Hoophall Classic: Monday
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The 2015 HoopHall Classic wrapped up with a terrific slate of games on Monday. The nation's top player Ben Simmons, performed as expected, as did the nation's No. 2 player Jaylen Brown. Dwayne Bacon continued his huge senior season while five-star juniors Jayson Tatum and V.J. King dueled. Simmons dominates The nation's No. 1 player, Ben Simmons, led Montverde (Fla.) Academy to the floor against Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman in a game that featured a ridiculous amount of size along each team's front line. A senior power forward, Simmons was dominant while leading Montverde to the 76-57 win over Gorman.
|Ben Simmons backed up his No. 1 ranking on Monday.|
More about that size, though. Accompanying the 6-foot-9 Simmons in the Montverde starting lineup was near seven-foot tall four-star Wake Forest signee Doral Moore and 6-foot-8 four-star Florida signee Noah Dickerson. Adding to the size off the bench were 7-foot-4 Florida State bound senior Jean Marc Koumadje and 6-foot-9 freshman E.J. Montgomery. Not to be outdone, Gorman countered with top ten seniors Stephen Zimmerman and Chase Jeter plus top 60 junior Zach Collins, all of whom stand at least 6-foot-10. In the end, though, it didn't matter because the LSU bound Simmons was clearly the best player on the floor. He didn't hit any of his jumpers, but he didn't really have to. Stronger and quicker off the floor, Simmons was a monster at the rim getting one dunk or close-in finish after another. Add in his ability to handle the ball, finish with either hand, and pass and it is pretty apparent why he ranks No. 1 in the class. While he scored 36 points and grabbed nine rebounds, the Gorman front line of Jeter, Zimmerman and Collins combined for just 16 points and 15 rebounds. Brown and Rabb go largeMany of Monday's games were televised nationally on ESPNU. The first of the televised game was a battle between Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler and Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd. Headlining things for Wheeler was the nation's No. 2 player in the class of 2015, Jaylen Brown, while O'Dowd countered with the senior class's No. 7 player, Ivan Rabb. Neither disappointed in O'Dowd's 79-70 win.
|Five-star Jaylen Brown was dynamic on Monday.|
While his team took the loss, Brown was absolutely spectacular. A 6-foot-7 small forward, Brown showed off his athleticism, skill, power and grace, oftentimes in the same move. Whether he was elevating for slams, attacking off the dribble or hitting tough jumpers, the O'Dowd defense simply had to sit back and hope Brown missed as he racked up 31 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out. Brown's hard charging style does result in some turnovers (he had five) but the way he combines explosiveness and power is like a young Isaiah "J.R." Rider used to. If anybody is going to challenge Simmons for the No. 1 spot in the country, it is Brown. After a recent visit to North Carolina, Brown will next visit Michigan officially. The plan wa to head to Ann Arbor this weekend but the trip will be postponed and a new date will be set. Kentucky (John Calipari watched), UCLA (assistant on hand), Georgia, Kansas and Georgia Tech remain in the mix. On the other side, it looked for a while like Rabb's sluggish play in Springfield, Mo. at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions might have followed him to Springfield, Mass. But as it turned out, that wasn't the case. The 6-foot-9 (maybe 6-foot-10) power forward put together a massive second half of 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocks to finish the game with 24, 12 and five. It was as fine a half as the No. 7 player in the class of 2015 has ever turned in. He hit elbow jumpers, spun for dunks, controlled the glass and was a menace on defense. Afterwards, Rabb reiterated what he told Rivals.com on Thursday night about taking official visits to Kansas, UCLA and California before making his decision. Tatum and King duel The final game of the night was a battle of Catholic schools as St. Louis (Mo.) Chaminade and 2016's No. 4 player Jayson Tatum took out Fairfax (Va.) Paul VI and 2016's No. 18 player V.J. King 88-78.
|2016 five-star Jayson Tatum was at his best on Monday.|
A 6-foot-8 small forward and five-star prospect, Tatum filled the stat sheet as expected with 25 points, 14 rebounds and three assists. However, it wasn't his gaudy numbers that were most impressive. It was the way he tapped into his teammates and got them to play at a higher level. Many other times when Rivals.com has seen Tatum, his teammates have had a tendency to stand around and watch him play. It was almost as if he was playing a one man NBA isolation game in a high school setting. On Monday, Tatum had his teammates moving and getting involved and communicating with each other, which took a significant load off Tatum's back and made him a better player at the same time. There will be times down the road where Tatum will have to take over on offense but it wasn't needed on Monday. Seeing him recognize that, and the manner in which his teammates fed off his leadership, was something else. He's scored more points, grabbed more rebounds and dished out more assists before, but for our money Tatum's performance Monday was as solid as Rivals.com has ever seen him. On the other side, King picked up exactly where he left off when we saw him on Thursday at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions. Actually, King took his game to a new level going off for 38 points and five rebounds. The 6-foot-7 five-star wing looked great attacking the rim and pulling up for his patented mid-range jumper. He also stuck some threes and got to the free throw line. Here's a kid who admitted that he wasn't playing well earlier in the season. Rather than pout about it, he looked in the mirror and changed some things with his game. King still needs to add some strength, but this version of him where he's offensively aggressive without taking questionable shots is one that is an awful lot of fun to watch. It could have him moving back up in the rankings. Final Monday notes Dwayne Bacon continued his ridiculously good senior season on Monday. The Floridian, who is finishing up things at Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill, topped the 30-point mark for what seemed like the thousandth or so time this season as Oak HiIl erased a big deficit against Cleveland (Ohio) Villa Angela St. Joseph to emerge with a 76-72 win. Bacon didn't shoot particularly well from the field (10-28 FG) and his shot selection could use some fine tuning, but there's no questioning his toughness and scoring ability. He did make 5-11 from three and was a very solid 8-10 from the free throw line. He grabbed eight rebounds and dished out three assists to go with his 33 points. Florida State is getting an instant impact player and the five-star has certainly made a case to move up from his current spot at No. 22 nationally.
|FSU commit Dwayne Bacon continued his strong senior season.|
Ohio State post commit Daniel Giddens also had a nice afternoon for Oak Hill. After having what could best be described as a "quiet" senior season, Giddens put forth the best effort Rivals.com has seen from him this year by scoring 12 points, grabbing seven rebounds and blocking four shots. Oak Hill is a pretty jump shot happy team and he did a good job of scoring where he could and helping to erase defensive mistakes at the rim. Carlton Bragg showed plenty of dimensions to his game in Villa Angela-St. Joseph's (Cleveland) loss to Oak Hill. The five-star power forward scored 23 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out six assists. As he's prone to doing at times, Bragg settled for some jumpers, but he more than made up for it with his fabulous passing from out of the high post and by getting to the free throw line and converting 11-12 attempts. Boise State has likely landed as big a steal as anybody on the West Coast. Rivals150 point guard Paris Austin continues to impress. A sub six-footer, Austin plays with huge heart, has tremendous quickness and he's a natural leader for Bishop O'Dowd. He came up big in a big setting giving Rabb some needed offensive relief while setting up his teammates for easy scores, scoring 18 points and dishing out nine assists. Also, keep an eye out for Austin's freshman backcourt partner Elijah Hardy. A six-footer with speed to burn and confidence, Hardy figures to be the next big-name guy out of Bishop O'Dowd. Jaylen Brown was far from a one-man show for Wheeler. In fact, junior swingman Cam Jordan seized the opportunity to show that he can play, too. A 6-foot-5 athlete who loves to slash to the rim, Jordan is also a good enough spot up jump shooter that defenders can't back off of him and play him strictly for the drive. The three-star prospect will be one to watch closely as the year finishes and then through the spring and summer with Game Elite to see how he comes along. While the Bishop Gorman frontline players were struggling mightily, sophomore wing Charles O'Bannon did everything in his power to keep them in the game. A 6-foot-5 shooter, O'Bannon hit threes, hit medium range shots and showed plenty of promise. His time is surely coming down the road and he showed a good glimpse into his future by scoring 22 points. At some point, we'll be looking to see what Tyler Cook has in his offensive repertoire other than dunks, but he was terrific in that capacity on Monday. The 6-foot-7 power forward at Chaminade, who currently ranks No. 93 in the class of 2016, had one powerful jam after another while showing off surprisingly explosive leaping ability given his thick, offensive lineman type legs. Cook was also a force to be reckoned with on the glass. He grabbed double digit rebounds played with tremendous energy while UConn's Kevin Ollie and an Iowa assistant were among those on hand to check in on him. Also playing well for Chaminade was junior combo guard Mike Lewis. With Jayson Tatum missing shots early, Lewis sprang to life and netted several three-pointers when his team needed an offensive lift. He is quick, plays hard on both ends and with him scoring the ball -- and it doesn't have to be 23 points like he had at the HoopHall -- well his team will be a load in the Missouri state playoffs. Finally, while discussing Ben Simmons we made a quick reference to Doral Moore. The seven-footer has been steadily improving since his arrival at Montverde from Georgia. He's getting more aggressive, developing some post moves and has been more engaged on both ends of the floor. If Danny Manning can tap into anywhere near his full potential, Moore could easily outplay his current ranking of No. 49 in the class of 2015.