Originally created 07/13/01

Seniors have tough act to follow



Shavlik Randolph accepts everything that comes with being considered one of the top high school basketball players in the country.

The 6-foot-10, 215-pound power forward collected the most attention in Thursday's opening day of the sixth annual Nike Peach Jam tournament at Riverview Activity Center in North Augusta.

Bluechiphoops.com has Randolph ranked as the No.1 senior in the country, while prepstars.com lists him No.4.

Starring for the Raleigh (N.C.) Heat, Randolph is willing to prove himself worthy of all the hype, which has been compounded by scholarship offers from Division I powers such as Duke, North Carolina, Florida, Kansas and Stanford.

What he's not willing to do is compare himself with last year's senior class, which included top NBA Draft picks Kwame Brown and Tyson Chandler.

"Last year's class was special," he said. "I don't think it'll be nearly as many this year with those options. I just know that I've got holes in my game that I need to work on. I don't really feel any pressure."

Against Team Texas on Thursday morning, the Broughton High star scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds after starting slowly in his team's 75-57 defeat. The sluggish start didn't discourage the 17-year-old, despite the line of high-caliber Division I coaches stretched along the wall along the court.

"I don't really notice them - well, I try not to pay attention," he said. "You just have to stay within your game. Everyone's going to try to do their best to prove they're the best. I've seen guys try to do things they can't do, and instead of looking better, it makes them look worse."

While players such as Randolph, 6-10 Amare Stoudemire (adidas) and 6-6 Lenny Cooke (adidas) decide whether to make the NBA leap, players such as 6-1 point guard John Gilchrist face other dilemmas .

Gilchrist and the 6-4 J.J. Reddick star for Boo Williams and are regarded as two of the top senior guards.

"Guys that are 6-10 can consider the NBA, or a 6-6 guard, but not a little point guard," Gilchrist said. "I just go out and play every game like it's my last. I'm here to solidify myself. The pressure doesn't come from the NBA; it comes from the colleges."

Gilchrist, who scored 16 points in a 50-43 loss to the Illinois Warriors on Thursday morning, originally had Florida and Indiana listed as his top choices until the Gators got a commitment from point guard Anthony Roberson (adidas), forcing Gilchrist to rule out the SEC school.

The Virginia Beach, Va., resident now ranks Indiana as his favorite with Maryland, N.C. State and St. John's distant second choices.

"If you don't commit when they want you to, then they may fill the spot with someone else who commits first," Gilchrist said. "People don't take all their visits anymore. That puts more pressure on you to rush your decision. So, I may make my decision in a week or in a month."

Nike's top big men - Randolph, Sean May (6-8, Bloomington Red), Sheldon Williams (6-8, Athletes First) and Torin Francis (6-10, BABC) - have yet to commit, but several guards have.

Lester Abram (6-5, The Family) is verbally committed to Michigan, Chris McCray (6-4, DC Blue Devils) to Maryland, Rashard McCants (6-3, Charlotte Royals) to North Carolina, Mario Moore (6-0, Tennessee Travelers) to Vanderbilt and Reddick to Duke.

"It's kind of a double-edge sword, committing early," Reddick said. "A lot of guys are tired of the recruiting process altogether, so committing takes the pressure off. You don't have as much to prove and can just play without looking over your shoulder. But at the same time, you have to live up to your billing. People know you committed to Duke; they're coming after you."

Today's schedule

Morning session

Pool A, Gym 1

9 a.m.: Bloomington Red vs. Tennessee Travelers

10:20 a.m.: Athletes First vs. Team Texas

11:40 a.m.: Coast to Coast vs. Raleigh Heat

Pool B, Gym 2

9 a.m.: Emerald City vs. Boo Williams

10:20 a.m.: Wisconsin Playground Warriors vs. Augusta/Carolina Hoopsters

11:40 a.m.: Illinois Warriors vs. Sports Express.

Pool C, Gym 3

9 a.m.: Charlotte Royals vs. Baltimore Blue

10:20 a.m.: Houston Hoops vs. BABC

11:40 a.m.: Memphis vs. Team Select California

Pool D, Gym 4

9 a.m.: Kentucky Hoop Stars vs. Georgia Stars

10:20 a.m.: The Family vs. Howard Pulley

11:40 a.m.: Riverside Church vs. DC Blue Devils

Evening session

Pool A, Gym 1

6 p.m.: Coast to Coast vs. Team Texas

7:20 p.m.: Athletes First vs. Tennessee Travelers

8:40 p.m.: Raleigh Heat

Pool B, Gym 2

6 p.m.: Augusta/Carolina Hoopsters vs. Emerald City

7:20 p.m.: Sports Express vs. Boo Williams

8:40 p.m.: Illinois Warriors vs. Wisconsin Playground Warriors

Pool C, Gym 3

6 p.m.: Memphis vs. BABC

7:20 p.m.: Charlotte Royals vs. Team Select California

8:40 p.m.: Houston Hoops vs. Baltimore Blue

Pool D, Gym 4

6 p.m.: Riverside Church vs. Georgia Stars

7:20 p.m.: Kentucky Hoop Stars vs. The Family

8:40 p.m.: Howard Pulley vs. DC Blue Devils

Reach Patrick Green at (803) 648-1395.