The high number of talented underclassmen in the 33rd Beach Ball Classic who have yet to commit to colleges has attracted some familiar coaching names to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center this week, particularly among schools in the Carolinas.
Clemson head coach Brad Brownell, North Carolina coach Roy Williams and Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski were among the college coaches in attendance.
Brownell was at some of Friday’s contests, presumably to watch players including Moeller (Ohio) 6-9 junior Nate Fowler, whom he is rumored to be heavily recruiting.
Williams was in attendance Monday afternoon, no doubt to further show his desire to have Franklin (Ohio) junior guard Luke Kennard sign with the Tar Heels. Though Kennard didn’t play to nurse an injury, he was certainly aware of Williams’ presence.
Williams stuck around to watch Franklin play Moeller (Ohio) and Miller Grove (Ga.) face Hough (Cornelius, N.C.).
Hough features 6-8 junior forward/center Luke Maye, who has yet to commit to a college and is also likely on Williams’ wish list.
Williams estimates he’s been at the Beach Ball eight times in his 11 seasons with the Tar Heels. “Every year it’s always fantastic,” Williams said. “I love coming down. People get to see a great part of the Lowcountry and good basketball.”
Wojciechowski was in attendance during Saturday’s quarterfinals, undoubtedly watching Kennard and hoping to add him to the Blue Devils roster with 2013 prize signee Grayson Allen of Providence (Jacksonville, Fla.), whom he also watched in the quarters. Both Duke and UNC are among Kennard’s final seven considerations.
“Year after year it’s one of the great high school tournaments,” Wojciechowski said. “I love being here to watch some top-flight high school ball.”
Other coaches who scouted talent this week included Wisconsin assistant Lamont Paris, Florida State assistant Charlton Young, College of Charleston assistant Ryan Freeberg, Coastal Carolina assistant Benny Moss and coaches from Dayton, Presbyterian, Elon and Miami (Ohio).
Cheers to Moeller
The only school with cheerleaders or a dance team at the games in addition to host Socastee was Moeller (Ohio).
And in fact, Moeller’s cheerleaders don’t even attend the school.
Because Moeller is an all-boys school in Cincinnati, its cheerleading squad is comprised of students from three different all-girl schools in the city.
The schools represented on the squad are from Mount Notre Dame, Ursuline Academy and Saint Ursula Academy. They cheer for Moeller because they aren’t as “stuck up” as boys at other boys schools in the city.
“It’s the most fun and best all-boys school in Cincinnati,” said Molly Morgan, a senior at Mount Notre Dame. “They’re really close and it’s like a family. All the all-girls schools are more close with the Moeller guys than they are with guys at the other schools. It’s more of a brotherhood than a school.”
The cheerleaders, who also cheer for the two-time defending state champion football team, had to pay their own way to Myrtle Beach and travel independent from the team. They have an annual fundraiser that helps pay for the Moeller holiday hoops trip, which has included cheerleaders for approximately 20 years, and their sport fee of between $550 and $650 also helps fund the trip.
“Being from the different schools, it’s good that they bond,” said 14-year cheerleading coach and Moeller business manager Debi Cass.
Luke Kennard of Franklin (Ohio) was named the Most Outstanding Player of last year’s tournament, and the junior was a candidate again this year before he sat out against Moeller (Ohio). Kennard had tendinitis in his knee and didn’t play as a precaution, said Tournament Director and Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes.
“He was going to get an ultrasound on his knee because he has tendinitis but we weren’t able to get to it today,” said Rhodes, who was going to take Kennard to the hospital himself. “He’s had tendinitis for a long time.
“… He didn’t want to force a possible injury before seeing the ultrasound.”
Rhodes said that despite knowing beforehand that Kennard wasn’t going to play, North Carolina coach Roy Williams stuck around anyway.
“He was told before he came here that Kennard wasn’t going to play and Roy still wanted to come,” Rhodes said. “When you’re recruiting and you’re in the stands it shows his support. He also wanted to look at Luke Maye from Hough [N.C.], because he’s a possible candidate.”
Rhodes said he believes Kennard is one of the best players he’s seen come through the Beach Ball Classic.
“He’s pretty good. He has all the tools,” Rhodes said of Kennard. “He handles the ball well, he’s a great shooter, he hustles and he plays hard. He’s a total package.”
Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.