MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- The Big Shots II is traditionally a haven for mid-level players and big men hoping to catch the eye of a major college program. This time around, the event produced a number of prospects who are now on BCS school’s radars and a junior guard who no longer has to email colleges to pump up his recruiting.
Coming this fall, 2016 point guard Seventh Woods (Columbia, S.C./Hammond Academy) officially begins his high school career. You will hear about him because the 6-foot-1 guard carries himself with poise and has the markers of a big-time player.
With a new coach at South Carolina and a prospect of this stature developing in the backyard, you might figure the Gamecocks will spend a little bit of time with this kid going forward. If he lives up to the advance billing, they won’t be alone.
Notable PG performers:
• Terell Rogers (Charlotte, N.C./Evelyn Mack), son of former George Washington guard Shawnta Rogers, visited Appalachian State. Delaware likes the 2012 recruit. He’s small -- but fast, tough and puts pressure on defenders.
• We’ve got to mention the guy who spearheaded a win with only three other teammates on the court. Darren Williams (Red Springs, N.C./Flora MacDonald) watched one teammate get hurt and another foul out, but he held down the fort for seven-and-a-half minutes as Team United won a game against the odds.
Ten minutes into watching Grayson Allen (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence Christian), there was a feeling that the trip was worth it. The elite student who attends the same high school that produced Florida’s Patric Young will earn high-major scholarship offers based on his play.
Allen dropped a 40 spot on a team from Texas and dazzled over two days with his basketball mind, driving ability, passing and legit jump shot. He’ll be a strong candidate for the ESPN 60.
Two years ago, as a freshman, North Florida offered him. Three weeks ago he was emailing colleges so they knew he was on the map in July. Clemson, Wake Forest, North Carolina, Texas and Georgia watched him. His dream school: Duke. Good bet the Blue Devils find him during the next period.
Notable wing performers:
• Austin Ajukwa (Columbia, S.C./Cardinal Newman) is the kind of guy who makes the July period exciting. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard hung big numbers in most of the games he played at Big Shots. He’s got the body style of NC State’s Lorenzo Brown and by the time the event ended, all of the high-majors in attendance committed at least a game to evaluating him. East Carolina, Gardner Webb, Winthrop, Wofford, UNC-Wilmington, Appalachian State and Mercer offered. Where does he want to go? “South Carolina,” Ajukwa said.
• Last we saw Jalen Lindsey (Nashville, Ga./CPA), he had a tissue stuffed up his nose preventing the bleeding while he stuck jumpers. Georgia head coach Mark Fox was in attendance, as were assistants from North Carolina, Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama and Georgetown on the final day of the period.
• 2014 wing Josh Level (Arden, N.C./Christ School) distinguished himself with his perimeter shot and then showed improvement going to the rim.
You travel around the country and watch the parade of 6-8-plus prospects who don’t play hard but assume they’ll receive a scholarship because of their size. It gets old watching kids with size employ passive tactics in the paint. Meet Ifeanyi Onyekaba (Roanoke, Va./VES). He is a 6-7 (maybe), 250-pound (at least) forward who has nasty intentions and a big motor.
The Nigerian big man is productive and over time we’ve warmed up to the idea of production over prospect when you can’t get both. Murray State, Cincinnati, DePaul, Delaware, Indiana and Virginia Tech are looking. “I have a passion for playing hard,” Onyekaba said. “I try and play like [Amare] Stoudemire.”
Notable big man performers:
• South Florida isn’t messing around. It owns a commitment from center John Egbunu (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Landing) and didn’t leave his side. Raw isn’t the term to describe Egbunu; he’s more unrefined. Pushing 6-10, he tries to dunk everything he can.
• It wasn’t quite invasion of the body snatchers but it was close. Jared Scott (Red Springs, N.C./Flora MacDonald) is light years better than he was during the high school season. He earned mid-major offers coming out of Big Shots.
• Jarquez Smith (Macon, Ga./Jones City) was the highest-rated big man at the event. At times, his above-the-rim antics and shot-blocking were elite. Other times, he blended in too much for a player of his skill package.
Scholarship goes to …
During the high school season, 2014 power forward Logan McClane (Greenville, N.C./Oakwood School) wasn’t ready to be recruited or even seen. A lack of strength prevented him from playing his game as a hybrid 4-man. In five months, he’s added considerable weight and the kid who wasn’t a Division I lock in February had the attention of mid-majors in Myrtle Beach.