Tuesday, December 31, 2013

West Coast Holiday Tournaments produce high-major competition

SAN DIEGO -- On Saturday, the Under Armour Holiday Classic was Rivals.com's last day of a post-Christmas swing out to the West Coast. For a second day in a row, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola was impressive as star seniors Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Thomas Welsh had big evenings. Earlier in the day, Justin Simon showed why he is one of the hottest 2015 recruits on the West Coast.
Loyola experience wins out against Sierra Canyon
A semifinal battle between Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola and Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon offered a look at two very talented, but different teams. Led by UCLA bound seven-footer Thomas Welsh and Arizona bound point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, the Loyola team is experienced and savvy, while the Sierra Canyon team, led by sophomore guard Devearl Ramsey and freshman forward Cody Riley, is young and inexperienced.
Not surprisingly, the experience of Loyola won out. But, the two teams combined to play a very entertaining game where the stars stood out.
For Loyola, we will start with Welsh. Currently ranked No. 52 in the class of
Thomas Welsh continued to impress this week.
2014, his improvement over the course of his high school career has been nothing short of staggering. Just two years ago, Welsh labored to run the floor and struggled to keep up with the game. Now, he controls it from the lane on both ends of the floor. Incredibly sound fundamentally, Welsh has A-plus hands and always keeps the ball high. He is comfortable scoring over either shoulder, makes jumpers to 12 feet and is as polished using the glass on shots as you will see for a young big man. He is moving much better and while he isn't a shot blocker, he does eat up space in the lane and controls the glass. Before fouling out, Welsh had 26 points and 13 rebounds and was totally dominant.
Running the show was Jackson-Cartwright. The 5-foot-9 point guard seems to be practically all arms and legs, and on Saturday night he was all control. When Sierra Canyon went to a zone he carved it up with dribble penetration and skip passing. In man, he got into the lane and used his length to finish from awkward angles. Most of all he played in attack mode and never allowed Sierra Canyon to rest as he put up a sparkling line of 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
Watching Loyola again, our thought that they are a top-25, if not a top-15 type team, nationally was confirmed. Junior guard Max Hazzard again made plays and senior guard Khalil Bedart-Ghani is a freakishly athletic finisher at the rim. Currently committed to Yale, Bedart-Ghani is likely going to be opening things back up and he can help a team with his slashing and active play. Finally, keep an eye out for Welsh's younger brother. Henry Welsh is a sophomore center who probably isn't quite as tall as his listed 6-foot-10, but he's an awful lot like his big brother at the same age and has some skill and edge to his game.
As for Sierra Canyon's Ramsey and Riley, they were both outstanding again. Ramsey is as physically tough and is as fast a point guard as there is in the class of 2016. Riley is a potential stud in 2017. Neither gave an inch to the older Loyola players and both look like natural leaders and outstanding teammates.
Simon shows why his stock is soaring
Probably the single hottest class of 2015 name on the West Coast over the last few months has been Justin Simon. A 6-foot-4 combo guard from Temecula (Calif.) Valley who already ranks No. 80
Justin Simon continues to show why he is a fast-riser in 2015.
nationally in the junior class, it isn't a surprise to see high major schools making a push. But, watching him perform at the UAHC it was easy to see why his stock has been soaring. First of all, the luxury of a kid his size with good length and the ability to play the point is something that many schools covet. Simon isn't an out of control or flashy player, yet a simple and under control one who picks his spots to make plays for himself and others off the dribble. From a size, style and athleticism standpoint he is very similar to current Missouri star Jordan Clarkson.
In transition, Simon can handle without losing speed and he makes great decisions about when to pass or force his way to the rim. In the half court, he is outstanding along either baseline and his size makes him a factor as an offensive rebounder. His jump shot does need work, though, and when he's at the top of a zone defenders sag off of him and dare him to shoot over them.
During a win, Simon was good for 21 points (8-12 FG, 5-9 FT), nine rebounds, three assists and three steals to just two turnovers. It was a performance that suggests he could push for the national top 50 and one worthy of the kind of attention he has been getting.
After his game, Simon said that Oregon is his latest offer. The Ducks offer comes on the heels of a recent Arizona offer (Sean Miller watched him in San Diego on Friday) and San Diego State had their entire staff there to watch him, while USC dispatched two assistants after Andy Enfield watched Friday. Other offers for Simon include Colorado, New Mexico (head coach Noodles Neal watched on Saturday), Washington, Penn State, Boston College and Arizona State. UCLA hasn't yet offered but is turning up the heat and was watching as well.
More Saturday notes
Talented sophomore big man T.J. Leaf picked up right where he left off. After a great run at last week's Tarkanian Classic, Leaf had 38 of his team's 52 points in a one-point win. The 6-foot-9 four-man is a patient and skilled low-post scorer and a very dangerous face-up shooter with some sneaky athleticism. After being watched by Sean Miller of Arizona and Noodles Neal of New Mexico during the weekend, he added offers from both schools.
We are going to have to keep a close eye on the development of junior point guard Lindsey Drew. The younger brother of former North Carolina/UCLA point guard Larry and Cal-State Northridge's Landon, Drew is a long and rangy point guard who is really coming into his own. Drew looks to be every bit of 6-foot-2 and is perhaps pushing 6-foot-3. He is very good defensively, can get into the lane with dribble penetration and did a good job of finding his teammates on Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax for clean looks at the hoop.
Another intriguing player for Fairfax was senior wing Sage Woodruff. At 6-foot-5, he can handle the ball a bit and looks comfortable with his jumper. He wasn't exactly hot, but he made things look pretty easy on the perimeter and he could be an intriguing spring option for low to mid majors on the West Coast.
Make no mistake about it, Trey Kell is going to score a lot of points in college. At No. 118 in the 2014 Rivals150, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard that is headed to San Diego State is likely a bit under ranked. A smooth and skilled scorer, Kell has the complete package on the offensive end. He's actually quite similar to Kentucky bound Devin Booker in the way he isn't a stupendous athlete, but he makes shots, gets to the free throw line and is clever in using his body to shield off defenders and finish off of one and two dribble pull-ups. He is likely to move into four-star status when rankings get finalized in the spring.

Eric Bossi is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.

New Year ELITE SUPER PREP POWER POLL - 7th Grade Boys Top 10

Our week 6 poll is out with the Wolfpack of North Paulding tumbling from No. 3 to No. 7.  Key injuries to swingman/slasher Mickey Maguire, as well as starting center Chandler Wood sitting out an uninspired loss to Hillgrove, cost the Pack their poll position.  More importantly to Head Coach Greg Cherry, however, was the Pack's 57-51 victory over region rival North Cobb.  Both North Cobb and Kennesaw Mountain - vanquished by the Pack - have now dropped out of the top ten.

Your complete poll:

10.  Alpharetta

9.   Wheeler

8.   Walton

7.   North Paulding

6.   Etowah

5.   Hillgrove

4.   McEachern

3.   John's Creek

2.   Pope

1.   Campbell - NEW NO. 1!!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Week 4 Standings for NPYBL Boys 3rd and 4th Grade

2013-2014 NPBL 3rd/4th  BOYS  STANDINGS 
WEEK 4                                                                                                      

TEAM NAME      WINS    LOSSES PF           PA          TOTAL DIFFERENTIAL      +/- 15              

Young Guns         4              0         136         39           97                                           60          

HEAT                     3              0         38           28           10                                           10          

Wildcats               2              2         53           34           19                                           14          

Redskins              2              2          72           65           7                                              3             

Hornets               2              2           57           51           6                                              6             

Buckeyes             2              2           72           73           (-1)                                         (-1)        

Thunder               2              2          62           81           (-19)                                      (-7)        

BULLS                    1              2         43           46           (-3)                                         (-3)        

The PACK            1              3           34           63           (-29)                                      (-23)     

Knicks                   0              4          17           104         (-87)                                      (-57)     

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wolfpack Machine Continues to Roll!

Despite a key injury to Chandler Wood who is out 4 weeks with a broken finger,  North Paulding's 3rd ranked 7th grade boys rolled through Kennesaw Mountain and Allatoona to improve their winning streak to 8 games.

The Wolfpack beat rival Kennesaw Mountain on Saturday morning behind the big time scoring of Luke Dabbelt 57-54.  The Wolfpack, under-sized due to Wood's injury, received critical minutes from Jordan Veneziale and CJ Swann in the post.  Logan Jackson came off the bench to hit a key three pointer and the Wolfpack never trailed in the game.

On Sunday a slow and sluggish start was made up for with a strong 4th quarter as another region foe went down in defeat, as the Pack rolled Allatoona 42-32 on the road.

The current ELITE SUPER PREP POWER POLL is as follows:



8.  KENNESAW MOUNTAIN - First place finish in their division last year.





3.  NORTH PAULDING  (8-1, 3-0)


1.  MCCEACHERN  -  The defending champs and the Apollo Creed of middle school basketball.  Is their a "Rocky" on the horizon?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Week 3 Standings: NPYBL 3rd/4th Boys

2013-2014 NPBL 3rd/4th BOYS STANDINGS (WEEK 3)

TEAM NAME      WINS    LOSSES     PF           PA          TOTAL DIFFERENTIAL      +/- 15              

Young Guns        3              0              96           36           60                                           45          

HEAT                    2              0              25           16           9                                              9             

Buckeyes             2              1              54           53           1                                              1             

Wildcats              2              1              41           21           20                                           13          

BULLS                   1              1              33           20           13                                           12          

Hornets                1              2              44           41           3                                              3             

Redskins               1              2              46           55           (-9)                                         (-12)     

Thunder                1              2              42           63           (-21)                                      (-9)        

The PACK              1              2              24           50           (-26)                                      (-20)     

Knicks                0                3               14            64              (-50)                                         (-42)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Thanksgiving Hoopfest Wraps up in Texas

DUNCANVILLE, Texas -- The 2014 Thanksgiving Hoopfest came to a conclusion on Saturday afternoon. On a relatively quiet day, the nation's second best player Emmanuel Mudiay played an efficient, controlled game to help Dallas (Texas) Prime Prep grind out a close win.
Different role for Mudiay
Last year, Dallas (Texas) Prime Prep was absolutely stacked. Led by the No. 2 player in the class of 2014 Emmanuel Mudiay and five-star sophomore Terrance Ferguson and a solid supporting cast, Prime once again has talent but isn't near as explosive or experienced on the interior as they were a year ago.

Emmanuel Mudiay is seeing increased focus from defenders.
Saturday, they found themselves in a tough, grind it out game against a well coached, disciplined and scrappy Episcopal of Dallas squad. During a 56-53 win, Mudiay turned it on when needed and made 9-11 shots while scoring 19 points, dishing out four assists and adding three steals and two blocks.
Headed to SMU, Mudiay has size and athletic tools that no other point guard in the class of 2014 has. Because of that, he is able to turn things on and off which can be a gift and a curse. Throughout his two games at the Hoopfest, the future Mustang showed NBA ability with strong drives, great open floor passing and elite athleticism. But, he was also a bit hesitant at times. With a wing scorer like Ferguson slumping a bit and an inconsistent frontcourt -- 6-foot-7 freshman P.J. Washington shows lots of potential though -- Mudiay is relied upon heavily and is going through an adjustment.
While he thrives in an up and down game, opponents are slowing things down and throwing two and three defenders at him to try and keep him from beating them. Short term, this has caused Mudiay to step back and dissect how to be aggressive without playing out of control and it has him a bit hesitant. Long term, it's going to be very beneficial for Mudiay to learn to adjust to being the one guy defenses are absolutely keying on stopping.
Final Hoopfest notes
Keelon Lawson and brother Dedric Lawson went for big numbers again in a win over Dallas (Texas) AAA Academy. The junior and sophomore duo combined for 37 points and 24 rebounds in a 20 point win. However, it wasn't an overly efficient day for either. Memphis bound Keelon had the type of triple double you don't want scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 rebounds but also committing 11 turnovers against two assists. Dedric finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks of his own but missed all of his second half field goal attempts to finish just 6-20 from the floor (after going 8-22 on Saturday). There is no mistaking the tandem's talent, but improved efficiency will make them even more dangerous than they already are.

Dedric Lawson puts up numbers.
The development of Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian center Schnider Herard is going to be interesting to watch. At 6-foot-10 and at least 240 pounds, the sophomore big man is a massive presence in the lane. The young big man understands his size advantage and plays big as well. He set up shop in the lane for Prestonwood and didn't stray from there as he did a good job converting at the rim in a win over Trent International. Herard has high major size and potential and finished the day with a solid 17 point and 13 rebound outing. SMU has been very involved early along with others like Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Oklahoma and TCU.
One player that could end up helping out Mudiay and Prime Prep quite a bit down the road is senior power forward Byron Smith. A transfer from OD Wyatt in Ft. Worth, the 6-foot-7 Smith is a high flyer who can run the floor and play above the rim in the lane. Once he adjusts and gets more active, he could solidify the Prime frontcourt, help them on the glass and attract some Division One scholarship offers. His 11 points off the bench were key in the win over Episcopal.
2015 five-star King McClure still looks like he is playing at less than 100%. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard's explosiveness doesn't look to have fully returned and he seemed to be pressing a bit as AAA was struggling with Memphis (Tenn.) Hamilton. He did finish with 17 points and seven rebounds on 6-14 shooting, but he's still working his way back into shape and we are looking forward to seeing how he looks once he's all the way healthy.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Our third annual pre-season Top 50 rankings for the state of Georgia Boys High School basketball teams has been released.  Here are the results of the first poll!  (New polls are released in January and after the season).
1.            Miller Grove

2.            Norcross

3.            Wheeler

4.            Hillgrove

5.            Effingham County

6.            Tucker

7.            Allatoona

8.            New Manchester

9.            North Gwinnett

10.          Peachtree Ridge

11.          Shiloh

12.          Columbia

13.          South Atlanta

14.          Jenkins

15.          Whitewater

16.          Tift County

17.          Berkmar

18.          Westlake

19.          Stephenson

20.          Mays

21.          Northside

22.          Marist

23.          Glenn Hills

24.          Jonesboro

25.          North Cobb

26.          Greater Atlanta Christian

27.          Laney

28.          Savannah

29.          Buford

30.          Statesboro

31.          Monroe

32.          Eagles Landing

33.          Mays

34.          Westover

35.          Woodward Academy

36.          St. Francis

37.          Rutland

38.          St. Pius

39.          Jordan

40.          Taylor County

41.          Aquinas

42.          Washington County

43.          Tatnall

44.          Cartersville

45.          Morgan County

46.          Excel Christian

47.          North Cobb Christian

48.          Seminole County

49.          Spencer

50.          Athens Christian


Inaugural Atlanta Hardwood JamFest Packed with DI Talent

ATLANTA -- Four-star junior Doral Moore, Rivals150 wing Temarcus Blanton and freshman sensation M.J. Walker were some of the standouts at the inaugural Atlanta Hardwood High School Jam Fest. Event organizer Winfred Jordan put together a terrific field that consists of top teams from around the Peach State, along with several highly rated prospects.

Doral Moore continues to improve.

Moore making progress

It's truly amazing how far Locust Grove (Ga.) Luella junior center Doral Moore has come in the last year. Just 12 months ago, he looked like a tall kid trying to play basketball because that's what seven-footers are supposed to do. This year, he looks like a confident, game-changing post player with a developing post up game. He's far from a finished product, but his progress in just 12 months leads one to think what he could become down the road.

In a tough loss to a scrappy Jonesboro (Ga.) team on Tuesday, Moore only finished with six points, eight rebounds, and six blocks, but his impact on the game was significant. His length and mobility in the paint make it hard for opposing players to get much done around the rim. The next steps in Moore's development are continuing to get stronger to help on the boards and polish up his low-post game.

On the recruiting front, college coaches have taken notice on the progress Moore has made. Offers are in from Alabama, Auburn, Cincinnati, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio State, Texas and more. Georgetown, Kansas, and Louisville have also been tracking the No. 38 player in 2015.

South Carolina steals one in Blanton

Moore's teammate Temarcus Blanton signed with South Carolina last week after committing in September. It looks like the Gamecocks were smart to lock him up when they did. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound wing played like he's one of the best wings in the southeast on Tuesday, finishing with 24 points and seven rebounds in a tough loss.

Blanton's recruitment never really took off the way it should have. Offers came in from schools such as Arkansas, Florida State, Memphis and several mid majors, but his decision ultimately came down to George Mason and South Carolina before Frank Martin's staff won out. Many schools will likely regret the decision not to target Blanton.

Currently ranked No. 123 in the Rivals150, Blanton continues to get better every time out with the most recent addition to his game being a more consistent perimeter jump shot. Blanton's bread and butter has long been his ability to get to the rim and finish through contact and an improved jumper just makes him even tougher to defend. He's a tenacious defender that can be matched up on the other team's best wing and he rebounds his position well.

Walker will be one to watch

Jonesboro High School will be a hot spot for high major college coaches over the next few years for one reason -- freshman wing M.J. Walker. The 6-foot-4 wing already has a college-ready body and the talent level to take over high school games against stiff competition. He has the look of a no-brainer high major prospect.

Walker struggled early on against Luella while matched up with Blanton, but he got going in a hurry during the second quarter to have 15 points at the half. He showed that he's capable of connecting from three-point range, but more impressive was his willingness to attack Doral Moore at the rim and do so with success.

Walker's combination of size, strength, athleticism, and skill at such a young age will make him a hot commodity to college coaches. It won't be long before scholarship offers start rolling in.

Shawntrez Davis had Clemson's Brad Brownell watching.

More Tuesday notes

2015 Rivals150 big man Shawntrez Davis had an impressive showing in the opening game on Tuesday. Coming off an up-and-down travel season, Davis looks ready to have a big junior year for Tri-Cities. He finished a win over Shiloh (Ga.) with 15 points and seven rebounds. At 6-foot-8 and around 210 pounds, Davis runs the floor well, has soft hands and great touch around the rim. Clemson head coach Brad Brownell was in attendance to check him out.

Recent Wichita State signee Eric Hamilton transferred to Duluth High School for his senior season and had 13 points in a loss to MLK. Hamilton showed some of the natural ability that made him so attractive to the Shockers coaching staff. He showed off his athleticism on a chase down block where he pinned the ball against the backboard at the top of the square and was very active on the boards at both ends.

MLK junior forward Kevon Harris might have been the most physically imposing prospect in the gym on Tuesday. With his team struggling on shots from the perimeter, Harris took advantage of those misses by gobbling up the rebounds and finishing at the rim. It's not all strength with Harris though. He looked comfortable shooting free throws and has some post up game. At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, he looks like a future NFL tight end if basketball doesn't work out.

Jonesboro junior wing forward Tracey Hector Jr. also impressed with his high-motor. When Jonesboro decided to put on a full court press against Luella, the 6-foot-4 athlete thrived in the open court game. He had a half dozen steals that he turned into baskets at the other end.