Saturday, November 24, 2012
Rathan-Mayes shines in Charlotte
By Dave Telep
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The thing to do in Charlotte the day after you stuff yourself with turkey is to go for a second helping. In this case, dessert is the Charlotte Hoops Challenge, where on Friday the nation’s best senior rolled into town with Huntington (W.Va.) Prep.
With the spotlight on Huntington Prep’s “other guy,” Xavier Rathan-Mayes used his jump shot and his feel for the game to help Prep past Quality Education Academy (Winston-Salem, N.C.). So much has been made of XRM’s scoring ability and jump shot that we’ve overlooked a part of his game that will be important to Florida State: defense. The kid can guard, and FSU has been a leader in ACC defense. Rathan-Mayes will bring it on both ends of the floor.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes put his all-around game on display at the Charlotte Hoops Challenge.
Offensively, the stroke is pure and he doesn’t marry himself to a spot. On a team laced with talent, XRM is the balance, the guy who keeps it all in line. He’ll expand his role at Huntington Prep and will be ready to tackle combo-guard duties for the Seminoles.
No. 1 finishes with 17 points
Imagine yourself as the No. 1 player in the country. Everyone in the stands paid admission to watch you, Huntington Prep's Andrew Wiggins, play.
Being “the guy” has lots of perks, and you’re getting everyone’s best shot. Quality Education Academy was physical with Wiggins, especially after he set the tone to start the game. On the opening play, Wiggins posted up and dunked.
Wiggins spent plenty of time at the line, going 8-for-13 from the stripe. Overall, the paying customers received a glimpse into Wiggins' game. Somewhat frustrated with a number of point-blank misses, Wiggins was good, but by no means was it a signature performance.
His opening night ended with 17 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, plus a win Huntington Prep had to work harder than expected to acquire.
Meanwhile, FSU coach Leonard Hamilton was in the stands. After the game, Wiggins rattled off the same list: Kentucky, FSU, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio State and Syracuse. He hasn’t set visits, and after spending time with him, he doesn’t seem to be in a hurry.
The junior is one of the top point guards in the country and captain of the favorite in North Carolina 2A classification. Mitchell and Cuthbertson (Waxhaw, N.C.) lost in the state finals last year.
Tennessee was in the gym to see him Friday for his second game of the young season. What you get with Mitchell is a probing point guard with excellent vision. He’s Kendall Marshall-esque in this regard: He doesn’t wow with speed but sees the floor and makes the game easier for his teammates. Few junior guards own the understanding of their position in the manner Mitchell does.
The next step is working on his midrange game and becoming more of a perimeter threat. This was a cruise-control game as Cuthbertson rolled Davidson (N.C.) Day. He finished with 15 points, five rebounds and four assists while taking the fourth quarter off. His club has no size, and we counted five plays that were not finished that should have been assists.
2016 versus 2016
The name I’d heard coming into the event was freshman point guard Aaron Augustin (Suwanee, Ga./Peachtree Ridge). The guy few had heard of was freshman PG Jalen Sanders (Salisbury, N.C./North Rowan).
When you see a young point guard like Sanders who is vocal, defensively tough and this comfortable, you take notice. He made quality decisions. His jump shot comes off the rim hard, but there’s time. Sanders is joined at North Rowan by junior Michael Bowman, a potential midlevel wing player who is also a strong athlete and one of the harder-playing guys I’ve seen this season.
News & Notes
• The Wake Forest Demon Deacons have been the most vigilant pursuer of Mitchell. Tennessee was also in the gym watching him on Friday.
• The Greatest Of All Time was in the gym. Michael Jordan watched his nephew Justin Jordan play guard for Davidson Day.
• Forward Jordan Capps (Suwanee, Ga./Peachtree Ridge) decided to play out the season, so he didn’t sign early. “I’m not really worried,” he said. “I just have to play. It’ll come.” Samford wanted him early and Georgia, Duquesne and Auburn were looking.
• QEA forward Michael Tucker committed and signed with Bradley at the close of the early signing period.
• Jordan Robinson (Winston Salem, N.C./Quality Education) let the first signing period pass without signing. Winthrop watched him on Friday, and he’ll have suitors spanning the mid-majors to the best mid-majors, depending on fit and who needs a big man this spring. Robinson is a load in the lane and was strong against a big Huntington front line.
• Huntington Prep center Moses Kingsley was his usual defensive-minded self. The guy who battled malaria post-summer is fine now and back to blocking shots at a prominent clip.
• Sophomore power forward Alex Owens (Oldsmar, Fla./Oldsmar Christian) owns the rebounding gene. He doesn’t look athletic, but go ahead and try to get a rebound in his area. The kid is good at his craft and a sneaky athlete for a 6-foot-6 power forward.