Thursday, August 25, 2005


"Big Ticket" See Big Future

Charlotte Observer (North Carolina)
December 30, 2004

Vernon Macklin is considered one of the nation's best high school basketball players.

If he attends college, he says he'll probably choose North Carolina.

"I like the way they play, mainly," said Macklin, 17, a junior who will play in the Bojangle's Shootout this week at Charlotte Latin. "I love the way they run coach (Roy) Williams' offense. They're fun to watch. I figure they'd be fun to play with."

Macklin and his I.C. Norcom (Va.) teammates play today at 2:30 p.m. against Statesville Christian in the tournament formerly known as the
Dell Curry Shootout.

At 6-foot-9 and 200 pounds, Macklin averages 29 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots. National recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons said he might be the second-best player in his class behind 7-foot center Greg Oden of Indianapolis. Oden is widely expected to be the first player taken in the 2006 NBA draft if he decides to turn pro.

Gibbons believes Macklin is also good enough to be a potential first-round pick - if he chooses to skip school.

"He can shoot 3s, go inside and he's a quick leaper," Gibbons said. "He's definitely top five in the nation. If he chooses to go to college, he won't be in college very long. I hope he goes to college, but the pro scouts are already impressed with his potential."


Numbers climb steadily

Macklin has become a national name in recruiting circles. Some observers felt he was the best player in the Hampton Roads, Va., area as an eighth-grader. He was given the nickname "The Big Ticket."

Macklin scored 29 points in his high school debut two years ago and was ranked No. 2 nationally, among freshmen and sophomores, behind Oden by national analyst Brick Oettinger of Hoop Scoop's Clark Francis compared him to the Hampton Roads area's most well-known players: Alonzo Mourning, Allen Iverson and Ronald Curry.

Macklin averaged 19 points and nine rebounds as a freshman and improved to 21.5 points last season.

Norcom coach Horace Lambert said Macklin impresses scouts with his ability to run the floor swiftly and to dominate a game on offense or defense.

In his team's season opener this year, Macklin had 41 points and 21 rebounds, many of his points coming on crowd-pleasing dunks.
"I love to try to get the crowd hyped up by dunking everything I can get my hands on," he said. "I love to dunk. Sometimes it's an intimidation thing, too, because the next time I go up (the defense) won't jump because they're pretty sure I'm going to dunk it again."


NBA lure strong

Macklin said he has plenty to work on. He sees himself as a small forward in college, said he needs to work on man-to-man defensive skills and his outside shot.

"I want to get bigger, and I want to get stronger," he said. "I'm in the gym shooting as much as I can. Wherever I go to the next level, I don't want to have a weakness when I get there."

He said the lure of NBA riches is strong for a young man who comes from a family of eight. Macklin has long lived with his grandparents, Wavely Powell and Dorothy Watkins. Watkins preached to him about keeping his grades up and getting an education.

When there was talk of Macklin possibly transferring to a prep basketball factory, like an Oak Hill Academy (Va.), Watkins made it known she wanted her grandson to graduate from his natural home school.

"There's time for the other stuff," she would say.

Watkins died recently, and Macklin said that was the toughest thing he's ever endured. He said his grandmother wanted to see him attend college, so school weighs heavily on his mind. Asked his favorites, he lists, in order, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Maryland, Georgetown and Georgia Tech.

Told North Carolina's football team is playing in Charlotte today in the Continental Tire Bowl, and bringing thousands of Tar Heels fans, Macklin smiles.

"I hope they come see me," he said. "I'd like that. I want to show them how I can play. I want to show them my whole game."

It might be a look at the future.


Langston Wertz Jr: (704) 358-5133;

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