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Nike Memorial Day Classic: Day One
Nashville, TN-It should come as no surprise that Xavier Henry (pictured) was the best player on opening day of Nike’s Memorial Day Classic, but lesser known guys like Rodney Williams, Glenn Bryant, and Kyryl Natyazhko also made a splash.
Xavier Henry (6’6 SG Athletes First 2009)- Henry stood out as the best player in Nashville on Saturday. He’s strong, athletic, active, smart, has great size for his position and scores with ease. We expect him to be a big time college player and a nice pro down the road. He has firmly established his spot among the elite players in the nation.
Daniel Orton (6’10 C Athletes First 2009)- Orton doesn’t get the amount of touches he deserves because he plays on the loaded Athlete’s First squad (a team that doesn‘t have a true point guard), but when he did get the ball on Saturday he impressed with a soft touch around the basket and power-dunks. On the defensive side of the ball he was even more impressive as he is one of the better shot blockers in the country. Considering he’s 6’10 (and an imposing 255 pounds), long and athletic, Orton has all the physical tools to play at the highest level, but he doesn‘t always play hard and he still doesn‘t have a great feel for the game (he makes passes that aren‘t there sometimes, etc.). Nonetheless he has to be considered among the nation’s top center prospects if-not based on upside alone. Recruiting-wise, Orton tells us he is wide open at the moment, but did mention Oklahoma, Ohio State, Kansas, Kentucky, and USC as schools that are recruiting him the hardest.
Rodney Williams (6’6 W Howard Pulley 2009)- Williams may not get as much press as his highly touted teammate, Royce White, but he could be the better long term prospect. Long arms, good size for his position, a good feel for the game and an honest shot are just some of the qualities that make him special. He also had some eye-catching dunks on Saturday that had the crowd buzzing. We spoke to his father, Rodney Sr., and he told us that Minnesota, Iowa State, and Kansas are among the schools showing the most interest.
Hollis Thompson (6’7 W Portland Legends 2009)- Thompson backed up his top 25 ranking by scoring 24 points (including 17 in the first half) in his team’s win over Team Texas on Saturday. We’d like to see him tighten up his handle so he can be more effective off-the-dribble, but he has a great feel for the game and his jumper is near-automatic. Georgetown fans should be excited that Thompson is heading there way next fall.
Glenn Bryant (6’7 F The Family 2009)- After a stellar high school season playing for Oak Hill Academy, Bryant has continued to impress this spring. He could have the best vertical athleticism of any prospect in the country and those hops were on full display on Saturday when he had the nastiest dunk of tournament (in which he jumped off two feet and ended up eye level with the rim before throwing down a two-handed flush) and numerous impressive blocks. He’s still very raw, but his skill game is definitely improving as his jumper is becoming more-and-more consistent (his handle isn’t as developed, yet). Right now, he’s a face-up four man, but he should be recruited as a combo-forward that could develop into an athletic three man. Memphis, Virginia Tech, Oregon and Syracuse are leading for his services. Expect Bryant to move well into the top 75 when we update the class of 2009 rankings.
Kyryl Natyazhko (6’10 PF Team Florida 2009)- Natyazhko, a native of Ukraine, is the best player we’ve seen in the event so far that wasn’t previously on our radar. He’s a European-style big man with a lot of skill, but he also has some dawg in him (unlike many Euro-style players) and likes to bang inside. We’ll keep you posted as we get a better feel for Natyazhko’s game, but there is no-doubt that he is a big-time sleeper.
KC Ross-Miller (6’0 PG Team Texas 2010)- This future (Kentucky) Wildcat had a good showing on Saturday as he helped Team Texas to a win over Spiece Indy Heat. Ross-Miller isn’t the type of player to wow you with his athleticism or fancy moves, but what he does do is protect the ball, make smart decisions and play excellent defense... which is exactly what you would want out of your point guard. He ran the show like a veteran and did a good job of penetrating and either dishing to the open man or drawing the foul. He has struggled with his shot this weekend, however, and will need to develop a consistent jumper in order to reach his full potential.
Austin Rivers (6’3 SG Team STAT 2011)- Austin, who is the son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, created quite the buzz on Saturday. Despite the fact that he is one of the youngest players in the tournament, he has been among the most impressive. He is the go-to guy for Team Stat and you can tell that he has studied the moves of NBA players like Kobe Bryant and others as his scoring game is extremely developed (he’s deadly off the dribble and hits big shots like a veteran) for a player his age. You’ll have a hard time finding a better two-guard in the class of 2011.
Top 20 rising-senior Jordan Hamilton (6’6 W Team Odom) says that Texas and Kansas are the schools to beat for his services.
Top 100 rising-senior Johnnie Lacy (5’9 PG Wisconsin Elite) says that Marquette leads for his services, but also mentioned Tennessee, Texas and Minnesota.
Top 100 rising-senior Tevin Baskin (6’6 WF New York Gauchos) tells us that he has offers from Xavier, Auburn, and Umass, but that he looks forward to getting to know all of the coaches recruiting him more this summer.
Top 50 rising-senior Terrence Boyd (6’5 W Athletes First) tells us that his top five are Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Kansas, Pittsburg and Oklahoma.
Top 150 rising-senior Emery Kelly (6'7 F Birmingham Storm) has offers from LSU (who is his current favorite) and Mississippi State.
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