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December 30, 2011

Brandon impresses at North Carolina event

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RALEIGH, N.C. - After spending two days in Myrtle Beach, it was time to head north a bit to the High School OT.com Holiday Invitational. Held at Broughton High in Raleigh, the Holiday Invitational is in its 40th year of matching up top local teams with some of the East Coast's best. On Thursday, Florida State signee Montay Brandon led an impressive group.

Wesleyan's backcourt too much

When it comes to athleticism and length, High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan's perimeter rotation of 2012 four-star Montay Brandon and 2014 five and four-stars Theo Pinson and JaQuel Richmond can hang with just about any team in the country.

They certainly proved to be too much for 2012 five-star Rodney Purvis' Raleigh (N.C.) Upper Room Christian in a 56-50 semifinal slugfest in the Summit Hospitality bracket of the tournament.

The star of the game, though, was the Florida State-bound Brandon. Every bit of 6-foot-6 with a strong body, Brandon was dynamic on both ends of the floor Thursday night.

A proficient ballhandler for a guy his size, he can lead the break, break down defenders from the wing and is also an excellent passer. His jumper is a bit unorthodox, but he got a few to go down and was a load to stop slashing to the hoop as he finished with 21 points and seven rebounds.

Where Brandon really excelled was on the defensive side of the ball. His size caused problems for a power guard like Purvis - who finished with 13 points - because he moves his feet and can take bumps from guards and not be moved. Additionally, he can defend multiple positions.

Brandon's young teammates weren't bad themselves. Like Brandon, Pinson is a long athlete and he's starting to fill out. The 6-foot-6 wing has a tremendous first step and is a true high flyer, and at his best finishing in transition and as a defender.

Richmond, on the other hand, is a 6-footer with strength and quickness, and runs the point much of the time. A natural scorer, Richmond has deep range.

N.C. State's Mark Gottfried made it in with an assistant while Georgetown and Duke had assistants on hand as well. North Carolina will watch the sophomore duo of Richmond and Pinson on Friday.

White has big day

From the looks of it, Andrew White is going to do just fine at Kansas. The four-star wing was solid during a 22-point, 10-rebound outing to move his team into the consolation finals of the Summit Hospitality bracket.

What White does best is perform within the focus of an offense. He moves the ball, cuts hard away from it and does an excellent job setting up himself for what is a very, very dangerous jumper out to 22 feet.

His strength and frame at 6-foot-6 allows him to be a good positional defender and he will also rebound the ball. White will need to continue to develop his ball skills and dribbling, but he doesn't force too much, which limits his mistakes.

Thursday's quick hits

Waiting for White and the Charlottesville (Va.) Miller School in the consolation finals will be five-star Kaleb Tarczewski and four-star Nick Stauskas of Southborough (Mass.) St. Mark's. The duo helped to dispatch the Greenfield school.

Bigger and stronger than everybody else on the floor, Tarczewski had his way in the post during a 20-point and five-block effort. There's nothing flashy about his game, but he's solid and knows that the area within 6 feet of the rim is his to protect and clean up, and that's exactly what he does.

A 6-foot-5 wing, Stauskas is a flashy passer and has deep range on his three-ball. His offense sputtered a bit after halftime, but he's clearly an excellent fit for Michigan and will contribute plenty as a freshman.

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino was in town to watch recent 2013 commitment Anton Gill of the Ravenscroft school. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard didn't disappoint in a 16-point game.

Ravenscroft plays team basketball and Gill fits in just fine. He takes what's given to him and uses a tremendous first step and quick leaping ability to finish on sudden drives to the rim. His jump shooting features great lift off the floor and perfect set-up, which bodes well for his shooting down the road. And, he's already making some shots. He looks every bit like the four-star national top 50 player that he's ranked as in 2013.

Also at Ravenscroft is unsigned senior point guard Madison Jones. At 6-foot-1, Jones has good quickness, can find teammates and has range to make some deep jumpers. Mid-majors will be all over him this winter.

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