Southern Invitational Report

Luol Deng

Checking in with some Wake prospects from this weekend's AAU event in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weeeknd.

The third annual Southern Invitational has brought together a wide range of talent from the East coast, with several weaker teams from Virginia mixed in with some of the traditional powers of the summer circuit. The results were some lopsided scores in pool play, but some great match-ups for the playoff rounds on Saturday night and Sunday.

Recent Wake commitment Todd Hendley led the Raleigh Heat to a 3-0 record in pool play, but the Heat was eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs. In pool play action Saturday afternoon, Todd was the biggest and best player on the floor for either team, and he was able to pour in 26 points, going 12-22 from the floor, grab 14 rebounds and block 4 shots. Todd struggled in the Heat's playoff loss to Baltimore Select. Baltimore features a lot of frontline size and depth, something the Heat severely lacks. Todd got in early foul trouble, and was never able to react to Baltimore's strength and size.

Here's a look at three Wake targets in action Saturday.

Luol Deng 6-8 SF/PF New Jersey Demons - The best player I watched on Saturday. Has an inconsistent jumper; otherwise, he excels at every aspect of the game. His ball handling is exceptional for a prep player his size. Multiple times he grabbed a defensive rebounds and raced end to end through traffic and finished with a basket. Can break down defenders off the dribble and get to the basket on a regular basis. His passing would make most point guards jealous, whether it be feeding the post or making a perfect pass in transition. Rebounds with authority. Good timing to block shots. Incredible hands that allow him to catch passes at full speed in traffic - if he gets tired of basketball I'm guessing he could make a career of catching passes in the NFL. Good footwork on defense. Strong enough to hold his own around the basket. Attacks the rim whenever he gets the ball near the hoop, often resulting in a 3-point play opportunity. In a nutshell, this guy is a joy to watch. In fact, in a Saturday night playoff match, his dunk over a defender in transition was so impressive that just about everyone in the gym, including the player who got dunked on, was shaking their head and smiling in admiration.

Gave a current list of Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia, Missouri, Fairfield (where his brother attends), George Washington and Texas. Will make his visits in the fall and will decide at that time.

Will Sheridan 6-8 PF Tim Thomas Playaz Gold - Solid post player. Excellent rebounder. As opposed to a lot of big men at this level, he'll get a lot more rebounds than just those that fall in his lap. Can block some shots. On offense, he's strictly a back-to-the-basket player right now, but a good free throw shooting touch leads me to believe he can develop a steady jumper. Needs to finish better when he takes a bump.

Listed Wake Forest, Michigan, Virginia, Seton Hall, Villanova and Rutgers, and noted that all have offered a scholarship. He doesn't have a leader at this time.

Wayne Marshall 6-9 C/PF Hunting Park (PA) Warriors - This Philadelphia native really impressed me today. Lots of offensive skill, including a variety of effective post moves, efficient offensive rebounding and a decent jump shot to keep defenders honest. Able to get up and down the court nicely for a player his size. Solid post defender.

His list included Wake Forest, Virginia, Temple, LaSalle and UConn. Right now only Temple and LaSalle have offered, although I think that will change in the near future as more schools get to know him better, assuming he has his academics in order.

Coming Monday - photos.

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