Hoop Mountain Prep Classic: Sunday Recap
The Hoop Mountain Prep Classic saved their best for last as Sunday’s action featured an overwhelming amount of talent and some tremendous games. There was a healthy collection of college coaches on hand to watch the action including some of New England’s best in UConn, Providence, UMass, Rhode Island, Boston University, Quinnipiac, New Hampshire, Dartmouth, and others.
Game of the Day - Putnam Science 64 Winchendon 63
In a match-up between two teams loaded with explosive, highly-skilled players on the perimeter, Winchendon locked up with a local Putnam Science team looking to bounce-back from a tough overtime loss to St. Andrew’s on Friday night. With the trio of Xavier Pollard, Amadou Bah, and Corbyn Moye knocking down three-point shots early against a stagnant Putnam Science zone in the half court, Winchendon would grind out a 24-20 lead midway through the first half. Putnam Science would come alive after a pair of game-changing dunks in transition by Wilson Arob and Anthony Henry that would ignite the crowd and spark a 10-0 run over the next six minutes to give the Mustangs a five-point lead, at 29-24, with just over five minutes to play in the first half. With 6’4” Desmond Williams knocking down shots from three and attacking the rim off the dribble, Putnam Science would keep pace with an up-tempo Winchendon offense, before a Bah three from the right-wing at the halftime buzzer would give his team a three-point lead, at 34-31, heading into the locker room.
The opening minutes of the second have would feature a physical, back-and-forth affair highlight by the play of Putnam Science point-guard Zaquan Nelson, who attacked a pressing Winchendon defense with a pair of aggressive drives to the basket and a pull-up three in transition. After multiple lead-changes on mini-runs from both teams, a Williams three would push the Mustang lead to five, at 54-49, with seven minutes left to play. Back-to-back three-pointers from Moye and Dennis Green would tie the game at 61, before Moye would convert again on a mid-range pull-up in transition to give Winchendon a two-point, 63-61 lead with 3:30 to go. Arob would pull Putnam Science even at 63, with just over a minute to play, but after a controversial loose-ball foul on Winchendon, Mustang freshman Tyree Robinson would connect on the first of two free-throws to give his a team a 64-63 lead with under 10 seconds to play. After missing his second attempt, the 6’5” forward hustled back in transition and, in perhaps the play of the day, emphatically pinned a last-second lay-in effort by Winchendon off the backboard at the buzzer to preserve his team’s one-point victory.
Williams finished with a game-high 25 points and nine rebounds for Putnam Science, to go along with an impressive nine-point, 10-board, six-block performance from Robinson. Moye led a balanced Winchendon effort with 13.
Game of the Night - Cushing Academy 76 Vermont Academy 70
In the final game of the evening on Sunday, a high-energy Vermont Academy team locked up with a deep, balanced squad from Cushing in what turned out to be a highly-competitive end to this year’s event. Cushing’s backcourt trio of Kyle Callanan, Jared Johnson, and Ben Hamill would open the first half knocking down a series of perimeter shots against Vermont Academy’s scrambling 1-3-1 zone, stretching the defense early and creating space for Boston University-bound forward James Kennedy to get loose underneath for easy scores. With Cushing threatening to extend its lead to double-digits midway through the first half, Vermont would stay close behind the dynamic scoring ability of sophomore Daquein McNeil, who displayed supreme athleticism and creativity off-the-bounce in getting into the lane at will and finishing over defenders in traffic. Closing out the half with a series of well-executed plays on offense, a big three from Connor Merrill would cut the Cushing lead to four, at 39-35, heading into the break.
Vermont Academy would open the second half on a quick, seven to one run capped by a corner three from 6’6” forward Ryan Romich that would give the Tigers the lead briefly, at 42-40. A jumper by Andrew Chrabascz, followed by a deep three from Hamill, would stretch the Cushing lead back to five, at 47-42, and set the stage for a gritty, back-and-forth affair that would see Vermont Academy desperately trying to get stops in order capitalize on its effectiveness on the offensive-end. With super-talented combo-guard Martin Dixon-Green starting to create plays off high ball-screen action in the half court, a three by Merrill, followed by a driving lay-up by point-guard Keron DeShields, would tie the game at 58 with under five minutes remaining. Several possessions later, Romich would drill a three to cut Cushing lead to one, at 64-63, with 3:04 remaining, but that’s as close as the Tigers would get, as subsequent perimeter jumpers from Kennedy and Callanan would maintain the Penguins’ lead, at 68-66, and allow them to hold on for a hard-fought, 76-70 victory after a series of late free-throws.
Hamill would lead four Cushing players in double-figures with a game-high 22 points, followed by 21 from Chrabascz, 13 from Kennedy, and 11 from Callanan. Romich finished an impressive performance with 19 points to lead Vermont, with McNeil and Merrill also reaching double-figures with 15 and 13 respectively.
Kassim Kabba (Nia Prep International)- Kabba was one of few Nia Prep players able to connect from the perimeter in its win over Phase 1 on Sunday, knocking down multiple three-point shots and mixing in a series of aggressive drives to the basket to lead a balanced offensive effort. A strong, athletic presence with the ball in his hands, Kabba has excellent size at 6’4” and uses his wide-frame to out-physical defenders and rise-up for mid-range pull-ups.
Brian Rouse (REDA)- The 6’3” wing showed off his elite athleticism in the open-floor again on Sunday, slashing past defenders in transition and using a quick-burst to elevate in traffic and score above the rim. Still extremely raw offensively, Rouse will need to improve his ball-skills and perimeter shooting to take full advantage of his resources as a supreme natural athlete at the next level.
Johneil Simpson (Phase 1): Simpson has a tremendous upside as an athletic wing in the class of 2012, showing potential as a lock-down defender and versatile scorer capable of putting up numbers in bunches in transition. If he can develop a better understanding of the game and become more efficient by limiting turnovers off-the-dribble, Simpson (19 points) has the chance to be an enticing prospect for programs looking for an explosive, open-floor scorer.
Stanley Cespedes (Satalite Academy)- After struggling to find his outside stroke early against REDA on Sunday, Cespedes came alive in the second half to connect on multiple shots from behind the arc en route to a game-high 21 points. Showing good lift and balance on his jumper, the 6’1” comb-guard spaces himself well off dribble-penetration and is able to rise-up over contesting defenders to give himself a clean look at the basket. After REDA battled back from a double-digit deficit to pull within two, at 62-60, with under 10 second to play, Cespedes showed terrific mettle in stepping to the line with confidence and hitting two-free throws to seal the victory for his team.
Patrick Ackerman (Worcester Academy)- The 6’10”, Penn-State-commit was extremely active in the paint for Worcester in its win over Kiski on Sunday, working hard to catch the ball freely on the block and go to work with an impressive back-to-back basket game featuring a quick drop-step and soft left-handed hook over his right shoulder. With a body tailor-made for an addition 15-20 pounds of muscle that will be critical to his success down the road in the Big Ten, Ackerman shows an important willingness to mix it up defensively, challenging and blocking shots and playing through contact to rebound the ball in traffic.
Tavon Allen (Worcester Academy)- Held scoreless in the first half against Kiski, Allen exploded after halftime to the tune of 16 points in a dominating offensive performance. With his full offensive arsenal on display, the 6’7” Drexel-commit knocked down shots from behind the arc, elevated over defenders for mind-range pull-ups, and created steals at the top of a swarming Worcester press for easy scores in transition. When Allen plays with type of efficiency he displayed in the final 20 minutes on Sunday, few players in the region can match his level of athletic-versatility on ether of the floor.
David Mack (Worcester Academy)- Mack was active on the glass early for Worcester on Sunday, using his strong-build at 6’6” to out-physical smaller opponents and corral offensive rebounds for second-chance points. Showing a commitment to run rim-to-rim in transition off missed baskets, he caught the ball in traffic and finished through contact on multiple occasions.
Corbyn Moye (Winchendon)- The 6’1” combo-guard excelled hitting shots from behind the arc on Sunday, finding open areas against Putnam Science’s 2-3 zone in the half-court en route to a team-high 13 points. When the Mustangs started to locate him on the perimeter and crowd him at the arc, Moye showed an ability to get to the cup off two hard bounces and finish at the rim.
James Cambronne (Winchendon)- Combining a tireless motor with quick, explosive leaping ability, Cambronne was a menace on the defensive end on Sunday, blocking shots and rebounding the ball in-and-out of his area to start the Winchendon fast break. On offense, he chased down loose balls in the paint for second-chance points and showed an ability to step out to 15-feet and knock down a stand-still jumper.
Desmond Williams (Putnam Science Academy)- After an impressive performance on Saturday against St. Andrew’s in which he more-than held his own against Syracuse-bound guard Michael-Carter Williams, Williams was sensational again on Saturday in Putnam Science’s thrilling victory over Winchendon. The 6’4” combo-guard can flat-out score the basketball, finishing with a game-high 25 points and nine rebounds while showing off a smooth stroke from behind the arc and the ability to get into the lane off-the-dribble and convert with a mix of floaters and acrobatic finishes at the rim. With back-to-back high-caliber performances over the weekend in which he rose to the challenge against high-quality opponents, Williams seized the opportunity to boost his stock as a bona fide scholarship-level prospect .
Tyree Robinson (Putnam Science Academy)- A true freshman in the class of 2014, Robinson is a freak athlete who impressed as an intimidating shot-blocker for Putnam Science on Sunday, using superior leaping ability to consistently deny Winchendon guards at the rim and ignite his team’s fast break. After hitting a free-throw to give Putnam Science a one-point lead with under 10 seconds to play, the 6’5” forward hustled back in transition after missing his second attempt and, in sensational display of raw athleticism, emphatically pinned a last-second lay-in effort by Winchendon off the backboard at the buzzer to preserve his team’s one-point victory.
Zach Chionuma (Marianapolis)- The Boston University-bound guard rose to the challenge against AAA-opponent Bridgton on Sunday, scoring 23 points in a performance highlighted by several dynamic drives to the basket. While Chionuma possesses the quickness and creativity to break his defenders down off-the-dribble in the half-court, he’s at his best running down-hill in the open floor, combining great size at 6’4” with electric end-to-end speed to jet past defenders and finish through contact off two-feet at the rim.
Ousmane Drame (Marianapolis)- Drame was his usual productive self on Sunday against Bridgton, scoring 15 points, to along with 11 rebounds and five assists, on a variety of creative finishes around the rim. He featured a quick spin-move to the baseline on several occasions, putting stationary defenders on his back and elevating for easy scores over late-rotating help.
Scott Elder (Marianapolis)- The 6’8” Australian native was productive with 12 points and eight boards in a supporting role for the Golden Knights, stepping out to 15-feet to hit multiple jumpers and catching the ball in traffic around the rim off guard penetration to finish well-executed dump-downs. A deceptively-skilled, mobile forward, Elder is an intriguing prospect for programs looking to add an efficient, highly productive face-up four-man.
Kareem Canty (Bridgton)- Contained for much of the game’s first 30 minutes on Sunday by an active Marianapolis 2-3 zone that limited his ability to utilize ball-screens and attack off the bounce, the 6’0” led guard led a furious late comeback by Bridgton with a barrage of deep, contested three-point jumpers. Finishing with a game-high 27 points, Canty stayed aggressive after a frustrating start and showed the type of explosive scoring ability that makes him an extremely tough cover as a volume shooter off the dribble.
Michael Carter-Williams (St Andrew’s)- Still struggling to find his rhythm offensively in the first half on Sunday against an athletic, physical Salisbury team rotating several defenders on him, Carter-Williams (20 points) eventually found his stride in the game’s final 20 minutes, connecting on multiple pull-up jumpers from behind the arc and grinding out a series of difficult drives to the basket off sharp left-to-right crossover moves. Even when he’s not at his best, his potential as a big-time scorer and playmaker at the next level for head coach Jim Boeheim is highly-apparent.
Zaid Hearst (Salisbury)- Finishing with a team-high 15 points, the Quinnipiac-bound wing was effective slashing to the basket in Salisbury’s victory over St. Andrew’s on Sunday, using his early success from the three-point line to draw aggressive close-outs and attack them on a regular basis. A strong athlete committed to guarding people defensively, Hearst did an outstanding job of forcing Carter-Williams out of his comfort zone on offense and making him expend a tremendous amount of energy working to get open for touches off-the-ball.
Samuel Dingba (Salisbury)- A highly-impressive young big-man prospect in the class of 2013, the 6’6” forward is an imposing presence on the defensive-end for Salisbury, combining terrific mobility with an intelligent brand of toughness inside that allows him to be physical and disruptive without fouling. Still raw offensively, the fluidity with which Dinga runs the floor and controls his body to rebound and defend aggressively is a positive indication that his progression as a low-post scorer will come steadily with a focus on developing strong hands and a soft touch around the basket through skill-repetition and added game-experience.
John Powell (Brimmer & May)- A long, athletic forward in the class of 2013, Powell was impressive again on Sunday driving the ball to the basket and finishing with his opposite-hand off-the-glass in traffic. The 6’7” forward has all the physical tools to be a dynamic scorer if he can become more efficient and begin forcing defenders to crowd him aggressively at the arc by developing a consistent perimeter jumper.
Jared Fay (Brimmer & May)- Fay was an offensive sparkplug off the bunch for Brimmer & May on Sunday, single-handedly bringing the Gators back from a double-digit second-half deficit with four threes over a five-minute stretch. A fierce competitor on both ends of the floor who gets the absolute most out of his physical ability, the 6’3” guard finished with a team-high 18 points on six of seven shooting from behind the arc.
Jaylen Brantley (Wilbraham & Monson)- The 5’10”combo-guard showed the type of versatile scoring ability that has him generating high-major interest as a pure volume scorer in the class of 2013. Known for his ability to knock down shots in bunches from behind the arc, Brantley is extremely effective using a shot-fake to get bigger defenders in the air and create the small amount of space he needs to get square for an open look. Finishing with a game-high 27 points, Brantley uses quick burst and natural instincts to jump out in passing lanes and create run-out opportunities for himself in transition, where he is very adept at finishing ahead of bigger defenders chasing him down from behind.
Enosch Wolf (Wilbraham & Monson)- The seven-foot UConn-bound center was a factor in the middle for Wilbraham & Monson on Sunday, applying length and physicality to challenge the drives of Brimmer & May guards and rebound the ball consistently in-and-out of his area. Showcasing a good-looking stroke from the free-throw line, Wolf was able to draw contact with strong moves to the basket and be productive at the stripe, finishing the evening with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Ricardo Ledo (South Kent)- In the most impressive half of basketball at this year’s event, Ledo was flat-out sensational in the opening 20 minutes against Lawrence on Sunday, hitting multiple, NBA-range threes with a smooth, effortless stroke and breaking down defenders at will off-the-dribble with his trademark creativity. Like all superior talents, the challenge for Ledo will be to continue to find aspects of his game to improve upon as he prepares himself for the next level, and judging by the fact the he appears to be bringing a more polished brand of basketball to the floor every time out, he seems focused on the fact that his best, most-competitive days playing the game are ahead of him.
Maurice Harkless (South Kent)- Much like Ledo, the St. John’s recruit is a dominant athlete with a college-ready body who shows flashes of spectacular finishing ability above the rim in transition. Catching a pair of emphatic, one-handed lobs against Lawrence, Harkless shows potential to be a consistent shooter from the perimeter, a part of his game that he must become more confident in to be able to create high-percentage offense for himself next year in the Big East.
Marcus Grant (Lawrence Academy)- Committed to Iowa to play football, the 6’4” lefty personified the definition of a volume shooter on Sunday against South Kent, pulling-up from numerous spots across half-court en route to five first half threes against the Cardinal.
Daquein McNeil (Vermont Academy)- The 6’3” wing was a handful with his burst and creativity off the bounce in the first half against Cushing on Sunday, converting on a series of acrobatic finishes in traffic after beating his man with an explosive first-step. Generating a solid amount of high-major interest as a supreme athlete in the class of 2013 with a knack for scoring the ball, the next step is for McNeil is to expand his offensive arsenal to include a perimeter jumper that will create an added dimension of versatility to his game and make it difficult for defenders to identify a single approach with which to guard him.
Connor Merrill (Vermont Academy)- Merrill showed no hesitation on Sunday in taking and knocking down multiple three-point shots off ball-reversal and dribble-penetration, taking advantage of post defenders uncommitted to guarding him out to the arc and respecting his ability to stretch the defense. Despite having bulked up considerably over the past year, he could still afford to add some muscle to his long, 6’6” frame that would allow him to be more physical with players on the block and improve his ability to score the ball through contact near the basket and come up with 50-50 rebounds against wide-body athletes in the paint.
Ryan Romich (Vermont Academy)- Showcasing his trademark high-motor and ability to run the floor with tremendous pace for a player his size, the 6’6” hybrid-forward showed great versatility scoring the ball in a variety of ways in Vermont Academy’s impressive performance against Cushing. Always an effective finisher with either hand running down in hill through traffic, Romich found open space behind the arc in transition to knock down multiple three-point shots in high-percentage, catch-and-shoot opportunities. Finishing with a team-high 19 points, he attacked the basket with limited dribbles from the wing, combining a solid first-step with his impressive length to beat his defender and elevate, extend, and finish over late-rotating help.
Kyle Callanan (Cushing Academy)- A cerebral floor general with good size and polished ball-kills, the 6’3” Vermont native understands how to control tempo and facilitate his team’s offense in a structured, half-court setting. A pass first-point guard who takes care of the basketball while making his fair share of aggressive plays with the pass, Callanan (11 points) does have the ability to hurt teams with his own offense, hitting multiple three-pointers against Vermont Academy on Sunday with a clean stroke from the perimeter. While he lacks the explosive quickness to blow-by defenders on a consistent basis, Callanan will be a nice addition to a program looking for a steady presence, reliable at the lead guard position.
James Kennedy (Cushing)- The 6’7” Boston University commit was a physical load on Sunday night against Vermont Academy, using his massive upper-body and determined want for the basketball to score through contact in the paint and get on the offensive glass for second-chance points. Kennedy’s unique combination of athleticism and desire is never more-evident than on the defensive-end, where he shows a commitment to holding his ground aggressively in the paint without fouling and the versatility to switch onto smaller guards and limit penetration with a physical brand of lateral quickness.
Ben Hamill (Cushing)- Hamill was the difference-maker offensively for Cushing in its hard-fought victory of Vermont Academy on Sunday, scoring a game-high 22 points while displaying a lethal stroke from behind the arc. Possessing a natural knack for scoring the ball, the 6’1” guard was a crafty finisher around the rim on several occasions and was in constant motion on the offensive-end looking for space to get off high-percentage shots.
Phase 1 (TO) 54 Nia Prep International (NJ) 76
Satalite (NY) 62 REDA 66 (ON)
Kiski (PA) 61 Worcester (MA) 75
Winchendon (MA) 63 Putnam Science (CT) 64
Marianapolis (CT) 76 Bridgton (ME) 67
Salisbury (CT) 64 St. Andrews (RI) 51
Brimmer & May (MA) 68 Wilbraham & Monson (MA) 73
South Kent (CT) 79 Lawrence Academy (MA) 44
Vermont Academy 76 (VT) Cushing Academy (MA) 70