Sunday, May 30, 2010

Charlotte team wins 15-and-under division

CHAPEL HILL - Team United of Charlotte captured the 15-and-under championship Sunday at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions on Sunday at the Smith Center.

Kennedy Meeks of West Charlotte and Kristian Beasley of Concord each scored 15 points in the championship game.

"To be known as one of the best in the country, that's great," Meeks said.

The Atlanta Celtics won the 16-and-under division, and the Long Island Lightning won the 17-and-under bracket.

Ken Tysiac

Evaluating the talent at the Gibbons tournament

With the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions about to wrap up, here are some thoughts on some of the top players of interest in North Carolina who played this weekend in Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh:

Bishop Daniels: Super-athletic Raleigh Word of God Academy player is trying to show he can play point guard at 6-3, but it won't be easy. Daniels can spin, get to the rim and finish with the best of them, but needs to make better decisions and demonstrate that he can run an offense.

He has scholarship offers from Wake Forest, Georgetown, Miami, South Carolina, Charlotte and East Carolina, and expects to pick a school by the end of the summer.

Andre Drummond: Big man (6-11) is ranked atop the Class of 2012, and seems certain to be a high NBA draft pick some day.

He has good hands, runs the floor well and handles the ball effectively for a player his size. He still needs to get better at dominating in the low post and readily admits that he must learn to score more with his back to the basket.

Chase Fischer: A 6-3 guard from Shipley, W.Va., he's a talented 3-point shooter who should be able to force people to guard him on the perimeter in new Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik's system.

But it's not clear whether the former Marshall commitment will be able to defend or be physical enough to make a big impact in the ACC.

P.J. Hairston: Wing from Greensboro didn't take over at this tournament in the way you would expect from a player committed to North Carolina.

He seems to have all the tools - size and a wide-shouldered, powerful body, but needs to learn to use his strength better to finish on the drive. Nonetheless, he can be extremely effective when he is hitting from the outside, and he rebounds extremely well for a wing player.

Tyler Lewis: Point guard in the Class of 2012 from Lewisville, N.C., is the most divisive figure among talent evaluators in the state.

He's listed at 5-11, but he's not even that tall. Although he works hard on defense, he can be overpowered by bigger, stronger guards, and some wonder whether he's an ACC-caliber player because he's small.

But he scores from every area on the floor and possesses extraordinary vision and passing ability. With scholarship offers from schools including N.C. State, Wake Forest, Charlotte, Virginia Tech and Miami, he clearly has impressed college coaches.

The guess here is that he will be a successful ACC player but won't get a scholarship offer from North Carolina or Duke.

Alex Murphy: A 6-foot-8 forward from Southborough, Mass., he's staying an extra day in the Triangle for an unofficial visit to Duke.

He is similar to Kyle Singler in that he's tall and has perimeter scoring skills, but isn't as strong or physical as Singler. He'll be one for fans of the Blue Devils (and perhaps North Carolina, too) to watch carefully.

Shabazz Muhammad: Left-handed Class of 2012 wing from Las Vegas can score in every way - on the break, on the drive and from 3-point range.

He had at least two 30-point games in the Tournament of Champions and seems particularly interested in Duke, but North Carolina could be a factor as well.

His stock definitely is rising.

Rodney Purvis: Raleigh Upper Room guard is so young (Class of 2013) that it's probably premature to evaluate him.

But he can score from the outside and has an uncanny ability to get to the basket and finish in the lane. If he's not the best player in his class, there can't be many who are better.

Marquis Rankin: Charlotte Vance point guard is a solid pickup for Virginia Tech and did a good job running the CP3 All-Stars team over the weekend.

He is not anywhere near the kind of scorer that current Virginia Tech guard Malcolm Delaney is. In fact, if there's a negative to Rankin's game it's that he makes all the "safe" plays but rarely does anything spectacular.

J.P. Tokoto: Although this 6-6 wing from Menomonee Falls, Wis., can get to the basket and finish seemingly anytime he wants, he needs to develop a perimeter game.

He's been rated as a top-five player in the Class of 2012, but didn't play as well this weekend as Shabazz Muhammad, who's rated lower. Still, he's a guy coaches at Duke and North Carolina probably will keep an extremely close eye on.

Joseph Uchebo: At 6-foot-9, the Oak Ridge Military forward can bang inside and demonstrated remarkable ball-handling skills at the Tournament of Champions.

Uchebo held his own against the top player in the Class of 2011, 6-11 Andre Drummond, and gives N.C. State an outstanding addition as he is reclassifying to 2011 from 2012.

Dezmine Wells: At 6-4 and 215 pounds, Word of God Academy forward is built like an outside linebacker, and he plays like one, too. He doesn't have a jump shot to speak of, but lowers his shoulder and barrels his way to the basket with tremendous power.

His lack of perimeter shooting at first glance makes him a questionable fit for the Xavier team he's committed to because the Musketeers are known so much for 3-point shooting. But he will make them a better team because he will add a different dimension, and he's an excellent "get" for Xavier.

-- Ken Tysiac

Class of 2012 forward Murphy to visit Duke

CHAPEL HILL - Alex Murphy, a 6-foot-8 forward from Southborough, Mass., in the Class of 2012, will remain in the Triangle for an extra day after the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions concludes so he can take an unofficial visit to Duke.

Murphy has an inside-outside game similar to that of current Duke forward Kyle Singler, although Singler was stronger and more physical at a comparable stage of development.

"One thing I want to work on this summer is getting stronger," Murphy said.

He mentioned Florida, Arizona, Kansas, Syracuse, Butler and Iowa among the schools that interest him, but said the list is too long to name every school. He said North Carolina also is recruiting him.

Another player in the Tournament of Champions, 6-2 wing Chasson Randle of Rock Island, Ill., postponed a Monday visit to Duke because of difficulty rearranging his flight schedule.

Randle, who's in the Class of 2011, led his team to the tournament semifinals. He plans to reschedule with Duke in June or July.

The highly regarded CP3 All-Stars team from North Carolina was eliminated by the Michigan Hurricanes in the 17-and-under tournament quarterfinals this morning. The Long Island Lightning will meet the Michigan Hurricanes in the 17-and-under finals.

Ken Tysiac

CP3 advances in matchup of giants

DURHAM - The opening round of the playoffs Saturday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium matched the CP3 All-Stars team that's favored to win the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions against the best big man in the event.

Andre Drummond, a 6-foot-11 Class of 2012 center modeling his game to be a combination of Dwight Howard and LeBron James, couldn't pull off the upset as Connecticut Basketball Club fell 73-69.

Drummond, who isn't revealing much about his college leanings, scored 19 points and nearly engineered a comeback after his team trailed by 13 with three minutes remaining. But 6-9 N.C. State commitment Joe Uchebo nearly matched Drummond's output with 17 points. Raleigh Word of God forward Dez Wells (committed to Xavier) scored 19 to lead CP3.

Although Drummond has a body that seems almost certain to make him an NBA lottery pick eventually, he has a lot to work on. He's comfortable away from the basket, which is a plus, but needs to learn to use his size (265 pounds) to overpower people in the lane.

"I feel like [I need to work on] stuff with my back to the basket and a little bit more on my ball handling and shooting ability," Drummond said.

He also said he has enjoyed being exposed to Duke and North Carolina this weekend and would be interested in coming back for a visit to learn more about the academics at those schools.

Ken Tysiac

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Word of God's Daniels has key role on CP3

DURHAM - Although North Carolina commitment P.J. Hairston's 25 points sparked the CP3 All-Stars' rally for a 62-55 win over the Mid-Atlantic Select on Saturday, Raleigh Word of God Academy guard Bishop Daniels is playing a significant role as well.

Daniels averaged 11 points in CP3's first two games and is an athletic finisher for the team in the backcourt at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds. He said he has scholarship offers from Wake Forest, Georgetown, East Carolina, Miami, South Carolina, Charlotte and East Carolina and hopes to make a decision by the end of the summer.

In the meantime, he is trying to polish his point guard skills so he will be regarded as one of the top backcourt players in the nation. He isn't currently in's top 100.

"The only thing I need to accomplish is making the right decisions, being in the right place at the right time as a point guard," Daniels said.

Ken Tysiac

Muhammad hearing from Duke, UNC

CHAPEL HILL - A frustrated Shabazz Muhammad said Saturday afternoon that his Dream Vision team has to find a way to play through injuries after a loss to the Smyrna (Ga.) Stars.

"I have a sprained ankle but I'm going to keep playing," Muhammad said. "There's no excuse for this loss."

Muhammad is a 6-foot-5 wing from Las Vegas who is rated No. 7 in the Class of 2012 by He has been offered scholarships by Texas, Kansas, UNLV, UCLA, Louisville, Georgetown, Arizona, Arizona State and Washington.

He's also being recruited by Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky, although those schools didn't offer scholarships. He had a sensational performance Friday night with 33 points in a win at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium, but scored just 10 (none in the second half) in the loss Saturday.

He visited Duke unofficially for the Blue Devils' home win over North Carolina.

"I really liked the atmosphere of the game," he said. "The crowd was crazy, and I'm looking forward to coming down there again."

But Muhammad didn't tip his hand as to which school he might favor at this point.

Ken Tysiac

Thomas still wide open

DURHAM - North Carolina assistant coach Steve Robinson checked in a few days ago with Memphis Class of 2011 wing Adonis Thomas, but the Tar Heels haven't offered him a scholarship.

Thomas said Duke's staff had been recruiting him, but he hasn't heard from the Blue Devils in a while. After scoring 13 points the Magic defeated the West Virginia Wildcats 72-66 on Saturday morning in the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Thomas said he is still wide open in his recruiting.

At 6-foot-6, Thomas plays for a Melrose High team that plays a lot of full-court pressure, so he is a fairly advanced player defensively with an athletic frame that should allow him to guard multiple positions. He said he thinks he will play shooting guard in college, but he knows he has work to do.

"I've got to start working on my outside shot," said Thomas, who's rated the No. 12 player in his class by "That's going to be a key thing for me, being a versatile inside-out player."

Ken Tysiac

New Deacons coach Bzdelik impresses Fischer

DURHAM - Chase Fischer, who's Wake Forest's first commitment under new coach Jeff Bzdelik, perked up Saturday morning when asked about the Deacons.

A 6-foot-3 guard for the West Virginia Wildcats, he'd shot poorly (though he made four 3-pointers and scored 14 points) in a loss to the Memphis Magic at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions.

But he was happy to talk about Bzdelik and Wake Forest.

"He made a really good impression," Fischer said. "He was very professional, and he was honest with me. I went down there and we talked for about two or three hours and toured the campus, and he made a great impression. . . .He's been in the NBA and at numerous colleges, and I got a good feel for him. I really liked him."

Fischer had been committed to Marshall, but rescinded his commitment when coach Donnie Jones left for Central Florida. Although Fischer isn't particularly athletic, he's fundamentally sound and plays for a club team that runs an unusual amount of set plays.

He said he is looking forward to playing a role as Bzdelik restores Wake Forest as an ACC power.

"They've been great, but they've had a lot of kids leave early for the draft and stuff," Fischer said. "He's going to implement a new style of basketball, but he's going to keep running and stuff. He likes kids that can shoot the ball. And that's what I can do."

Ken Tysiac

Hairston slims down

CHAPEL HILL - Serious followers of North Carolina Class of 2011 commitment P.J. Hairston might have noticed that he looks a bit sleeker at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions.

Click through your channels through the infomercials late at night if you want to see why. Hairston said he is following a new workout regimen called P90X. Hairston, who's 6-foot-5, said he was about 230 pounds when he started and is down to 218.

"It's a 90-day workout, yoga, and a nightly workout you do to lose weight and stay in shape," said Hairston, who's from Greensboro and is transferring from Dudley High to Hargrave Military Academy for his senior season.

Hairston said slimming down has helped him feel more comfortable handling the ball and driving to the basket.

Ken Tysiac

Lewis' thriller caps Day One at Bob Gibbons TOC

CHAPEL HILL - Bob Gibbons knows a good finish when he sees it in his Tournament of Champions club basketball event.

While reporters were interviewing guard Tyler Lewis of Team Loaded late Friday night, Gibbons flashed a thumbs-up sign. Lewis had just made the biggest shot of the night to give his team a one-point win over Raising Champions and advance his own legend at the Smith Center.

Lewis is a 5-foot-11 point guard in the Class of 2012 from Lewisville, N.C., who received his first scholarship offer from Virginia Tech when he was just a high school freshman.

His story is well known by now in recruiting circles. Lewis possesses uncommon court sense, vision and passing ability and scores over much, much bigger players in the lane even though he weighs just 157 pounds.

There has been much debate over whether he's big, strong or quick enough to thrive as a high-level Division I point guard. But the staffs at Virginia Tech, Charlotte, Auburn, N.C. State, Wake Forest and Miami all have offered him scholarships as his stature has grown.

Figuratively, at least, he grew a little taller Friday night. His team was supposed to be holding the ball for a last shot with the score tied when teammate Andrew White inexplicably tried an off-balance 15-footer with 25 seconds remaining.

Raising Champions grabbed the ball and raced to the other end for a layup to take the lead. Lewis took the inbounds pass and rushed up the court himself. He dribbled left and fired a fadeaway 3-pointer through the net with six seconds remaining.

His father, Rick Lewis, jumped to his feet.

"Yes," he shouted.

Yes, indeed.

Lewis finished with 24 points and a game-winning shot to his credit.

"It's the size of the heart [that matters]," Lewis said. "I don't think anybody comes out and plays with more heart than I do."

One of Lewis' teammates has the opposite problem. Adjehi Baru is 6-foot-10 with impressive athletic ability, but still is developing his skills.

Baru helped spark Team Loaded's second-half comeback, displaying a surprisingly soft jumper inside eight feet. He came to the United States from the Ivory Coast a little more than a year ago with one long-term goal in mind.

He wants to play professional basketball some day. He said colleges have contacted them, but he doesn't want to discuss which ones because he wants to focus all his attention on his school work and improving his basketball skills.

With his size and ability, this Richmond, Va., resident will be worth keeping tabs on.

Another player who emerged Friday night was Class of 2012 forward Montrezl Harrell of Tarboro. With the media gathered to watch highly recruited J.P. Tokoto of Wisconsin, Harrell stole the show in a 16-and-under game with 29 points (to Tokoto's 15), including a couple rim-rattling dunks and two 3-pointers.

He said Clemson, South Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech have offered scholarships. If he keeps playing this way, other schools will be offering, too.

Stay tuned for more updates from the Tournament of Champions throughout the weekend.

Ken Tysiac

Friday, May 28, 2010

N.C. State recruit to move up to class of 2011

If everything goes according to plan, basketball recruit Joseph Uchebo will get to N.C. State one year sooner than expected.

Uchebo, a 6-9 power forward from Nigeria, is going to reclassify as a senior and graduate in 2011, his high school coach said Friday before Uchebo played in the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in Chapel Hill.

Uchebo, who turns 18 in June, will need to take a summer school class in math to meet the NCAA Clearinghouse core requirements, Oak Military Academy coach Stan Kowalewski said. But Uchebo's committed to graduate after three years of high school in this country and enroll before the 2011-12 season.

"He's a good student and he works hard," Kowalewski said. "He should be able to handle the extra work."

N.C. State does not have any known commitments from the class of 2011 but has four scholarships available.

Uchebo, who played one season at Durham Mount Zion and this past season at Oak Ridge, had been classified in the class of 2012. He made a verbal commitment to the Wolfpack in Nov. 2009.

Uchebo averaged 10 points and 9.5 rebounds for Oak Ridge last season despite a series of injuries that limited him.

"There's no question basketball-wise, he's ready," Kowalewski said.

With senior forward Tracy Smith leaving the program after the 2010-11 season, State will need interior help. The Pack will also lose senior guard Javier Gonzalez and has two extra scholarships after Julius Mays and Josh Davis decided to transfer.

-- J.P. Giglio

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tournament of Champions is a treat

Although some of the nation's top seniors are playing elsewhere over Memorial Day weekend, Bob Gibbons' Tournament of Champions club basketball event should be a treat for hard-core fans hoping to glimpse college and NBA prospects of the future.

North Carolina signee P.J. Hairston and UNC/Duke legacy big men Cody Zeller and Marshall Plumlee are some of the top seniors who will attend. Top juniors include's No. 1-rated player in the Class of 2012, Andre Drummond, as well as top-10 prospects J.P. Tokoto and Shabazz Muhammad.

N.C. State fans will get to see Class of 2012 low post signee Joseph Uchebo play alongside Hairston for the CP3 All-Stars team. The event takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Triangle venues that include arenas on campus at Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State. (The full schedule is available at

This will be my seventh year covering the event. The players who've participated in that time have been outstanding:

- Greg Oden was a No. 1 NBA draft pick, and John Wall seems destined to be one, too.

- Michael Beasley (who was committed to Charlotte at one time) was national player of the year at Kansas State.

- O.J. Mayo was a No. 1-rated recruit whose recruitment got Southern California and Tim Floyd in a whole lot of trouble.

- Brandon Jennings began what could be a trend when he played a year overseas in order to make money while waiting to grow old enough to meet the NBA's age limit.

The most amazing team to play in the tournament during that time was the Spiece Indy Heat club in 2005 that included Oden, Michael Conley, Daequan Cook and Eric Gordon. The best moment was a no-look bullet pass from Wall to Ryan Kelly in 2008 for a dunk that brought the crowd at Cameron Indoor Stadium to its feet. The worst moment might have been a Derrick Favors flagrant elbow that resulted in his ejection in a semifinal game in 2008.

Even though there's not an Oden, a Wall or a Favors in this year's event, the talent is good enough that it will provide more memorable moments for fans who want to see gifted players before they begin getting national attention.

Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Transfers haven't fazed North Carolina, Duke

For the second time now in two years, we have been reminded of how North Carolina and Duke are fortunate to be – well, North Carolina and Duke.

The Tar Heels seemed to be in rough shape in the low post for next season after twins David and Travis Wear surprised coach Roy Williams earlier this month with their decision to transfer. Williams himself said there weren’t a lot of options for replacements available to North Carolina at such a late date.

But when you’re North Carolina, you can usually find a solution, and the Tar Heels did. Justin Knox, a forward who’s transferring after playing three seasons at Alabama, committed Monday night to the Tar Heels. He’s 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds and averaged 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds last season, and will add much-needed depth in the low post.

He is expected to graduate this summer and be eligible to play immediately under the NCAA’s graduate student waiver.

The Tar Heels’ successful scramble to acquire Knox is reminiscent of Duke’s fortunate personnel move last summer. Elliot Williams decided to transfer to Memphis, leaving the Blue Devils dangerously thin in the backcourt.

But Duke created some depth when Andre Dawkins graduated from high school early and enrolled as a freshman whose 3-point shooting prowess particularly helped the team early in the season, and the Blue Devils won the NCAA title.

In consecutive summers, Knox and Dawkins have demonstrated how elite programs can withstand personnel losses better than most of their competitors. As Williams said, at this time of year there aren’t many quality players available. But if there are just a few players available, Duke and North Carolina can rocket to the top of their lists in a hurry.

Meanwhile, Clemson for example never was able to find quality perimeter shooting lost last summer when 3-point ace Terrence Oglesby unexpectedly chose to turn pro overseas.
In college basketball, the rich find ways to stay rich even when they’re dealing with losses that weren’t anticipated.

Ken Tysiac

Monday, May 24, 2010

Alabama transfer Knox picks Tar Heels

Losing David and Travis Wear to an unexpected transfer became less of a problem for North Carolina on Monday night when Alabama transfer Justin Knox committed to the Tar Heels.

Knox, who's played three seasons for the Crimson Tide, is a 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward who plans to graduate from Alabama this summer and enroll at North Carolina as a graduate student. Under the NCAA's graduate student waiver program, he should be eligible to play for the Tar Heels immediately if he chooses a degree program that Alabama does not offer.

"Everyone in the family is excited," said Darien Knox, Justin's uncle, who announced the commitment. "Everyone in the family is looking forward to Justin becoming a Tar Heel."

Justin Knox plans to make a statement to the media Tuesday explaining his decision. Darien Knox said both finalists, North Carolina and Georgia Tech, made Justin feel like family on his visits, and said North Carolina assistant coach Steve Robinson did an outstanding job recruiting Justin.

Knox averaged 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game last season for Alabama, but decided to transfer in part because he didn't feel like he was fitting into the system after coach Anthony Grant's first season.

By providing immediate, experienced help in the low post, Knox should give the Tar Heels' fortunes a huge boost next season. The Wear twins' departure had left North Carolina with just two scholarship players - John Henson and Tyler Zeller - as true low-post players.

Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wisconsin OT commits to Duke

The same high school that produced three-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns has an offensive tackle committed to play for Duke.

Marcus Aprahamian, an honor roll student at Brookfield (Wis.) Central High, had a scholarship offer from Minnesota and was getting interest from other Big Ten schools before he chose Duke.

He's 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, and throws shot put and discus for the track and field team in addition to playing football. His brother Mitch plays tight end for Darmouth.

"He's just a model student in all aspects," said Central coach Jamie Meulemans.

Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Georgia DT commits to N.C. State

Thomas Niles, a 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive tackle from Gainesville High in Georgia, has committed to N.C. State.

Niles helped Gainesville to a 14-1 record and a state Class 7AAA runner-up finish last season. He also plays lacrosse for his high school team.

"He's a very physical, very strong kid, especially in the lower part of his body," said Gainesville coach Bruce Miller. ". . .He's not just a good lineman. He's a good athlete."

He's the second known commitment in N.C. State's class, along with safety Juston Burris of Raleigh's Broughton High. ranks Niles as a three-star prospect on a five-star scale.

Ken Tysiac