With the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions about to wrap up, here are some thoughts on some of the top players of interest in North Carolina who played this weekend in Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh:
Bishop Daniels: Super-athletic Raleigh Word of God Academy player is trying to show he can play point guard at 6-3, but it won’t be easy. Daniels can spin, get to the rim and finish with the best of them, but needs to make better decisions and demonstrate that he can run an offense.
He has scholarship offers from Wake Forest, Georgetown, Miami, South Carolina, Charlotte and East Carolina, and expects to pick a school by the end of the summer.
Andre Drummond: Big man (6-11) is ranked atop the Class of 2012, and seems certain to be a high NBA draft pick some day.
He has good hands, runs the floor well and handles the ball effectively for a player his size. He still needs to get better at dominating in the low post and readily admits that he must learn to score more with his back to the basket.
Chase Fischer: A 6-3 guard from Shipley, W.Va., he’s a talented 3-point shooter who should be able to force people to guard him on the perimeter in new Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik’s system.
But it’s not clear whether the former Marshall commitment will be able to defend or be physical enough to make a big impact in the ACC.
P.J. Hairston: Wing from Greensboro didn’t take over at this tournament in the way you would expect from a player committed to North Carolina.
He seems to have all the tools – size and a wide-shouldered, powerful body, but needs to learn to use his strength better to finish on the drive. Nonetheless, he can be extremely effective when he is hitting from the outside, and he rebounds extremely well for a wing player.
Tyler Lewis: Point guard in the Class of 2012 from Lewisville, N.C., is the most divisive figure among talent evaluators in the state.
He’s listed at 5-11, but he’s not even that tall. Although he works hard on defense, he can be overpowered by bigger, stronger guards, and some wonder whether he’s an ACC-caliber player because he’s small.
But he scores from every area on the floor and possesses extraordinary vision and passing ability. With scholarship offers from schools including N.C. State, Wake Forest, Charlotte, Virginia Tech and Miami, he clearly has impressed college coaches.
The guess here is that he will be a successful ACC player but won’t get a scholarship offer from North Carolina or Duke.
Alex Murphy: A 6-foot-8 forward from Southborough, Mass., he’s staying an extra day in the Triangle for an unofficial visit to Duke.
He is similar to Kyle Singler in that he’s tall and has perimeter scoring skills, but isn’t as strong or physical as Singler. He’ll be one for fans of the Blue Devils (and perhaps North Carolina, too) to watch carefully.
Shabazz Muhammad: Left-handed Class of 2012 wing from Las Vegas can score in every way – on the break, on the drive and from 3-point range.
He had at least two 30-point games in the Tournament of Champions and seems particularly interested in Duke, but North Carolina could be a factor as well.
His stock definitely is rising.
Rodney Purvis: Raleigh Upper Room guard is so young (Class of 2013) that it’s probably premature to evaluate him.
But he can score from the outside and has an uncanny ability to get to the basket and finish in the lane. If he’s not the best player in his class, there can’t be many who are better.
Marquis Rankin: Charlotte Vance point guard is a solid pickup for Virginia Tech and did a good job running the CP3 All-Stars team over the weekend.
He is not anywhere near the kind of scorer that current Virginia Tech guard Malcolm Delaney is. In fact, if there’s a negative to Rankin’s game it’s that he makes all the “safe” plays but rarely does anything spectacular.
J.P. Tokoto: Although this 6-6 wing from Menomonee Falls, Wis., can get to the basket and finish seemingly anytime he wants, he needs to develop a perimeter game.
He’s been rated as a top-five player in the Class of 2012, but didn’t play as well this weekend as Shabazz Muhammad, who’s rated lower. Still, he’s a guy coaches at Duke and North Carolina probably will keep an extremely close eye on.
Joseph Uchebo: At 6-foot-9, the Oak Ridge Military forward can bang inside and demonstrated remarkable ball-handling skills at the Tournament of Champions.
Uchebo held his own against the top player in the Class of 2011, 6-11 Andre Drummond, and gives N.C. State an outstanding addition as he is reclassifying to 2011 from 2012.
Dezmine Wells: At 6-4 and 215 pounds, Word of God Academy forward is built like an outside linebacker, and he plays like one, too. He doesn’t have a jump shot to speak of, but lowers his shoulder and barrels his way to the basket with tremendous power.
His lack of perimeter shooting at first glance makes him a questionable fit for the Xavier team he’s committed to because the Musketeers are known so much for 3-point shooting. But he will make them a better team because he will add a different dimension, and he’s an excellent “get” for Xavier.