By James Blackburn
Ardrey Kell HS, Charlotte, NC
Ardrey Kell vs Charlotte Christian
Ardrey Kell wins 68-41
Charlotte Christian struggled with turnovers through out this game which Ardrey Kell turned into easy baskets in transition. Ardrey Kell shot the ball and moved the ball extremely well and they had the game in hand entering the 4th quarter up over 25 points. With junior Santa Ana handling the scoring load for Ardrey Kell and junior big man Josh Freund controlling the boards, Ardrey Kell was able to get the first round win 68-41. Trey Phills is a D1 guard who did what he could by scoring the ball but it wasn’t enough in the end.
Ardrey Kell HS
Markel Pollard (2014, 6’4”, G/F)
Tremendous defender who stays between his man and the basket. College ready build with good length and high shoulders. Throwback player who plays well out of the mid post.
Steven Santa Ana (2015, 6’3”, G)
Good sized guard who can really shoot the ball from the perimeter- gets good elevation and can hit the 3. Does a great job of attacking the rim. Aggressive on both ends. Has a high motor is an active defender- drew several charges and blocked some shots. Not afraid to talk on the court- talked a few times to the opponents and to officials which I did not like. Has the potential to play at the D1 level when his HS career is complete.
Josh Freund (2015, 6’4”, F/C)
Undersized big man who does a good job of protecting the rim and rebounding the ball. Showed good patience in the post and is a good passer. Has a nose for the ball wand was the best rebounder I saw this game. Good motor and strength. D2 and D3 schools should keep an eye on him.
Trey Phills (2015, 6’1”, G)
Good quickness- great first step. Good passer and is an unselfish player. Not a bad shooter but needs to improve range a bit- has a high release. Is an excellent 1 dribble pull-up shooter going either direction, but when he moves out further he gets a little hitch in his shot. Played more off the ball this game. Smart player who gets in correct defensive position- good help side defender. Was asked to guard bigger players today and he did a solid job. Holds offers from UC Irvine and The Citadel as well as interest from a host from other LM programs. Would like to see him make the move to the PG position over the summer, which I think he can do. If he can play the lead guard successfully I could see him increasing his offers.
South Atlanta (GA) vs Montverde Academy (FL)
Montverde wins 98-39
Montverde entered the game with 7 D1 commits and a number 1 national ranking. They jumped out to an early 24-5 first quarter lead and never looked back. South Atlanta struggled with a half court traps and the overall size and athleticism Montverde presented. Montverde led 53-21 at the half and 85-30 after the 3rd before winning 98-39.
Montverde is up there as one of the best HS teams I have ever seen play. They are similar to a college program with their size and athleticism. LSU commit Ben Simmons has the potential to be a one and done player and its scary that he is only a junior. I was very impressed with Ohio State commit D’Angelo Russell. He has a tremendous feel for the game and is very smooth. He is a very good 3-point shooter with good touch.
Derrick Byrd played his heart out and was the most impressive player on South Atlanta’s roster. He is a true PG who is an excellent ball handler. He is an unsigned senior, but that should change soon.
Derrick Byrd (2014, 5’11”, G)
Undersized but extremely quick lead guard who has excellent footwork. Needs to improve his 3-point shooting. Might be the best ball handler in this game- has the ball on a string. Has the ability to break the press by himself. Active defender who has a ton of energy. Got to the rim almost at will- Changes speeds and slithers his way through traffic. Best player on his team and competed till the end even with the blowout score. If Byrd can get a little bigger and improve his 3-point stroke, he would be sure fire D1. He will be playing at the next level as a PG. I was very impressed with him this game. Finished with a tam high 9 pts. Byrd has zero offers at this point, D2 and D3 schools should be all over him.
Devontae Dean (2016, 6’2”, G)
Came out this game attacking from the start and was not intimidated with Montverde’s size and athleticism. Took the ball to the rim aggressively where he finished in creative ways and drew fouls. Good length. Only a sophomore, Dean has a ton of potential. Will be playing at the next level- which level depends on his development.
D’Angelo Russell (2014, 6’4”, G/F)
Ohio State commit. Has one of the quickest releases I have ever seen- great shooting touch. The lefty guard has the ability to make next level passes. Passes are direct and quick. His passing ability was probably was what I was most impressed about this game. Directs traffic and played both guard positions this game. Has a tremendous feel for the game and is smooth. Didn’t put a lot of energy in the defensive end this game- came out of stance too often. Does have extremely quick hands. Finished with 17 pts, 5 assists, and 4 steals in 21 minutes off the bench.
Makinde London (2014, 6’9”, PF)
Terrific length and athleticism. Might be one of the longest players I have seen this year. Active defender. The Xavier commit plays on both ends, but needs to improve his perimeter jumper. Settled for many shots from 3- needed to attack the rim more. Finished with 9 pts and 5 boards.
Jordan Caroline (2014, 6’6”, F)
Caroline was one of the most impressive players on the floor tonight. Is a bit undersized height wise for his position, but is very strong and physical. Work horse of the team. Loved his aggressiveness and explosion. One of the best finishers inside I have seen this year- highly efficient player. Southern Illinois got themselves a good one in Caroline, tough player who will contribute right away. Scored 19 pts on 9-12 FG shooting in 15 minutes.
Ben Simmons (2015, 6’8”, SF)
Best player on the floor tonight. Crazy upside as a player. Plays like a guard- is smooth and fluid. Can rebound the ball and advance it up court with the dribble. Plays the game above the rim- big time athlete. Runs the floor well. Although Simmons is a big time athlete, he must improve his finishing ability- he missed 3 dunks this game. Tremendous 2nd jump. Has NBA size and athleticism as he plays the SF. Good ball handler for size. LSU got a steal with this kid. Finished with 28 pts on 11-14 shooting and 6 rebounds in 19 minutes.
Jean Marc Christ Koumadje (2015, 7’4”, C)
Got limited PT but still managed to block 3 shots and grab 3 rebounds in 8 minutes. Excellent length. Needs to gain muscle but is mobile and runs the floor well for a 7’ plus player. Raw offensively but is a game changer with is size. HM prospect.
Olympic vs Victory Christian
Olympic wins in OT 63-58
Victory Christian and Olympic played contracting styles this game with Olympic wanting to speed things up and Victory wanting to slow things down. Victory did an excellent job controlling the tempo and running their offense. They took care of the ball and led at each break. The first half of this one was a little sloppy. Victory led at the half 31-21 thanks to some good outside shooting which continued into the second half. Olympic used full court pressure defense throughout and was able to pull within 6 after CJ Jackson starting catching fire from the field. The 4th quarter was back and forth and Olympic was able to cut into the lead several times in the 4th. CJ Jackson tied it up with a big 3 and then hit FT’s to put them up 3. Brenton Davis came down and buried a wing 3 to put it into OT. In OT it all belonged to CJ Jackson who was the MVP of the game in my opinion- he hit the FT’s needed to secure a 63-58 come from behind OT win.
Ebuka Izundu (2016, 6’10”, C)
Very good defensive player who defends well on the perimeter. Excellent length. Needs to get stronger but is a D1 prospect. Lefty who draws contact and got to the FT a decent amount. Needs to improve FT shooting.
Brenton Davis (2015, 6’4”, SF)
Smart and versatile player. Does it all on the floor- scores, rebounds, and defends. Good length. Good defensive instincts-communicates on the floor. Fundamental player who can really shoot the ball. Has a low release but is a knockdown shoot from beyond the arc. Was one of the most impressive players on the floor tonight. Excellent poise. Is in the right place at the right time. Can spread the court with consistent 3-point shooting. Can put it on the floor and score off the bounce. LM and MM schools should track. Finished with 22 points. Hit some big shots down the stretch.
Malik Constatine (2015, 6’5”, SF)
Malik entered the game averaging a double- double on the year. He is a good rebounder on both ends and has a high motor. He can hit the 3, but it needs improvement. Shot is simple but effective- shoots from side of the head. Versatile inside/out threat. D1 prospect. Finished with 13 points and 8 boards.
CJ Jackson (2014, 6’1”, G)
Big time scoring guard who can play either guard slot- played PG majority of this game. Perimeter shooting is streaky but when he gets hot, watch out. Shot was off this game but he still was able to get to the paint where he could score with floaters and pull-ups. Confident player who wants the ball in his hands at the end of the game. Made some huge shots and plays in the 4th quarter and OT of this one. Good FT shooter. Is always in scoring and attack mode and got to the line often in this one. Is very quick and athletic. Highlight reel with the ball. Energetic defender- good shot blocker for his size. I was impressed with his passing ability today as well. Has a tendency to get out of control at times and is TO prone. The unsigned senior would be a great fit at multiple programs and would be a steal for a D2 school. Finished with a game high 29 pts this game.
Arlington Country Day (FL) vs Northside Christian (NC)
Northside wins 100-90
Back and forth game in the 1st half. Northside was the aggressor and seemed like they wanted it more. They were excellent defensively and led at the half by 11. Northside pushed their lead to 20 in the 2nd half with transition points. Kevin Maura for ACD ignited a run that brought them back to 9 in the 3rd.
Northside led throughout and was in control from the opening tip to the end. They handled ACD full court pressure remarkably and really took care of the ball which led the 10 point win.
Arlington Country Day
Dante Buford (2014, 6’8”, F)
Oklahoma signee who was watched this game by an assistant coach from OU. Plays the game above the rim. Was all over the offensive boards this game. College ready build. He relies on his athleticism too much and needs to improve overall offensive skill set.
Ladarius Chester (2015, 6’1”, G)
One of the best leapers I have seen all day. Head was at the rim during warm-ups. Explosive combo guard who showed off several scoring moves inside including a floater. Can score with contact. D1 player.
Brandone Francis (2014, 6’6”, SG)
Excellent shooter with a good looking stroke. One of the best looking shooters I have seen today. Was a local leader on the floor too. Fouled out of this one. Strong upper body. Committed to Florida.
James Demery (2014, 6’6”, F) 25
Attacks the rim hard and is excellent in transition. Excellent athlete. Very efficient scorer inside. Good FT shooter who gets to the line at a high rate. High arc on his shot. Always in attack mode- aggressive. Moves well with out the ball and made him self available repeatedly to the guards . Sticks with his misses and has a quick second jump. Well conditioned player. Good rebounder who battles on the glass at both ends. Would like to see him improve his 3-point shooting, looks to drive every time. Looked great this game. St. Josephs got a steal with Demery. Looked every bit of a HM player this game. My pick for MVP of the contest.
Desean Murray (2014, 6’5”, F) 2
Explosive undersized forward who is a tremendous rebounder. Physical player who has a nose for the ball. Active player who really attacked the offensive glass nearly every possession. Energy player. Picked up his 3rd and 4th fouls in the 3rd quarter. Committed to PC.
Ray Kowalski (2016, 6’2”, SG)
Tremendous 3 point set shooter. Smart player. Needs to improve defensively but is one of the best shooters in his class. Is a player to keep an eye on as his shooting ability will get him college looks.