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June 5, 2006

Young prospects shine at Atlanta Next Factors camp

Reebok is hosting Next Factors Training Camps across the country and Rivals.com spent the weekend at Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, Ga., to see some of the top young prospects in the Southeast.

The Next Factors camp provides prospects with an opportunity to play at Reebok's ABCD camp in July or the Camp Next in June, both in Teaneck, N.J. the top players at the 12 regional events will play at either one of the prestigious Reebok sponsored summer camp.

Four shine the brightest

At the Atlanta camp, four players made a strong case for the top overall player at the event and an invite to either ABCD or Camp Next.

C.J. Williams, (Jack Britt HS (N.C.)/Carolina Raptors), Teondre Williams (Meadowcreek HS (Ga.)/Worldwide Renegades 16U), Richard Howell (Central Gwinnett HS (Ga.)/Georgia Hurricanes 15U) and Mfon Udofia (Miller Grove HS (Ga.)/Georgia Hurricanes 15U) all played great basketball over the weekend.

C.J. Williams, a 6-foot-5 forward, was the pillar of versatility, showing he could score inside, step out to 15 feet and knock down the jumper all the while handling the ball, making good passes and defending some of the best players in the camp.

After playing a large role at the Tournament of Champions for his 16 and under championship team with the Carolina Raptors, Williams is picking up steam heading into the busy and all too important July period.

Playing on his high school court, Teondre Williams put on an athletic show. The 6-foot-4 class of 2008 prospect wowed on-lookers with his continual rim abuse on every court at the venue. Williams did his best work on the baseline and looked to challenge any defender that tried to thwart his approach to the basket.

Williams is improving his perimeter game and has a good looking pull up midrange game. Playing alongside Michigan State bound guard Chris Allen, Williams has picked up on what it takes to play at the next level and he is starting to put it all together. He was the best prospect at the camp. It's no wonder why Syracuse, Michigan State, Georgia and Florida are interested.

Howell, a 6-foot-7 forward class of 2009 forward, was the best big man in the camp. Cut from the mold of fellow Peach State stud Howard Thompkins, Howell is a versatile big that can handle the ball with ease. He regularly brought the ball up the floor on offense and attacked the basket with the dribble. Thompkins is a better perimeter shooter but Howell is a better interior player.

Howell does his best work on the glass and did a good job of getting the rebound and then starting the break for quick baskets. He's had a huge spring on the AAU circuit and is emerging as one of the top prospects in the Southeast. Georgia, Tennessee, Auburn, Florida and Georgia Tech have jumped in early. His dream school? Duke.

Word is starting to get out on Udofia. The class of 2009 prospect is a terrific young point guard. Unlike a lot of players at his position in his class, Udofia makes good decisions with the ball and played the role as floor leader in a setting that oftentimes breeds selfishness. He has no problems sharing the rock and distributing the rock to others.

Udofia can score. There is little debating that. He has a good build and absorbs contact in the lane. The lefty has a burst of speed that gets him into the lane and a steady jumper from all spots on the floor. The high-majors are coming on strong for him including Alabama, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Georgia, UConn, Kentucky, Kansas State, Duke and Villanova.

Rounding out the camp

John Overton, a 6-foot point guard from Buford (Ga.), had a big camp and had all of the onlookers asking who he was. Overton, a son of a former college coach, plays the game like a player that grew up on the sidelines. He's not one to turn the ball over and makes good passes to assists. As a jump shooter, he's automatic both off the pull up and off screens. His mid range jumper is textbook. Overton is on a number of mid-major radars.

Ari Stewart and Ariel Jones were two of the more intriguing class of 2009 prospects at the event. The two 6-foot-5 wings were almost identical in look, game and even jersey numbers. Stewart wore number 74 while Jones sported 75, oftentimes making evaluators do a double take. Both are long and athletic wings that rebounded well and shot the ball well from deep. The two can both handle the ball better than most big wings in their class. Stewart will sharpen his skills at Banneker High School in Atlanta while Jones is at Duluth (Ga.) High School.

Luck has not been on Jordan DeMercy's side for the last year and a half. After missing out an opportunity to play at Norcross (Ga.) High School and winning a state championship because of a controversial transfer rule, the athletic 6-foot-6 wing broke his right wrist at an early spring event. He played in one major national event and has since watched from the sidelines. DeMercy dove into the action for the first time since April and played well at the Next Factors camp.

Still hampered by his wrist injury, the class of 2007 prospect was a little tentative with his jumper. As one of the top athletes in the field, DeMercy did what he does best and that was attack the basket and finished the high percentage shot at the rim. DeMercy is a name that a couple of high-majors will look long at. He's a no-brainer mid-major player right now.

Demarquis Bost has been a hot name on the prep scene of late. He was a stud at the Tournament of Champions over Memorial Day weekend. And the 6-foot-2 combo guard from Concord (N.C.) was solid at the Next Factors camp. He dialed down his scoring and played the point guard spot for the majority of the weekend and looked comfortable doing it. Come July, Bost will be a must see guy for a number of teams in the Southeast.

He only played one day but Darnell Wilks did enough to garner praises from most onlookers. Wilkes is a freaky 6-foot-7 athlete that will have a wow moment once or twice a game. He's a raw basketball player but certainly a prospect worth watching. The Missouri native has reclassified to the 2008 group and will spend the next two years at Pioneer Christian in Tennessee.

Rounding out the top ten players in the camp was Georgia big man Spencer Gay. The 6-foot-6 forward from Mill Creek High School in metro Atlanta went to work both inside and out. Gay is a solid rebounder that has a soft touch around the basket, a sturdy frame for grinding it out down low and a knack for scoring the ball. The big time student just begs to be recruited by the academia powers.

Notes from the notepad

The class of 2010 has rarely seen any space on Rivals.com Basketball Recruiting. One, it is way too early. Two, it's hard to write about guys that haven't played high school ball yet. But remember the names Jalen Kendrick of Atlanta and Kristopher Sherard of Virginia via Mt. Zion (N.C.). The rising freshmen were not only the best in their class at the camp but two of the top 20 players at the event.

Kendricks is a big guard at 6-feet-4. He has good handles and a tremendous soccer. He's long, can light it up from deep, good off the bounce and is mature in the flow of the game.

Sherard, a mammoth 6-foot-8 forward, turned his ankle on the first day of action but battled back down low. He's a difficult player to box out and he plays high above his head. With further development to his game and body, Sherard will be a name to remember over the next couple of years.

Speaking of being nearly impossible to box out, Amadou Sampou was the hardest player to put a body on down low. The native of Gambia was the biggest player in the camp at 6-foot-8, 265-pounds and he knew how to use his size to his advantage. After playing at John Paul Catholic in Tallahassee, Fla., Sampou said he will likely transfer to Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville for his senior year. Florida A&M and Penn State are the two schools recruiting him, he said.

There wasn't a player in the camp that could shot the ball like guard Kelvin McConnell. The rising senior from Whitefield Academy had no problems with the three-point line-less courts. He just stepped out to 30 feet and buried the longest two pointers of the camp. His father said a trip to Tulane is in the works.

Four players from the class of 2008 played themselves onto a number of mid-major radars. Josh Smith (6-6 SF, Myrtle Beach, S.C. HS), Edward Daniel (6-6 PF, Hayes HS, Birmingham, Ala.), Ebuka Anyaorah (6-3 SG, North Gwinnett, Ga. HS), and Zuri James (6-2 SG, Pace Academy, Atlanta, Ga.) all had good camps from start to finish and were amongst the top 20 prospects at the event.


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