NOTE: Pack Pride will have extensive coverage of the GSK Invitational, including game recaps, photos, quotes, video and audio so stay tuned!
GSK Invitional Loaded With Pack Signees, Commitments, Prospects
For Wolfpack fans, and a lot of college basketball fans, the place to be this weekend is Raleigh (NC) Broughton's Holliday Gym as the 37th annual GSK Holiday Invitational is absolutely loaded.
One of the event's headliners is NC State signee Lorenzo Brown. A 6-foot-5 combo guard out of Centennial High School, Brown has been stellar, as he is averaging 21 points per game in leading the Knights to a 6-1 start.
The team, which also features potential high-major recruits Ryan Fleming, Devonta White, Kamren Belin, and Georgia Tech football verbal Euclid Clummings, won the 2008 Prep All-Stars Holiday Classic on Tuesday and return to North Carolina just days later for the GSK. How dominant has Centennial been? The Knights have won their six games by an average of 24 points per game.
At the Prep All-Stars Holiday Classic, which was played at Belmont-Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina, Brown averaged 22 points, seven assists, six rebounds, and six steals in the three games to capture tournament Most Outstanding Player honors.
Centennial's first game is scheduled for 4:00 pm on Saturday December 27th against Toronto (Can.) Father Carr. Brown is considered the most heralded signee in the Pack's 2009 class. A legitimate Top 50 prospect, Brown is ranked the No. 8 shooting guard and the No. 33 player overall by Scout.com in the 2009 class.
Wolfpack 2010 commitment C.J. Leslie and John Wall, the nation's top point guard, are also playing in this year's GSK Invitational as Word of God will play in the final game tonight at 9:00 against Rocky Mount. Rocky Mount features Tashawn Mabry, a 2010 combo forward who claims an offer from NC State.
Word of God entered the season considered one of the top teams in the country, but the Holy Rams have struggled to a 5-5 record. After starting the year 4-2, Word of God headed down to Florida for the City of Palms Classic and lost three straight games after winning the opener.
Through ten games, Leslie is averaging 17 points a game and Wall leads the team with an 18-points per game average.
Leslie has really started to emerge during his junior campaign and projects as an elite-level prospect in the 2010 class. Currently he's rated a five-star prospect and the No. 16 player overall by Scout.com. At 6-foot-8 an 190 pounds, he's capable of playing both forward positions, is a scary shotblocker, has outstanding athleticism, and continues to develop his offensive game.
Also playing for Word of God is 2011 guard Bishop Daniels. The 6-foot-2 combo guard already claims an offer from NC State and is fun to watch on the offensive end of the floor. Wake Forest has also reportedly offered Daniels a scholarship.
The four-day event will be held at Raleigh (NC) Broughton High School's historic Holliday Gymnasium. Games begin December 26th and will conclude with the finals on December 30th. No games are played on Sunday, December 28th, and the event features two 8-team boys tournaments and a 4-team girls tournament.
Brown and Centennial are in the same mini-tournament as Ravenscroft (Ryan Kelly, Matt Wilson), Enloe (Melvin Tabb), Panther Creek (Earnest Ross), and Richland (Nolan Dennis), among others.
The other mini-tournament might be even stronger, as it features Word of God (John Wall, C.J. Leslie, Bishop Daniels), Kinston (Reggie Bullock), Rocky Mount (Tashawn Mabry), Middle Creek (Garrius Adams), Christ School (Mason Plumlee, Lakeem Jackson, Marshall Plumlee), and North Mecklenburg (Andre Marhold, Bernard Sullivan), among others.
Howell, Wheeler Look To Rebound In Beach Ball Classic
Wolfpack signee Richard Howell and Marietta (GA) Wheeler High School are looking to snap a two-game losing streak this weekend in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in the Beach Ball Classic.
Like Word of God, Wheeler entered the season with a ton of expectations as they were a preseason top 25 team nationally.
Featuring Howell, Wake Forest signee Ari Stewart and high-major prospects Phil Taylor and Tahj Tate, the team is loaded with firepower but has really struggled. At just 4-4, Wheeler is looking to get back on track in the Beach Ball Classic.
Another prestigious tournament, the Beach Ball Classic mixes quality in-state programs with high-level national teams. Other top teams scheduled to attend include Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei (David Wear, Travis Wear, Gary Franklin, Tyler Lamb), Fayette County (Noel Johnson), Arlington Country Day (Wally Judge), Pennsbury (Dalton Pepper), and St. Patrick's (Dexter Strickland, Paris Bennett, Michael Gilchrist).
Wheeler opens the event Saturday, December 27th at 1:45 pm versus Pickering (Canada). The Beach Ball Classic begins play today and concludes Wednesday, December 31st.
Howell is NC State's lone frontcourt signee in the 2009 class and is a physical presence for Wheeler. He's averaging a double-double and will bring athleticism and toughness to Raleigh. He's regarded as a four-star prospect and the No. 51 prospect in the country by Scout.com.
Wood, Marion Stay Local
Wolfpack signee Scott Wood was hoping to showcase his shooting stroke on Tuesday but a big matchup against Oak Hill was canceled. Next up for Marion High (3-1) is a game against Class 3A second-ranked Danville (7-0) and Purdue recruit Travis Carroll. The game will be played Saturday in Purdue's Mackey Arena.
Marion doesn't play in national holiday tournaments, as they annually host their own event. This year's four-team event begins January 2nd with Lafayette Jeff vs. Fort Wayne South followed by Marion vs. East Noble.
Last year's team featured current Wolfpacker Julius Mays and this year the star is Wood. A 6-foot-6 wing, Wood has exploded in the team's first four games, as he is averaging 27 points per game.
Wood is best known for his shooting stroke... he's already the school's all-time 3-point shooting leader. However, he's expanded his game this year and is playing much more with the ball in his hands and creating off the dribble.
A three-star prospect according to Scout.com, some consider Wood underrated nationally and he should have a chance to play right away for NC State, a team that lacks firepower from the perimeter.
Harrow, Walton Head Back On The Road
Another weekend and another trip on the road for Ryan Harrow and Marietta (GA) Walton High School.
After playing tournaments in Tennessee and Kentucky on back-to-back weekends, Walton was in North Carolina this past weekend for the 2008 Prep All-Stars Holiday Classic.
At the event, the Raiders finished third, winning two of three games with the only loss coming in double overtime to the host team, United Faith Christian Academy.
Harrow was superb in that tournament and has been outstanding all season. The junior point guard averaged 32 points and nine assists over the tournament's three games, more than enough to garner All-Tournament honors. He was the only player from a team not in the finals to make the All-Tournament squad.
The Raiders are now 5-3 on the season, and Harrow is averaging 32 points and eight assists. Walton returns to action on December 27th in the 25th Annual Schnucks Holiday Classic in Collinsville, Illinois.
The 16-team tournament will conclude play on December 30th. Walton was awarded the No. 1 seed and opens play Saturday, December 27th at 6:30 pm.