Southern Invitational Wrap-Up

This year’s Southern Invitational was almost the opposite from last year in that this year, an impressive list of players made their way to Charlottesville to participate…a good rebound from last year’s depleted field. In addition to stars from the 2006 class, top notch players from the classes of 2007 and 2008, respectively, participated as well.

Gerald Henderson

This year’s 17-and-under Southern Invitational title went to the Playaz team from New Jersey. Led by 2006 stars Gerald Henderson and Wayne Ellington and the up-and-coming Corey Stokes , the Playaz defeated Boo Williams 67-58 in the Sunday’s championship game. Stokes, a 6-4 sophomore out of St. Benedict’s High School (Newark, N.J.), paced the Playaz with 18 points in the final game. The 6-4 Ellington, a combo guard, scored 16 while Henderson, a 6-5, 200-pound small forward, scored 15 in the final game. Ellington and Henderson are considered 5-star prospects out of Episcopal Academy in Merion Station, Pennsylvania.

Ellington, Henderson and Stokes were certainly among the top players at the event. All three players are very athletic. Ellington and Stokes show nice touch from outside while Henderson, who has a decent shot of his own, is a do-everything type of player. Henderson likes to mix it up inside and was one of the better rebounders for the Playaz. Both Ellington and Henderson are considering offers from top programs – Henderson is looking at Duke, UNC, Villanova and Wake Forest, while Ellington is eyeing Villanova, UNC and Connecticut, among others.

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Boo Williams’ 2005 team appears loaded, with four players currently ranked in the Rivals top 150. 6-9, 200-pound Vernon Macklin, who plans to transfer to Hargrave Military Academy for his senior season, garners the most headlines. Currently rated #9 overall in the Rivals top 150, Macklin runs the floor extremely well and is very athletic. This year, he showed he can finish well around the basket. He didn’t show much in terms of a mid-range game, which is something he could improve on, but he appears to be getting better and better. He was, in my opinion, much more athletic this year than when I saw him in last year’s Southern Invitational.