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Thursday, December 31, 2009
Miller's stock soaring at GSK

By Mike LaPlante
Scouts Inc.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The final day of the GSK Holiday Invitational again belonged to United Faith Christian's Ian Miller, who was named the tournament MVP after leading his team to the championship. The crowning of the champions of each 8-team bracket highlighted the day. The final game of the tournament featured a re-match of last year's state championship; United Faith Christian Academy (Charlotte, N.C.) led by Miller (26 points) took on Word of God (Raleigh, N.C.) directed by C.J. Leslie, the No. 10 player in the 2010 class. UFCA dominated much of the game and came away with a 71-59 victory.

The other championship game pitted Rice (New York) and its three headed monster of Kadeem Jack, Shane Southwell (Kansas St), and Jermaine Sanders against Kinston (N.C.) and its stud Reggie Bullock (UNC). The game come down to the final seconds as Rice's Southwell buried a fade-away jumper at the buzzer with Bullock (who scored 24 points and grabbed 10 boards) draped all over him to give Rice the championship with a 55-54 win. Jack, who sat the majority of the first half with two fouls, was named the bracket's Most Outstanding Player due to his dominant second half of 11 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Standout players

Ian Miller (6-2, 180, SG)
2010, Charlotte, N.C./United Faith, signed with Florida State

Miller, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite players to watch, was again the best player in the gym on the final day of the GSK Holiday Invitational. Put simply, he is one of the best combo-guards in the country at playing on both sides of the ball; he reminds me a lot of Avery Bradley, another player who rose quickly through the recruiting ranks. The kid is a winner who sets the tone for his team by bringing a high level of intensity each time he takes the floor. He defends as if his life depends on it and is able to control the ballhandler and dictate tempo. He was impossible to stop as he scored off the dribble and drilled 3s (4 of 7). He made an unbelievable put-back dunk in traffic that looked like he was playing trampoline-ball. If Miller continues to play at this level he will not only shoot up the ESPNU 100 list, he will deserve serious consideration for the McDonald's Game.

CJ Leslie
CJ Leslie is considering several ACC programs.

C.J. Leslie, PF (6-9, 205)
2010, Holly Springs, N.C./Word of God

One of the top remaining unsigned players in the Class of 2010, Leslie is one of the most athletic players in the country. He rebounded from a frustrating (4 point 2 rebound) first half to finish with 25 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks. He has a developing face-up game and can knock down a 15  17 foot jumper. He excels as Amare Stoudemire-type player who is a great finisher and offensive rebounder. If he becomes a more consistent free-throw shooter, he will be even more of a handful to guard; he gets himself to the charity stripe often, but doesn't consistently cash-in. He has the ability to get to balls outside off his area and is a heat seeker who can change momentum when he gets into rebounding mode. With his length and explosiveness he is also an outstanding shot-blocker who forces his opponents to think twice when attacking the basket. At times, he shows some questionable body language that sends up red flags to evaluators, but I hope it is just immaturity that he will grow out off.

Two to watch

Hanner Perea, PF (6-8, 205)
2012, Charlotte, N.C./United Faith
Peter Jurkin, C, (7-0, 190)
2012, Charlotte, N.C./United Faith
These two young import posts played very well in their run-in with Mr. Leslie. They impressively combined for 17 points, 18 rebounds and 5 blocks and countless altered shots. There is still a lot of time for development between now and when these two will step on a college campus, but it is evident that they will be two of the most sought-after players in the 2012 class. Perea looks the part, has developed body and looks like a "can't miss" high-major prospect. He is still very raw as most of his offense is around the basket on dump offs or offensive rebounds. He has a good motor and a competitive fire that should serve him well in his development. Jurkin looks like your typical young African post player. He is extremely long and thin; I am not sure how much weight he will be able to add to his frame -- he is not broad in his shoulder or hips. That being said, he is still an excellent prospect with an advanced game for a sophomore. His best offensive move at the moment is the dunk shot, but showed a soft touch and should develop a back to the basket game.

Notes

• Rice (New York) senior forward Kadeem Jack continued his outstanding play and will be a hot name on the recruiting trail as the late signing period heats up.

• West Charlotte's (N.C.) junior point guard Jacoby Davis that should be on the radar of mid-major programs. He is a solid prospect with a nice feel and pace that helped himself with his consistent play.

• United Faith Christian's junior shooting guard Paris Roberts-Campbell is a scorer with a nose for the basket. He is quick off the dribble and is creative at finding ways to the basket.

Dezmine Wells, Word of God's junior small forward is a high flyer that attacks the rim with reckless abandon.

• Darrick Martin from Flora MacDonald is an Alabama native who is an intriguing prospect. He is long and bouncy with the ability to make a 15  17 foot jumper. His size should attract some high major looks, but he could develop into an impact at a good mid-level program.

Mike LaPlante has spent nearly 20 years coaching college basketball. Most recently, he was the head coach at Jacksonville State University.