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April 27, 2006

King of the South preview

The next major stop on the AAU circuit is the King James Shooting Stars Classic in Akron, Ohio next weekend, but hundreds of players will be making their way to a different event at the same time.

Thirty-eight teams will be in Nashville for the first annual King of the South tournament beginning Saturday at Lipscomb University. Rivals.com will be providing in-depth coverage, including player updates and photo galleries.

"Fans in Middle Tennessee don't typically get to see this level of play unless they go see Brandan Wright (Brentwood, Tenn., power forward who signed with North Carolina last fall) play every night," tournament director Carl Reed said. "I've been really pleased with the field we have been able to get together for a first-time event."

Reed, who coaches the Tennessee Dreams and recently became head coach of Pioneer Christian Academy in Nashville, used his connections to attract some well-established teams and a few major prospects.

That includes two of Rivals.com's top 100 prospects from the class of 2007, A.J. Stewart (No. 77) from the Tallahassee (Fla.) Wildcats and Randy Culpepper (No. 99) from Team Memphis, along with a handful of highly-touted names from the class of 2008.

Stewart, a 6-foot-7, 180-pound small forward from Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville, Fla., has received scholarship offers from a handful of ACC and SEC programs. He recently returned from Germany with a traveling squad, and this will be his first time playing at the AAU level this season.

"A.J. is an athlete and a high flyer that is really fast and can handle the ball," Wildcats coach John Adkins said. "He reminds me a lot of Stanley Robinson (Connecticut-signee who is ranked the No. 14 prospect in class of 2006), except he can't shoot that well yet."

The Wildcats also feature three other juniors who are earning plenty of attention from colleges, including Milton (Fla.) High small forward Adam Allen, Thomasville (Ga.) High shooting guard LaDarius Hall and Bradenton (Fla.) Christian School center D.J. Magley.

Allen (6-6) recently landed an offer from Florida after the Houston Kingwood Classic.

"Allen is so versatile," Adkins said. "He has great footwork in the post and is strong around the basket. He can put the ball on the floor and shoot, too."

Hall (6-4) and Magley (6-9, 260) are just starting to show up on the recruiting radar of some programs.

"Hall hit eight 3-pointers in the high school championship game," Adkins said. "D.J. just started playing with us last week and he's already getting looks from Florida State, Alabama, Western Kentucky and Purdue. He's the best passing big men I've ever had."

Culpepper is coming off a solid performance at the Real Deal on the Hill in Fayetteville, Ark., two weeks ago. He has received an offer from Colorado and interest from Iowa, Missouri and Tennessee.

"Randy can score at will and also run a team if needed," Team Memphis coach Jerry Durham said. "He is a pure shooter who can also get to the goal."

The Atlanta Celtics are bringing their 16-under team, which includes highly-touted sophomore small forward Chris Singleton (6-7) out of Cherokee High in Canton, Ga.

"Anytime you are 6-foot-7 and can shoot the ball as well as Chris and are as athletic as him you are going to be talked about as a high-major prospect," Rivals.com recruiting analyst Justin Young said. "His game is very mature for his age and he can go inside and outside. He has all the tools to be a big-time wing player."

Celtics coach Winfred Jordan said that Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt was at several of Singleton's home games this past season and that Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Florida, Florida State and Virginia Tech are among the programs showing the most interest.

Singleton is surrounded by a collection of talented sophomores, including point guard Pierre Jordan (6-0), who is a Clemson commit, wing Delwan Graham (6-5) and Dennis Harris (6-9) - who is an emerging big man.

"Pierre is a scoring guard who has played in the shadow of a lot of other prospects at Dunwoody High," Young said. "He's just now getting an opportunity to prove he can play in the ACC."

Return to Rivals.com this weekend to find out the latest on the prospects mentioned above and the sleepers that emerge.


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