good body control and is very heady. He’s a good high-major minus prospect.

Dayshaun Wright (6’8″ PF, Syracuse (NY) Fowler HS) looked impressive most of the weekend, as he was aggressive with the ball, showed some ability to handle the ball, and he has good size and athleticism. Will Daniels (6’7″ SF, Hyde Park (NY) Franklin D. Roosevelt HS) had his moments, showing a mid-range touch a few times and the good athleticism we’ve seen before.

The Illinois Wolves brought a nice team that featured Shaun Pruitt (6’9″ SF-PF, West Aurora (IL) High). He has good size and athleticism on the low post and showed some small forward skills in limited viewing. Ollie Bailey (6’8″ PF, Chicago (IL) Farragut Academy) is another solid post player who battles to the finish. Gordon Wyatt (6’6″ SF, Evanston (IL) High) is an athletic wing who was able to get to the basket.

Shawn Reynolds (5’9″ PG, Little Rock (AR) J.A. Fair HS) is a diminutive floor leader who impressed, using his quickness to slash to the basket and playing good defense as well. He didn’t shoot the ball well, but he should get some Division I looks.

Alex Blair (6’8″ SF-PF, Auburndale (FL) High) showed some ability to play both forward spots, as he has good size and athleticism and scored inside and out. Teammate Jamaal Galloway (6’0″ PG, (FL) Citrus HS) showed some quickness and a good three-point stroke.

Carl Swanagan (6’9″ PF, Lafayette (IN) Jefferson HS) was the top rising senior on Indiana Red. He’s a thick left-handed post player who moves very well and has good hands and body control. He rebounded well and can block a shot or two, though he doesn’t look like a major enforcer in the paint. Ril Duany (6’6″ SG-SF, Bloomington (IN) North) is long and athletic, and his skills include being able to bring the ball up the floor in a pinch. Drew Adams (6’1″ PG-SG, Bloomington (IN) South HS) looks like a gunner who struggled shooting the ball, but his stroke looks acceptable and he made a few nice passes. He may get some Division I looks.

In a limited viewing, Gabe Freeman (6’5″ SF-PF, Phoenix (AZ) McClintock HS) showed some athleticism and was active at the offensive end, while looking like one of those players who could be very highly recruited if he were about 2-3 inches taller.

Stanley Branch (6’8″ SF-PF, Newark (NJ) St. Benedict’s) didn’t play well when we saw him and continues to look overrated. He’ll make a highlight-film dunk with no defenders back on the break, but other than that, he hasn’t shot the ball well or demonstrated much in the way of skills at either end of the floor and has not impressed with some of the shots he has taken. Some rank him among the elite players in the class, but he’s looking more like a high-major minus prospect at this point.

Part I: Class of 2004 | Part II


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