Top-shelf talent at Boo Williams' Nike boys invitational tournament

HAMPTON — Boo Williams' annual Nike boys invitational tournament won't have college coaches in attendance, but as usual features some of the nation's best prep talent.

Boo's tournament features 112 teams, highlighted by the third of four stops in Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League — the Swoosh's spring league format for its top-shelf programs and players, leading up to the Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., in July.

The tournament is based at the Boo Williams SportsPlex on North Armistead Avenue in Hampton, but games are at sites all over the Peninsula. The 16-and-under and 15-and-under divisions compete in a tournament format, with pool play and elimination games through the weekend, and begins Friday.

EYBL teams compete Saturday and Sunday and play two games each day. All EYBL games are at the BooPlex.

Boo's team is 6-2 after the first two sessions, in Sacramento, Calif., and Dallas. The team includes guard Kenny Williams from Chesterfield, Cape Henry teammates Chris Clarke and Marcus Evans, Edrice Adebayo, a 6-8 sophomore from Jacksonville, N.C., drawing high-major interest, Maury freshman guard Matt Coleman, and Justin Robinson, a 6-1 junior guard from Manassas.

"We have a lot of good players," Boo said. "It's a good 'chemistry' team, one of the best 'chemistry' teams we've had in a while. No big stars, but a lot of guys that play well together."

Unlike last month's Nike girls invitational, which attracted a who's who of women's college coaches, this is a recruiting "dead period" for men's college coaches. They aren't allowed to evaluate players in person, but Nike live-streams video of games, and many programs will have unofficial scouts and bird-dogs in attendance.

The EYBL schedule can be found at http://www.nikeeyb.com. Schedules for the 16-and-under and 15-and-under divisions are at http://www.boowilliamsbball.org.

Boo's EYBL team faces the Travelers Saturday at 11 a.m. and Canada-based CIA Bounce at 5 p.m., both on Court 4 at the BooPlex. On Sunday, his team plays the New Jersey Playaz at 9:30 a.m. on Court 4 and Texas Elite at 3:30 p.m. on Court 1.

Five to watch

Ivan Rabb, F, 6-9, 205, Oakland, Calif. Oakland Soldiers. Consensus top-three player in Class of 2015. Averaged 27 points and 14 rebounds per game last season at Bishop O'Dowd High. Skilled, athletic. Can finish with both hands around the basket. Developing mid-range game. Pairs with 7-footer Stephen Zimmerman, another top-five recruit, to give the Soldiers a formidable front line. Games: Sat., 12:30 vs. Alabama Challenge, Court 3, 3:30 p.m. vs. All Ohio Red, Court 8; Sun., 8 a.m. vs. Georgia Stars, Court 8, 12:30 p.m. vs. Playground Elite, Court 5.

Malik Newman, G, 6-3, 175, Jackson, Miss. Jackson Tigers. Top-five player in Class of 2015. Named Mr. Basketball by Clarion Ledger-Star for second consecutive season. Averaged 29.2 points, 6.2 rebounds per game last season and led Callaway High to third straight 5A state title. Son of former Mississippi State star Horatio Webster. Games: Sat., 9:30 a.m. vs. KJ Shooting Stars, Court 1, 3:30 p.m. vs. NW Xpress, Court 5; Sun., 8 a.m. vs. New York Lightning, Court 5; 12:30 p.m. vs. Howard Pulley, Court 1.

Ben Simmons, F, 6-9, 230, Melbourne, Australia. Each 1 Teach 1. Top-five player in Class of 2015. Already committed to LSU. Played at Montverde Academy in Florida, which finished 28-0 and won national high school championship over Oak Hill Academy. Averaged 18.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists per game. Exceptionally skilled. Runs floor well. Has 3-point shooting range. Good passer for his size. Can play any position from shooting guard to power forward. Games: Sat., 11 a.m. vs. Team United, Court 3, 5 p.m. vs. Travelers, Court 3; Sun., 9:30 a.m. vs. CIA Bounce, Court 3, 12:30 p.m. vs. Mean Streets, Court 8

Dedric Lawson, F, 6-8, 195, Memphis, Tenn. Team Penny. Top-five prospect in Class of 2016. Brother and Team Penny teammate K.J. Lawson, a 6-7 Memphis commit, is among top 20 prospects in Class of 2015. Averaged 18 points, 12 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game at Hamilton High last season. Strong, quick, athletic. Parents, Keelon and Dedra Lawson, played college basketball. K.J. Lawson averaged 19 points, 11 rebounds per game. Games: Sat., 9:30 a.m. vs. Southern Stampede, Court 6, 3:30 p.m. vs. Spiece Indy Heat, Court 6; Sun., 8 a.m. vs. Alabama Challenge, Court 6, 12:30 p.m. vs. Georgia Stars, Court 3.

Malachi Richardson, 6-6, G, Hamilton, N.J. Team Final. Top-10 prospect in Class of 2015. Already committed to Syracuse. Grew four inches since freshman year. Averaged 21.7 points per game last season at Trenton Catholic Academy. Good perimeter shooter who can get to basket. Invited to attend USA Basketball U-18 tryout camp this summer. Games: Sat., 9:30 a.m. vs. NY Lightning, Court 2, 3:30 p.m. vs. Baltimore Elite, Court 2; Sun. 8 a.m. vs. Howard Pulley, Court 2, 2 p.m. vs. Expressions Elite, Court 7.

Fairbank can be reached by phone at 757-247-4637.