Carolina Challenge Recap: 2009 Class

Lakeem Jackson

Cary, N.C. – There was a good crop of juniors at Dave Telep's Carolina Challenge. John Wall, Lakeem Jackson, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly led the way, but there were plenty of strong efforts from some of the best juniors in the state.

Photos Courtesy of Arianna Hoffman

The state of North Carolina is loaded with talent and on Saturday the best freshman, sophomores and juniors got together at Cary Academy for Dave Telep's Carolina Challenge.

The games got underway early in the morning and it was the juniors that set the tone. John Wall and Lakeem Jackson dominated the action on both ends during the first game, while Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee were also among the top junior performers.

Lakeem Jackson, SF, Christ School – Although he may not be the best prospect that participated in the event, no one had a better day than Jackson. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound wing played hard every play and attacked the basket nearly every time the ball was in his hands.

Jackson is a physical wing that excels in the open court due to his strong build and athleticism. The talented southpaw still needs to develop his jump shot, but there's no doubting his ability to play college ball at the high major level. Jackson averaged 15.6 points a game during the event.

Brandyn Curry, PG, Hopewell – Guards and wings were certainly a strong point at the Carolina Challenge and among the better point guards in the building was this 6-foot-1, 180-pound lead man. In the two games we saw Curry, he hit a handful of three-pointers, drove the lane and looked to score in the open court. This kid has some talent and will at the very least play at the mid-major level.

Matt Wilson, C, Ravenscroft – At 6-foot-11, 215-pounds, Wilson passes the look test and on Saturday he showed some signs of being a player as well. Wilson gets up and down the floor with no problems, is fairly long and scores off of face up jumpers. Throughout our viewing, Wilson stepped out to three-point line to not only rotate the ball, but also to hunt three-pointers.


Wall Attacks The Basket
John Wall, PG, Word of God – Wall made his reputation last summer and certainly challenged for the top point guard spot, now it appears that he's on a mission to prove he deserves it. He got everyone's best defender on Saturday, but it didn't matter as he controlled every game he played in.

In his first contest he attacked the basket hard and hit five And 1's. He also managed to knock down a pair of three-pointers. When attacking the basket, Wall is great at adjusting his shot and is a big time athlete with explosiveness going to the rim. Wall averaged 18 points per game.

K.J. Sherrill, PF, West Rowan – Despite being undersized (6-foot-6, 215-pounds), Sherrill snagged a bunch of rebounds during the Challenge. The long, active four-man especially hit the offensive glass. Scoring wise, Sherrill got his points off of hooks and showed he's capable of using either hand around the rim. Through his three games he averaged 14 points per contest.

Julius Brooks, C/PF, Page – Active is the best word to describe Brooks. The 6-foot-7, 210-pound big man fought for rebounds and seemed to be all over the court. Although he's not known for his scoring, Brooks led the camp with 19.6 points a game. In the contest we took in, Brooks got a handful of dunks, but also knocked down a face up jumper from 15 feet.

Willis Hall, PF, Charlotte Christian – Although Hall isn't a great college prospect, he'll likely play college ball somewhere because of how hard he plays. He's a terrific high school player that plays quality, smart basketball. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound forward is a lot of fun to watch because he plays the game the right way, is extremely active and is skilled in the paint.

C.J. Harris, SG/PG, Mount Tabor – Harris was in all out attack mode in his first game of the Challenge. The 6-foot-3 combo guard went right at his defender and had a handful of strong finishes in the lane. Harris showed a solid handle and a good looking jumper, as he buried a pair of jumpers including one off the dribble in his first contest.

Alex Godette, SG, Hopewell – A new name to keep an eye on is definitely Godette. He had a solid day of camp and shot the ball extremely well. The 6-foot-2, 170-pounder hit a handful of spot up three-pointer and also buried a deep one after jab step move. While he got loose in the first game from deep, the second he seemed to attack more and made a few nice moves to the rim.

Ryan Kelly, PF, Ravenscroft – Rave reviews came out of Raleigh this year and Kelly, in our opinion, certainly backed up the hype. At 6-foot-9, Kelly is skilled and is capable of stepping out and hitting deep jumpers. Arguably his most impressive move of the day was when he took a dribble to the right side and pulled up for a three-pointer with a defender in his face. Kelly, who is best suited to play a face up forward role, was third in scoring and finished with 17.6 points per game.


Plumlee Looks For The Open Man
Mason Plumlee, PF, Christ School – For a guy that stands 6-foot-11, Plumlee can do a lot of things. The future Duke player runs the floor well, is very skilled and is also capable of stepping out and knocking down jumpers. The best move he made on Saturday was a drive from the wing where he cupped the ball and glided through the lane. He gets better every time out and he seemed to make a conscious effort to hit the glass as well. Plumlee put up 15.3 points a game.

Akeem Richmond, SG, Southern Lee – Known as a guy that can fill it up from mid-range, Richmond held true to his rep. He wore it out from 15-18 feet, but also showed range on his jumper when he buried a bunch of three-pointers in his last game. He'll often times force the issue, but there's no denying his ability to toe the line and drain jumpers.

Eric Mayo, SF, Shelby – A solid mid-level prospect, Mayo impressed us with his ability to slash to the basket. He played smart, looked for open teammates and did the little things to help his team. He should be a prospect that schools seek out in the open period because he's a guy with a bright future.

Stan Okoye, SF, Knightdale – This kid plays hard. Every possession you know what you're going to get from him, and to go with his motor he's an above average athlete that knows how to rebound. At 6-foot-4 he's got a strong build and his equipped with long arms that help him affect shots and rebound. Although he had struggled finishing, he was very active on the glass and managed to get a bunch of put backs.

Jaron Lane, SF/SG, D.H. Conley – The 6-foot-4 wiry wing was looking forward to camp and he turned in a solid day that certainly should help raise his stock. He's pretty athletic and he proved that when he dunked on freshman P.J. Hairston. He can guard multiple positions and loves to attack off the bounce. Lane tied for fifth among the top scorers. He went for 15.6 points a game.

Kyle Gaillard, SF, North Mecklenburg – We didn't get to see Gaillard until his last game of the day and he was clearly tired, but we saw the potential. He has terrific size (6-foot-7) for the wing spot and although his left-handed jumpers weren't falling, he has a good looking stroke from deep.

Earnest Ross, SG/SF, Panther Creek – Throughout the day, Ross was active and looked to get out and run in the open court. He had some finishes on the fast break and also made an impressive pass while pushing the break. Ross also managed to get a bunch of finishes around the rim, including a baseline up and under.

The match up between Plumlee and Kelly never fully materialized. The first quarter they guarded each other, with the offensive player usually coming out on top. After the first quarter the two didn't match up quite as much.

John Wall is clearly trying to prove a point this spring and summer. He's playing hard and always has demand of the game. Wall has a lot of respect from the others players in North Carolina. It'll be interesting to see how he plays on the circuit, because if Saturday was any indication he's got the killer instinct and is looking to dominate everyone in his way.

Lakeem Jackson, who will play with the Charlotte Royals on the summer circuit, said his only scholarship offer is from Western Kentucky. He does, however, have strong interest from Georgia Tech, Clemson, Kentucky, Baylor, Boston College, Virginia, Florida State.

C.J. Harris claimed he has scholarship offers UNC-Wilmington, Winthrop, Charlotte and High Point. He also has interest from Michigan, Miami, Virginia and Clemson.

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