Steve Bell went to see the 16-Under AAU nationals from Michigan, and sent us
some of his impressions. Very kind of you, Steve!
With 100 teams playing, obviously I couldn't see everybody. However, I did get to see big-timers like 6'10 Kendrick Perkins from Beaumont, TX Ozone, who is no less than top 10 in the class of 2003. He's big, strong, blocks shots, rebounds and scores with a no-bs post game on the other end.
Nearly as good as Kendrick was his Houston Hoops teammate 6'9 Ndube Ebe from Westbury Christian High School in Houston. The typical 6'9 kid playing away from the basket does it because he doesn't want to get dirty and prefers to fire off three-pointers. Ebe played away from the hoop because he was the team's best ball-handler, throwing down ridiculous dribble moves to break the press. Combine that handle with his hands and leaping ability around the rim and you have another top 10 prospect.
6'11 Jermaine Bell from Rochester, NY is the other kind of perimeter-oriented big man. The good: He's a 6'11 lefty who doesn't miss 15-foot jumpers. The bad: He's a 6'11 lefty who doesn't miss 15-foot jumpers. Didn't see him block a shot or score in the post.
The two best guards in the tournament were opposites, each terrific in their own way. What's up with Kinston, NC, Jerry Stackhouse's hometown? 6'3 Jeremy Ingram is that same kind of explosive athlete with a diverse, powerful, proactive scoring game. Ingram had the dunk of the tournament in pool play, rising over and going through two much taller kids for a one-handed power jam, then came back to stick a three-pointer on the next possession.
Ingram was the top two guard, 6'4 Ronnie Brewer from Little Rock, AR was the best point guard. Son of the Arkansas All-American of the same name, Brewer was a pleasure to watch, a tall, lanky, smart, ultrasmooth playmaker who killed you with a variety of passes. He didn't look to score much, but had some moves in the lane when he chose to look for them. Ronnie's he kind of long, defensive-oriented guard that can play at the game's highest level for a very long time.
Other outstanding guards were 6'0 Brandon Cotton from Detroit DePorres, who is as natural a scorer as there is in the country, and Michael Nardi, a 6'1 human lay-up drill from Elizabeth, NJ St. Patrick's who is following in the line of tough, talented white Jersey guards like the Hurleys, Billets and Crispins (does Mike have a brother?).
The South is always good for some big athletic guys, and so it was with Brenton Petway, a 6'8 shot-blocking, dunking left-hander from McDonough, GA (he was waaay better than more-hyped -- wonder why? -- teammate Patrick Ewing, Jr.) and 6'8 Anthony King from Durham, NC, the kind of strong Tar Heel forward that has been the backbone, along with East Coast point guards, of the ACC for 30 years. He had the body, but wasn't as productive as one might want. But he's only 16.
Best kids I saw:
1. Kendrick Perkins 6'10 PF Houston Hoops
2. Jeremy Ingram 6'3 2G NC Red Storm
3. Ronnie Brewer 6'4 PG Arkansas Hawks
4. Ndube Ebe 6'9 WF Houston Hoops
5. Jermaine Bell 6'11 PF Upstate (NY) Dragons
6. Brenton Petway 6'8 PF Georgia Stars
7. Brandon Cotton 6'0 2G The Family (MI)
8. Michael Nardi 6'1 PG Newark Ram Athletic Club
9. Anthony King 6'8 PF NC Red Storm
10. Michael Pilgram 6'6 WF Queen City (OH)Prophets
11. Jeremy Nicholson 6'3 PG Springfield (MO) Heat
12. Brian Henderson 6'3 2G Martinsville (VA) Select
13. Ije Nwankwo 6'6 PF The Family
14. Sam Pharr 6'7 PF Team Indiana
15. D'Andre Peyton 6'6 WF Team Indiana
16. Corey Johnson 6'0 PG Spiece Gym Rats Central Stars (IN)
17. Terrance Partee 6'5 WF NC Gators
18. Marlon Smith 5'11 PG New York Gauchos
19. Reyshaun Terry 6'6 WF KAPPA Magic (NC)
20. James Davis 6'11 C Team Minnesota Gold
21. De'Kyron Nicks 5'11 PG Houston Hoops
22. Deven Mitchell 6'4 WF Springfield (MO) Heat
23. Sam Gammell 6'2 2G Arkansas Hawks
24. Anthony Gray 6'5 WF Arkansas Hawks
25. Ronald Taylor 5'11 PG Tennessee Thunder
26. Jass Ross 6'3 2G Georgia Stars
27. Antonio Bonds 6'2 PG The Family (Pontiac Northern)
28. Adam Viet 6'4 2G Eastern Iowa
29. Darren Yates 6'2 2G No Excuses (IN)
30. Cecil Lee 5'11 PG Upstate Dragons
31. Tim Edwards 6'1 2G Arkansas Hawks
32. Anthony Tucker 6'6 WF NC Red Storm
33. Marcus Baxter 6'3 2G KAPPA Magic (NC)
34. Robert Perry 6'7 WF NC Red Storm
35. Derek Van Solkema 6'0 PG Michigan Mustangs (GR South Christian)
36. Shawn Hopes 6'8 C The Family (Cass Tech)
37. Brook McKowen 6'3 2G Eastern Iowa
38. Tarik Johnson 5'11 PG Cecil Kirk (Baltimore)