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December 28, 2007

Bojangles: Local kids set the tone

WAXHAW, N.C. -- The Bojangles Shootout has the star power in the field. Too bad none of the headliners really had a game that they are capable of. The spotlight shined the brightest on the locals on Friday at Marvin Ridge High School.

Déjà vu

Rewind for moment. He was a baby-faced, skinny kid that could shoot, handle and never really make mistakes. The high-majors told him to take a year of prep and then they will look at him seriously.

A year later, he was one of the elite scorers in the nation as a freshman and the answer to the trivia question: "Who was the biggest surprise from the class of 2007 freshmen class?"

The answer? Stephen Curry.

The sequel is looking pretty strong, too. Seth Curry, the younger brother of Stephen and second son of former NBAer Dell Curry, is a player to keep an eye on because he is headed down a similar road to his brother.

Curry, a key member to Liberty's fine recruiting class in 2008, isn't quite the player his older brother is but he knows how to play. He can shoot it, as you'd expect anyone with Curry DNA. He can handle it, pass it, defend and make plays when a play is needed.

His stat line was impressive. Curry scored 19 points (6-13 FG, 2-4 from 3, 5-6 FT), eight assists, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals.

Curry's junior teammate Carson Sullivan isn't too shabby either. The 6-foot-2 guard has a homing device from three and buried it from behind the arc with regularity. He showed off some craftiness with the ball, too.

Sullivan, a shooter with grades, is no stranger to scoring. He scored 30 points (11-17 FG, 7-8 FT) on Friday and poured in 35 points on Thursday night.

"That was big time," Sullivan said. "We knew it was going to be tough because they are the best team in the area, according to the papers. We knew this one was going to be a battle for us and we just fought through it all."

Sullivan said Liberty is the only school showing interest at the moment but that shouldn't be the case for long.

Match-up never materializes

When it comes to big men match-ups, it shouldn't get any better than the St. Benedicts-South Atlanta game. The game had three five-star players and a top 50 junior all on the floor at the same time. A packed house filled the gym to see it.

Too bad the game nor the match-ups materialized.

The match-up turned out to be like a young child wanting a power wheels car for Christmas and receiving a small matchbox toy instead. The game had a chance to be big but it turned out to be lopsided and foul riddled.

St. Benedicts proved to have too much size with Samardo Samuels, Greg Echenique and Tristan Thompson. Derrick Favors was left to fend for himself against the trio.

The first four minutes of the game was a preview to the match-up. Favors tried to establish himself inside but had a hard time with Echenique's size and strength.

Playing on a bum ankle that gave him trouble, Samuels found a way to be effective as he always is. The City of Palms MVP scored a game high 17 points (5-9 FG, 7-9 FT) and grabbed 16 rebounds.

For his size (6-foot-8, 240-pounds), Samuels is an agile wonder. He moves with great fluidity and bounce. His natural strength fends off defenders with little trouble.

Echenique was about as efficient as he could possibly be on both ends of the floor. He scored 16 points and only missed one shot from the floor. Defensively, he had a lot to do with the 11 missed field goals for Favors. Guys like him make a long career as a physical post defender. The four-star junior has enjoyed a tremendous December.

Junior guard Tamir Jackson scored 16 points on four of 15 shooting from the floor. Thompson, the terrific sophomore big man, had nine rebounds in the win and continues to look like the best sixth man in the nation.

Favors was handcuffed with three first half fouls and was held to three points (all off of made free throws) in the first 16 minutes of play. He never truly found his rhythm in the game. If you watched him closely, the finer points of his game shined through. No other big man in the 2009 class gets off the floor as fast as he does.

After scoring 42 points, grabbing 20 rebounds and blocking 12 shots the night before, this game was far from exciting for those that wanted to see the future NBAer. Favors didn't have his best game and his guards never really put him into position to be successful. Chalk this one up as a wash. For a guy that played three big-time prospects on his own with foul trouble, he did as good as you could imagine.

Smash-mouth basketball

Cincinnati Moeller came into the Bojangle's Shootout with a Big Ten football mentality and simply hit Brooklyn Lincoln in the mouth like a middle linebacker. The boys from Ohio won a close won 57-55 and knocked the Railsplitters out of the winner's bracket of the event.

Unsigned senior Michael Davenport led the charge with a brave 24 points (9-15 FG, 2-3 from 3, 5-7 FT) and 11 rebounds. The 6-foot-3 senior and his teammates were revved up for this match-up just out-smarted the kids from the Big Apple.

Moeller's zone defense frustrated Lincoln and it's star player Lance Stephenson. Despite the official numbers, Stephenson struggled in the match-up. He scored 16 points (7-10 FG, according to the box score) and had six turnovers.

Emotionally, the five-star guard was taken out of his comfort size in the physical match-up.

Charlotte schools lock horns

George Mason's post-season success has allowed the Patriots to recruit outside of the Virginia-Maryland region and because of that guys like Andre Cornelius are heading north to play for the CAA powerhouse.

Cornelius scored 22 points (8-15 FG, 5-6 FT) and handed out four assists in the win. He his shot off the bounce was terrific and his speed into the lane allowed him to find guys around the cup for scores.

George Mason landed the three-star guard in the early period and the Patriots. The timing couldn't have been any better.

Cornelius's teammate Shane Williams was the surprise of the game. The 6-foot-5 power forward embodied the word monster. The unsigned senior and native of Jamaica was a perfect eight for eight from the floor for 16 points and grabbed nine loud rebounds.

Williams played a lot bigger than his size and played with an emotion that took the spirits right out of Latin. He tried to change the dynamic of the support system of the backboard with his dunks. When he blocked shots, he tried to pop the ball.

Williams has Division II offers right now but he could be a nice surprise for a low-major late in the game.

The locals are raving about the new and improved David Chadwick. Word is, the 6-foot-9 forward from Charlotte Latin has found his dancing feet and he's moving well on the floor.

Chadwick scored with a variety of moves against Victory Christian in the first half. His turnaround jump hook was good for scores, his face up jumper found a way to fall through the twine and he crashed the boards. His best work came within the first 16 minutes of the game.

The class of 2009 forward scored 15 points, 13 of which came in the first half, and grabbed six rebounds in the morning game. He said he has offers from UNC Charlotte and James Madison is hearing from the likes of NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, South Carolina and others.

Udofia, Miller Grove push forward

Mfon Udofia, a four-star guard from Miller Grove (Ga.), didn't have his best game that he is capable of on Friday morning. He'll admit that much. But there was a lot to learn about the 6-foot-1 guard. He's a finisher.

Guys that pitch in the majors get paid a lot of money to do the things that he did in the fourth quarter of his team's 56-49 win over Harding (N.C.). His ninth inning performance helped close the door and helped his team claim the victory.

Udofia finished with 21 points (7-14 FG, 6-7 FT), 10 points and four assists in the win and he made big plays down the stretch. It wasn't so much his scoring either. He crashed the boards and made key plays on the defensive end of the floor.

News & Notes

While St. Benedicts and South Atlanta were grinding it out in the main gym, Terrelle Pryor and his Jeannette (Pa.) team came away with a 76-70 win against Erwin (Ala.).

Pryor, the nation's top football prospect, was an assist short of a triple double. He scored 31 points (12-15 FG, 1-1 from 3, 6-8 FT), grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out nine assists. He also blocked four shots while turning the ball over seven times.

All eyes on you

Charlotte head coach Bobby Lutz and assistant Bobby Kummer were the first coaches in the gym on Friday morning to catch the Charlotte Latin and Victory Christian match-up.

Assistant coaches from Auburn, Chattanooga, Gardner-Webb, Georgia Tech, Kansas, NC State, Providence, William & Mary made it out to Marvin Ridge High School on Friday.

Scoreboard

Victory Christian (N.C.) 68, Charlotte Latin (N.C.) 59
Miller Grove (Ga.) 59, Harding (N.C.) 46
Moeller (Ohio) 57, Lincoln (N.Y.) 55
Hopewell (N.C.) 85, West Charlotte (N.C.) 65
St. Benedicts (N.J.) 57, South Atlanta (Ga.) 43
Charlotte Christian (N.C.) 81, East Mecklenburg (N.C.) 75

Up next

5:15 p.m. - Victory Christian (N.C.) vs. Charlotte Christian (N.C.) Local Tournament Championship

7:15 p.m. - St. Benedicts (N.J.) vs. Moeller (Ohio) - National Tournament Championship


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