Dec 24, 2008
RALEIGH — The GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational has long been a favorite of basketball recruiting gurus, putting top local competition against top competition from the rest of the country, including future ACC players.
This year's tournament is jam-packed with top recruits. Players who have signed or committed to Duke, N.C. State and North Carolina will all make appearances at the tournament.
Scout.com’s national director of recruiting, Dave Telep, sat down with HighSchoolOT.com and said that this year’s field may be the best in a long time.
A number of Triangle players have already established themselves as top recruits, and some have already verbally committed or signed their National Letter of Intent.
However, there are two players inside Wake County that have a good chance to advance to the professional ranks after college, according to Telep. Those two players are Ryan Kelly (Ravenscroft) and John Wall (Word of God).
Wall, the Most Valuable Player from last year’s GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational, is one of the most sought after recruits in the country.
The senior point guard stands at 6-foot-4, and he is considering offers from schools like Kansas, Memphis, Oregon and Miami, but Telep says none of those schools are currently on his favorites list. According to Telep, Wall is looking at Baylor and N.C. State, but added that Duke is now in the picture.
“Duke is definitely interested,” Telep said. “That’s kind of in its infancy stages of sorting that out though.”
“Basically, everybody in the country dropped a private plane into Raleigh-Durham [International Airport] and tried to get involved with John Wall.”
Wall’s most dangerous weapons are his speed and athleticism. Wall penetrates the defense well, and he finishes at the basket. Locally, no one has proven that they are capable of guarding the nation’s top point guard, but Telep says that’s a common thread across the country.
“You can be from Raleigh, and you can see John Wall, and you can see him out here kind of putting it to guys, and that’s one thing,” Telep said. “But from my perspective, to go out across the country and see him do that to everyone who has challenged him… I can tell you that John Wall is the single most difficult guard in America – not just here in the Triangle, but in America – to guard.”
Kelly is a player who started out with little chance at making it to a major Division-I school, but over the last two seasons the power forward has established himself as one of the best in the Class of 2009.
“Two years ago I would have told you, and I’m sure Ryan would have agreed, the minute Davidson would have offered him a scholarship, absolutely he would have said yes,” Telep said.
Davidson did offer Kelly a scholarship, but after he made vast improvements in his game, so did Georgetown, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and N.C. State, among others.
Shortly thereafter, Kelly was picked to represent the United States on the U-18 USA Basketball squad in Argentina. That’s when Duke got involved, and after head coach Mike Krzyzewski returned from the Olympics in Beijing, China, Kelly officially received an offer from the Blue Devils.
“He is the definition of a late bloomer, his game has blossomed as much as anybody I’ve seen in this area over the last decade,” Telep said. “He’s an elite, national caliber player.”
Kelly accepted his offer from Duke, committing in front of a national audience on ESPNU. Weeks later, he signed with the Blue Devils at Ravenscroft School.
“So its been a situation where there was a time in the spring where the private hanger over at RDU was just filled with guys coming in for John Wall and Ryan Kelly,” Telep said. “It’s pretty amazing.”
Garrius Adams (Middle Creek) will be a future ACC player who will go up against the likes of Ryan Kelly. Adams, a senior for the Mustangs, has signed to play basketball at Miami next year.
“Garrius Adams is one of the best stories in the state of North Carolina in the last year,” said Telep. “He went from being a very highly regarded mid-level recruit, to just expanding his game and blowing up in May, June and July, to where he had three or four ACC offers.”
Adams is leading the Mustangs in scoring this year, averaging over 23-points per game. He’s a versatile athlete, capable of getting the basket and finishing.
“In this area, there are probably three guys who can really get to the basket when they want – Earnest Ross (Panther Creek), a guy named John Wall at Word of God, and Garrius Adams,” Telep said.
Telep has high expectations for Adams in the ACC. The recruiting expert said that Adams will receive playing time at Miami, and will be a major contributor at some point.
“When you look at the ACC in a few years from now, I think Garrius Adams is going to be one of the bigger steals; a kid that left the state of North Carolina, played in the ACC, but didn’t go to one of the big four,” said Telep.
Ross, the other player Telep says is capable of getting the basket whenever he wants, is one of the most physical players in the Triangle, and he leads Panther Creek in scoring and rebounding.
“Earnest is a guy that just stuffs the state sheet,” Telep said, “I think Earnest is just one of those guys that, at the end of the day, he’s got a bunch of rebounds, he gets on the glass, and he’ll make a couple three’s a game.”
The senior already has the body of a college basketball player with tremendous upper-body strength. Telep said that Ross is physically ready to play, and added that he will probably be fighting for playing time in the SEC next season because of his body’s maturity.
“He’s going to come in and the freshmen are going to ask him where their lockers are because he looks a little bit older,” Telep said.
Weston Murphy (Apex) had a coming out party of sorts during Apex’s miracle-like run to the state championship game last season.
As a sophomore, Murphy carried Apex through the state tournament, providing the Cougars with a presence in the post. Telep said Murphy is a player who rebounds and holds down the front court spots.
“In high school basketball, those guys are few and far between, so Weston Murphy gives Apex that anchor in the middle,” Telep said.
Murphy’s recruiting hasn’t skyrocketed yet, but Telep said that time will tell what level Murphy will play basketball at after high school.
“Knowing that he’s a good student, he obviously has another year to blossom into a prospect at the Division-I level,” Telep said.
Melvin Tabb’s (Enloe) recruiting has already picked up.
The junior has already pulled in a number of offers, and Telep said by next year he will be a very attractive prospect to coaches in high-major conferences like the ACC and SEC.
““Melvin Tabb has fast twitch muscles. He likes to catch the ball facing the basket and get into his move,” Telep said. “Some of the officials around here have had a difficult time adjusting to his quickness a little bit.”
Tabb suffered a number of injuries in his first two seasons at Enloe, but Telep said he has taken an active leadership role this season, and added that the will be the Triangle’s next high-major player.
“There have been head coaches coming in here in mass to see him play,” Telep said. “From Dino Gaudio at Wake Forest, to Coach [Sidney] Lowe at N.C. State, Darren Horn at South Carolina, Frank Haith at Miami; all these guys have buzzed through Enloe to watch this kid, and he’s really starting to hit his stride now.”
Telep said he expects to see Tabb making a big impact somewhere after he ends his prep career at Enloe, but said Tabb’s potential is up to him.
“It’s up to him. Melvin has potential, and potential is a great word,” Telep said. “Right now he’s certainly delivering on that, which is a great sign, but again, I think at the end of the day when you flip on your TV two years from now, you’re watching Melvin in one of the high-major leagues around here.”
Stan Okoye (Knightdale) had an injury plagued season his junior year, but as a senior this season, Okoye has an opportunity to step up and put himself back on the recruiting radar.
“Stan obviously had an injury-filled junior season, but he’s got a couple of things going for him,” Telep said. “One, he’s a multi-positional forward; two, he’s got really good grades.”
Okoye is leading Knightdale in scoring this season, averaging 23-points per game after nine games. The Knights played in the GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational last year, but Okoye had to watch from the bench after injuring his knee.
Telep doesn’t see Okoye playing for an ACC or SEC school next fall, but said he expects his recruiting to pick up soon.
“As the spring moves along, you’ll start to see some of the Southern Conference the Big South level programs come in and really start to get involved with Stan,” Telep said.
A big reason for the expected increase in interest is academics, according to Telep.
“When you have the academics taken care of, it’s a big relief for the colleges who are recruiting you.”
C.J. LESLIE (WORD OF GOD / N.C. STATE)
Telep's Take: “C.J. Leslie is an elite caliber athlete who is starting to add pieces to his game which is making him very dangerous… This is definitely a high-major player.”
ADAM PERRY (APEX / UNCOMMITTED)
Telep's Take: “During the run to the state championship, every team kind of forges an identity, and I thought he was the tough guy, the grit, just the dive on the floor, slap your hands, Steven Wojciechowski style, and really get after it. He made some important three-point shots for that team, and he’s kind of the heart and soul of that back court."
TOM TANKELEWICZ (MIDDLE CREEK / CHARLESTON SOUTHERN)
Telep's Take: “A year ago, Tom Tankelewicz wasn’t on anybody’s radar. Bottom line is, this guy worked his tail off. He goes into the summer and just starts making threes at a really good clip for his AAU team. The next thing you know, Charleston Southern comes in and offers him a scholarship, and Tom’s a Division-I basketball player"
HighSchoolOT.com conducted a complete interview with Dave Telep. To see what else he had to say about these prospects, as well as other prospects coming from outside the area, watch the video.