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July 8, 2001

Looking to the Future

       Often, you will hear coaches use the cliché that their teams are not rebuilding, but rather reloading. This principle clearly applies here in the state of Virginia.
           

            The Boo Williams 17U AAU team has the national recognition and has had an outstanding spring season, leading into the critical summer events, where coaches will be out evaluating. Boo's  17U team dominated the competition  in Charlottesville at The Southern Invitational, and includes a number of high-major prospects. In fact, the state of Virginia is very prominent in early national Top-50 lists, heading into the summer evaluation period. You can find J.J. Redick, John Gilchrist, Sani Ibrahim,Mario Boggan,Chadd Moore, Justin Gray and now Carmelo Anthony, all  attending either Virginia high schools or Virginia based schools, on most Top 50 lists.

             However, the younger talent in the state must not be overlooked and it is here where the reloading theory comes into effect. While the Boo Williams 17U team was dominating the competition in Charlottesville, the Virginia Squires 16U team was quietly winning their division at the same Southern Invitational. And, at the prestigious Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions during Memorial weekend in Chapel Hill, Richmond Metro Gold were the runner-ups for 15U crown, in a quality nationally represented field. All of which makes college coaches across the state, as well as across the country, eagerly anticipate this rising junior class, coming on the heels of what appears to be a deep and talented senior class. While a great deal of the recruiting attention will be rightly centered on the senior class in the state, we must not forget that behind this senior class remains another solid and talented class. Virginia does not have to take a back seat to any state when younger talent is being discussed.

            With this in mind, VirginiaPreps will take a closer look individually at some of the rising juniors, whose names will make college coaches , fans and alumni of schools very happy a couple of years from now.

           Marcus Sikes -  The rumors have been floating this spring and summer that UVa has already offered this 6' 7" insider, who attends Notre Dame Academy in Middleburg. It is easy to see why. Possessing a strong body, with solid post moves, Marcus is a fine athlete. Nice hands, plays solid post defense and will block some shots for you. Tough, runs the court fairly decently and is physical. He currently is in the process of expanding his game. His outside stroke is still improving, as is his handle, but IF those areas improve, then he will most certainly have a number of high-major programs coming after him hard. A high-major insider, mid-major perimeter player who is looking to improve his game in space.

           Darian Townes - A very early Georgetown commitment, along with Robert McIver out of Georgia, from the 2003 class. The Hoyas have secured a very solid athlete whose strongest suit at this time is his ability to block shots. But  that is not all of the game he has. Darian plays on the strong Boo Williams touring summer team and is an emerging talent. Very big upside. An outstanding athlete, who runs the court extremely well and is a distinct force inside defensively. Very quick off his feet inside to block shots. Thin, needing  upper body strength. Offense is getting better. Terrific upside, and when offense catches up with defense you will see a Top 20 kind of kid by the time his a senior.

         Vern Hamilton -  Part of the Thomas Dale HS triumvirate, along with Derius Swinton and Brad Byerson. Vern is an outstanding 6' point guard  who is a natural point, not a 2 guard trying to make the transition. Good feel for the game. Very quick hands enable him to be a first rate ball-handler. Jumps well, strong solid body. Can penetrate into the lane and stop on a dime for floaters over the defender. Nice passer. Can also get into the creases and kick to the shooters. Hard-nosed, tough and plays hard. Will get on the floor for loose balls.  Fine rebounding guard. Clever with the ball.

The level of recruitment will probably be determined for Vern according to how consistent his jumper becomes. Currently, he is up and down a bit there. He is searching for consistency from the perimeter. The only part of his game that is not first rate at this time. Definitely will have high-major programs monitoring his play closely over the next 2 years and will ultimately go where his stroke allows him.

        
           Joe Posey -  6' 5" wing player who attended King George HS last year, but will more than likely end up at Notre Dame Academy. Joe is a sweet shooter with fine range. Can spot up and hit the 3 or the intermediate jumper. Also can put it on the floor a bit for the stop and pop. Finesse player whose game revolves around his offense and stroke. Solid athlete with rangy body. Can score a bit along the baseline as well. Mid-major player with high major possibilities as his game diversifies.

           Jaaron Green -  6' 10" post player with big solid body. Will be recruited because of that alone, but there is some substance to his game as well. Jaaron has decent hands to go along with his stout body. Rebounds effectively and seals off inside. Post moves are decent. Runs ok, but needs to firm up a bit, which will help both his mobility and stamina. Has some athleticism. Solid size and build will always insure that schools and coaching staffs will be sniffing around him.

           J.R. Reynolds - 6' 3" wing guard from Roanoke Catholic. J.R. averaged over 20 ppg last year for state Catholic and Virginia Independent Schools Division II champion Roanoke Catholic. Starting to get some national recognition. Another who is rumored to be possibly considering an early commitment, with ACC schools in the lead.

           Glen Danderidge - 6' 5" wing player who is similar in build and playing style to Joe Posey. Attended Goochland HS last year. Finesse wing player who spots up well and hits the wing jumper and the 3. Will help some on the boards. Smooth playing style. Fluid movement on the court. Becoming more intense, which will help his recruitment. Has a very sweet stroke from the perimeter with an outstanding release. Pure shooting stroke. Nice upside, just needs to continue to develop confidence and intensity. As that improves, he will garner some significant looks from schools.

           Derius Swinton - 6' 3" forward/guard who has tweener size. Plays like a forward with guard size. Athletic, active, attacks the basket off the dribble. Puts it on the floor well. Good leaper who stays in middle of the action. Makes things happen on the court. Another of the Thomas Dale 3-some who should make that team a definite force next year.

           Gordon Johnson - 6' 7" insider who attends Central Lunenburg HS. Runs and jumps well. Very thin post player who needs upper body strength, and strength in general. Gets off feet and blocks shots. Rebounds and is a  quick jumper. Shoots it decently out to 15'. Has a bright future as body develops and strength is added. With added strength, mid-major schools will love.

           Jelani Lawrence -  6' 6" post player who plays for Bill Ramsey at The Blue Ridge School. Nice package of post skills. Smallish post player at this time, but time for added growth. Posts well, works baseline well and will get on the glass and rebound. Runs court fairly well and can finish plays inside. Solid insider who will attract plenty of mid-major or higher looks down the road.

           Jermone Day -  6' 4" wing player/forward who also attends Blue Ridge. Intense, tough, nasty, aggressive and hard-nosed. Plays with an attitude on the court. Very good shot-blocker, especially for his size. Will get on glass and rebounds well. Can take it off defensive glass and finish with drive or dish at other end. Shooting range is limited currently and he occasionally will over-penetrate. Plays hard and with intensity all of the time. Has some holes in his game, but is productive, tough and brings some definite intangibles to the table. Kind of player that coaches love to have on team.

          As the summer develops, we will see other names added to this list and this certainly is not an all inclusive list, only a start to show the caliber of young talent that the state has in abundance. And, it doesn't stop here. The rising sophomore class already has a few names that are generating some national ink, such as Marquie Cooke, Tyree Evans and Kenny Hunt and........well you get the picture. It doesn't stop there, more names to discuss and another class to tout, but ahh we shall save that for another day.    


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