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April 7, 2011

Boo Williams tips off grassroots season

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Although there have been grassroots events taking place all across the country, this weekend's annual Boo Williams Invitational in Hampton, Va., is generally recognized as the unofficial tipoff for the grassroots season. Boo is now the first session of Nike's 2011 edition of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL).

Rivals.com will be on hand all weekend to scout the event. Here is a sampling of what we'll be watching.

Where are the five-stars?

This certainly will change when the rankings for the class of 2012 are done later this spring, but of the 20 prospects in the class of 2012, only four of them are expected to be in Hampton.

Current five-stars expected to play are Kyle Anderson of the Playaz Basketball Club, Brandon Ashley of the Oakland Soldiers, DaJuan Coleman of the Albany City Rocks and Archie Goodwin of the Arkansas Wings.

Stretching things out a bit further, there are two additional four-stars - Rasheed Sulaimon and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera - who currently ranks in our top 25 for 2012.

Because of this, there will be plenty of opportunity for some lesser-known prospects to emerge on the scene.

In 2013, there will be a few more big reputation guys in attendance as seven of the 15 five-stars in the sophomore class are expected in Hampton.

What's the point?

By now, any recruitnik has read about concerns over the point guards in the class of 2012. For whatever reason, it just doesn't appear to be a class that is overflowing with point guard talent. At least it hasn't looked that way thus far.

So far, there are only 16 point guards ranked as a four-star prospect or higher in the entire class of 2012 - compared with 21 in 2011 and 25 in 2010. Now, some may get shifted to shooting guards while others may be shifted from the two to the point, which would change the numbers. But, the fact is that the big men seem much more abundant in this class as evidenced by the 42 power forwards and centers currently rated as four-star or higher prospects.

Of those 16 point guards, 11 remain uncommitted and just one five-star, Kyle Anderson, remains open in his recruitment. The upside of this is that the point guard position is absolutely wide open and Rivals.com will be paying particularly close attention to the position at Boo and throughout the entire spring.

Another salute for the Soldiers?

Last spring, there wasn't a more entertaining squad than the Oakland Soldiers. With the likes of Josiah Turner running the point and Nick Johnson and Jabari Brown on the wing, with plenty of talent around them, the Soldiers were a favorite on the grassroots circuit.

This summer, five-star big man Brandon Ashley returns and three-star point guard Dominic Artis and Rivals150 forward Richard Longrus got minutes last summer. However, outside of those three, the Soldiers are going to be a bit green in terms of 17-and-under experience.

The Soldiers will be loaded with class of 2013 prospects who should, once again, make them one of the circuit's most exciting team. Five-star forward Aaron Gordon and five-star wing Tyree Robinson will be joined by high-flying four-stars Jabari Bird and Tyrell Robinson.

Ten to watch

Jalen Lindsey, SF, Tennessee Travelers: A small forward from the class of 2014, the highly regarded freshman will be among the youngest players hitting the floor.

Torian Graham, SG, Boo Williams: An electric wing with big-time athleticism, can the 2012 four-star reproduce the results of last summer and earlier in the winter?

Willie Cauley, C, MoKan Elite: The 6-foot-10, four-star, big man from 2012 is coming off an impressive performance at the EYBL Qualifier. His stock will be on the rise if he can replicate his efforts.

Nick King, SF, Memphis YOMCA: The silky lefty wing is a four-star prospect from the class of 2013. However, he's still a bit unknown nationally

Cameron Biedscheid, SF, St. Louis Eagles: Currently ranked No. 73 in the class of 2012, the Notre Dame commitment could be due for a healthy rise in the rankings if he plays the way he did during his high school season.

Anrio Adams, SG, Rotary Select: A very talented and physical scorer, Adams bounced around some during his junior year. What kind of shape will he be in and is he ready to play?

Julius Randle, PF, Texas Titans: Rumor has it that the 2013 five-star wants to be considered the top guy in the country, regardless of class. He's got the tools and will have the stage in Hampton.

Shawn Smith, SG, Team Florida: One of the more intriguing guys we saw during the winter. Can the 2012 guard show enough ball skills to slide over to the point? Either way his stock is likely on the rise.

Georges Niang, PF, BABC: How he projects as a prospect is yet to be determined, but people are going to love this 6-foot-6 forward's approach and production.

Austin Colbert, PF, Team Final: An early five-star in the class of 2013, the 6-foot-8 forward had a somewhat quiet sophomore year. How far he's come since last summer is something that a lot of people are interested in learning.



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