St. George's star on recruiting fast track
Jason Smith, Commercial Appeal
June 27, 2007
If ESPN basketball recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons' latest assessment of him is on point, St. George's rising senior guard Elliot Williams can forget about maintaining a low profile any time between now and November, when he finally signs with a college.
One of several standouts nationwide invited to participate in last week's National Basketball Players Association's Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va., the 6-4 Williams was so astounding offensively during the camp that Gibbons told a local Virginia basketball beat writer Williams has "emerged as being one of the top five players in the nation."
That's a pretty big jump for a player currently ranked the No. 20 overall prospect in the class of 2008 by Rivals.com, though Williams' stock is clearly soaring, as evidenced by his recent visit with Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Williams, who two months ago said he'd cut his college list to a "main five" of Tennessee, Memphis, Clemson, Virginia and Vanderbilt, said Tuesday he'll reveal a new list of "four to five" schools within the next week.
"I'm going to talk to my family and hopefully get it down to four or five by the beginning of next week," said Williams, who added his experience in Virginia was "the best camp I've been to."
"(Washington-bound guard) Isaiah Thomas was primarily the point guard for our team, so I had a chance to play off the ball and he just kept giving it to me and I just kept scoring. ... It was great, getting a chance to talk to NBA players about life during and after basketball."
Bringing home gold
Williams wasn't the only local hoopster turning heads on a national stage last week.
Briarcrest Christian rising junior guard Leslie McDonald and Evangelical Christian School basketball coach Terry Tippett recently returned to Memphis with gold medals for their Red Team's 112-109 overtime win in the gold-medal game of last week's USA Basketball Men's Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"It was a great experience for me," said McDonald, a 6-4 combo guard ranked the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2009 by Rivals.com.
"All the talent out there, you didn't know who was going to win the gold. But as we started playing together, I kind of noticed that (the Red Team) could go all the way."
Playing on a Red Team that included 6-8 Indiana commitment Devin Ebanks and class of 2009 standout guard Lance Stephenson (Brooklyn, N.Y.), McDonald averaged 12.8 points on .571 shooting and 2.4 assists in five tournament games, helping his Red Team to a 5-0 mark.
Tippett, one of six prep coaches nationwide selected to participate in the Festival and a Red Team assistant, praised McDonald for his decision-making and ballhandling, noting his Festival-best 4.5 assist-to-turnover ratio.
"I was just amazed at the talent that was out there. These kids are gonna be on TV, either in college or the pros, shortly," Tippett said.
"(McDonald) was very dependable and very reliable. ... We knew he'd come in and would play good defense, make good decisions and take good shots, which is kind of a rarity in those kind of games."
McDonald's high school coach, John Harrington, was simply happy his star player returned home injury-free. McDonald will participate next in this weekend's Steve Nash/Nike point guard camp in New Jersey, which will host the nation's top 20 point guard prospects. In July, he'll attend the LeBron James/Nike camp in Akron, Ohio.
"I was glad to see him be first in the Festival with that assist-to-turnover ratio," Harrington said. "He didn't shoot it quite as well (from 3-point range) as I thought he would have, but he did a little bit of everything."