Hoop Hall Classic - Sunday Recap
Sunday proved to be a tough day for local New England schools as St. Mark's, St. Thomas More, and St. Andrew's all went down to start the day. While Newton North and New Mission helped the region end the day on a more positive note, the six full games of action provided plenty of standout performers.
Game of the Day: Life Center Academy (NJ) 73 St. Mark’s (MA) 69
In Sunday’s opening contest, perennial New England power St. Mark’s locked up with a talented Life Center Academy team out of New Jersey featuring one of the country’s premiere offensive talents in Ohio State-bound forward LaQuinton Ross. Ross would waste no time asserting himself as the best player on the floor in the game’s opening minutes, showcasing a dynamic offensive skill-set with multiple pull-up threes and creative drives to the basket en route to 21 first half points on four of five shooting from behind the arc. Battling to keep pace with Ross’ immediate offensive outburst, St. Mark’s would stay close early behind the prolific perimeter shooting of freshman point guard Kevin Zabo and junior wing Nicholas Stauskas.
Following an explosive one-hand dunk in transition by Alex Murphy (nine points), the Lions would come alive and find themselves down just one, at 25-24, with just over seven minutes remaining in the second quarter. Ross would extend the lead to four with an and-one bucket in transition and, after Murphy responded with a quick, five-point scoring run to give St. Mark’s its first lead of the game, at 29-28, Ross answered yet again with a fade-away three and drive-and-kick assist to propel Life Center back head by five, at 34-29. The Warriors’ RaShawn Cunningham would supply some quick offense with back-to-back jumpers in the half’s closing minutes and help Life Center take its largest lead of the game, at 44-35, heading in to the break.
With Life Center threatening to pull away early in the second half on a series of buckets from senior guard John Johnson, St. Mark’s would stay within striking distance behind the inspired play of seven-foot junior center Kaleb Tarczewski, who was limited to just one point in the first half. Asserting himself defensively with several blocked shots and defensive rebounds in traffic, Tarczewski imposed his will offensively as well, going to work on the low block and converting multiple back-to-the-basket moves to fuel a 10-0 St. Mark’s run that would culminate with a Stauskas triple to give the Lions a two-point lead, at 67-65, with just minutes remaining. Life Center would take a three-point lead on a series of free-throws from Ross, before a driving hoop from Stauskas would shrink the defecit back to one, at 70-69, with under a minute to play. Andre Horne Jr. would convert on a pair of free-throws to extend the Warriors’ lead back to three, at 72-69, and, after a game-tying three-point attempt from Stauskas missed wide on St. Mark’s final possession, Life Center would eventually escape with a hard-fought, 73-69 victory.
Ross finished with a game-high 26 points and nine rebounds to capture MVP honors for the contest, to go along with 14 and 12 points respectively from John and Jayson Johnson. Stauskas led St. Mark’s with 24 points and five rebounds, with Zabo contributing 15 on five of eight shooting from three and Tarczewski narrowly missing a triple-double with 11 points, 12 rebounds, and nine blocks.
Alex Murphy (St. Mark’s)- Always in complete control of his motion on both ends of the floor, Murphy personifies the elite role of a point forward as a terrific facilitator on offense and a versatile athlete capable of defending all five spots on the floor. The six-foot-eight junior attacks with purpose off the bounce and uses his elite athleticism to score above the rim in traffic and convert through contact. The most impressive part of Murphy’s game may be his willingness to make the simple, effective play when’s he’s often capable of attempting a more spectacular version, as was evidenced by a sequence on Sunday when he crossed a defender over at mid-court and opted for a classic, perfectly-timed bounce pass to an open teammate to convert a two-on-one in transition.
Kevin Zabo (St. Mark’s)- Showing impressive poise running the show against a talented Life Center team, the six-foot-two freshman point guard made sound decisions leading the break and knocked down multiple catch-and-shoot threes off dribble penetration. A terrific young prospect with the potential to be one of the premiere lead guards in his class, Zabo (15 points, five threes) displays a terrific feel, attacks the lane under control, and locates open shooters with regularity after drawing help with his drive.
Nikolas Stauskas (St. Mark’s)- Finishing with a team-high 24 points on 9-16 shooting, Stauskas showed his versatility as a dynamic scorer with a variety of tough drives to the basket and multiple jumpers from behind the arc. A solid athlete with a knack for scoring the ball, the six-foot-six junior takes and makes big shots and is more-than-willing to mix it up on the other end as a capable on-ball and team defender.
Eric Green Jr. (St. Mark’s)- An explosive athlete who attacks relentlessly off the dribble, Green wowed the early morning crowd with a powerful two-hand dunk over two Life Center defenders rotating late on help after he had beat his man with a hard bounce to the middle. A developing mid-range shooter with a nice feel, Green Jr. has the potential to be a lock down defender at multiple positions with his length, high basketball I.Q., and supreme lateral quickness.
Kaleb Tarczewski (St. Mark’s)- The seven-foot junior center responded from a lackluster first half on Sunday with a productive second-half performance that featured a variety of impressive blocks, finishes in traffic, and polished back-to-the-basket moves in post isolation sets. Tarczewski (11 points, 12 rebounds, nine blocks) possesses a rare ability to alter and block shots without fouling and immediately gain possession of the basketball with his head up, looking to ignite his team’s transition offense with a crisp outlet pass. Offensively, his skill-set continues to expand in parallel with his physical maturity and steadily progressing understanding of how to attack one-on-one match-ups ahead of double-teams and locate open teammates when help does arrive.
LaQuinton Ross (Life Center Academy)- An elite athlete with a cerebral feel, the six-foot-eight Ohio State-bound forward took home MVP honors in his team’s victory over St. Mark’s on Sunday, finishing with a game-high 26 points and nine rebounds in a performance highlighted by an array of pull-up threes off the dribble and dazzling moves to the basket. Featuring a complete offensive arsenal to go with outstanding length and a devastating first-step, Ross possesses a blue-chip brand of talent capable of making an immediate impact next year as one of the premiere newcomers in college basketball.
Andre Drummond (St. Thomas More)- Finishing with a solid 13 points and 10 rebounds, to go with four blocks, in his team’s loss to Hargrave on Sunday, the top ranked player in the class of 2012 displayed flashes of the freakish athleticism and finishing ability that makes him the most coveted national prospect to come out of New England in recent memory. With Kentucky head coach John Calipari looking on, the six-foot-ten, highly-active big pinned shots against the glass on defense, extended multiple possessions with offensive rebounds well out of his area, and dunked the ball through and over smaller defenders from areas approaching out to the first marker. Showcasing a developing perimeter skill-set and the ability to face-up out to the arc and put the ball on the floor, Drummond truly defines the evaluative phrase, “unlimited ceiling,” with the level of his future success dependent solely on how much work he’s willing to invest in transforming tremendous potential into a special career.
Damion Lee (St. Thomas More)- A smooth scoring wing at six-foot-six, Lee (15 points) attacked the basket aggressively against a Hargrave team loaded with high-major talent on the perimeter. While he struggled with his perimeter jumper throughout the afternoon, the former Towson-commit guarded the ball tenaciously on the defensive-end and used his length and athleticism to get out in passing lanes and slash to the basket in transition.
Dez Wells (Hargrave Military Academy)- While Drummond stood out clearly as the elite prospect on the floor in Hargrave’s victory over St. Thomas More on Sunday, Wells was the game’s top performer, as the Chancellors had no answer for his athleticism and physicality attacking the basket off the bounce. Finishing with a game-high 20 points, including a pair of ferocious dunks over St. Thomas More defenders, the six-foot-five Xavier-commit has the chance to be one of the more prolific athletes in the Atlantic 10 next year immediately as a freshman.
P.J. Hairston (Hargrave Military Academy)- A lethal three-point shooter with unlimited range, the future North Carolina Tar Heel knocked down four threes in a highly-efficient, 14-point performance. With a strong frame at six-foot-six, Hairston is a lock down perimeter defender when he wants to be and, with added diversity to his offensive arsenal, he has the chance to be a difficult cover down the road in the ACC.
Michael Carter-Williams (St. Andrew’s)- Carter-Williams (game-high 24 points, five of nine from three) was sensational in the first half against Findlay Prep, rising to the challenge in one-on-one situations against future Arizona Wildcat Nick Johnson and scoring on a variety of pull-up threes and floaters in the lane off dynamic crossover dribble moves. While his ability as one of the finest one-on-one players in the country is well documented, the Syracuse-commit was impressive running Johnson and other Findlay defenders off a variety of down screens away from the ball and creating clean, catch-and-shoot opportunities for himself in rhythm.
Myles Brilhante (St. Andrew’s)- While facing quite possibly the best backcourt in all of America in Findlay’s Myck Kabongo and Nick Johnson, the five-foot-nine guard did a nice job taking care of the basketball against intense ball-pressure, finishing with zero turnovers in 27 minutes. Brilhante (10 points) knocked down an open three and utilized an effective shot-fake to attack close-outs and escape dribble for balanced mid-range pull-ups.
Nick Johnson (Findlay)- One of the elite overall athletes in the national class of 2011, Johnson (18 points, four threes) locked up with Carter-Williams in a match-up featuring two of the country’s elite guards. A pure three-point shooter, Johnson showed signs of an increasingly polished mid-range game, getting defenders in the air with an initial pump and pulling up with balance for a feathery mid-range jumper. Electric in the open floor, the six-foot-three Arizona-commit lit up the crowd with a pair of highlight-reel dunks off lobs in transition and showed commitment as a tough on-ball defender forcing Carter-Williams into difficult, contested perimeter shots from distance.
Myck Kabongo (Findlay)- The future Texas Longhorn has an almost unfair combination of athleticism and basketball I.Q. at the lead guard position, as he relentlessly pushes the pace in the open floor and breaks his man down off the bounce en route to a terrific decision with the basketball. On a roster loaded with high major talent, Kabongo (eight points, nine assists) is the undisputed leader on the floor, controlling tempo, directing traffic, and picking spots to look for his own offense with a blue-chip mix of speed, quickness, and skill.
Dajuan Coleman (Jamesville-DeWitt)- Extremely agile and skilled for a player his size, the six-foot-ten face-up forward is a handful to deal with on offense with his ability to finish near the basket and step out to the arc and knock down open jumpers. Finishing a monster double-double effort with 23 points and 20 rebounds in Jamesville’s victory over Webster Groves on Sunday, Coleman (number two ranked player in ESPNU Super 60) dominated the interior with his size and mobility and showcased a blossoming offensive skill-set that could transform him into an absolute nightmare to deal with at the next level.
Tyler Cavanaugh (Jamesville DeWitt)- A highly-skilled, face-up forward at six-foot-eight capable of stepping out to the arc and hitting open threes, Cavanaugh was huge in the second half against a no-quit Webster Groves team, finishing with a team high 26 points and eight rebounds. While his teammate Coleman draws much of the attention on the interior, Cavanaugh’s skill-level demands considerable attention of its own, as he can finish with both hands near the basket, create his own shot in the mid range area, and possesses a nice overall feel for making positive plays.
Rayshawn Simmons (Webster Groves)- While he needed 24 shots to get 21 points in Sunday’s loss to Jamesville DeWitt, Simmons flashed ability as a prolific perimeter scorer capable of putting up big numbers in a hurry. With Coleman and Cavanaugh taking up a tremendous amount of space inside, the six-foot-four guard utilized a crafty floater to finish over length and was the primary reason Webster was able to stay competitive against a bigger, more talented Jamesville team.
Aaron Falzon (Newton North)- A six-foot-six forward with great length and a nice feel, Falzon is good-looking prospect in the class of 2014 with tremendous upside as a versatile offensive talent. Finishing with a game-high 19 points on 8-12 shooting to capture MVP honors in his team’s victory over Springfield Central on Sunday, Falzon finished strong near the basket and knocked down multiple shots from beyond the arc. As he continues to mature physically and gains more game experience against quality competition, he has the chance to develop into a dominant offensive player capable of scoring the ball from a variety of spots on the floor.
Tyrell Springer (Springfield Central)- A tough, physical guard at six-foot-one, Springer (11 points, five steals) attacked the basket from a variety of angles to finish through contact at the rim on multiple occasions. Like the majority of his Central teammates, his effectiveness as an athletic slasher would benefit from an improved perimeter jumper, as Newton defenders often times gave him a large amount space at the arc that made it more difficult for him to drive by his man and arrive cleanly in the paint.
Cornelius Tyson (Springfield Central)- While not playing his best on Sunday in a tough loss to Newton North, Tyson possesses a smooth, creative feel as a playmaker for a young guard in the class of 2013. With good length and quickness at six-feet, he must continue to improve his perimeter shooting and gain confidence in that area in order to realize his full potential as an aggressive force with the basketball.
Xavier Garcia (Sabis Charter)- Just a sophomore, Garcia (11 points) was fearless attacking the basket with a strong handle against a group of bigger, stronger New Mission guards. With added maturity and game experience that should improve his basketball I.Q. and limit turnovers, the five-foot-eight guard has a chance to develop into productive floor general down the road.
Kachi Nzerem (New Mission High)- Sabis Charter had no answer for the six-foot-five wing’s length and athleticism on Sunday, as Nzerem (23 points, nine rebounds) consistently beat his man off the bounce to get into the lane and finish with flare at the rim on his way to game MVP honors. A capable perimeter shooter with solid ball skills, is an intriguing prospect who could be a productive player at the next level if continues to diversify ways to create his own shot and improves his understanding of how to use more change of pace and change of direction to take advantage of his natural physical ability.
Spalding Skills Challenge
Winner: Ike Nwamu (Westchester Country Day School) Runner Up: Dez Wells (Hargrave)
Winner: Ryan Parks (Bishop Gorman) Runner Up: Peter Fairbanks (Webster Groves)
Winners: Jon Riles (Academy of the New Church) & Johnny Brown (Bishop Gorman)
St. Mark’s (MA) 69 Life Center Academy (NJ) 73
St. Thomas More (CT) 58 Hargrave Military Academy (VA) 78
St. Andrew’s School (RI) 57 Findlay College Prep (NV) 76
Jamesville-DeWitt High School (NY) 76 Webster Groves High School (MO) 64
Springfield Central High School (MA) 56 Newton North High School (MA) 58
Sabis Charter School (MA) 38 New Mission High School (MA) 61