Hoop Mountain Prep Classic: Friday Recap
Game of the Day - South Kent 97 Kiski 83
With the recent departure of the seven-foot Bhullar brothers and 6’10” Stefan Jankovic, a super-talented wing in the class of 2012, Kiski came into Friday evening’s match-up against a loaded South Kent squad without the three major pieces that had justified its number nine ranking in the National Prep Poll released earlier this week. However, Daryn Freedman’s team made it clear early on that they had no intentions of backing down from the likes of Ricardo Ledo and St. John’s-commit Maurice Harkless, as Kiski would engage the Cardinal in a furious, up-and-down affair in the first half that would bring out the best in both squads. Behind outstanding three-point shooting from 6’2” combo-guard Bradon Bos and prolific overall play from 6’8” Casey Carroll, Kiski would bounce back from multiple South Kent scoring runs led by Ledo and Harkless to keep its deficit at just four, at 46-42, heading into the break.
South Kent would open the second half threatening to extend its lead behind the relentless work of Harkless on the interior, stretching its lead to 10, at 61-51, with 13 minutes left to play. Struggling to keep pace with the Cardinal’s frantic pace and explosive scoring ability in transition, Bos and Carroll would fight to keep Kiski in the game with an impressive array of three-point shooting and determined drives to the basket. Carroll, in particular, was sensational against South Kent’s stable of long, athletic forwards, knocking down perimeter shots, creating space off-the-dribble for mid-range pull-ups, and using deceptive bounce to finish repeatedly through contact at the rim with both hands. Eventually, South Kent’s athleticism and talent at all five positions would prove too much for Kiski to handle, with Nemanja Djurisic and Rutgers-commit Derrick Randall combining with Harkless to eventually push the spread to 14, at 97-83, by the final buzzer.
Harkless finished with 22 points to lead a balanced South Kent effort, with Djurisic and Randall adding 14 and 10 respectively. Kiski, which put forth a truly-inspired effort in the absence of its former interior-anchors and the highly-talented Jankovic, was led by Carroll’s 29 points, to go along with 13 and a terrific floor-game from Bos.
Marquis Clayton (Next Level) - Clayton was outstanding at the lead guard position on Friday for Next Level, utilizing excellent quickness and strength at just 5’11” to impose his will off-the-dribble and pressure opposing ball-handlers into turnovers on multiple occasions. Showcasing a smooth-perimeter jumper, he single-handedly led his team back from a double-digit deficit late in the second half on a series of contested threes, while blending in a mix of creative drives to penetrate into the lane and find open shooters. An impressive overall athlete, Clayton (11 points) rebounded the ball well from the perimeter and made sound decisions with the ball in transition locating shooters and recognizing open lanes to the basket.
Emmanuel Ajayi (Next Level) - While Ajayi appeared to have difficulty finding his comfort-zone early on against REDA, he showed flashes of the skill and explosiveness around the rim that is garnering solid interest from several mid-major programs. Catching the ball consistently at the high-post, the 6’7”, face-up forward used a quick first-step to slash past defenders and finish over late help at the rim. Finishing with 12 points and six rebounds, Ajayi possesses all the physical tools to be a force at the next level if he can focus on sustaining a consistent level of energy to match his impressive skill-set.
Brian Rouse (REDA) - A smooth, explosive athlete, the 6’3” Rouse used his quickness and length to attack the basket from the wing and score on a variety of mid-range pull-ups and acrobatic finishes at the rim. While effortlessly getting into the paint on several occasions, equally impressive was the poise Rouse displayed once getting there, as he consistently recognized help on-time and created easy dump-down scores without charging. Finishing with a game-high 20 points, Rouse’s composure and efficiency on the perimeter was a major factor in REDA being able to withstand a furious, late-game comeback behind a series of Next Level threes and hang on for the two-point victory.
James Kennedy (Cushing) - Kennedy was a physical force for Cushing on Friday, scoring 12 points in limited action as the Penguins easily handled an under-manned Edouard-Montpetit team missing three of its top players. The BABC-product and Boston University-bound forward man-handled less-physical defenders on the block, scoring on a variety of back-to-the-basket moves and showing great vision in finding open cutters and shooters spotting-up on the weak side. Extending his range and continuing to develop a more-polished jab-series will help diversify Kennedy’s arsenal as an aggressive scorer and make him a difficult cover for America East defenders struggling to match his blend of physicality and quickness.
Ben Hamill (Cushing) - Hamill was a prolific shot-maker for Cushing in the first half on Friday, knocking down four threes in the game’s opening 20 minutes en route to a team-high 16 points. Spacing himself well of dribble-penetration, the 6’1” combo-guard prepared himself well before the catch and showed a solid understanding of reading defenders on various screen-actions to get free for open looks.
Patrick Ackerman (Worcester Academy) - The 6’11”, Penn State-commit impressed on Friday with his rim-to-rim running ability and high-motor around the basket. While showing his trademark touch from 10-12 feet, Ackerman was more-than-willing to mix it up physically with Nia’s interior players and battled for rebounds out of his area on several occasions to give his team extra possessions. With an added 15-20 pounds of muscle to go with his college-ready skill-set, Ackerman has the opportunity to be a versatile, face-up post player down the road in the Big Ten.
Tavon Allen (Worcester Academy) - Shaking off a series of turnovers early, Allen’s distinction as the most explosive athlete on the floor steadily revealed itself during Worcester’s blow-out win over Nia Prep on Friday. The Drexel-commit showed off a solid, left-handed stroke from behind the arc and finished consistently with both hands above the rim off creative drives from the wing. At 6’7”, Allen’s supreme length and athleticism allow him to pressure the ball defensively and get in passing lanes for steals, and, while his offensive skill-set is still developing, he has all the tools necessary to be a dynamic player for Bruiser Flint next year in the Atlantic 10.
Jerel Scott (Worcester Academy) - If Allen was the most prolific athlete on the floor in Worcester’s match-up with Nia Prep on Friday, then Scott was a close second. The 6’5” wing was dynamite in transition, using his natural end-to-end speed to run past defenders on the break and finish above the rim on several occasions. Still extremely raw offensively, Scott (18 points) uses his length and athleticism to attack the rim from various angles on the wing and if he can begin to incorporate a consistent perimeter jumper into his game, opposing defenders will have a tough decision between defending him at the arc and trying to keep him in-front off-the-dribble.
Maurice Harkless (South Kent) - Kiski had absolutely no answer for the elite brand of athleticism and finishing ability Harkless featured throughout Friday’s chaotic, up-and-down contest. The future St. John’s forward dazzled with his strength and quick-bounce around the rim, dominating the glass on both ends and finishing above and through contact to score with ease and get to the line. Already possessing tremendous upside at the next level, adding a consistent perimeter jumper and expanding his face-up game to be able to consistently create his own shot from the wing will only enhance the problems he’ll present to opposing defenders down the road in the Big East.
Anthony Jernigan (South Kent) - Jernigan flourished in the frantic style of play that ensued in South Kent’s victory over Kiski, utilizing his supreme quickness and ball-handling ability to jet past defenders in transition and thread-the-needle on multiple occasions for well-executed scores. While he lacks the size and complete offensive skill-set to create high-percentage looks for himself in the half-court, Jernigan’s speed and cleverness with the basketball in the open floor is perfectly suited to orchestrate a line-up full of long, athletic finishers on the wings.
Bradon Bos (Kiski) - Bos was the best guard on the floor during multiple stretches against South Kent on Friday, countering the strength and quickness of bigger defenders with a tight handle, high basketball I.Q., and solid understanding of how to create his own shot. Knocking down a series of NBA-range threes in the first half, Bos mixed in an effective shot-fake with change-of-pace dribble moves to maneuver into the paint, play with poise, and locate open scorers.
Casey Carroll (Kiski) - In Friday’s most complete offensive performance, Carroll exploded for 29 points in Kiski’s loss to South Kent. The 6’8”, hybrid-forward scored in every way possible, knocking down perimeter jumpers, finishing above the rim in transition, and driving past defenders off a polished jab series to create contact in the lane. Perhaps more impressive than his production on offense was the tenacity Carroll showed in battling South Kent’s talented group of physical forwards, anchoring his under-manned team’s effort defensively and on the glass for a full 40 minutes.
Tyrus Weaver (Leadership Prep) - Despite being undersized at just 5’10”, Weaver, who recently joined Leadership after starting the year at Putnam Science Academy, was a constant presence on Friday on both ends of the floor with his quickness and tireless motor. Defensively, he pressures the ball for 94-feet and looks for opportunistic trapping opportunities in run-and-jump situations to create steals with his length and anticipation. An outstanding outside shooter dating back to his playing career at Windsor High (CT), he attacks close-outs to consistently get in the lane and score the ball through contact.
Mike Dwyer (Leadership Prep) - At 6’5”, Dwyer is a touch undersized on the interior, but makes up for it with his toughness and quick-bounce around the rim. Constantly active around the basket, he got his hands on several offensive rebounds and loose balls against TAAG on Friday, showing strong hands and a powerful base in gaining possession of the basketball, elevating to the rim, and either finishing through contact or getting to the line.
Anthony Henry (Putnam Science Academy) - A 6’2”, versatile wing, Henry was impressive early in Putnam Science’s win over Phase I on Friday, showing a smooth stroke from the perimeter and filling lanes in transition to be on the receiving end of several athletic finishes above the rim. With a strong frame and explosive bounce, Henry has a natural feel for scoring the ball and has the length and quickness to be a lock-down defender at the next level.
Wilson Arob (Putnam Science Academy) - A 6’9” wide-body on the interior, Arob was extremely active on Friday against Phase I, running the floor in transition and catching the ball in traffic to finish above the rim with authority. Working hard in the half court to establish position, he caught the ball deep on several occasions and showed a nice touch with a short, half-hook over either shoulder.
Johneil Simpson (Phase 1) - An impressive athlete in the class of 2012, Simpson was aggressive on both ends of the floor on Friday, defending multiple positions, rebounding the ball with volume, and scoring through contact above the rim. With a progressing perimeter skill-set and added physical maturity, projects as a good-looking, quick-forward prospect down the road.
Next Level (ON) 69 REDA (ON) 71
Cushing (MA) 72 Edouard Montpetit (TO) 42
Worcester Academy 58 (MA) Nia Prep International (NJ) 38
South Kent 97 (CT) Kiski (PA) 83
TAAG (FL) 82 Leadership Prep (CT) 69
Putnam Science Academy (CT) 71 Phase 1 (TO) 65