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April 9, 2007

Boo Williams Invitational top performers

There was a theme to the 2007 Boo Williams Invitational. It was the battle of the big men. Rivals.com's Justin Young was on hand from start to finish and came away impressed with number of prospects in the field.

Here are his top performers from the event in Hampton, Va.

Boo Williams Invitational top five performers
Ed Davis, PF, AAU Team: Boo Willams

No one was better or more productive at the Boo Williams Invitational than the five-star forward from Benedictine High School in Richmond, Virginia. Davis rose to the occasion in every test that was thrown his way. His play was inspired and efficient every time he stepped on the floor.

Paired against nearly every top-flight big man in the tournament, Davis went toe-to-toe and was the teacher instead of the student. The big man made a high percentage of his shots, hit the boards and went to work in the post.

Against Greg Monroe, the nation's top player, Davis set the tone early. Against JaMycal Green, a five-star forward from Alabama, Davis didn't shy away from the aggressive style of play. Against Michael Dunnigan, a top 35 prospect, Davis defended him well and scored over the towering shot-blocker.

Davis's last-second score helped his Boo Williams team win the tournament. The bucket wasn't an easy one either. He made it happen with a tremendous move to the basket, scoring on his favorite left side of the basket.

Depending on where he goes to college, Davis could potentially have an impact quite like the top freshmen of this year's college basketball season. Virginia and Connecticut are high on his list and a host of others are close behind.

The top 10 prospect made a strong case for an ascent in the rankings with his play and count his performance as the best so far this spring in the class of 2008.

Greg Monroe, PF, AAU Team: Louisiana Select

The nation's top player was asked to do a lot against the very best. The 6-foot-9 forward had a number of fastballs thrown at him high and tight but Monroe stayed in the box and took every pitch in stride.

Davis may have "won" the battle against Monroe, but the Louisiana native stood tall and battled back in a game that he could have easily thrown in the towel. On one particular play, Monroe cleared space out with a tremendous move and soared high for an attempted dunk. It was an impressive move.

Monroe helped his Louisiana Select team advance to the Gold Division playoffs and ran into the Boo Williams wall. His team was fairly mediocre but played at a high level because Monroe raised the bar.

Focusing more on his perimeter game, Monroe showed an ability to attack with the basketball from the wing and caused mismatch problems throughout. He had the most weapons of all of the top-flight 2008 prospects in the event and used them all. Matched with teams that had size, strength and depth, Monroe brought it time and time again.

Samardo Samuels, PF, AAU Team: Metro Hawks

An injury was about the only thing that could slow down the Newark (N.J.) St. Benedict's Prep power forward over the weekend. He defined the word beast in the post and was just too strong and too big for teams to slow down.

Noticeably thinner and stronger than he was this time last year, Samuels still has his soft hands that double as vice grips when he crashed the boards. Offensively, the big man doesn't rely just on his brute strength. He offered a number of post moves and under appreciated athleticism with quick springs for dunks in traffic.

His shot-blocking ability has improved and his patience in the post on defense is maturing. No one will question his motor and that 'go' mentality may have been just too much for his body to handle.

Leg cramps kept him out of action as the Metro Hawks bowed out in the first round of the playoffs. Had he been healthy, the Metro Hawks could have very well made a push to the championship game.

His play certainly justified why North Carolina, Louisville, Georgetown, Florida and Connecticut are all in the hunt and will be there until the final hour.

Jamychal Green, PF, AAU Team: Alabama Challenge

The basketball world learned a little something about the boy next door. He has a nasty side to him. And that is a good thing. The Montgomery (Al.) St. Jude High School forward is a high character kid with good grades at a good school. However, it would have been easy to assume he was from the mean streets of Chicago or battle tested in New Jersey. Green played the role of punisher quite well and didn't back down to anyone who wanted to lock horns with him.

Green was a rebounding machine and played with a motor that was hard to match. The five-star big man faced guys like Davis and the huge frontline of the Boo Williams club and did some respectable damage. Against Athletes First, Green took advantage of playing physical and set the tone for the entire game.

Both games ended in one-bucket losses and as the true competitor that he is, Green didn't take the defeats well.

High-majors are all over him already, but he could be a guy that sees his recruitment climb even higher by this time next month.

Kyle Hardrick, C, AAU Team: Athletes First

The early Oklahoma commitment quietly put together one heck of a weekend on the Virginia coast. Despite the fact he is only a sophomore, Hardrick played like a seasoned veteran.

His game is custom built for the Big 12 and he'll be an enforcer for the Sooners. Hardick works well with other post players as he and teammate Daniel Orton showed off a tremendous high-low tag team. Both players did a fine job on the low block as a scorer or at the elbow as the passer.

Offensively, he has made major strides on the blocks. The five-star sophomore knows what to do with the basketball when he gets his huge hands on it in the post. As a rebounder, he taught Tyreke Evans's Team Final a thing or two about collecting rebounds.

Already ranked amongst the top 25 sophomores nationally, Hardrick looked every bit like one of the top overall players in his class from start to finish.

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