CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The Southern Invitational Tournament held on the campus of the University of Virginia has hosted some epic court battles in past years. In the ninth annual tournament, the 17-Under Gold Playoffs were highlighted by some marvelous individual performances and a number of hard-fought, down-to-the-wire contests.
However, in the championship game Chris Paul's CP3 All Stars from North Carolina had little trouble cruising past National Christian Academy (Md.) 70-50. Six-foot-6 2010 forward Tashawn Mabry led a balanced attack for CP3 with 15 points. Gifted 2009 guards Josh Pittman and C.J. Harris added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Six-foot-7 senior power forward Wilbur O'Neal had 14 points and 14 rebounds to lead National Christian Academy. 2010 2-guard Will Barton had 13 points in the loss. Six-foot-9 2009 PF Dante Taylor, who had been dominant throughout the event, was held in check during the championship game, finishing with just 6 points and 5 rebounds. Center Javon Mitchell performed well for CP3, finishing with 11 points and 7 rebounds; he was very instrumental in limiting Taylor's impact on the game.
For CP3, 6-6 2010 North Carolina commit, Reggie Bullock (Kinston, N.C.) was sensational throughout the tournament. In the semifinals Bullock had 13 points and 7 assists in a blowout win over the Virginia Rapids. And, in the quarterfinals he outdueled highly rated 6-6 junior G/F Dominic Cheek (Jersey City, N.J./St. Anthony's), scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in a 10 point win over The Playaz Gold(N.J.) He was our choice for Tournament MVP.
In the 16-Under championship, Team Final from Philadelphia used an explosive second half by freshman sensation, 6-7 forward Michael Gilchrist, to defeat Boo Williams (Virginia) 76-72. Gilchrist had 29 points in the win. Six-foot-6 sophomore G/F Travis McKie was also impressive, scoring 17 points for Boo Williams team.
Southern Invitational Notes
• Bullock is a gifted athlete with a multidimensional game. He has the size and strength to battle inside plus the ball skills and shooting range to be effective on the perimeter. Only a sophomore, he seems to be coming into his own; he is learning how to impose his will on games. Don't be surprised to see Bullock's name high up in the 2010 rankings.
• Dante Taylor had 17 points in the quarterfinals and the semis; he showed great mobility and athleticism for a big man. Taylor has the ability to use the spin move to get to the rim on the baseline. He displayed great footwork on the drop step and up-and-under moves in the paint. Taylor is a long 6-9, and he does a fine job challenging shots and crashing the glass. He has soft touch from the midrange and has even shown the ability to hit the occasional 3. He's a superb power forward prospect who continued his excellent spring this past weekend in Charlottesville.
• Six-foot-9 2009 C/F prospect Cadarian Raines (Petersburg, Va.), a relative unknown on the national scene, has been making waves this spring for Petersburg Elite. Raines was a dunking machine on Saturday afternoon, as he led his team into the playoffs. Raines gets up and down the floor well, though he plays a little stiff at times. He does a great job catching and finishing in the low post and is an explosive athlete. He is still in the learning stages, but he has a lot of physical tools.
Six-foot-6 2009 G/F Dominic Cheek led a depleted Playaz Gold squad to the quarterfinals, during which they were disposed of by eventual champion CP3. Cheek has always had lots of length and wiry quickness to work with, but he has become a much more confident shooter and ball handler over the past year. There are not many players in this class with his versatility, length and athletic gifts. He has the complete package of perimeter skills.
• The event's biggest sleeper was 6-11, 240-pound center Daniel Miller of the Georgia Ballers. Miller (Loganville, Ga./Loganville Christian) does not pass the look test; he tends to shuffle down the court. However, this skilled big man understands how to use his body to gain position in the paint and he has tremendous hands. Once he catches the ball, Miller is adept at maneuvering around the defender and has excellent touch out to 15 feet. As he grows into his body, Miller should become an impact player at the high-major level. Minnesota, reportedly, has offered.
• Six-foot-7 freshman forward Michael Gilchrist (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick) continues to make his case as the best prospect in the Class of 2011. Gilchrist's calling card has always been his nonstop motor, but he has slowly been taking his game away from the basket, putting the ball on the floor and making perimeter shots. His 29-point explosion in the 16-under final was, perhaps, his coming out game, and a harbinger of much bigger and better things to come.
• Rugged 6-7 2009 forward Ian Hummer (Washington, D.C./Gonzaga) is the consummate competitor and has surprising athleticism. Hummer led his undermanned team to the semifinals, scoring 19 points in their loss to CP3. The book on Hummer is that he is an undersized PF, who, if he grows another inch or two, would be an elite level prospect. His father played college ball and was a first-round pick in the NBA draft at 6-9. Interested high majors should get on the train now, before it departs the station.
• Six-foot-9 2010 center Markus Kennedy (St. Patrick's/ Elizabeth, N.J.) led his Team NJ ABC team to the 16-Under semis, before falling to eventual champion Team Final. Kennedy is a wide body with soft hands and the ability to score around the basket. As he rounds into shape, he will be one for the high majors to monitor closely.
• Six-foot-4 2010 2-guard Dion Waiters (South Kent, Conn.) is perhaps the best in the class at using the dribble and his thick frame to get to the basket. When he has his perimeter jumper going down, as it was for much of the weekend, he is almost unstoppable on the offensive end. Waiters must continue to improve his defensive footwork and overall effort at that end to reach his lofty potential.
• Six-foot-3 2009 PG Erick Green (Winchester, Va./Millbrook) is an outstanding floor leader and playmaker. This Virginia Tech commit ran the show for Triple Threat, leading them into the playoffs this weekend. Green is long and quick with the ball. Although he is still somewhat thin, Green has the athleticism and ball skills to develop into a superb ACC point guard.
• Six-foot-6 2010 forward Sherrod Wright (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) did a bit of moonlighting with the Playaz Gold team this weekend, and he showed why ACC and Big East teams are hot on his trail. Wright is a true inside-outside forward with the ability to make 3s and convert tough plays in the paint. He had 24 points in the Playaz semifinals loss.
• Six-foot-8 senior forward Chris Braswell will return to Hargrave Military Academy for a postgrad year. The Georgetown signee was more active this weekend than we've seen in the past; he scored 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the quarterfinals for Triple Threat.
• Boo Williams' 15-Under squad defeated Team Phenom from Philadelphia in the championship game. Boo Williams' imposing frontline of 2011 PF 6-7 James McAdoo (Norfolk Christian/Va.), 6-8 C Levon Harper (Fuqua School/Va.) and 2012 phenom, 6-5 WF Justin Anderson (Spotsylvania Middle/ Va.) combined for 31 points in a 69-56 win. Talented freshmen Aaron Brown (Roman Catholic/ Pa.), and Devin Coleman (Abington Friends/Pa.) each had 17 points for Team Phenom.
Bob Gibbons is the editor and publisher of the All Star Sports Report and is widely regarded as the recruiting guru of college basketball. Drop Bob a line in his mailbag.
Rob Matera is a long-time basketball scout and contributes to the All Star Sports Report and ESPN.com