The action didn't finish until close to midnight on Friday but the gyms were buzzing again by eight in the morning on Saturday as the Boo Williams Invitational rolled into day two. Taking center stage were a trio of big time forwards as Brandan Wright, Kevin Durant and Darrell Arthur all both put on impressive displays including a dynamite head to head battle between Durant and Arthur.
KANSAS TARGETS AT BOO
Darrell Arthur - For one half it looked like Arthur was going to let Kevin Durant embarrass him in a game between Team Texas and the DC Blue Devils. The wispy Durant came out smoking from deep nailing five three balls and scoring 27 first half points while Arthur and the rest of Team Texas looked a little listless. While Arthur and Durant weren’t matched up that much, it certainly looked bad for Arthur as he limped into the half with four points.
During the second half it was a much different story as Arthur asked to switched onto Durant and came out with fire. He grabbed offensive rebounds and threw down dunks, hit a couple of fade away jumpers from the baseline and drained four threes -- including a few from NBA range -- to score 23 second half points. Defensively he can really move his feet well and used his strength advantage over Durant to frustrate him into bad shots and at least slow him down. For his part, Durant collected a couple of late dunks to finish with 38.
Brandan Wright - There aren’t any kids out there who enjoy playing in the eight in the morning game and the 6-9 Wright admitted he wasn’t looking forward to such an early start. Apparently the early start didn’t mess with his game as Wright put on a pretty impressive show while dropping 32. He dominated the glass on both ends with his length and bounce and didn’t shy away from any contact. He’s got a nice pull up jumper from 12-15 feet, made a three and had a couple of demonstrative dunks.
Strength is clearly an issue and promising 2007 big man Hamidu Rahman was able to push him around a little. However, the important thing is that he didn’t shy away from contact. Said afterwards that Kentucky, UNC and Duke are the three leading schools and that Kansas is among some others on the second tier. When asked what it would take to move a team from the second tier to the first, Wright made it clear that it wouldn’t be easy.
Xavier Keeling - A calming influence for the Alabama Lasers, the 6-6 WF from Huntsville (AL) Johnson is actually a native of Topeka, KS. He’s a pleasant surprise and works as hard as anybody out there. He’s very good off of the bounce and uses his strong frame and athleticism to work his way into the lane and score or find teammates. He’s a good rebounder and an above average passer who plays both ends. According to Keeling, Kansas will be watching him play next weekend in Fayeteville, AR at the Real Deal on the Hill.
Donald Sloan - A relatively new name for Kansas fans, Sloan told Phog.Net that Bill Self and Tim Jankovich were in to see him earlier this week. The 6-3 WG had an up and down day for Team Texas. He’s got a gift for scoring the basketball and is a strong athlete who can get to the rim and does an adequate job defending. His jumper is very streaky and he tends to shoot with his hand on top of the ball causing a bit of a knuckleball effect at times. Sloan also indicated that he felt there was an offer on the table but that hasn’t been verified. Look for more on Sloan later on.
Brian Davis - About halfway through his final pool play game the 6-8 BF woke up and started hitting the glass and scoring inside. He continued to work hard in the paint against the DC Blue Devils and put together a fine 18-point effort. He’s a hard worker who can score with either hand and has a nice touch from the free throw line. His body is built for carrying more weight and he’d be a welcome addition at pretty much any program in the country. There’s always room for tough rebounders who are opportunistic scorers.
OTHER STANDOUTS AND NOTES FROM SATURDAY
Honestly speaking, this author has picked on future Arizona Wildcat Nic Wise because of his size and relatively average quickness. However, the 5-9 PG was spectacular on Saturday as he led the Houston Hoops into the semis. He handled the ball flawlessly, played better defense than usual and capped off his day with a 31 point and seven assist explosion.
We are going to be hearing a lot more from Kevin Love. The 6-8 BF doesn’t have much help on the Portland Legends right now but he’s a magnificently skilled big man. He is a bit slow footed, but he makes up for that with his vast array of scoring moves and thick body. Clearly he’s one of the top players in the class of 2007.
It looks like Cal got themselves a nice commitment in 6-3 WG Patrick Christopher. Playing for California Elite he demonstrated a dangerous jump shot and above average athleticism in traffic. He should find minutes fairly early and often….
It has to be noted one more time just how spectacular Kevin Durant’s play has been. The 6-9 beanpole WF can shoot with NBA range, has gotten very tough off of the bounce and plays the game with ease. He should really be in the class of 2007 and is only 20 pounds away from superstardom. If his play continues to be so strong, some may start to make the argument that he has more long-term potential than Greg Oden.
Durant’s PG Tywon Lawson is a heck of a prospect in his own right. The 6-0 PG chipped in with 33 of his own during the quarterfinal win over Team Texas and takes games over during crunch time.
You can’t be totally sure that he’s crazy, but Curtis Kelly sure looks a little nuts out there from time to time. The 6-8 BF plays the game with a lot of emotion and energy and makes plays all over the place, but his emotion does tend to get the best of him at times. He’s still a lot of fun to watch play… Kelly’s teammate at Manhattan (NY) Rice and with the New York Gauchos Edgar Sosa had a fine night as well. He can play either guard spot and is a tough defender. Could be a top 100 player when it is all said and done….
For the second day in a row Sherron Collins put in some serious work for the Illinois Warriors. The 5-10 PG is a fierce competitor and right now he’s in the argument for best point guard prospect in the class of 2006. His play has conjured up memories of five summers ago when Jon Hargett was throwing alley-oops to himself off the backboard in traffic.
Brandan Wright is the show for the Murfreesboro Stars but 6-7 WF/BF Keith Ramsey is going to benefit playing alongside him. He’s an athletic, quick and versatile forward who hits the boards, scores in transition and has high major athleticism.
A guy that a lot of high major schools will be taking a look at this summer is L.D. Williams a 6-4 WG/WF playing for Boo Williams. Boo is absolutely stacked with talent so his minutes are somewhat limited, but he’s an electrifying athlete with a good jumper from behind the three-point line.
Another Boo Williams standout is Vernon “The Big Ticket” Macklin and the 6-9 BF was as good as advertised for stretches on Saturday. He’s an incredible athlete in the paint and a gifted offensive rebounder who supplies plenty of highlights around the bucket. He’s starting to fill out a little naturally but needs to focus on floating less and dominating for the entire game. If he played hard all the time he’d be even more of a fan favorite because he has good energy around him….
According to those who watched him play, Jeremiah Rivers had a disappointing day on Saturday. He’s banged up and struggled shooting the ball after looking pretty promising during stretches on Friday night.
Jerry Smith is out with an injury -- bruised tailbone -- so his Wisconsin Playground Warriors were missing their primary scorer. The 6-3 WG/PG is going to be out for another week or two so folks are going to have to wait to get a better look at him….