Rusty Larue, the former Wake Forest and Chicago Bulls guard, put together a summer league of professionals and amateurs three years ago, and it’s still going strong. The talent level in the Triad Pro-Am is pretty high; NBA All-Star Chris Paul played in two games before jumping a plane to Vegas to work out with the Olympic team this week.
The big draw of the night is usually the Wake Forest recruits and players; in the first game I watched, James Johnson scored 40, leading his team over Harvey Hale’s squad. Johnson was unstoppable, slashing to the basket for dunks or layups, or pulling up and nailing threes.
Coach Gaudio talks with Mike Drum and yes, that’s James Johnson in the background.
There aren’t a lot of high school players who play in the Triad Pro-Am, but all three Wake Forest incoming recruits were in action, including McDonald’s All American Al-Farouq Aminu, Ty Walker and Tony Woods.
The first incoming Wake player to take the floor was Tony Woods (C, 6’10”, 2008). Woods looks every bit of 6’10” and then some. However, I’ve seen him play better. He seemed winded quickly, and despite some nice moves here and there, often seemed tentative with the ball. I’m not sure if it was because of Coach Deano Gaudio standing a few feet under the basket, but whatever the reason, Woods showed only a few glimpses of the aggressive finisher I’ve seen in other games. That being said, Woods is that rare commodity in college basketball, a legit center. There is no 3 or 4 to his game, he is a back to the basket player, with size and bulk to bang in the paint.
Walker is not the big body that Woods is; while Woods looked bigger than his listed 6’10”, Walker looked smaller than his listed 7 feet, but I saw the games in different gyms. Walker runs the court like a forward, looking more like a 4 than a 5. He and Ish Smith arrived late to their game and I did not get to see them play as much. Walker did not get many touches, but seemed to get pushed out of the action in the halfcourt sets.
The big draw of the night was Chris Paul, but the second biggest was no doubt Aminu. Aminu is exactly what I’ve seen before; a future NBA 3 who never sees a shot he doesn’t like. The thing is, he looks and handles the ball like a legit 3 but he can shoot like a 2, with that perfect fluid shot that barely touches net as it slips through. He did have a nice slashing spin move to the basket a couple of times. He can get off his own shot, and he handled the ball well even against PG Ish Smith. However, I think his strengths are finding the seams in the d for jumpers or layups. This kid is big time.
James Johnson is a stud. Of all the players I saw, he was the best, even better than Aminu.
The player who had everybody scrambling for their roster sheet was Jamal Durham, a 6’6″ player for Winston-Salem State. In a game where Wake star Jeff Teague showed his unbelievable quickness, Durham looked really good.
Chris Paul doesn’t mind walking around the parking lot in his nice white socks.
LD Williams loves to play above the rim.
Lees-McRae incoming freshman Kyle Boardman is a pure PF who surprised me with his outside shot. He plays strong with the ball and although he is not a high flyer, he can bang in the paint. Speaking of Lees-McRae, current LM PG Jesse Hoots was one of the better PGs that played in the Triad Pro Am.
While we’re talking about Lees-McRae, which is in Banner Elk, NC, they just picked up Juco player Vlady Nikolov, a 6’1″ guard.