High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: Kendrick Williams

12 bold HS hoops predictions for 2012

January, 3, 2012
From Mitch McGary picking Michigan over Duke to Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) winning a double-overtime thriller over Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) at the ESPNHS National High School Invitational, 2011 had lots of memorable moments.

Our guess is that 2012 won’t be any different.

Here are 12 bold predictions for the new year.

1. Phoebus’ (Hampton, Va.) Troy Williams, who is ranked No. 8 in the ESPNU 60, will become the most famous basketball player in his family after a show-stopping performance on the summer circuit. Right now that honor belongs to his uncle, Boo Williams.

When Boo, a 6-foot-7 forward, graduated from Phoebus in 1977, he was an all-state selection and went on play at St. Joseph's University. Of course, he's most famous for his tireless contributions to the explosion of AAU basketball in the South with his flagship program, the Boo Williams Summer League. Regardless of how good a player Troy becomes, uncle Boo can always tease Troy that he wore his uncle’s retired jersey No. 5.

Kelly Kline/ESPNHSWe predict that Tony Parker will be anchoring the paint for the Buckeyes come November.
2. Tony Parker will pick Ohio State. Parker, a senior forward at Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) who is ranked No. 31 in the ESPNU 100, won’t be able to resist the draw of becoming the next Jared Sullinger and opt for the Buckeyes over Duke, Memphis, Kansas and UCLA.

3. Julius Randle will pick Duke. This is sure to rattle a few fan bases’ feathers, but Randle, a junior forward at Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas) who is ranked No. 3 in the ESPNU 60, will take his five official visits then sign on to join college basketball’s Evil Empire because of his relationships with Mike Krzyzewski and his close friend and Texas Titans AAU teammate Matt Jones, who recently committed to Duke.

4. Nerlens Noel will lead BABC (Boston) to repeat as champs of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League this summer. The trio of Noel, a junior center at Tilton (Tilton, N.H.) who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPNU 60; Jaylen Brantley, a junior point guard at Wilbraham Monson (Wilbraham, Mass.); and Wayne Selden, a sophomore shooting guard at Tilton who is ranked No. 10 in the ESPNU 25, will be too much for teams to handle.

5. The Harrison twins, Aaron and Andrew, will lead the Houston Defenders (Texas) to the ESPNHS Super Showcase title again this July. Last year the junior tandem, which leads a talented Travis (Travis, Texas) team, handily beat BABC and will prove to be too much for teams on the AAU circuit again come spring. Andrew is ranked No. 4 in the ESPNU 60 and Aaron checks in at No. 7.

6. Damon Harge Jr. will lead the North Carolina Rising Prospects to the 13-and-under AAU national title. Coach Kendrick Williams’ talented young bunch already took home the King James Classic title and finished No. 18 in the nation last summer with Jordan Riley anchoring the paint.

Add Harge, the country’s top sixth-grader, at the point, and the Prospects will be a problem. Harge is currently running the point for Williams on Christian Faith Center Academy’s (Creedmoor, N.C.) varsity team, and the last time he played 13- and 14-year-olds he averaged 35 points per game. The Prospects could go undefeated.

7. Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.) forward Mitch McGary, who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPNU 100, will take home MVP honors at the Jordan Brand Classic. Much like James McAdoo last season, McGary -- a senior who is signed to Michigan -- will clean up the misses from guards who are trying to do too much in the all-star setting.

8. Mitty’s (San Jose, Calif.) Aaron Gordon, the No. 6 recruit in the ESPNU 60, will become the first underclassman to win Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball honors since 2000. That year, 7-footer Tyson Chandler led Dominguez (Compton, Calif.) to the FAB 50 national title and was named national junior player of the year by ESPNHS.

9. Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) forward Anthony Bennett will win MVP honors at the 2012 McDonald's All-American Game in Chicago on March 28 and challenge Shabazz Muhammad and junior Jabari Parker of Simeon (Chicago) for 2011-12 ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA honors.

10. Harrison Barnes will become the third consecutive Boost Mobile Elite 24 alumnus to earn NCAA tournament most outstanding player honors. That obviously means we're predicting North Carolina to win its third NCAA title in the past eight seasons. Barnes will follow 2011 MOP Kemba Walker of Connecticut (2007 game) and Kyle Singler of Duke (2006).

11. Oak Hill Academy will finish No. 1 in the final POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings. It will be the seventh mythical national title under veteran coach Steve Smith. The Warriors finished No. 1 in the FAB 50/National Prep Poll in 1993, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2004 and 2007.

12. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) swingman Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 1 recruit in the ESPNU 100, will make fans in his hometown rejoice by choosing to stay home and play college basketball for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

He will be UNLV's most important recruit since forward Larry Johnson picked the Runnin' Rebels in 1989 out of Odessa Junior College in Texas. Johnson originally signed with SMU out of high school but was a non-qualifier and led the Runnin' Rebels to their only NCAA title in his first season.

Xavier's Dezmine Wells on lessons learned

December, 30, 2011
Xavier guard Dezmine Wells has typically operated under the adage that experience is the best teacher, but on Dec. 10, Wells learned, more than ever, that it doesn’t have to be.

Wells was one of four Musketeers who were suspended for their roles in a brawl with Cincinnati that ended the Bearcats' blowout loss. Cincinnati also suspended four players.

Al Behrman / APDezmine Wells said it's important to recognize the difference between intensity and anger.
“I was really upset with myself because I got out of character,” said Wells, who will return from a four-game suspension Saturday when the Musketeers host Gonzaga at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2. “I definitely wish it never happened. I hated that we acted like that.”

After the incident, one of Wells’ first calls was to Kendrick Williams, who coached Wells in AAU and at Word of God (Raleigh, N.C.).

Williams, now the coach at Christian Faith Center Academy (Creedmoor, N.C.), was the mentor who helped Wells kick his “bad attitude” when he was 11 by implementing what Williams now calls the “Dez Rule.”

“I’ll never forget it,” Wells said. “I was young and I had a temper at practice and I was mouthing off and I didn’t want to run sprints at the end, so Coach K had one of my teammates buy me a Gatorade and another teammate put a chair at midcourt, and I watched the team run for hours. That was the day I changed my attitude for the better.”

Williams, who still uses the “Dez Rule” today, said he wanted to show Wells how his actions can ultimately affect his teammates, a lesson that was reinforced after the Dec. 10 melee. Xavier has gone 1-3 over its past four games.

“He’s a great young man,” Williams said of Wells. “We talked for an hour and a half after the Cincinnati game, and I really got on him. I don’t let him get away with anything. He understood and admitted where he was wrong in the end, and he genuinely learned a lesson. That’s what it’s all about.”

Added Wells: “It hurt me because I knew Coach K, who’s like my father figure, was disappointed, plus I knew I’d hurt my mom and family. I was disappointed in myself too, but I learned a lot. I am planning to talk to some kids at the Boys & Girls Club about the importance of self-control. I know some good can come from the whole thing.”

Wells came up with five things to remember during the inevitable heated situations on the court.

Cooler heads prevail.
“You’ve all heard this one before, but it’s so true. You’ve got to keep your cool in every situation, not just on the court but in life. You’re accountable for everything that you do.

"No matter what happens out there you’ve got to keep your cool and good things will happen.”

Laugh it off.
“In every game, no matter who you’re playing, there will be a time when someone says something slick to you or bumps you a little too hard, and the best thing you can do when that happens is to laugh it off.

"Nothing good can come from you retaliating, and any player will tell you that the retaliator is the one who usually gets caught. Just laugh it off and keep it moving.”

It’s not worth it.
“I’ve been sitting out for four games, and that alone makes it not worth it. There’s always a consequence for your actions and in hindsight it’s never worth it.

"You always regret it when you mess up, so you’ve got to use your head.”

Don’t mistake intensity for anger.
“This is my favorite one. A lot of guys think that being intense is all about talking smack and being all up in the opposing team’s face, but it’s not. It’s more about playing hard and communicating with your teammates and respecting the game.

"You’ve got to remember that it’s just intensity when things get testy on the court. You aren’t really mad at the other guy; you’re both just being intense. It’s something you should actually respect, not get mad at. Got to learn to identify the different emotions.”

Walk away.
“There are times when a guy will take it too far, whether he steps to you or pushes you or whatever, and you have a decision to make. Always choose to turn around and walk away. Take it from me.

"I would absolutely handle my situation different if I could do it over. Win or lose, you walk away and stay respectable. It sounds cliché but it’s true, the bigger man always walks away.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN.