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January 12, 2013

National talent shines in Memphis

MORE: Memphis talent shows in Hoopfest

The second day of the Penny Hardaway Hoopfest in the outer part of Memphis, Tenn., was less about in-state talent and more about showcasing some of the nation's best from other regions. With a couple of the country's elite teams participating, Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep and Arlington (Fla.) Country Day, the action really picked up on Friday evening.

Men among boys

The most anticipated game on Friday night was the matchup between Findlay Prep and Fort Walton Beach (Fla.). While the game was entertaining, it wasn't exactly an offensive spectacle. Findlay Prep won 55-36, but it was the interior matchup between Findlay Prep three-star power forward Gavin Schilling and Fort Walton Beach four-star center John Egbunu that interested Rivals the most.

A USF signee, Egbunu was a little banged up heading into the game, but the explosive 6-foot-9 athlete fought through the pain to finish with a team-high 12 points and six rebounds in the loss. He's somewhat on the raw side in his offensive game, but Egbunu is a tremendous talent who can attack from the low post or off the dribble from the high post.

Perhaps even more impressive was the performance of Schilling, who led Findlay Prep with 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the field. Since he's been at Findlay Prep, the 6-foot-9 forward has improved tremendously on both ends of the court, especially physically. He is not only more mobile but also significantly stronger.

After the game, Schilling told Rivals that he is still considering 10 schools -- Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, UCLA, Missouri, Oregon State, Villanova, Georgetown and Oklahoma State -- with a decision to come in April. Before then, Schilling plans on taking all of his official visits. He said he could squeeze one visit in before the high school season ends.

Slow but steady

Other than Schilling, the star on Friday night for Findlay Prep was four-star 2013 combo guard Nigel Williams-Goss. A Washington signee, Williams-Goss was second on the team in scoring with 14 points while dishing out three assists without a turnover.

One thing that the Oregon native does really well is play with pace in the half-court. In a low-scoring matchup Friday, that was critical in Findlay Prep's win. Williams-Goss picks his spots well when trying to attack in the half-court, and he is efficient as a finisher through contact at the rim. While he isn't the quickest player on the court, Williams-Goss changes gears to get by defenders and is a good interior passer through help defenses. While he didn't look to score much with his jumper, Williams-Goss is known as a good shooter and should be an impact player next season for coach Lorenzo Romar.

On fire

Class of 2014 Mississippi State commit Maurice Dunlap must have liked the bounce of the ball that they used for the game on Friday, because the 6-foot-2 combo guard from Glenwood (Miss.) Amanda Elzy came out firing on all cylinders from beyond the 3-point line and never slowed.

Dunlap exploded for five consecutive 3-point baskets early in the third quarter, at one point pulling up off the dribble from only about two steps inside half-court. He finished with a game-high 22 points, knocking down six of 11 triples on the afternoon.

A speedy athlete with big-time confidence, Dunlap is a scoring threat whenever he touches the ball. Even though he doesn't have ideal size for a high-major college shooting guard, the Mississippi native is capable of creating his shot off the dribble whenever he pleases, and he has such great confidence that he is an ideal fit for late-shot-clock attempts at the next level.

High, high riser

There are few athletes in the nation more explosive vertically than 2014 Rivals150 forward Dante Buford, a 6-foot-7 combo forward out of Arlington Country Day. On Friday, Buford's team put on an offensive explosion, finishing just one bucket shy of triple digits, and the junior swingman was a big part of that.

Buford went off for 28 points on 9-for-15 shooting, and he added 10 rebounds as his athleticism took over the game from start to finish. Buford finished several dunks over the top of defenders, including one that would be a surefire YouTube sensation if someone has the video.

Buford is sort of a tweener. He's not really a small forward or a power forward, but he's so explosive that he can be efficient in either spot at the next level with the right skill development.

After the game, the three-star forward listed South Carolina, Cincinnati, LSU and Florida International as schools that have recruited him the hardest recently. Buford said he won't make a decision until at least the beginning of his senior year, and he has no favorites.



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