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April 19, 2008

Real Deal: Texas players show off on Saturday

FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. -- The Texas kids looked strong on Saturday morning at the Real Deal on the Hill at the University of Arkansas while a number of other prospects showed their stuff at the loaded event in SEC country.

STAR POWER

After his morning game on the main court at Bud Walton, Texas wing forward Shawn Williams had a piece of gauze shoved into his nose and his lip was bloodied after a physical game against the Spiece Indy Heat squad. Williams wore the wounds like war pins. His play in the victory was outstanding.

The Texas natives have been raving about his play early in the AAU season and the praise was justified. Williams looked every bit of his 6-foot-7 frame and did more than shoot perimeter jumpers, something that has been a thing of concern in the past. Williams took his game into the paint and played like someone that wasn't afraid to get on the bull when his name was called.

Playing on the court next to Williams was his Duncanville (Texas) High School teammate Roger Franklin. Franklin was just as impressive as Williams. The 6-foot-5 forward just does a little bit of everything when he is on the floor.

There is a likable quality to Franklin's game. He doesn't over think things when he plays. It's simplistic and not overstated. Franklin is a get the job kind of guy. He scored a hard fought 26 points in a much-needed win for Team Texas.

Pair Williams and Franklin together along with the other Duncanville kids and it's easy to see why the Dallas area school is always a top of the national polls.

If anyone was keeping tabs on how many times the word wow was uttered on media row when watching John Henson on Saturday morning, there is a good chance the count would be pushing double digits.

Henson scored 24 points in the early game, showing off his unreal potential on every bucket. There isn't a longer player in the tournament field and Henson is starting to show he can be just as aggressive as he is smooth. The North Carolina bound big man just gets better and better and he's looking like one of the true elite prospects in the class of 2009 here in Fayetteville.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

Doron Lamb was at it again. The star of last weekend's Boo Williams Invitational picked up from where he left off in Hampton. He's clearly carving out a spot in the elite level club in the 2010 class and making a strong case for the top shooting guard spot in the class. His floater is automatic. His delivery is so smooth to boot.

Joining the Duncanville party this year was class of 2010 forward Julian Washburn and his time spent with Williams, a versatile inside-out forward, is clearly rubbing off on him.

Washburn, a 6-foot-7 forward, is very similar to Williams as the younger prospect knocked down his face-up jumpers and scored against defenders in the post.

Belmont Shore rookie Cezar Guerrero scored 22 points in a tough loss to the Franchize All-Stars. There was a lot to like though with quick twitch class of 2011 guard from SoCal. He loves the dribble drive and loves the spin move into the paint en route to the basket. His herky-jerky style is an acquired taste for some but it worked down the stretch. He'll be talked about a lot this spring and summer and for the next three years down the road.

DeShaun Thomas might not be a morning person. The lefty missed a couple of point-blank shots at the rim, including a pair of lay-ups and overshot the basket. It clearly wasn't his best effort against Texas Select. He scored 14 points and hit a pair of three-pointers in the defeat.

HI, MY NAME IS…

The New York Gauchos know how to churn out the guards. On Saturday morning, Russell Smith showed some promise with his play. The 6-foot, 150-pound point guard's 15 points and four assists were just what the Gauchos needed to break the game open from the M33M Ballers.

Smith played like a point guard. He didn't waste movement and was quick to the spots he wanted to get to. His passes were spot on and looked like another guard to keep an eye on this spring and summer.

For schools looking for a long shooter with great range and good grades might want to take a peek at Drew Branham of the Nashville Celtics. The 6-foot-6, 185-pound wing can really stroke it.

Texas Select big man Tony Crisswell is a guy that the mid-level schools have to like after his play on Saturday. The 6-foot-8 Midwest City (Okla.) product worked the boards well, ran the floor and played with toughness and good energy.

SCHOOL LIST CENTRAL

Smith, the morning star for the Gauchos, said he is hearing from Arkansas, Louisville, Wright State, George Mason, Connecticut, New Mexico State, Iona and Quinnipiac. "They are coming out of the woodwork," he father says.

Washburn, the next Duncanville star, said Texas has offered early while Stanford, Arizona, Georgetown, UCLA and Oklahoma are in the picture.

His teammate Williams said Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Indiana (old staff) have stood out the most so far.

Criswell, the 6-foot-8 forward for Texas Select, said his recruitment includes Oral Roberts, Oklahoma, Tulsa, TCU, Southern, Wichita State and UNLV.

Kyle Fogg is one of the top unsigned players in the class of 2008 and he showed why playing with Belmont Shore. The 6-foot-3 guard is a smooth player with a sharp scoring touch. Fogg said he is debating the prep school route or interest from UNLV, San Diego State, Portland and Pepperdine for 2008. He added Washington and Arizona are interested if he goes to prep school.

Jon Hood has been one of the most recruited guards in the 2009 class so far and it looks like it might get even more intense this weekend. The 6-foot-7 wing said Bill Self, Rick Barnes and Coach K all told him that they will evaluate him this weekend in Fayetteville to determine a potential scholarship offer. Hood said Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Georgia are also in the picture.

Drew Kelly, the Nashville Celtics bruiser, said he has offers from Notre Dame, Western Kentucky, Belmont, Marshall, Southern Illinois and Furman while South Carolina's new staff has already reached out. Minnesota and Iowa are also in the picture, he said.

Nashville Celtics class of 2010 wing forward prospect Casey Prather said Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Valparaiso and Ole Miss are in the mix. He added the North Carolina and Duke have both inquired with his AAU coach.

NOTES FROM THE NOTEPAD

* Midwest Mission point guard Darien Kelly will be a good player at the mid-major level. The 6-foot-1 guard is a low-risk, high-reward point guard that understands his position like a veteran.

* After missing most of the first half because of a logistical problem before the 8 a.m. game, Quincy Acy and Charles Hammork gave the Texas Blue Chips Elite a shot in the arm in the second half. Acy was "beastly" as one college coach put it and Hammorck, a 6-foot-7 wing, played well enough to have people scrambling to the roster book to see who he was.

* Hearing Gaucho big man Dan Jennings recount his first experience in Arkansas as entertaining. The native New Yorker said the drive from the Northwest Arkansas airport to campus was like driving to Oak Hill Academy, his current school, for the first time. "I was actually kind of scared," he said with a laugh. His work on the glass was actually scary. The big man did a great job of owning the boards in the morning. He loves his role as the enforcer.

* Illinois bound wing D.J. Richardson has a pretty-looking jumper. The 6-foot-4 guard has a good, quick release and can really get the ball out of his hands in a hurry.

* It has been a good start to the Real Deal on the Hill for Sampson Carter. The Memphis native looked good again on Saturday, scoring 21 points in front of a lot of coaches. He knocked down three three-pointers, too.

* Southeast Elite big man Luke Cawthorne caught our eye yesterday with his athletic play around the basket and catching bits and pieces of his 28-point game on Saturday morning, it's clear that the 6-foot-8 forward is a high-major kid. Cawthorne is a class of 2010 prospect.

* Playing better than he did on Friday night, Ray Turner stepped up for the Franchize All-Stars on Saturday. The bouncy forward scored 19 points as he showed off his quick hops and nasty streak in the paint.

ALL EYES ON US

For the first time this evaluation period, college coaches can get out and see the prospects play. And boy did the coaches find a way to get to Fayetteville for the Real Deal on the Hill. Half of the Bud Walton Arena was packed with assistant and head coaches. Who was watching who exactly? Hard to really say as the coaches were spread out in the giant arena watching all three courts at the same time.


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