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Day II Of The TOC

Today we got to see several players at the Tournament of Champions we've been
wanting to see, primarily James White, Ousmane Cisse, David Harrison, and Rick
Rickert (again).

James White was the first guy we saw, and while he is very very slender, he
is, as one admirer put it, a freak.  It was clear from the warmups that
this guy doesn't have springs in his legs, he has cannons.  He gets his
elbow over the rim without much trouble at all.

Once the game started, he was sort of in the background for a bit, then he
began to assert himself, first with three pointers, then with some drives and an
alleyoop.  The comparison he gets is with Vince Carter.  The leaping
is there, but the other aspects - running, quickness, long leggedness - we think
he'll surpass Carter in those areas.  He is painfully thin, to be sure, but
the talent is undeniable.  You have to see it to believe it.

That doesn't mean he'll be a great player. A lot of more talented players
never made it.  But it means his potential is blinding. James will go as
far as he decides to go, and it will depend on his making good decisions. 
But we promise you haven't seen many like this.   It's pretty amazing.
We didn't see his second half dunk, but the description was amazing, and we're
not even big dunk fans.

We went over to Card at halftime so that we could catch David Harrison and
the Tennessee Travelers, as their game was also set for 1:00 PM.  It was
pretty obvious when we saw Harrison that he, also, had enormous potential. At
7-0 and 241, he is already physically ready for college ball.  And unlike
Eddy Curry, he actually did hustle and run up and down the court.  His
offensive game, more precisely his post game, isn't where it could be, but the
elements are there. He also did a lot of screening and some of his passes were
pretty impressive as well.  He had a couple of blocks, but his grasp of the
game isn't equal, yet, to his talent.  However, he's obviously a bright
kid, and like White, the talent is undeniable.  Both of these kids can and
should improve phenomenally over the next several years.

We also saw several a few other kids on the Travelers who caught our
attention, primarily Jason Holwerda, who is a gutty, hardnosed player who
actually plays defense.  He's pretty tough.  And Sam Daniels, from
Asheville, was smart and persistent. We liked his effort and attitude.  He
may not be ACC level (like we'd know), but he'll play somewhere.

The Travelers lost to the Aces of Charlotte, who were led by Ricky Myers.
Last night we were unimpressed by the diminutive Myers, but today he won the
game.  He hit a driving layup over Harrison - keep in mind he's 5-8! - and
got a rebound and also managed to get rid of the ball when two much taller
players tried to trap him in the backcourt.  He reminded us somewhat of
Terrell McIntyre.  Just gutty and tough and a winner.

Maurice Petty had a quiet half.  We reminded ourselves that he's 6-5,
just finished his sophomore year, and that he has a huge upside.  A kid
from Shelby who is all of a sudden competing against the nation's best - it's a
big leap. We'll continue to follow him with interest.

When Ousmane Cisse came out on the court, it was immediately obvious that he
was very different from the other kids at this tournament.  He's incredibly
powerful - the guy is just cut.  He bulls around the basket and is capable
of dominance like few here currently are.  Unfortunately, at this stage in
his career, he's not particularly polished.  He can work under the basket,
rebound, and block shots. He's also foul prone and at least sometimes turnover
prone.  Nonetheless, he was at times simply awesome.  He reminds us
somewhat of Chris Webber actually.  He is much, much, MUCH more powerful
than anyone else here, with the possible exception of Curry, who is just as big
but who showed us none of the quickness Cisse displayed.

He played for the Pepsi Challenge, and they played the Tim Thomas Playaz.
Their best player,  John Allen, sat out with an injury and sat on the other
side of the gym, across from the bench, and popped up on a regular basis to yell
at the refs and to yell encouragement to his teammates.  While watching
this team, we came to admire two guards, Jeremiah King, who has a notion of how
to lead the break, and John Winchester, who was just a smart, solid player, who
had better fundamentals than most of the other kids.

Rick Rickert's team, Belmont Shore, played the Pittsburgh Jots, and joining
the Jots, in a coaching capacity, was NC State's Archie Miller. 

Rickert will probably never play center. He's big enough, but  his
skills are wasted under the basket.  He has good range, good mobility, and
runs well.  He's definitely in the line of Duke forwards like Ferry, Alarie,
Laettner, and Battier.  He has a lot of nice skills.

The Jots featured point guard Brandon Fuss-Cheatham. We were told by someone
that he had an off game, but the kid still showed reasonable quickness, good not
great, and a fearlessness about penetrating.  A very tough kid not to like.
We could see a role for him on almost any team.