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A LEAPER AND A SHOOTER ON THE NEW LEAPERS AND SHOOTERS

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Though the regular gig covering high school sports for Community Press/Enquirer Media and my kids baseball games have kept me on the run, I was able to get to Woodward High School recently for a gander at the new crop of basketball Bearcats.

At least most of them. Guard Ge'Lawn Guyn was out of town on this day and Octavius Ellis and Cheikh Mbodj were not present.

I also tried to snap a few pictures of the guys, which is always dangerous.

Prior to this job, my wife was the family picture taker. My experience was limited to cardboard cameras that get chucked in the garbage after the photos are developed.

24 years in radio gave me the photographics skills of a first-grader.  Yet, I try.

On first glance, Shaq Thomas is the Bearcat that catches your eye. At 6-7 and 195 pounds, he can do a lot of things and plays pretty tough for a guy with the build of a lanky, marathon runner.

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(Shaq Thomas after a Deveroes game)

He also stood out because he wore canary yellow shoes that kind of made him look like Flash Gordon moving up and down the floor.

Darnell Wilks was listed at 6-7 as a Bearcat, but appears a tad shorter than Thomas.

"I think he's a little taller," Wilks said. "He can play all over. He can play on the wing better than I could do when I was there."

In the game I witnessed, Thomas lit up the opposition for 28 points. (Keep in mind though, defense in the Deveroes league is rarely a priority.)

Sean Kilpatrick sat on the Slats (perennial summer league sponsor for UC team) bench for the contest wearing a leisure pair of sneaks reminiscent of something Jeff Spicoli might have sported in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (shout out to Phoebe Cates fans).

His first thoughts on Thomas were that the yellow shoes weren't cutting it. He felt his Sunday picnic look was far superior.

"I say mine," Kilpatrick said with confidence. "I dig mine."

Aside from blinding footwear, "SK" thinks "ST" is the one new 'Cat that can step in and play right away.

"Shaq can because that's his attitude," Kilpatrick said. "It's like he won't back down from anyone."

Kilpatrick is hoping the training staff can stuff some meat and potatoes down the young man from New Jersey.  Actually, he may see to it personally as Shaq and Sean are roommates.

"We're going to have to put him through a serious workout," Kilpatrick said.

Another prize recruit from the same neck of the woods as Thomas and Kilpatrick is Jermaine Sanders from Rice High School.  Rice is where former Bearcat Kenny Satterfield went to school.

"Jermaine's a shooter," Wilks said. "He could probably go both ways because of his size."

Sanders is a lefty, which is always a good option to have. His 6-5 listing appears a little generous, but because of his body type (by my calculation it took three Shaq Thomas legs to make one of Jermaine's) he should be fine.

He reminds me a little of Pete Mickeal who was a lefty, undersized forward. In terms of actual heighth, I'd put him closer to a 6-4 Rod Monroe (minus the brute strength).

At this level, Sanders' size won't mean much.  He's a player and his stats and background prove it. You don't come out of Rice High School in New York with those numbers by accident.

Shooting passes and driving the lane for UC will be Jeremiah Davis.  He didn't overwhelm in the game I saw, but at the end was somehow in double figures despite not playing the entire contest.

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(Left to right: Jeremiah Davis, Shaq Thomas and Jermaine Sanders after a summer league game)

"A pure point guard," Wilks said of the playmaker from Muncie,Indiana/Huntington (WV) Prep.  "He could score if he wanted."

Davis looked particularly good driving and dishing. He may look better if he had Sean Kilpatrick to dish to, but "SK" apparently is sitting this league out.

"I don't think I'm going to play in this," Kilpatrick said. "I play in Rucker Park in New York."


Kilpatrick says he had 22 points in his first game at the famous New York City playground.
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(Yancy Gates at the Deveroes Summer League at Woodward High School)

That leaves Yancy Gates and Wilks as targets for Davis and Ge'Lawn Guyn this summer. Xavier's Tu Holloway is also on the Slats team and has been on the throwing end of some impressive "oops" to the high-flying Wilks.

Because of his impressive performance in the State Farm Slam Dunk Championships at the Final Four this season, Wilks was invited to be a Harlem Globetrotter.

"Yeah, that gave me a lot of publicity," Wilks said.

Because of his background, Wilks should fit in well with the showmen. His flying experience bodes him well, physically and literally.

"I was a fan," Wilks acknowledged. "I was an Army kid. I saw them on base."

When asked if he might attempt to match the feats of former Globetrotter Michael "Wild Thing" Wilson (Memphis Tigers), Wilks appeared ready for liftoff.

"Oh man, I think I can throw 12 (feet)!" Wilks proudly claimed.

Should you like to watch Wilks soar and the new Bearcats roar, the Deveroes Summer League runs through the end of July with games typically on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday.















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