ROSWELL, Ga. - There was a standing-room only crowd on hand at Roswell Centennial on Friday as Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton and Winter Park (Fla.) locked horns for a rematch of their classic just over a week ago at the City of Palms.
Once again, Milton had too much firepower, but the nation's top senior, Austin Rivers, delivered a performance that had the sellout crowd of locals at the Hoops In Overdrive Shootout oohing and ahhing as he led a short-handed Winter Park squad. Rivers was just one of several guys closing 2010 with a strong performance.
Austin Rivers, SG, Winter Park: At this point, what more is left to write about the class of 2011's best player? Being guarded by Vanderbilt-bound defensive ace Dai-Jon Parker, Rivers had to work hard for his offense early and missed on some looks he normally buries during a 3-for-10 first half. In the second half, though, not even the game Parker could slow Rivers as he unleashed a 25-point barrage of deep 3s, impressive drives and tough buckets. His team was without an important piece in Brett Comer and Rivers got Winter Park to within three points late, but just didn't have enough support to get the win over Milton.
Sir'Dominic Pointer, SF, Quality Education Academy: The St. John's signee burst onto the scene during the summer and he's not looking back. "Ziggy" displayed his high-level defensive skills, ability to slash to the bucket and high running motor like usual. The pleasantly surprising part of his 19-point outing, though, is the development of his jumper. He hit on a few pretty 17-footers off of curls and the development of his jumper will really open things up for him.
Bernard Thompson, SG, Rockdale County: Over the course of the past few weeks, the unsigned 6-foot-3 senior shooting guard has really exploded onto the scene. Thin and long-armed, he's a big-time athlete who can create his shot off the bounce and has deep range. He's playing with tremendous energy and confidence right now while schools on all levels are scrambling for more info and a better evaluation. He's just starting to hear from schools and mentioned Northeastern, Murray State, LaSalle, Georgia Southern and Clemson as some who have already shown interest. Given his performance in front of a swarm of coaches on Friday, many more will be calling.
Rodney Hood, SF, Meridian: The Mississippi State signee struggled a bit with his deep jumper, so his usual scoreboard fireworks weren't there. But, that's fine because he still showed plenty of other things during his 14-point outing. A talented pull-up jump shooter, Hood has become a complete wing who can really handle, pass and hurt defenses in a variety of ways. He can be a little over reliant on his strong mid-range game, but if he starts driving to the rim more consistently he will have completely rounded out his game.
John Brown, SF, Oldsmar Christian: High Point has stolen one in the lengthy, athletic and left-handed wing. During a 34-point outing, Brown displayed high-level athleticism, the ability to shoot from deep and activity on the defensive end. He is a bit on the thin side and still has some work to do with his ball-handling, but he's a tremendous get for High Point.
More Friday notables
Shaquille Goodwin, PF, Southwest Dekalb: The lean and wiry strong Goodwin, a junior power forward, was a terror during the summer because of his quickness, motor and desire to try and destroy anybody in his way. Friday, he showed that his summer performance was no fluke. The 6-foot-8 power forward is quick in the lane, bouncy and tracks down rebounds. He didn't seem to have quite the same motor as he did during the summer, but he was still pretty productive and will hit the floor again on Saturday.
Julian Royal, PF, Milton: The Georgia Tech signee had a terrific outing while leading his team with 21 points. He's starting to get stronger and is playing a bit more assertively in the lane. Not surprisingly, his face-up game benefited from him getting a few easy buckets down low as he then had the confidence to step out and bury some jumpers out to the 3-point line.
Evan Nolte, SF, Milton: The 6-foot-7 junior has as pure a stroke as there is in the country. He's got great balance, a high release and gets his shot off quickly with lots of backspin and plenty of arc. Because he's such a great shooter to 22 feet, he can get defenders off the ground with shot fakes. He's a good passer and performs very well within the context of Milton's offense. He listed Georgia, Virginia, Clemson, Florida, Stanford and Wake Forest as the schools most involved.
Boubacar Moungoro, SF, IMG: A well-built, 6-foot-6 sophomore wing with some athleticism, Moungoro is an intriguing prospect. Hailing from Mali, he showed the ability to make the open 3-pointer and drive strongly through traffic for finishes. He's a bit raw overall, but he will be one to watch down the road.
Anthony Fields, PG, Quality Education Academy: Right now, the senior point guard is playing for scholarship offers and he's got things headed in the right direction. A native of Detroit, Fields is a speedy floor general who utilizes his quickness to break down defenders and get into the lane where he makes plays. He's a defensive pest and a guy who has put a lot of work into his game since we first saw him in the fall of 2009. He listed Wake Forest, Missouri, Boston College, Seton Hall, Wright State and Wichita State. Wake head coach Jeff Bzdelik and a pair of assistants were on hand to watch while Missouri and Wichita State each had an assistant in the building.
Kevin Ware, SG/PG, Rockdale County: After playing well on Thursday, Ware was again outstanding while scoring a team-high 25 points in Rockdale's win over Rodney Hood and Meridian. Once again he was a terror in transition and driving to the hoop. He also hit on several pull-up shots between 8-15 feet, which is big because his speed and quickness allows him to get to spots on the floor in that range at will. Tennessee is getting a good one.
Charles Lee, PG, Huntington Prep: He's just a little guy, but the Milwaukee native has a ton of heart and will be able to make an impact at Cleveland State. During the second half, he stepped up and out-competed Tennessee-bound Chris Jones and harassed him into tough, forced shots after Jones had been on fire during the first half. Lee finished with a hard-earned 18 points and did a fine job in leading his team to a good win over Oak Ridge Military Academy.
Chris Bolden, SG, Norcross: The junior shooting guard made an early commitment to Miami and looks to be a nice pickup for the Hurricanes. At 6-foot-2, he's slightly undersized for an ACC two-guard but, man, can the kid shoot the ball from deep. He's more than just a jump shooter and is very clever with ball fakes. He is a crafty scorer off the dribble and from mid-range.
Final Friday notes
Coached by Morris Gordon, New Birth Christian Academy in Lithonia, Ga., is loaded with promising young prospects. In particular, sophomore big man Matt Atewe is one to keep an eye on. He's got length, good hands and the type of frame that will fill out nicely. He was active on the glass, ran the floor and altered shots. Freshman guards Brandon Goodwin and Miles Seward and junior wing Tommy Williams are also good-looking young players.
… IMG Academy has a pair of seniors in big man Jamari Traylor and combo guard Phil Greene, who are attracting high-major attention. Traylor is a 6-foot-6 run-and-jump athlete who plays strong in the post and tries to dunk everything in sight. Greene, is a speedy guard who can break down a defender off the dribble, but he was often wild and out of control while struggling with his shot on Friday. They will both hit the floor again on Saturday. … Quality Education Academy has a lot of senior talent so it's tough for young guys to get on the floor, but freshman big man Jordan Robinson and sophomore point guard Tevin Findlay both showed flashes during limited time. Robinson is a big and strong kid with soft hands and excellent touch, while Findlay is a tall lead guard with good quickness and ability to find teammates. …
Meridian (Miss.) senior Devin Cherry is a pretty good player in his own right. A 6-foot-3 point guard, Cherry has outstanding size, takes good care of the ball and does a solid job of involving his teammates. He's not a big scorer, but he looks like he has the tools to slide off of the ball and score from the wing. A big time student, Cherry will play his college ball for Bill Courtney at Cornell. … Furman has landed a nice shooting guard in Milton senior Jordan Loyd. The 6-foot-2 wing is a good shooter, plays defense and finds ways to contribute on a team loaded with stars. …
There was an impressive turnout of coaches on New Year's Eve. Bzdelik of Wake Forest (who was flanked by two assistants) and Clemson's Brad Brownell spent most of the day in the gym evaluating. They were joined by a slew of assistants. Among the schools that spotted or reportedly in attendance were Missouri, LaSalle, Virginia Tech, Georgia State, Charlotte, Marquette, Buffalo, VCU, St. Bonaventure, Miami, Alabama, Arkansas Little-Rock, Wichita State, Loyola Marymount, UT-Chattanooga, Bradley, East Carolina, Seattle, Central Florida and UNC-Greensboro.