Monday, September 14, 2009

Battle of the Classes: N.C. kids sweep

The National Hoops Report sent the weekend at the Battle of the Classes showcase at the University of South Carolina. The event paired the top players from the 2010, 2011 and 2012 classes from North Carolina and South Carolina against each other. The first annual event was a big success because some familiar names did what they always do and some young players took advantage of the big stage.


With several high-major commitments in the event, the pick for the top overall player in the day’s event could have been easily given to an ACC-bound player. No one would have been surprised or even thought twice about it. But the day’s best player wasn’t an ACC-bound player.

The best player of the day was Bernard Sullivan (pictured), a 6-foot-7 forward from North Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte. The class of 2011 big man was outstanding in the low post and played with a high-level of energy, enthusiasm and focus. He dominated the game better than any player in the 2010 and 2011 classes and put his stamp on the day with his play.

Sullivan said he has offers from Clemson and Davidson while Georgetown, Penn State, N.C. State, South Carolina, Florida, Miami, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are in the mix. If he can show a concerted effort to improving his four man skills, don’t be surprised to see more teams move into the offered category.

ACC bound guards Ian Miller (Florida State) and P.J. Hairston were both great in their respective games.

Miller, a class of 2010, did what he does best – score first, orchestrate second. He should shine for Leonard Hamilton at Florida State. A guy named Toney Douglas did quite alright there and Miller is cut from a similar cloth.

Hairston, a 2011 commitment for North Carolina, led the way for his team in scoring with 17 and that shouldn’t really come as a surprise. He’s a big, strong and powerful scorer that will have his way with high school kids for the next two years.

The 1-2 punch of Tyler Lewis and Montrezl Harrell was the best 1-2 punch of the day. The class of 2012 prospects from North Carolina had things rolling their way in the first game of the day.

Lewis, a heady 5-foot-9 point guard, had the best basketball smarts of any player in the gym on Saturday. He made the right passes, shot the right shots and never turned the ball over. Moreover, he realized the benefit of Harrell and gave the big man from rural North Carolina the ball as much as he could.

Harrell, a 6-foot-6 monster of a power forward, earned notes like this on the NHR notepad: “BEAST!” “Monster on the glass.” “Scores with power.” He was fun to watch and it will be fun to see how he develops over the next two and a half years.

Harrell, who hails from North Edgecombe High School, was the day’s biggest surprise and most intriguing player.


Davidson landed Jordan Downing early last month and suffice it to say, his commitment should prove to be a big deal. The 6-foot-5 guard was the most consistent player on the North Carolina 2010 team in a back-and-forth battle to close out the day. He was heady, gutsy, effective and very good in this game. Looks like another under-the-radar player for Bob McKillop & Company.

Judging a team in the lay-up line is never a good thing. The 2010 North Carolina kids were bigger, more athletic and overall more talented than their counterparts from the Palmetto State. But the S.C. kids didn’t care. Especially guard Josh Curry. The 5-foot-11 senior from Gaffney helped make it a game from start to finish. He’s a big-time scorer and a gamer to boot. Armed with great grades and a competitive drive, Curry should be a nice low-major target this fall.

Another South Carolina sleeper to watch is 2012 guard Jordan Roper. The 6-foot-1 guard was the best player on the S.C. rookie team. The lefty loves to push the ball and got into the lane at will. He’s a smaller two guard but one to keep a close watch on this year at Irmo.


Damien Leonard was the best prospect from South Carolina in the event. That isn’t much of an argument but he certainly didn’t look like the best player from the Palmetto State. The 6-foot-4 shooter from the class of 2011 never came inside the three-point line and was very content with being a three-point specialist. He’s a sniper from deep, no doubts about that. But when all 14 of your field goal attempts come from behind the three-point stripe, it is a little concerning all-star game or not. Also, fodder for recruitniks: he was proudly wearing a Texas football t-shirt in the pre-game warm-ups. “They are my favorite football team in the country,” he said.
• Wake Forest bound seniors Melvin Tabb and J.T. Terrell did what they always do. Tabb worked the glass and Terrell scored from deep.
• Would have loved to have watched North Carolina point guard Marquise Rankin, a 2011 prospect, match up with Miller, the MVP for the N.C. 2010 team. Rankin is a great prospect that did more distributing than scoring on the day.
• When Jervon Pressley, a 6-foot-7 center from Charlotte, plays at showcase camps like this one, he seems to play at his best. He’s an intriguing player but consistency will be his biggest endorsement.
• All three North Carolina teams won their match-ups.

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