Rucker of the South, Pt. 1
Notes from the Greater NC Pro-Am.
After rolling down to Augusta, SC for the Nike Peach Jam, my friends over at Hoopmixtape insisted that I roll with them to the Greater NC Pro-Am. Being the hoops junkie that I am and not having much popping off the following week in Cleveland, I figured “why not” and chilled in the south for a little longer. With Cookout and $1 large sweet teas just about everywhere you go, it didn’t take too much twisting of my arm to make me delay my return home for another week.
Deemed the “ The Rucker of The South” by promoters, the league has established itself as arguably the top summer league in the country. While the EBC at the Rucker and the Drew League in L.A. are both legit, they don’t come anywhere near boasting the star power offered in the Tar Heel State. Primarily funded by Milwaukee Buck Jerry Stackhouse, the league really is the epitome of what summer basketball is supposed to be all about. Admission is free at NC Central, youngsters are running around selling bomb icys, the PA announcer is calling peeps out for shooting bricks on the regular, and a local DJ is spinning all the hot tracks (although I counted him playing “pretty boy swag” four times in three games).
The talent is legit too with NBA stars Kevin Durant, John Wall, Stephen Jackson, Raymond Felton, Jawad Williams, Sean May, Ed Davis and Josh Powell all scheduled to make appearances before the summer ends. Then you’ve got guys grinding to try to find a spot in the League such as D-League stud Jeremy Wise and former Norfolk State star Michael Deloach. Finally you have all of the college stars from within the triangle including Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Reggie Bullock, Tyler Zeller, Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee, Kyrie Irving, Miles Plumlee, CJ Leslie, Ryan Harrow, and Lorenzo Brown amongst others. Oh, we forgot to mention bigtime high school players such as SLAM diarist Quincy Miller, UNC recruit PJ Hairston, super sophomore Rodney Purvis, Deuce Bello, Bishop Daniels and Antoine Gill.
With ballers like that, it made for a hard decision (please don’t get me started on THAT ‘Decision’) for which guys to write about. Here are a few of guys who stood out to me from game 5 of the Greater NC Pro-Am:
Ryan Harrow | 6-0 | PG | North Carolina State | Freshman
The YouTube sensation has more views than any player of the Class of the 2010 and has the game to back it up. Being trained by Hot Sauce’s trainer (Marc Edwards) in the A, it’s no coincidence why this youngster has the ankle-breaking crossovers that make him a crowd favorite. He drew a number of “oohs” and “ahhs” with his crosses and dunks that sent the crowd into a frenzy (check out the guy doing the “Harrow” in the video to the left). Not just a guy who plays for the highlights, Ryan showed off an improved J and seemed to put on a little weight. Don’t get me wrong, he still needs to be drinking about 10 protein shakes a day but should be able a key part of the Wolfpack resurgence.
CJ Leslie | 6-8 | PF | North Carolina State | Freshman
The most heralded of NC State’s prized recruiting class made it a point to let everyone know he was in the building by nearly putting about six different guys on posters. He handled the ball well in the open court, took opposing power forwards off of the bounce, and showed solid range on his jumper. Consistency still remains an issue with Leslie, but the McDonald’s All-American should walk into day one as a starter for State and is a guy who honestly has the chance to bounce to the League after a year.
Lorenzo Brown | 6-4 | PG/SG | North Carolina State | Freshman
“LO” was a beasting in the game against Plumlee’s squad and was a close runner-up to Harrow as king of the highlight factory. Nobody was able to stay in front of him one on one and his ankle breaking crosses were simply disgusting. The Hargrave Military Academy grad has a few holes in his game (needs to cut down on turnovers, go hard every game), but his combination of size, speed and bounce will get him immediate burn as a freshman.
Miles Plumlee | 7-0 | C | Duke | Junior
The eldest Plumlee came into NC Central as the top physical specimen in the building. Looking like a straight Hercules with added muscle, he was physically superior to all other bigs. The Duke junior showed off his hops by getting head level on a number of dunks in warm-ups and sent a few opposing players ish right back at them. Though he’s not going to be running a clinic on moves in the pivot anytime soon, the big fella showed off a nice 18-foot jumper and even put the ball on the deck a little. Duke fans should expect Miles to get considerably more burn this season and it’s honestly looking like everyone else in the NCAA is playing for runner-up barring injury.
Seth Curry | 6-2 | PG/SG | Sophomore | Duke
It was my first glimpse at the most heralded transfer in college basketball since he was lighting up the Southern Conference as a frosh in ’08-09. Unfortunately, Steph’s baby bro turned an ankle a few minutes into the game, sending him to the sidelines as a precautionary measure. We only got to see him drop one 3, but luckily we’re getting two more chances to see him so it’s all good.
Jeremy Wise | 6-1 | PG/SG | D-League
Wise made the relatively unprecedented move of bouncing from Southern Mississippi early and opting to head to the D-League. While he went undrafted in this past June’s NBA Draft, Wise proved himself well enough in the minors to gauge interest from a handful of NBA teams. Making an impromptu appearance at the Pro-Am, he looked to be working to improve upon his weaknesses (the consistency of his jumper from beyond the arc) and running the show full time as a point guard. The lefty still had his blazing quickness on display and made a couple of passes that could have made you swear he was a pure playmaker. Though he’s far from a sure thing to make the League at this point, expect Jeremy to be a cat who will be at an NBA training camp near you.