Tracking the College Basketball Stars of the Future
Sunday, August 31, 2003
By Thad Mumau
ACC casts long shadow over
James Mays is impressed with East Carolinaís basketball
program and the progress it has made in recent years under the direction of
Bill Herrion. But thereís a little problem when it comes to making
Greenville his college destination.
Itís the Atlantic Coast Conference. Like every other kid
growing up in North Carolina, ACC basketball is a way of life, with a
tradition so rich and a reputation so strong that high school players who
are talented enough almost automatically choose a college from that
This is not to say Conference USA ó Louisville, Cincinnati,
DePaul, Marquette and Memphis are no slouches themselves when it comes to
hoops ó is not a league with clout. And, if it doesnít get broken up, C-USA
will gain in stature. But the ACC is still hard to beat.
"Itís tough for other schools when ACC schools are
recruiting kids from around here," said Eddie Gray, Maysí coach at Garner
High School. "James has grown up with the ACC.
"He hasnít eliminated East Carolina, but thatís not one of
his favorites right now. You never know, though."
Mays, a 6-8, 220-pound power forward ranked No. 68 in the
country by Prepstars.com, plans to take official visits to Virginia Tech,
Clemson, Maryland and South Carolina. South Carolina, Virginia Tech and
Clemson are showing the most interest right now.
"Virginia Tech coming into the ACC makes a big difference,"
Gray said. "I donít know that James would be considering them otherwise.
Clemson coaches came around early. (Former Tigersí head coach) Larry Shyatt
came when James was a sophomore. But the new Clemson coaches are coming
after him, too."
Mays averaged nearly 20 points and 12 rebounds per game as a
junior, when Garner finished 18-8 after a loss to Lee Senior in the state
4-A playoffs. Mays added around three blocked shots and 3.5 assists a
A starter since his first game as a freshman, Mays averaged
11 points and seven boards that season and 16 points and almost 10 rebounds
as a sophomore.
"James has elevated his game each year," Gray said. "He has
gotten better at shot-blocking, but he alters a lot more shots, and thatís
just as important. His presence is the big thing.
"He used to try to do too much, forcing things that werenít
there. He is starting to understand that more is not always better. He lets
the game come to him, while continuing to play very aggressively. He takes
the ball to the basket hard.
"James is a slasher," Gray said, "who is more comfortable
flashing and squaring up than he is doing drop-steps and up-and-under moves.
He likes to take the ball facing the basket. At the same time, he realizes
that, with his size, he needs to play some with his back to the basket.
"He has to get better at that because he will have to go
inside-out in college. He is a four (power forward) for college. He is
working at developing his jump shot. He is an excellent passer and often had
five or six assists in a game. He could have had more, but we missed a lot
of easy shots.
"James played particularly well the second half of the
season when he began to play with his back to the basket the way we needed
him to do. It was tough for him because he had to carry us. There werenít
many games he wasnít our leading scorer.
"I think he is going to have an outstanding senior year,"
Gray said. "Taller kids mature at a different rate than others. Sometimes
you see a guy that tall and expect too much. James has really come along,
and he will continue to get better. He may grow two more inches.
"We have him in a weight program. He has the frame to carry
a lot more weight."
Marquette has a commitment, its first from the class of
2004. It comes from 6-8 power forward Ryan Amoroso of Burnsville (MN) High
School. Amoroso, who averaged 24 points per game as a junior, chose
Marquette over Minnesota.
Cincinnati is one of seven schools mentioned by top-50
prospect Joe Crawford after wiping off an earlier commitment. The 6-3 wing
guard from Detroit (MI) Renaissance is still looking at Michigan despite
backing out of his promise to the Wolverines. Ranked No. 38 by Prepstars.com,
Crawford is also interested in Clemson, North Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois
and Notre Dame.
Dominique Williams, a 6-2 combination guard from Fort Worth
(TX) Dunbar, likes South Florida, Iowa State, Southern Methodist, Wichita
State and Colorado State. Williams said a reported commitment by him to
Texas-Arlington was a misunderstanding. He said that he had mentioned that
the school was No. 1 on his list, and it erroneously came out that he had
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02/23/2007 02:40:10 PM