NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Friday night on the campus of Tennessee State University in Nashville, promoter Carl Reed hosted the Battle of the Best. A three game shootout featuring plenty of talent, the night was highlighted by a showcase game between traditionally mighty Oak Hill from Mouth of Wilson, Va. and loaded Melrose (Tenn.) Memphis just a few hours down I-40. Memphis-bound Adonis Thomas did his best to keep Melrose in the game, but Oak Hill led by junior wing Damien Wilson had too many weapons.
Battle of the best standouts
Damien Wilson, SF, Oak Hill- A four-star prospect from the class of 2012, the 6-foot-5 Wilson is a slender lefty with outstanding quickness and explosion off of the floor. In transition, he's a load because he first outruns and then -- if necessary - outleaps defenders to drop buckets. His shot holds promise and he had the highlight of the night with an electric drive he finished with the and one dunk.
Adonis Thomas, SF, Melrose- The evening's leading scorer with 27 points, the muscular wing was too much for Oak Hill to contain. A powerful kid with some old skill feel, he set up shop with his back to the basket from between eight and 15 feat, caught, faced and then made a play. He hit a few turnaround jumpers, had some transition slashes to the rim and threw the crowd into a frenzy with one end to end jam.
Jordan Goodman, PF- For most of the night, the well-traveled 2012 combo forward looked like the best player on the floor by a pretty wide margin. The guy has terrific size and he can really shoot the ball with range. When he's fully engaged in the game, he'll surprise you with situational explosion to grab tough rebounds or throw down a dunk.
Shawn Smith, SG/PG, ACD- His reputation preceeded him and he didn't disappoint. A wiry, quick and athletic 6-foot-3 (maybe 6-foot-4) combo guard, he runs a lot of point for Arlington Country Day. The 2012 prospect is capable, but he's at his best attacking from the wing and making plays for himself and others. He's a guy that will be discussed when rankings come around.
Kevin Mcdaniels, PF, Central Park- There wasn't a more active guy in the gym than the ultra-athletic forward. His energy level is impressive, he's got a nose for the ball and he really looks like he's having fun out there. He led his team with 24 points and had to have been pushing double digit rebounds on the offensive end alone.
More battle of the best notables
Quinn Cook, PG- Having previously played for DeMatha High, the DC Assault and USA Basketball, Cook hasn't lacked for exposure. The Duke signee is effective in that he scores off of the dribble and doesn't force much. He gets the ball to his talented teammates and loves to pull-up for jumpers off the dribble when the defense falls asleep.
Keith Hornsby, SG, Oak Hill- We'll stay away from the puns and just talk about his game. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard is a tough kid, not a bad athlete and he can flat stroke it from deep. He wasn't in the zone Friday, but it's clear that the jumper is a weapon.
Telvin Wilkerson, SF/SG, Melrose- He didn't post huge numbers, but his athleticism, strength, and willingness to attack translate well to the style he will play at Southeast Missouri. He's a physical wing will score from inside to out in college.
Michael Javes, C, ACD- Programs are scrambling for bigs and he's going to get looks from every level of college basketball. A big kid who runs the floor, blocks shots and does the dirty work. He's a good, but not crazy, athlete and gives effort on both ends of the floor. While his offense is a bit raw, he does get to the free throw line and doesn't look bad from there.
Kedren Johnson, PG, Marshall County- He led his team in scoring, made some pretty looking threes and generally looked like the best player on the floor. His effort was good and he involved teammates. But, his team had an upward battle from early on in the game against a steady Huntsville (Ala.) Lee squad.
Final notes and observations from the battle of the best
Daniel Gomis is probably a guy that will take some time to adjust to the physicality of the college game. However, the Oregon State signee is a fine run and jump athlete with good hands and a good motor. With the strength and experience he'll get in his first few years of college, he could surprise. The tweets were rolling in, "How's Ben McLemore playing?" And, through the better part of three quarters the Oak Hill wing was pretty quiet. But, starting with a 16 foot jumper and a putback, McLemore got going and started dunking everything in site to finish with 14 points. It's Kansas and Missouri for McLemore and it could be a bit before a decision is reached. Oak Hill grinded their way through the first quarter or two against Memphis Melrose. Then, head coach Steve Smith inserted 2012 wing Jordan Adams. A scorer by heart, Adams quickly swished three of his first four jump shots. It gave Oak Hill some operating room, but more importantly he was the offensive spark.
He didn't have much of an impact on the game and didn't put up much in terms of numbers, but it is easy to see promise in 2014 wing Markel Crawford from Memphis Melrose. The freshman wing is a live athlete with quickness and a great frame. Auburn bound Cedrick McAfee ended up with 13 points on the evening. But, the 6-foot-2 slasher never really seemed into the flow offensively. His forte is quick drives finished athletically on either side of the rim. ACD junior wing Carlos Morris is an athletic kid. He can shoot the ball and is quick along the baseline. More 6-foot-4 than 6-foot-6 he's a scorer who excels in an up and down game. Mentioned offers from Cincinnati, Miami and Seton Hall (who had a coach there to see him on Friday) while Georgia, Missouri and Georgia State have shown interest.
Point guard Terrance Rowe of Central Park Christian probably came in the smallest package of the night, but the sub six-foot point guard impressed. He's quick, plays with little fear and isn't afraid to pull up for a deep jumper. Certainly looks like a division one player. . Devin Langford is a 6-foot-6 wing who has added strength in the last year. More of a perimeter guy, most of his points come off 16-18 foot jumpers within the flow of the offense. He's a good passer and doesn't get rattled. The tools are there to make some noise if he gets a little nasty added to his game.
We probably missed some, but we saw coaches from Memphis, Auburn, Lipscomb and Seton Hall among others. ...