2017 HoopHall Classic Recap

SPRINGFIELD, MA – The finale of Saturday’s action during the 16th Spalding HoopHall Classic was nationally televised and touted as a “showdown”, of sorts, between two of the elite big men in the high school senior class.

And DeAndre Ayton (Phoenix Hillcrest) and Mohammad Bamba (Westtown of Pennsylvania) did offer the crowd – those in Springfield College’s Blake Arena and those viewing on their flat screens or hand-held devices – an opportunity to watch the near-seven footers showcase their respective physical gifts.

But, ultimately, it was a couple of guys not named Ayton or Bamba who decided the outcome as Westtown outlasted Hillcrest, 66-54, in the last of six games played Saturday.

Six-foot-five Brandon Randolph – whose signing to a national letter of intent by the University of Arizona in November didn’t get the hoopla it deserved because of Ayton’s commitment to the Wildcats in the same month – scored 30 points, including 18 in the second half, to go with five assists and three steals for Westtown.

Westtown, which trailed by six points at intermission, also got 24 points, four rebounds and three assists from 6-7 junior Cameron Reddish.

Overall, Ayton had more impact on the game than did Bamba – although the latter was a key element as Westtown pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Ayton – the guy I believe is the No. 2 player in the senior class behind 6-9 Michael Porter of Seattle Nathan Hale – finished with 21 points (including three 3s) and eight rebounds.

Bamba, who supposedly has strong interest in signing with Duke or Kentucky this spring, finished strongly and totaled 13 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots.

In the other five games played Saturday:

Cambridge (MA) Rindge and Latin 46, Santa Monica (CA) Crossroads 36: Five-nine Kareem Octavien scored 14 points while 6-8 Dimon Carrigan had six points and 11 rebounds for the winner in the offensively challenged affair.

The team from Southern California got 14 points and 10 rebounds from Arizona-bound forward Ira Lee, who has only been playing for a couple of weeks following late-summer shoulder surgery.

Shareef O’Neal, the 6-8 son of Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, missed all 10 of his shots from the field while hitting five of six free throws and grabbing six rebounds in the defeat.

Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha 73, Las Vegas Bishop Gorman 66: Senior D.J. Harvey, who signed with Notre Dame in November, scored 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Stags pulled away from the Gaels down the stretch.

Bishop Gorman, trailing by 12 early in the fourth quarter, went on an 11-0 run but could never catch the Stags. The Gaels missed at least six close-in attempts down the stretch that might have changed the course of the outcome.

Charles (aka “Chuck”) O’Bannon, who committed to USC a few weeks ago, led the Gaels with 27 points.

West Haven (CT) Notre Dame 74, NYC Archbishop Molloy 66: Georgetown-bound guard Tremont Waters (29 points, including seven 3s, six assists and only one turnover) was terrific from start to finish while leading his team to the wire-to-wire victory.

Sophomore Cole (the son of Greg) Anthony led the losers with 29 points while 7-foot junior Moses Brown (12 points and seven rebounds) was hampered by early foul issues that rendered him largely ineffectual throughout.

Jersey City (NJ) Hudson Catholic 62, San Antonio St. Anthony 53: Six-ten sophomore Charles Bassey went for 17 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots but it was only enough to keep his team in the “close throughout” category in the eventual loss.

Hudson Catholic has three highly touted juniors and two of them, guards Jahvon Quinterly (25 points and five assists) and Luther Muhammad (24 points) combined for 49 points while the third, 6-8 Louis King (four points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals), did an admirable job of trying to check Bassey most of the way.

Roselle (NJ) Catholic 96, Hartford (CT) Weaver 76: Junior post Nazeron Reid was the dominant presence on the floor from start to finish in the first game of the day, with 24 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.

Temple-bound 6-4 wing Nathaniel Pierre-Louis led the winners with 27 points while his sophomore brother, point guard Josh Pierre-Louis, chipped in with 11 points and four assists.

Five-eight senior Jaecee Martin scored 23 points for Weaver.

PART II

Monday’s final day of the 16th Spalding HoopHall Classic will feature what should be some of the better team – and matchups – of the high school season.

The “showcase” among the six games set for Monday in the Springfield College Blake Arena is the 5 p.m. (ET) clash between prep school powerhouse La Porte (IN) La Lumiere School and Southern California’s Chatsworth (in the San Fernando Valley, FYI) Sierra Canyon.

Unbeaten La Lumiere may have deepest – and most gifted – roster on the high school or prep school level this season, led by 6-foot-10 Jaren Jackson (who signed with Michigan State in November) and 6-7 swingman Brian “Tugs” Bowen (who lists Michigan State and the University of Arizona the finalists in the race for his signature on a national letter of intent in April).

If Coach Shane Heirman’s Lakers aren’t the most “talented”, per se, group of players on this level of basketball, then that tag may belong to Coach Ty Nichols’ Sierra Canyon Trailblazers.

Sierra Canyon lost to Seattle Nathan Hale (led by Michael Porter, the best player in high school hoops) in the Les Schwab final in Oregon a few weeks ago but bounced back nicely by routing Henderson (NV) Findlay Prep and Memphis East in the semifinal and final of the Bass Pro Tournament in another Springfield (Missouri) Friday and Saturday nights.

The Trailblazers have a starting lineup that includes college-bound seniors in forward Cody Riley (UCLA) and guards Adam Seiko (San Diego State), Remy Martin (Arizona State) and Terrance McBride (Cornell).

And Nichols also has one of the nation’s very best juniors in 6-9 Marvin Bagley III (selected the Most Outstanding Player at Bass Pro).

Among the other Monday games:

Elizabeth (NJ) The Patrick School vs. Atlanta Pace Academy (11 a.m. ET): Two 6-10 McDonald’s All-Americans will likely match up most of the way, Kentucky-bound Nicholas Richards (Patrick School) vs. Duke signee Wendell Carter;

Mouth of Wilson (VA) Oak Hill Academy vs. Seattle Nathan Hale (1 p.m. ET): Michael Porter and his 6-9 junior brother, Jontay, will take on the likes of 6-9 Kansas signee Billy Preston and four guards who will pace NCAA Division I-affiliated programs next season and;

Montverde (FL) Academy vs. Torrance (CA) Bishop Montgomery (3 p.m. ET): The Knights are one of the four best teams in California (with Sierra Canyon, Chino Hills and Mater Dei) and are led by two players who signed in November, Ethan Thompson (Oregon State) and Jordan Schakel (San Diego State). Montverde has one of the five best sophomores anywhere in 6-7 R.J. Barrett.

In Sunday’s action:

*Philadelphia Neumann-Goretti 72, Greensboro (NC) Day 69: Point guard Quade Green, who has played for three consecutive Pennsylvania State championship squads, scored 29 points with 10 assists, five rebounds and three steals to help his team hold off its North Carolina counterpart.

Green signed with Kentucky in November while his 6-8 teammate, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (18 points and nine rebounds), signed with hometown Villanova.

Six-seven forward J.P. Moorman (a soon-to-be Temple Owl) led Day with 26 points and seven rebounds.

*Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy 61, West Mt. Pleasant (UT) Wasatch Academy 51: IMG – one of the most gifted teams in the entire event – used its “star power” to dominate the prep school squad from Utah.

Trevon Duval – the best of the unsigned point guards in the Class of 2017 – was credited with 12 points and 13 assists while 6-7 Isaiah Stokes (who signed with the University of Florida in November) added 10 point and four rebounds.

And its two terrific 6-7 juniors, Emmitt Williams (14 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots) and Silvio DeSousa (seven points and four rebounds), showed they are among the best in the Class of 2018.

One more junior, 6-7 Emmanuel Akot of Wasatch Academy, was particularly impressive after intermission while accumulating 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

*Putnam (CT) Science Academy 81, Vermont Academy 79: Six-nine Malik Ondigo, a fifth-year player originally from Arizona, blocked a short jump shot attempt by Louisville-bound Jordan Nwora with two seconds to go to help his team hold on in one of the most competitive games over the weekend.

The 6-7 Nwora hit four of six shots from behind the arc en route to a 17-point effort while 6-8 junior Shimi Shittu had 21 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

Six-four Eric Ayala (who “reclassified” to the Class of 2018 but might “re-reclassify” to 2017 this spring if he gets a scholarship offer to his liking) had 20 points and five rebounds for Putnam Science Academy while Ondigo contributed 13 points and four rebounds.

*Brewster Academy (NH) 70, Montverde Academy (FL) Grad 67: Brewster never could pull away from Montverde Academy’s “No. 2” squad and, in fact, Montverde had the ball with a chance to the game into OT.

Connecticut-bound guard Makai Ashton-Langford (nine points and 10 assists) and Purdue signee Aaron Wheeler (a 6-8 forward who had 17 points and five rebounds) had noteworthy efforts for the winners while 6-3 guard Devante Carter had 15 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists for Montverde.

*New Hampton Prep 89, Redemption Christian 62: Facing a team that subbed for Blair Academy of New Jersey (which couldn’t get transportation because of weather conditions), New Hampton Prep got 21 points, six rebounds and two assists from Jimmy Boeheim (the son of the Syracuse Hall of Fame coach) in the victory.

Six-six senior point guard Christopher Duarte (who is from the Dominican Republic) led Redemption with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

*Granby (MA) MacDuffie School 84, Wilbraham (MA) and Monson Academy 82: Junior forward Dana Tate scored from along baseline with four seconds to go for the go-ahead, and winning, points.

Tate scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

*Springfield (MA) Commonwealth Academy 61, Ashburnham (MA) Cushing Academy 56: Power forward Hasahn French (who signed with Saint Louis in November scored only 10 points but strong-armed his way to 17 rebounds for the winners

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Frank Burlison
One of the most respected basketball writers and basketball talent evaluators in the world. He’s an original (1978) member of the McDonald’s All-American Selection/Advisory Committee and was inducted into the United States Basketball Writers’ Association Hall of Fame during the 2005 Final Four in St. Louis.
Frank Burlison

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