Later this week, Boo Williams heads to Canada to watch his nephew barnstorm on Indiana University’s five-games-in-six days exhibition basketball tour. Troy Williams started last season as a freshman for the Hoosiers and is among many current college players — think Florida’s Dorian Finney-Smith, North Carolina State’s Cat Barber and Colorado’s Josh Fortune — Boo recently coached on the summer travel circuit.
But for all their talent, those Boo teams did not produce as well as this year’s.
Boo’s oldest squad, the 17-and-under bunch, won the Amateur Athletic Union’s Super Showcase in Louisville, Ky., defeating the Alabama Challenge in the final. At the more prestigious Peach Jam in South Carolina, the culmination of Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, Boo’s team reached the semifinals, falling to Memphis-based Team Penny and Florida commit Kevaughn Allen.
The Boo headliners, prospects who figure to land in major conferences such as the ACC, were Chris Clarke, Edrice Adebayo, Kenny Williams and prodigy Matt Coleman.
A 6-foot-6 rising senior at Virginia Beach’s Cape Henry Collegiate, Clarke is a blue-collar forward, not unlike the Boo Williams who played at Phoebus High and Saint Joseph’s decades ago. In a survey of more than 100 college coaches, big whistles and assistants, conducted by Scout.com’s Evan Daniels, Clarke was voted the most competitive player of July’s evaluation period.
“He seemed to be shot out of a cannon compared to the rest of the players,” a college coach told Daniels. “I saw him at a 9 a.m. game at Peach Jam, and you could just tell that everyone else was sleepwalking. But it mattered to him. He was a beast. The coaches never had to run one play for him, and he was the best player on the court at both ends.”
Two of last season’s Final Four teams, Florida and national champion Connecticut, are among the latest schools to offer Clarke a scholarship, according to Rivals.com. Closer to home, Virginia Tech, VCU, Old Dominion, Maryland, East Carolina and Tennessee are making runs as well.
Adebayo is a 6-8, 220-pound rising junior from Northside High in Washington, N.C. He scored a game-high 20 points in the Showcase title game, and his strength was evident in the Peach Jam setback, when he grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked five shots. Past national champions North Carolina, North Carolina State and Kansas already have offered Adebayo, and Boo believes other heavyweights will follow.
A 6-2 rising senior guard from L.C. Bird High near Richmond, Kenny Williams has a more eclectic collection of offers that includes, according to Rivals, William and Mary, Virginia Tech, George Mason, ODU, Indiana, Minnesota, Cincinnati and Northern Arizona. His breakout occurred when he made 16-of-21 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc during an EYBL weekend in California.
A 6-1, left-handed point guard, Coleman is the pup of Boo’s oldest team. He’s a rising sophomore at Norfolk’s Maury High whom Virginia offered the summer prior to his freshman year.
Coleman often deferred to more-experienced teammates this summer, but no one questions his ability.
“He’s going to be a heck of a player one day,” Boo said, “a pure point guard.”
Had Coleman not played up in age, Boo’s 15-and-under squad would have been even better. As is, the team went 40-6 and won a national tournament that is essentially the Peach Jam for younger prospects.
Robbie Williams coached the 15s and said Hampton High’s Marquis Godwin and Mastadi Pitt combined with Norcom’s Kevin Davis and Travis Ingram to lead the team. At 6-8, 240, Jordan Riley from Durham, N.C., provided bulk, while Dajour Dickens offered intrigue.
A rising sophomore at Bethel, Dickens played sparingly last season for the Bruins after breaking a bone in his foot. Depending on who’s talking, he’s either 6-9 or 6-11, but the consensus is he could become a 7-footer.
That guarantees nothing — many 7-footers can’t play a lick — except considerable attention and analysis.
“He’s got great upside,” Robbie Williams said. “You’re talking a 6-11 kid who can shot-block, is athletic. He just needs to play more, get stronger, fill his body out.”
Spring and summer competition is more about player development and recruiting than wins and losses. Always has been. But with young talents such as Adebayo and Coleman accustomed to success at the 17s level, and with no shortage of prospects ready to graduate and join them on the older team, Boo’s 2015 summer outlook is promising.
“Sometimes you get talent and it doesn’t mix very well,” Robbie Williams said, “but these guys really enjoyed playing with each other.”
David Teel can be reached at 757-247-4636 or by email at email@example.com. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime and follow him at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP.