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May 30, 2007

TOC top Class of 2008 performers

Rivals.com's Justin Young spent last weekend in North Carolina at the Tournament of Champions.

While at the event, which was loaded with talent, he saw a number of top players from the class of 2008.

Young breaks down the top five performers that he saw in action.

Tournament of Champions top performers
Delvon Roe, PF, AAU Team: King of the Court

Surprised that the future Michigan State forward made the list of top 2008 performers? By now, it is almost expected. The 6-foot-7 lefty helped his team advance to the championship game and scored 27 points on 11 of 20 shooting from the floor, including three 3-pointers.

The Cleveland native has been a consistent force on the grassroots trail all spring long. His outing in North Carolina was just par for the course. Roe looked awfully impressive on the floor at North Carolina - a school which he considered.

Perhaps the biggest impression Roe made over the weekend was his range on his jumper. Known primarily as a difficult player to defend in the paint, Roe is taking defenders away from the basket and knocking down long shots.

He led the tournament in total points (145), and was eighth in scoring in the 17-and-under division with 24.2 points a contest.

Tyler Zeller, C, AAU Team: Indiana Elite

The tournament most valuable player didn't blow anyone away with eye-popping numbers, but he did earn respect with his strong play inside - particularly in the championship game.

The five-star big man was matched up against another 7-footer, Xavier-bound Kenny Frease. Zeller stepped up to the challenge on both ends of the floor. He only missed one shot from the floor and limited Frease's makes to a single conversion. Zeller's improved toughness inside the paint is good to see.

Zeller averaged a modest 14.3 points per game, ranking him just 72nd in the tournament, but five of his teammates averaged 8.5 points or more a game. Balance is Indiana Elite's biggest asset, and Zeller anchored the middle with little trouble.

He picked up an offer from North Carolina two days before the tournament began. Zeller is one of the most sought-after centers in the nation. He also listed Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan, Notre Dame, Purdue and Tennessee.

Emmanuel Negedu, PF, AAU Team: Indiana Elite

As good as Zeller was, Negedu may have been the driving force for Indiana Elite. When the recent Arizona commitment is on the floor, there is a sense of awe in his spectacular and powerful athleticism.

Like Zeller, Negedu averaged 14.3 points per game. However, his points were much louder than Zeller's. Negedu threw home his trademark tomahawk dunk.

Much like Roe, Negedu showed off a good-looking stroke from beyond the arc. He drilled 3-pointers from both corners in the championship game.

Elliot Williams, SG, AAU Team: M33M Ballers

Perhaps the most-watched player in the event, the Memphis native did not disappoint with his stellar play. The 6-foot-3 combo guard sliced and diced his way through defenders and scored at all three levels. His field-goal percentage wasn't charted in the event, but odds are he was one of the best guards in that category.

Williams averaged 26 points per game, ranking him second in the tournament with two other players. His ball-handling abilities allow him to get into tight spots and score or pass down low. Williams knocked down 3-pointers with little trouble.

A media circus followed him around from game to game, and the five-star guard fielded question after question about his plans for the future. Duke and North Carolina were often the topic of discussion. The two ACC powers have upped their interest level of late. Tennessee, Virginia, Clemson, Memphis and Vanderbilt are also charting the spring sensation.

Ray Shipman, SF, AAU Team: Florida Rams

In what was the best game that I saw at Tournament of Champions, Shipman was the brightest light in a heated game between the Florida Rams and Triple Threat from the D.C. area. Shipman scored a game-high 31 points, and did so in a convincing fashion.

Known primarily as a slasher, Shipman showed off a much-improved jump shot. He converted on a number of mid-range and deep jumpers. The strong-bodied wing is doing more than scoring at the basket. Shipman averaged 23 points per game, ranking him 10th in the tournament.

Playing more with the ball in his hands as a creator, Shipman worked well with his big men and made it a point to get to the foul line. Shipman is mulling offers from Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, Kansas State and Clemson. Florida is the only school on his wish list that has not offered.

Inside the numbers: The leaders

Indiana commitment Eshaunte Jones led the tournament with 25 made 3-pointers, and led all class of 2008 prospects in scoring at 26 points per game.

Cincinnati-area guard Lonnie Hayes scored 26 points per game over a three-game stretch. Hayes scored 38 points against the M33M Ballers. The Maine Central Institute guard went to the line 27 times in that game.

Terrelle Pryor, the nation's top-ranked football player in the class of 2008, continues to prove his worth on the hardwood. He averaged 25.3 points a game at the TOC.

Mississippi area forward Latavious Williams enjoyed a good weekend of work. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 24.8 points a contest.



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