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April 6, 2005

Host team's roster could scare the field

Boo Williams is a busy man. Not only is he gearing up for the first big AAU tournament of the season this weekend but he's also preparing for an even bigger tournament the weekend after for the top girls programs in the country. Both tournaments bear his name.

Somewhere in the process of managing some 200 plus teams, he's also the coach of one of the best AAU teams in the nation. That might be the easiest job he's got over the next two weeks. Eleven of his players will go on to play hoops at the highest level in college.

Williams' tournaments have become the kick off for the AAU season and the best Nike- sponsored teams from across the country travel to the Tidewater area for a weekend full of basketball. Williams could have a lot to worry about with the details that go into the event as well as coaching a team in the field.

No need to worry though. At least not on the coaching end of things. He's got one of the favorites in the field to win it all. While Williams won't say he's got a phenomenal team, he does know that his group of guys are among the best teams in the country. Williams, however, is not quick to say his team is the group to beat this weekend.

"We've got a very good team but there are a lot of other teams that are very good, too," Williams said. "We have been very fortunate that we have a lot of kids coming back but we also know that there are a lot of teams that are going to make us really work."

The majority of the Boo Williams Summer League (BWSL) roster is back and it's headlined by Portsmouth, Va. standout Vernon Macklin, the No. 9 ranked player in the Class of 2006.

The kid who goes by the nickname "The Big Ticket" has some big offers from some of the biggest names in college basketball. Maryland, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Wake Forest have tendered a free ride. Now that there is a real possibility of a 20-year-old age limit for the NBA Draft being put into play, Macklin will be a hot target on the recruiting trail.

Macklin isn't alone. He's joined by Stefan Welsh, the No. 58 ranked player in the class of 2006. The backcourt is even deeper with Maryland bound Eric Hayes and Scotty Reynolds, one of the best shooters in the country.

Welsh is officially visiting Xavier next weekend with Duke Crews, an athletic forward that should shine with BWSL this summer. L.D. Williams and Crews will be a constant highlight reel with their high-flying act.

This team is battle tested as the group fought through a tough schedule last summer and had success at the Peach Jam and the AAU Super Showcase.

"They grew as the season went along last year and they have something to build on," Williams said. "That experience is back but we also we very fortunate to add some young talent, too."

There aren't a lot of AAU teams across the country that can say their sixth through tenth man can kept a lot of teams starting five. Williams' group probably can.

"There are some guys that are very much under the radar," Williams said. "People don't really know about (Witcher) and then you look at Chris Wright, who is only a sophomore. He's a very good player. We have some guys that should really help us out."

One of those guys is Lewis Witcher, a 6-foot-8 forward that has garnered attention from the likes of Maryland, Wake Forest and others.

Karolis Petrukonis, a 6-foot-10, 220-pound forward from Norfolk (Va.) Collegiate, is also one to watch. Williams says the Lithuanian has interest from a number of ACC programs.

Junior guard Ben Finney is a great rebounding guard and Kenny Belton, a class of 2007 prospect, is a guy to watch closely amongst the many high-major guys on this roster.

Williams wanted to test his team from the out set. BWSL will play Brandan Wright and the Murfreesboro Stars on opening night. Wright and Macklin, two of the top ten players in 2006, will be one of the best one on one match ups in the entire tournament.

"That's going to be a bang," Williams said. "We need to know where we stand and starting with Brandan, who we know is very good, is going to be a good start."

And Williams' group is very good, too. In fact, they should be one of the early favorites to win not only this tournament but many more on the AAU circuit. College coaches will have this group on their priority list until each player is signed. Trust us on that.

Boo Williams Summer League team pool play schedule:

Friday, April 8 7:30 p.m. vs. Murfreesboro Stars
Saturday, April 9 9:30 a.m. vs. Alabama Lasers
Saturday, April 9 2 p.m. vs. New Jersey All-Stars
All of BSWL pool play games will be played at Kecoughton High School


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