Sunday, May 24, 2009

TOC evaluations: Bullock, Leslie shine

Reggie Bullock and C.J. Leslie were every bit as good as expected.

Ryan Harrow was even better than advertised.

Along with hundreds of other highly recruited basketball players, they spent the weekend in the Triangle performing for their club teams at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions. Here is an evaluation of some players of local interest with the tournament about to conclude:

Reggie Bullock, 6-7 WG, Kinston, North Carolina commitment: Excellent 3-point shooter cemented his status as a high-level talent. He has very good size and defends and rebounds well for his position, but isn’t a great finisher in the lane. He sometimes gets criticized for letting the game come to him, but he turns it on when necessary, as evidenced by his 27 points against the Atlanta Celtics in the semifinals.

Josh Hairston, 6-9 PF, Spotsylvania, Va., Duke commitment: He can handle the ball and shoot a mid-range jumper, and knows how to get fouled on a post-up. He is athletic enough to be a solid defender on the block and could be a solid presence on the boards if he gets stronger. He won’t be a dominating power forward in the ACC, but he is the kind of player who can play a quality role in keeping Duke hovering around the top 10.

P.J. Hairston, 6-6, WF, Greensboro: Rated the top player in the Class of 2011 in North Carolina, Hairston is a solid 215 pounds and isn’t afraid to get up on the glass and mix it up with the big boys. He isn’t nearly as good a shooter as Bullock, but probably is a bit tougher.

Ryan Harrow, 6-1 PG, Marietta, Ga., N.C. State commitment: He’s just 158 pounds, but don’t let his tiny frame fool you. Harrow has a great handle and uses his tremendous quickness to get into the paint and score over bigger, stronger players. His no-look, creative passes helped him lead the tournament in oohs and aahs. He does need to get stronger to improve on defense, though.

C.J. Leslie, 6-9 PF, Raleigh, uncommitted: Overshadowed by Class of 2009 point guard prodigy John Wall at Word of God Academy last season, Leslie has established himself as one of the top handful of players in the Class of 2010. He can block shots, run the floor, finish in transition and even handle the ball some in a halfcourt offense. The only knock on him is that he plays in spurts. But when he turns it on, few are better.

Tashawn Mabry, 6-6, WF, Rocky Mount, uncommitted: Has a sweet turnaround jump shot from the baseline. When he’s hot, he also knows how to fake the shot and get to the rim to finish. Longtime observers say he is maddeningly inconsistent, but when he’s good, he’s really good.

Melvin Tabb, 6-8 PF, Raleigh, Wake Forest commitment: Tabb seems like a “Tweener.” He’s not quite quick enough to defend small forwards, but not quite big enough to dominate inside as a power forward. He’s physically strong and undoubtedly an ACC-caliber talent, but needs to get craftier at finishing in the lane.

Tyler Thornton, 6-1 G, Washington, D.C., Duke commitment: Had a quiet week during which he didn’t even seem to be one of the best five players on the floor when the D.C. Assault played high-quality competition. Sometimes unselfish players such as Thornton don’t shine in the “me-first” culture of summer basketball, but it’s difficult to name Thornton’s best trait after watching him at the Tournament of Champions.

Dezmine Wells, 6-5, PG, Raleigh, uncommitted: Wide-shouldered Class of 2011 standout from Word of God Academy has a knack for getting to the rim and scoring. He’s strong on the boards and defensively, and handles the ball extremely well considering his frame. He needs to develop a perimeter and mid-range game and become a better passer. He’s young, so he still has time to do that.

- Ken Tysiac

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