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May 31, 2007

NIKE Memorial Day Classic eye catchers

Rivals.com logged some heavy minutes between the 17-under, 16-under and 15-under divisions of the NIKE Memorial Day Classic.

A variety of lesser-known and younger prospects caught our eye over the weekend, but it is a 2008 prospect with a familiar name that tops our list.

Ralph Sampson, III looks better every time we see him. He has us wondering just how good he is going to be when it is all said and done.

NIKE Memorial Day Classic eye catchers
Ralph Sampson, III, C, AAU Team: Georgia Stars

What an improvement Sampson has made over the past year since playing sluggishly and looking overwhelmed at last summer's NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp.

Now Sampson, a 2008 prospect, is playing with confidence and much improved explosiveness. He has the ability to effectively attack the rim to go along with his reliable midrange jumper. Even though he is playing with five-star frontline players Al-Farouq Aminu and Tony Woods, Sampson is still finding ways to stand out. Against Greg Monroe's Louisiana Select team, Sampson registered a game-high 15 points.

Sampson is clearly on the upswing as a prospect, and has room to further develop. The light has clicked on for the big fellow, and it is only going to get brighter.

Brandon Gibson, PF, AAU Team: Georgia Blazers

Gibson, a rugged but skilled 2008 power forward, was the X-factor for the Georgia Blazers' championship run through the NIKE Memorial Day Classic.

In a semifinal win over Seattle Friends of Hoop, Gibson turned the tables for the Blazers in the second quarter by scoring 10 consecutive points. He hit a couple 3-pointers when left alone on the perimeter, and then attacked the basket off the dribble when his defender closed the gap.

Along with being a skilled face-up forward, Gibson also does good work on the boards. He has sure hands and doesn't shy away from contact.

Marshawn Powell, PF, AAU Team: Boo Williams

The Boo Williams squad won the 16-under division of the NIKE Memorial Day Classic. They played tough, unselfish basketball and featured some very talented players on the squad. Wing prospect Donte Hill and Deshawn Painter - a promising post player - are a couple of the more impressive prospects on the Boo Williams team. However, by far the most productive player on the team was Powell.

The power forward covers 94 feet very quickly and then hunts down the ball on both ends. In addition to being a strong rebounder, Powell also does a great job positioning himself in the post. He can score on a variety of quick post moves. In two of the games we saw in person, Powell finished just shy of 30 points on both occasions.

Powell plays like an undersized but more athletic Kyle Hardrick, who is a 2009 Oklahoma commitment.

Ralston Turner, SG, AAU Team: Alabama Challenge

At around 6-foot-5, Turner who plays for the Alabama Challenge 15-under squad - is a 2010 prospect with the all the markings of a five-star player.

Turner can handle the ball like a point guard, he can stroke it from deep and he can attack the basket off the dribble. A strong athlete, Turner is also active on the boards. He has the type of skill set that makes him a triple-double threat every time he hits the court.

Capable of playing and guarding the one through the three positions, Turner is a prospect who will garner a load of attention throughout his prep career.

Abdul Gaddy, SG, AAU Team: Portland Elite Legends

A 2009 prospect playing up with the Portland Elite Legends 17-under squad, Gaddy has all the tools to be a highly sought-after point guard prospect.

For starters, Gaddy has impressive size for his position at 6-foot-3 and 170-pounds. His body is still developing, but he already plays strong with the ball and can make plays in a crowd. Gaddy also has the skills to hurt you with the dribble, pass or shot.

Most impressive, however, is his overall feel for the game. Gaddy demonstrated an advanced feel for getting the ball in a threatening position and then making the proper decision.



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