November 19, 2006

Wrapping up the National Prep Showcase

WORCESTER, MASS. - The books are closed for the National Prep Showcase at Assumption College and we wrap up our weekend coverage of the first major event of the new hoops season.

Brewster Academy rolls on Sunday morning

Let's go out on a short limb here. Few players in the class of 2008 get more down five feet around the basket than Brewster's Emmanuel Negedu. His secret? It is three parts. 1. He has a motor that has a guarantee better than Hyundai cars. 2. His ridiculous athleticism. 3. His long wing span.

Negedu scored 28 points on 13 of 18 shooting from the floor. Everything he scored was at the rim. A lot of times, he crashed the boards and put back seven of his 13 rebounds in for scores.

Terrell McKenzie is in a bit of quandary. He is trying to figure out what class he is in. The original class of 2007 prospect said he will find out what class he'll be considered sometime after the holiday break. He said he needs to pass a couple of final exams in order to do so. If not, he'll be a 2008 prospect.

If he gets the grade, he'll be a highly sought after point guard in 2007 for high end mid-major programs and a handful of high-majors. The New York native backed up his constant Big Apple chatter with very strong play over the weekend.

He defended, check that, he glued himself to his opponent and matched some of the quickest feet in the event step for step. As a point guard, he glued all of the talent together and found gaps in the defense to drop assists and passes that lead to assists.

Against American Christian, another team who is certainly comfortable with talking smack, McKenzie was feeling it from beyond the arc, converting three of four three-pointers en route to 12 points.

Perhaps his Thanksgiving weekend will be celebrated with the academic numbers that he needs to be recruited right now. He'll have plenty of suitors.

Surprise, surprise. Rick Barnes and the Texas Longhorns snuck one under the radar in the signing period by landing an unknown pledge. Turkish guard Dogus Balbay came to Brewster Academy already under the watch of the Longhorns. The 6-foot-2 floor general is an acquired taste but you quickly appreciate his understanding of the game. He's steady, smart, quick and more athletic than he looks at face value.

Balbay scored 16 points (7-10 FG), rebounded six boards, swiped six steals and handed out five assists in a 101-78 win over American Christian.

Sources say he may stick around Brewster for another year after this season and be a part of the 2008 class. For a guy that is still unpacking his bags at Brewster, he quickly acclimated himself to the American game and his new teammates.

Creighton will certainly miss Nate Funk's scoring punch next year when the All-American candidate graduates from the Missouri Valley school but P'Allen Stinnett gives the Blue Jays something that the backcourt doesn't have right now. He's a big time athlete that will flat out fly and can play both guard spots. The Las Vegas native is as confident as a Phil Helmuth at the poker table. And he'll talk like the poker pro, too.

Stinnett is a jet from end to end and slices his way into the lane for scores or drop-off assists. Against American Christian, scored 17 points and had six assists in the win. Creighton isn't going anywhere with guys like Stinnett coming to town.

After shining on Saturday, things slowed down for Craig Brackins on Sunday. It was just one of those days where shots weren't dropping and buckets just weren't falling. He shot just five for 14 from the floor (0-4 from downtown) and missed four of six foul shots en route to 12 points and eight rebounds.

Michael Glover played the role of enforcer for American Christian Academy. The future Seton Hall Pirate was a ball up bundle of emotion and exploded for some powerful dunks in traffic. The 6-foot-6 New Yorker is a no-nonsense guy that plays with his hands always tightened up into balls and elbows that are always sharp and ready to find a place to land them. And opponents were quick to get out of the way. Glover scored a team high 23 points and commanded home 13 rebounds.

Keenan Ellis doesn't look like a guy that suffered an injury in the preseason. In fact, he looks like a guy that can bring some offense to UAB's table next year. The wiry 6-foot-10 forward was a perfect six for six from the floor in the first half against Brewster Academy. Ellis had an array of moves as he attacked from the wing and converted on a handful of midrange buckets.

Ellis went after it on the rebounding front and provided his team a versatile option on both ends of the floor. His slim frame hasn't added any noticeable weight since, well, never and still has trouble finishing against bigger and stronger guys down low. But his perimeter game and midrange shot is looking might fine these days.

Jeremy Hazell, a New York native who is headed to Seton Hall, may be looking for real estate in Worcester. He must like it there because he was playing the best basketball that we've seen out of the 6-foot-4 shooting guard in a while.

Hazell was outstanding against New Hampton Prep on Sunday morning, going for 34 points on 11 of 19 shooting (5-11 three-pointers) in 27 minutes of action. If he wasn't dropping long balls, he was sprinting down the floor for dunks and scoring in transition. Pair him with Eugene Harvey and the Pirates have a backcourt that could do some fun things in the Big East for Bobby Gonzalez.

San Francisco Dons inked a nice player in New Hampton's Andre Hardy. The chiseled forward was the only real consistent answer for his team, scoring 26 points, mostly all inside the paint against Patterson, and reeled in seven rebounds. Pair him with Wendell McKines, who signed with USF in the early period as well, and the Dons have a very effective and strong, albeit undersized, combo of forwards.

Wrapping up the NPS

After pulling the splinters from our backside and finding an absolutely brilliant chiropractor upon arriving home to the global headquarters, we'll roll out some news and notes from our scribbled notepad.

A day after looking like a likely Rivals150 player, Texas Tech bound guard Darryl Ashford really struggled against Patterson. The muscular guard was simply non-existent on the offensive end of the floor and didn't play at the same speed he played at in our first viewing of him on Saturday. Ashford only scored two points on one of six shooting and had seven turnovers. He did, however, collect six assists and five steals.

Bridgton Academy will be a popular place for schools looking for a combo guard in the late signing period. Whit Lesure has at least four mid-major plus guards there to work with this season.

Brian Rudolph, a one-time Providence commitment, was a nice surprise this weekend. He was very solid running the point and made good decisions. Indiana native Greg Hill was a shooter extraordinaire and certainly opened a number of eyes with is dead-eye touch. Texas native Ronnie Moss used his athleticism to make plays at the rim and scored when needed. Paris Horne, a Middletown, Del. native, was really scoring the ball at a quick clip. He plays bigger than his 6-foot-3 frame.

If there has been any questions about what position Jordan Crawford will be playing at Indiana, we learned it won't be the point guard spot. The Detroit native had 16 turnovers in two games of action for Hargrave.

Hargrave forward Mike Scott turned his ankle a couple of minutes into his team's first game. He was regulated to the bench and watched from the sidelines in his warm ups. He was noticeably upset. Rightfully so. The 6-foot-8 unsigned senior is a highly sought after unsigned prospect.

Also not playing was Tyreke Evans, one of the top juniors in the country. The five-star guard reinjured a long time ankle injury prior to coming to the NPT. He is on the shelf just for precautionary reasons. His dynamic skill set would have been a welcome addition during the turnover riddled weekend.

Keep an eye on New Hampton junior Patrick Saunders. The 6-foot-7 forward is a basketball player. He knows what to do with the ball when he has it. He knows what to do without it. A smart passer and a good shooter, Saunders would be a great get for a Princeton-style oriented offense. He was an efficient seven of nine from the floor to the tune of 15 points against the Patterson School.

Troy Gillenwater is good in sequels. After dazzling his friends and family from nearby Boston, the 6-foot-7 forward was a machine in the nightcap on Saturday night against Lee Academy. The Stoneridge forward scored a tournament high 37 points on 11 of 16 shooting (including 14-20 FT) and lead the game with eight rebounds. The four-star junior is playing at a high-level of basketball right now.



 

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