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May 2, 2008

April rewind: 2009 prospects in the news

What a month April was.

Just like that, the evaluation period came and went and there were plenty of storylines to discuss now that the weekend tournaments are in the books.

Rivals.com covered and evaluated prospects at the Boo Williams Invitational, Real Deal on the Hill, Kingwood Classic, King James Shooting Stars Classic, Double Pump Spring Classic and the Las Vegas Spring Showcase.

Who stood out in the class of 2009? What players played themselves into the national spotlight? Who is off the recruiting board after the whirlwind month? Rivals.com looks back at the highlights from the month April.

POINT GUARDS HITTING THE WALL

There is John Wall and then there are 20 other top-flight point guards in the class of 2009. That much was established in April. The speedy North Carolina floor general might be faster than Memphis star Derrick Rose. In fact, there isn't a faster player on the hardwood than Wall. He torched teams with his track speed and gets from end-to-end better than anyone.

While he was good-to-great at the Boo Williams Invitational, trusted eyes that saw him in Pittsburgh and Houston raved about his continued strong play.

Wall, as you'd expect, is also looking like the most sought-after player in the nation regardless of class. He hasn't exactly put a cap on his recruitment and his list is one of the most expansive lists in the class of 2009.

Who can catch up to him this summer? Don't expect too many to get there. Like his own speed, Wall is leaving the rest of the point guards in the dust.

NO BUSTING BOYNTON, BRADLEY AND HENRY

There wasn't a shooting guard in the nation that had a better April than Floridian Kenny Boynton. Mr. Big Shot was the no-brainer MVP of the Real Deal on the Hill, hands down the best tournament of the spring.

Boynton's match-up against Lance Stephenson was outstanding as both traded buckets. But it was Boynton's 30-footer against the New York Gauchos at the buzzer that was the shot of the spring.

Out West, it could be argued that Tacoma shooting guard Avery Bradley was equally as impressive and dominant with his play. The 6-foot-3 guard was the talk of Vegas with his stellar play. He also shined in Colorado the week before.

Bradley scored 33 points on 14 of 17 shooting from the floor against EBO. He also shined on the defensive end of the floor. Ever intent on suiting up in the Pac-10, it will be interesting to see how his recruitment shakes out and who becomes a serious contender for his commitment.

Watch out world. When Xavier Henry gets back to full strength, it could get ugly. The five-star guard was great at the Boo Williams Invitational, even working on a grotesquely swollen ankle. He sprained his ankle on the first night of action but continue to light up defenses with his advanced offensive game. His recruitment continues to sing the same song: Memphis, Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA, Texas and Ohio State.

WHITE WASHING THE SMALL FORWARD SPOT

Royce White was the talk of the Kingwood Classic thanks to his steady and aggressive in the Lone Star State. The 6-foot-7 forward just flat out produced. He didn't shy away from doing the dirty work and had a similar game to former Kentucky star Chuck Hayes, according to Rivals.com's Jerry Meyer.

White limited his negative plays and proved to be one of the steadiest combo forward prospects in the country.

Who else played well at the wing position? There is plenty of room to grow at the spot. No one really had a signature tournament as far as the wing forwards go.

You could make and argument for Tristan Spurlock of Boo Williams. He was great in Hampton and one of the more versatile players at his position. The same could be said for Shawn Williams of Texas Select. He shined in Arkansas at the Real Deal on the Hill.

BIG MEN REMAIN STRONG IN 2009

For two days in Arkansas, John Henson was the best player in the Bud Walton Arena. The North Carolina bound forward showed off his immense potential and production.

Henson uses his slender 6-foot-10 frame really well and was a match-up problem until he just ran out of gas on the final day of the tournament. He showed enough to let the world know that there is a big-time player inside of his thin body. When it all comes together, the end result should be fantastic.

Prep school-bound forward Latavious Williams and Clemson bound big man Milton Jennings had the Kingwood Classic talking.

Williams, a bouncy 6-foot-8 forward, drew comparisons to Tyrus Thomas while Jennings is shaping up as one of the most skilled forwards in the class of 2009 and a major coup for Clemson.

Oklahoma center Daniel Orton had an up and down month. His up times were outstanding as the 6-foot-10, 260-pound prospect looked like a future pro. His post work is much improved and he's developed a nice go-to jumper on the baseline. Orton is a heck of a passer in the high post and a menacing defender because of his size.

BREAKING OUT

With recruiting taking the fast track these days to commitments and evaluations for college coaches packed into a much smaller window than ever before, April is the prime time for players to show their worth. A number of prospects took full advantage of the big stage and evaluated their play at the right time.

Pittsburgh center Zeke Marshall has always been a big-time prospect to watch. Those that did see him, were not disappointed. The long-armed center has a thinner but similar frame of Ralph Sampson III. Marshall cemented himself on the high-major scene with a number of big time and impressive performances last month.

The 1-2 punch of Steven Pledger and Ricardo Ratliffe helped the Boo Williams club make waves at the start of the month. Pledger, a fine shooter at 6-foot-3, had it dialed in all weekend in Hampton and was the biggest surprise from the event. Ratliffe, a prep school bound big man, was the money man when it matter for Boo Williams. His play in the championship game was the X-factor.

Point guards will come at a premium in 2009 and there were a number of guys that played their way into high-major offers. High-majors kept close watch on Ohio floor general Carl Jones, who was great at the King James event.

Chicago native Darius Smith was a catalyst for the Illinois Warriors in Arkansas and even steadier in Ohio last weekend. He'll be a no-brainer high-major prospect this year.

Alabama point man Eric Bledsoe loves the pass instead of the shot. He's a heck of a defender to boot. The SEC schools are lining up to get involved.

African transplant Mouptaou Tarou was an eye-catcher at the Boo Williams Invitational and a flat out producer in Akron. The 6-foot-10 forward was one of the few come from nowhere surprises at the big man spot in April.

Wisconsin forward Jeronne Maymon gets work done at 6-foot-7. Whether he's a wing or a post player, the future four-star prospect was as productive as any forward in the class in April.

Super shooter Nik Garcia has carved out a niche for himself with his hot perimeter touch in April. He lit up Houston for three after three and in Akron, his deep range was on clear display. The 6-foot-5 wing picked up a number of new offers in April.

California wing Solomon Hill was a standout in Las Vegas, going inside and out with the best of them. Memphis forward Reginald Buckner showed enough potential to have a long line of high-majors after him.

CROWD PLEASER

Derrick Favors is playing the recruiting game quite well. Before he traveled to Arkansas for the Real Deal on the Hill, several news media outlets reported on his interest in the Razorbacks.

Last week in Akron, a local sports radio station interviewed Favors and Ohio State-bound teammate Trae Golden live on air. When asked who he is considering, Favors perked up with "Ohio State" as the first school out of his mouth.

Now, on the eve of a trip to Kansas for the Jayhawk Invitational, Favors is now touting the praises of the National Champions.

The kid sure knows how to gain an audience wherever he goes.

COMMITMENT CATCH-UP

Two members of The Family, the Detroit-based AAU team, made their college decisions in April. Big man Derrick Nix shined at the Boo Williams Invitational and Pittsburgh Jam Fest. Shortly thereafter, he verbally committed to Michigan State.

Teammate Donnovan Kirk, the team's most consistent player in April, waited until after the King James Shooting Stars Classic and verbally committed to Miami.

White, one of the top small forwards from April, dominated the Kingwood Classic and helped his Howard Pulley club take home the title this year. Shortly after, he called up Tubby Smith and said he wanted to be a Gopher.

South Carolina native Milton Jennings ended the worst kept secret in the Southeast on April 9 when he verbally committed to the Clemson Tigers.

It didn't take long for new Marquette coach Tom Crean to lock up a player. Big man Bobby Capobianco popped in mid month for the Hoosiers.

Shooting guard Tamir Jackson pledged to UAB. Florida guard Shaun Noriega will stay in-state and play at South Florida.

STILL WAITING TO BE WOWED

If you are still waiting from a signature performance from a big-timer in the class of 2009, join the club. The three top players in 2009 were good in April but not at their very best.

At least not yet.

Renardo Sidney played off the beaten path and those that saw him, moreover, the college coaches said he played strong but didn't wow anyone.

Henry, the top shooting guard in the nation, was good but severely hobbled by injury.

Derrick Favors was good for the Atlanta Celtics but still hasn't had a game he's capable of. The five-star big man has trouble getting touches on his squad.


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