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April 30, 2006

King of the South: Day 1

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Most college coaches headed to the King James Shooting Stars Classic in Akron, Ohio this weekend. But the ones who took a chance on a smaller tournament at Lipscomb University instead have certainly been pleased with their decision.

Day One of the first annual King of the South tournament provided plenty of quality prospects to scout on Saturday, including some big-name players and a handful that are just starting to show up on the radar of some major programs.

Ballerz steal the show

The Mid-State Ballerz don't have to worry about not getting enough attention anymore. The team built of virtually unknown prospects from Middle and West Tennessee, went through the toughest 17-under pool undefeated, beating the Atlanta Celtics Gold team, the Tallahassee Wildcats and the Saint Louis Game Face.

Alabama coach Mark Gottfried and Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton took turns watching the Ballerz along with Western Kentucky coach Darrin Horn and other mid-major coaches.

Junior shooting guard Josh Sain (6-foot-5) got the most inquires of any of their players. An athletic slasher from Jackson, Tenn. who excels at getting to the basket, he started to receive interest from Texas A&M at the Houston Kingwood Classic last weekend and their coach Jeremy Shulman expects many other high-majors to get involved in the coming weeks.

Colorado and Missouri are both recruiting junior small forward Deveyan Hunter (6-4), a versatile defender with a soft shooting touch, from Memphis. The Buffaloes have offered a scholarship.

Sain's prep teammate, Juwon Long (6-2), a left-handed junior guard, is also getting interest from high-majors.

Sleepers emerge

A handful of Big 12 programs are recruiting junior power forward Leon Powell (6-6) and he showed why immediately. The prep star from national power Vashon High (St. Louis) outplayed some of the nation's top players in head-to-head battles, including the Tallahassee Wildcats' A.J. Stewart (Ranked No. 77 in the class of 2007).

Powell, who plays with an aggressive streak, used his strength and athleticism to give Stewart problems on the inside and scored 16 points to lead the Saint Louis Game Face to a 54-53 comeback win. He made a handful of big plays down the stretch, including a left-handed hook shot that gave his team the lead for good with less than two minutes left. He added 20 more points in a loss to the Atlanta Celtics Gold team.

Powell runs the court extremely well and has developed a solid jumper. He is very active around the basket and a solid rebounder as well.

Kansas, Illinois, Missouri are all pursuing Powell. He recently received his first offer from Bradley.

Most coaches had not even herad of Gerald Robinson (6-0), a point guard from Antioch, Tenn., entering the event, but that is changing fast. Robinson scored 31 points and dished out 12 assists in the Nashville Celtics' first two games. Blessed with great quickness, he has been tough to guard and proven to be a pesky defender as well.

A Tennessee assistant took time to watch Robinson play and Ole Miss started showing interest at the Real Deal on the Hill (Fayetteville, Ark.) two weeks ago. Memphis and LSU have also made inquires.

Tennessee is also looking at a sophomore for the Nashville Celtics, DeMario Williams. He is a true point guard, but is playing on the wing for the Celtics.

Look for Atlanta Celtics big man Obetaiye Edwards (6-6, 240), who recently moved from Team Jordan, to start gaining some attention from high-major programs soon. An intimidating force on the inside, the sophomore from Redan (Ga.) High has a big, muscular build. He scored 17 and wrecked all sorts of havoc on the inside in the Celtics' 67-50 win over the St. Louis Game Face.

Wildcats' center D.J. Magley (6-9, 260), a junior from Bradenton, Fla., showed why coach John Adkins called him "the best passing big man he has ever had" entering the tourney. Magley isn't a big scoring threat yet, but he made four passes that led to easy layups for teammates in their loss to the St. Louis Game Face, including two that led to dunks for Stewart. Alabama, FSU, Purdue and Western Kentucky are all showing interest.

Big names come through

Many of the event's highly-touted prospects impressed.

Sophomore small forward Chris Singleton (6-8) out of Cherokee, Ga., who already has offers from several ACC and SEC programs, wasn't shooting well from the perimter, but he still managed to score 11 points and he played solid defense on Powell to help the Atlanta Celtics get past the Saint Louis Game Face.

The Celtics' sophomore point guard Pierre Jordan, who has committed to Clemson, also played well, scoring 11 and setting up his teammates with lots of scoring opportunities.

The Tallahassee Wildcats opened the tourney with two losses, but the blame couldn't' fall on their two stars - juniors Adam Allen and Stewart. Gottfried and Hamilton watched both play.

Allan hit six 3-pointers in those two games, including one at the buzzer at halftime to put the Wildcats up 37-25 over the Game Face. He moved extremely well without the ball and also manuvered his way inside the arc for a handful of mid-range jumeprs.

Stewart looked very versatile, scoring on baseline jumpers, fadaways and drives into the lane, although foul trouble cost him valuable playing time.

No shows

The Memphis Pump N' Run and their star point guard Randy Culpepper were a late scratch. But they were the only major team in the field not to make the trip.

Other news to note:

Texas has begun to show interest in highly-touted sophomore Scotty Hopson from Hopkinsville, Ky., along with his AAU teammate Latavius Williams from Mississippi.

Hopson and Williams are playing at another tournament in Nashville this weekend.


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