HAMPTON, Va. -- Half the day is over on Saturday at the Boo Williams Invitational. There was a great back and forth battle early in the day while a handful of players had a chance to make a good first impression.
In what was easily the best game of the morning session, Nike Team Florida had to fight tooth and nail against the SYF Players out of Indiana for an earned victory that went back-and-forth for a good 20 minutes.
There wasn't a better player on the floor in the first half than point guard Ben Eblen. The Florida Air Academy prospect was the sparkplug that the Sunshine State team needed. He helped his squad break out to a 14-point first-half lead and set the tone for the first 16 minutes of action.
Eblen understands his position and is the clear leader of his team. He determines the pace of the game and the type of basketball that his squad will operate at. So when he spent a good part of the game on the bench in the second half, his team lost it's identity and saw the lead disappear into the overtime period.
Eblen, a sure-fire quality mid-major point guard prospect and watch and see high-major guy, had help from his teammates. Darrick Brown was his biggest help. The strong-bodied wing always seemed to come up with the play when it was needed. He was steady and never really tried to do too much in the process.
Nike Team Florida had good production from class of 2010 Okaro White in the victory. He is a player without a true position at this stage of the game and his best work is done in and around the cup where he can use his length for scores and boards. His body, however, is long at lanky spread out over his 6-foot-7 frame.
What position does he play at the college level? That remains to be seen. The book is far from being finished with him and that is why he is such an intriguing prospect. White finished with a cool double-double in an overtime win.
SYF crawled back out of the deficit to good shooting, tough rebounds and simple execution.
Deshawn Clay, a 6-foot-4 class of 2009 prospect, hit several big three-pointers down the stretch and was the money man in the clutch.
Teammate and NC State commitment Scott Wood is one of the top shooters in the event. The 6-foot-6 wing can square up with the best of them and let it fly. The SYF star went for four three-pointers in a tough overtime loss to Team Florida. He'll give the Wolfpack a smart player that will certainly be a threat on the wing for four years.
It is like clockwork. Every year there is a big man laying low under the radar in Louisiana. With that being said, meet Kourtney Roberson. He was a pleasant surprise early Saturday morning. The 6-foot-9 big man for Louisiana Select picked apart an under-matched Columbus Blazers team to the tune of 22 points (10-14 FG) and 14 rebounds. The big fella has typical Deep South physical traits and knows how to stick his nose into traffic and get results.
The biggest sleeper of the day was Chicago Express guard Derrick Hill. The 6-foot combo guard from John Hope High School controlled the pace of the game against The Family with his high-energy, great motor, quick trigger (six made three-pointers) and dagger-in-your-heart scoring ability.
Hill erupted for 32 points on Saturday morning and made it look rather easy in the process. The class of 2009 prospect said no one is recruiting him. His coaches echoed that statement, too. That will change if he continues to torch the nets like he did on Saturday morning.
The Oakland Soldiers knocked out the Georgia Stars on Saturday afternoon thanks to good balance and key scoring from guard Will Cherry. The 6-foot-1 guard from Oakland's McClymonds High School pushed the 20-point mark
Cherry is coming off a state title run in California and has his confidence soaring going into the spring period. His play was smart throughout in this one. Keep an eye on him over the next month. His production and potential should continue to improve.
Big man, and we mean big, Derrick Nix throws his 275-pounds around with ease for The Family. The 6-foot-8 big man has great footwork for a player of his size and despite his team's loss to the Chicago Express, he showed as much promise as any of the five Division I big men that stepped foot onto the floor. He's a mid-major prospect for the time being. That could change in the short future.
SCHOOL LIST CENTRAL
Robinson, the chiseled center for Louisiana Select, said he has heard from Texas, Texas A&M, Louisiana Tech, UCLA, Southern Cal and West Virginia.
Eblen said he has offers from Marshall, Tulane, Virginia Tech and Clemson while Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida State, Miami, St. John's, Davidson and Siena are also in the picture.
White, the talented class of 2010 prospect, said he has early offers from Florida State, Miami and Clemson while Georgia Tech and Florida are interested.
Oak Hill forward Glenn Bryant is here with the Chicago Express and he is a good-looking, physical athlete at the four spot. The 6-foot-7 forward said Syracuse, Memphis, Kentucky, Texas, Florida, Kansas and Xavier comprise his early list.
NEWS & NOTES
* DaShonte Riley, the highest rated player on The Family, hasn't played like one so far. He's been very, very quiet in every possible way.
Teammate James Still looks a good three inches taller than what he was last year. And that's clearly a good thing. He's a long and agile big man at 6-foot-9 (maybe a little taller) and could be coming into his own at the right time this spring.
* The Jerry Brown vs. Glen Rice match-up was fun to watch. Brown seemed to glue together the Oakland Soldiers team as his team came away with the victory. Rice continues to score points for the Stars. Both players are 6-foot-5, can handle, can shoot, can pass and can score.
* Once again, Tennessee bound big man Kenny Hall played well around the rim. He's super bouncy and strong on his way up to the basket. He's finally playing with guards that know how to feed the post and he's going right to work when he gets the ball in his hands.