CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – What seemed to have all the makings of a terrific NBPA Top 100 Camp championship game Saturday night rapidly turned into a good old-fashioned blowout in the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena.
The Heat zipped to a 28-point advantage at intermission before coasting to a 109-89 victory over the Rockets in the last of the 41 games played over four days and nights during the 22nd edition of the event.
Seven of the Heat’s 11 players scored at least nine points in the finale, with Washington, D.C., Gonzaga Prep point guard Chris Lykes (who plans to signed a national letter of intent with the University of Miami in November) leading the way with 25 points (hitting three of five shots from behind the arc) while being credited with four rebounds, three assists, a steal and no turnovers.
Junior-to-be forward Zion Williamson (Spartanburg, SC, Day School) scored 14 points as the Heat went 3-0 in the playoffs and 8-1 overall.
He shared event Most Outstanding Player honors with Rockets’ guard Tremont Waters (as selected by the nine-member, NBPA Top 100 Selection Committee, including yours truly).
The 5-foot-10 Waters (South Kent, CT, School) hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with second to go in overtime to give the Rockets a 77-76 semifinal win over the Knicks earlier Saturday afternoon.
Waters scored 18 points in the game with five rebounds, eight assists and four steals after going for 14, three, three and two in the 77-62 quarterfinal decision against the Bucks Saturday morning.
The Heat also needed late-game heroics to pull out a semifinal victory against the 76ers.
Six-ten Malik Williams (Fort Wayne, IN, Snider) hit a 3 that just beat the buzzer, tying the score at 78 and sending things into OT.
After the 76ers went in front by a deuce, guard Michael Hueitt Jr. (High Point, NC, Christian Academy) hit a 3 with 21 seconds to go to put the Heat back in front by a point.
Williams then came through with a block of an Isaiah Washington (Bronx St. Raymond) drive and shot attempt and Williams, after securing the rebounded, was fouled with nine seconds to go and his free throw (an automatic two points on the make following a common foul) extended the lead to three points.
Jordan Poole (Milwaukee Rufus King) could have sent the contest into sudden death status but his shot from behind the arc was off the iron on the buzzer.
The Rockets’ hopes of winning championship trophies took a major hit five minutes into the final when Waters suffered a cut over his right eye. He didn’t play again.
Forward Tadas Sedekerskis (who came to the camp from Lithuania as part of the NBPA’s international program) had a strong day for the Rockets, averaging 18 points and 7.3 rebounds.
My “all-camp” selections follow.
Remember, it is just not a list of “the best prospects in camp”.
If that was the case the list would include the likes of Charles Bassey (6-10/San Antonio St. Anthony), Chol Marial (7-1/Cheshire, CT, Academy) and Vernon Carey Jr. (6-8/Ft. Lauderdale, FL, University) from the Class of 2019, as well as juniors-to-be Romeo Langford (6-5/New Albany, IN) and Keldon Johnson (6-6/Sterling, VA, Park View).
Each of those players is among the very best “prospects” in their respective national classes and had some impressive moments from Wednesday thru Saturday night.
But the following players were consistently better throughout the four days and nights of action in which athletes (assuming they didn’t arrive late; get ill or injured; or leave camp early) played in at least eight games.
All-2016 NBPA Top 100 Camp
Most Outstanding Player:
Zion Williamson (Class of 2018/6-foot-6/Spartanburg, SC, Day School)
The rest of the 15 selections (alpha sequence):
Alex Barcello (2017/6-2/Tempe, AZ, Corona del Sol)
Evan Battey (2017/6-7/Villa Park, CA)
Luka Garza (2017/6-10/Washington, DC, Maret)
Rayshaun Hammonds (2017/6-7/Norcross, GA)
Jaylen Hands (2017/6-3/San Diego Balboa)
Matur Maker (2017/6-9/Ontario, CAN, Orangewood Secondary)
E.J. Montgomery (2018/6-8/Montverde, FL, Academy)
Paul Scruggs (2017/6-3/Indianapolis Southport)
Tadas Sedekerskis (2017/6-8/Nida, Lithuania)
Justin Smith (2017/6-7/Buffalo Grove, IL, Stevenson)
Isaiah Washington (2017/6-1/Bronx St. Raymond)
Tremont Waters (2017/5-10/South Kent, CT, Prep)
Nick Weatherspoon (2017/6-2/Canton, MS, Velma Jackson)
Malik Williams (2017/6-10/Ft. Wayne, IN, Snider)