The biggest surprises of the Boo Williams Invitational last weekend were the big men. Like the 2008 class, there is great depth at the power forward and center position. There were quite a few post players from the class of 2009 that took advantage of the big stage last weekend. Rivals.com breaks down some of the top surprises from the tournament.
Playing on the deepest team in the tournament, the 6-foot-7 power forward had to pick his spots to shine. To his credit, he picked the most important game of the entire tournament to put together his best game of the weekend.
Ratliffe only missed one shot in the title game and scored 23 points in the victory en route to a MVP performance. He doesn't wow you with high-level athleticism or an array of post moves. But he knows how to position himself to score and he had the luxury of good guards that know how to feed the post.
Here's the catch: Ratliffe is a 2008 prospect that is still considering his options. College or prep school is the big question. Judging by his simplistic output at the Boo Williams Invitational, he's clearly one of the top unsigned big men in the nation in the 2008 class.
On a team with a number of higher-profile big men, the 6-foot-8, 275-pound monster was the team's most effective prospect in the paint. There were few players in the tournament field that could throw a body at him
Nix is incredibly nimble for his size, he has great hands and a soft touch in the paint and around the cup. Playing along with DaShonte Riley, Donnovan Kirk and James Still, all top 100 prospects, Nix might have been the most productive of the bunch. High-majors will certainly taking a good look at him this month.
Athletic, big and active, Lewis caught our eye with his aggressive play inside the paint. McDonald's All-American JaMychal Green used the same theory last year and it served him well. Lewis is a poor man's version of the Alabama-bound forward.
Lewis used his high-motor to block shots with authority and crash the boards. Physically, he's very impressive and looks to have a high ceiling. His recruitment has already welcomed in a number of SEC programs. If he continues to improve on his play from the weekend, the interest will certainly be justified.
PF, 6-8, 220
The Houston Hoops enjoyed a deep run in the tournament thanks in large part to the steady play of Rubit, a 6-foot-8 big man. He was the perfect compliment to Keith "Tiny" Gallon, an immovable big man that shined on Sunday.
Rubit shined from start to finish. He isn't an above-the-rim big man. Instead, he understands positioning and has a good touch in the paint. Rubit was good for 20 points and 10 rebounds in several of the Hoops' victories. He won't win any wow contests. He will help his club win games and that was clearly evident last weekend.
Long and lean, Buckner carries a big presence on the court both on the defensive end and the offensive end. Offensively, Buckner is a slasher who is comfortable with the ball. Defensively, he can move his feet on the perimeter as well as protect the rim with his shot-blocking ability.
The one weakness in his game appears to be a hesitancy to shoot the ball from outside. But as a versatile player in the mold of former Florida forward Corey Brewer, Buckner will certainly improve as an outside shooter and gives a provides so many other ingredients in a winning recipe.
At 6 feet 9, Tarou competed at a high level against the other big men in the tournament. At first, he made his mark with his hustle on the defensive end and on the boards. As tournament wore on, he began to turn it up on the offensive end.
To go along with his high level of intensity and energy, Tarou also has the potential to be a reliable low post scorer. And on several occasions, he swiped down rebounds in a crowd and busted out with the dribble to ignite the offense. At this point, he is only known by the mid-majors. Expect the high-majors to be on high alert now.