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May 26, 2006

Top-ranked guards invade Nashville

The Class of 2007 has been called the "Year of the Guard" and the Memorial Day Classic will offer a great example of why.

Four of the six point guards which are ranked among Rivals.com's top 25 prospects are expected to play in the MDC, which begins Saturday morning in Nashville.

That includes the nation's No. 3-ranked prospect Derrick Rose, Michigan State-commit Kalin Lucas (No. 13), Florida-commit Nick Calathes (No. 17), and Chris Wright (No. 21). Three other guards who are ranked among the top 50 are also expected to play, E'Twaun Moore (No. 30), Jai Lucas (No. 42) and Corperryale Harris (No. 45).

"When you survey the top guards from the class of 2007 you find that most play for Nike-sponsored teams, and most of the top Nike teams are expected to be here at this event," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer said. "There is even talk that O.J. Mayo could be here, which would be a great addition to what is already an impressive field of point guards."

The Nike-sponsored Miami Tropics, whom Mayo, Rivals.com's No. 1 prospect in the class and arguably the top point guard to come out of the prep ranks in several years, played with at the Houston Kingwood Classic in April are part of the MDC field. Mayo normally plays for the Reebok-sponsored D-One Greyhounds.

Already a big name on the AAU circuit at the end of last summer, Rose used the spring period to boost his stock even more.

"Derrick has elevated his game over the past few months and definitely established himself as the second-best point guard in the class behind Mayo," Meyer said.

Calathes also impressed in the spring by showing lots of savvy and versatility.

"Calathes (6-foot-5, 175-pounds) has great size and an unbelievable feel for the game," Meyer said. "He's a combo guard that can score, hit the deep 3-pointer and also has a nice floater and mid-range game."

Lucas plays for a mega-talented team called the The Family, which includes Harris and fellow Michigan-State commit Durrell Summers.

"Lucas does a tremendous job pushing the tempo and finding his talented teammates with passes up the court," Meyer said. "In the halfcourt game he is a terror coming off ball screens and is also the type of guy that has a number of shots in his arsenal."

More high-profile recruits to show

The MDC will also feature many more big names, including five-star recruits Kyle Singler (No. 6), Syracuse-commit Donte Green (No. 15), Oklahoma-commit Blake Griffin (No. 18) and Gary Johnson (No. 24). Georgia Tech-commit and four-star recruit Gani Lawal is also expected to play.

Griffin recently became the third player to commit to new Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel, joining his AAU teammate from Athletes First, Cade Davis and 2009 big man Kyle Hardrick.

Johnson plays alongside Jai Lucas with the Houston Hoops, who just recently finished runner up at last weekend's Cactus Classic.

The next wave of elite prospects

The MDC will also feature many of the highest touted prospects from the class of 2008, including combo guard Tyreke Evans, and forwards, Greg Monroe and Samardo Samuels. Elite schools have shown interest in the entire trio.

Evans has put together some spectacular performances on the AAU circuit already, showcasing his deft ball handling skills and ability to score off the dribble.

"Evans, Moore and Samuels are all battling for the top spots in the 2008 class and this is a great opportunity for them to do just that," Meyer said.

Other emerging 2008 prospects will be there as well, including Ashton Gibbs, Nasir Robinson, Ed Davis, Paul Williams, Nick Williams and Jamychal Green.

More names to watch

At least ten more uncommitted members of the Rival150 are expected to be suiting up in the MDC, including many of the fastest rising prospects.

That includes power forward Patrick Patterson and shooting guard Chris Early, who play for the Boo Williams Summer League team.

Small forwards Robbie Hummel and Scott Martin, who each have scholarship offers from several Big Ten schools, join Moore on the SYF Players.

Towering center Solomon Alabi (7-1, 230) plays for Nike Team Florida with Calathes. Alabi did not play in the Kingwood Classic due to a hip pointer.

The host team, the Tennessee Travelers, feature small forward Antwaine Wiggins and guard Terrence Oglesby.

Power forwards Matthew Bryan-Amaning and James Anderson, small forward Corey Stokes and point guard Maurice Miller are expected to be in attendance as well.

From the Big Easy to the Country Music Capital of the World

The MDC was previously held in New Orleans, but had to move due to the damage infliced by Hurricane Katrina. Nashville landed the event, due in large part to the tremendous facilities at The Ensworth School, where all the 17-under games will be played.

"It's one of the top high school facilities in the nation," Meyer said.



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