On Friday, November 9th, the college basketball season kicked off with must see games in Germany, Brooklyn, and various aircraft carriers. One week later, the high school season kicked off in a small, cozy D-3 gym at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT. The National Prep Showcase started its three day event with many of the top prep schools throughout the nation participating. This event features talented athletes already committed to top D-1 schools (i.e. Indiana Hoosiers, Syracuse Orange, and Louisville Cardinals) along with a plethora of talent trying to give all of the low to mid major D-1 coaches in attendance one final viewing during the early signing period.
Game(s) of the Day:
1A – Wilbraham & Monson 58 Putnam Science 57
Putnam Science put on an exhibition in the first half and led by double-digits. Wilbraham & Monson looked extremely disjointed early on and the game resembled five individuals playing against a cohesive team. Dayton commit Dayshon Smith led the way for Putnam with his nifty dribble drives to the basket where he continuously found open teammates for good looks. Despite the first half struggles of W&M, transfer Goodluck Okonoboh, a former teammate of Nerlens Noel at the Tilton School, stepped up his game and controlled the paint with 8 blocked shots in the first half. While Putnam dominated the first half, W&M came out with a different intensity in the second half and quickly turned a first half deficit into a competitive game. Once the game got close, Smith put Putnam on his shoulders and scored 14 points in the second half as he was unstoppable off the dribble. Smith put his team up one with a nice floater down the late with 1:06 to go and then found a teammate for 3 to go up 55-51. Putnam could have iced the game on the free throw line, but instead some costly misses and turnovers let W&M hang around. With 11 seconds to go, Putnam turned the ball over under its own basket up one point, and Okonoboh was able to hit the game winning lay-up with 1.2 seconds left.
1B – Fishburne Military 64 Northfield Mount Hermon 59
NMH was missing their top player in Zena Edosomwan, a Harvard commit, and did not look to be in the same class as Fishburne Military, led future Memphis Tigers forward Kuran Iverson, a top 40 player in the class of 2013. Despite appearances, NMH moved the ball efficiently and played solid defense to lead the majority of the game. This team featured ivy league commits Anthony Dallier (Yale) and Michael Fleming (Dartmouth), along with Skyler White (not the Breaking Bad character), and Josh Hearlihy (a former Utah Utes commit in 2012). This group effectively shut down Iverson in the first half making him settle for contested and forced jump shots, but they had trouble containing him in the second half as he scored 15 of his 19 points. Iverson hit two free throws with 56 seconds to go to take a two point lead that would not be relinquished. It took the more athletic Fishburne school almost 31 minutes to take the lead, but they dominated the final minute and came away with a five point win.
Terry Rozier, 6’2” 2013 PG, Hargrave Military Academy: Rozier put on a clinic in his first game and should have Louisville fans extremely excited. Rozier is currently ranked #97 by CBS Sports and #84 by Scout; however he will soon be on the move and should settle closer to the #54 ranking that Hoopniks has him at. Rozier had a swagger like Florida Gators guard Kenny Boynton, but while Boynton did his high school damage behind the three point line, Rozier did his aggressively attacking the basket. Rozier used his athleticism and toughness to get by his defender anytime he wanted and used fantastic body control to finish in the lane. Rozier knocked down a corner three in the first half to go along with a one-handed break-away dunk to end the half. Seeing his team’s lead slip away in the 2nd half, Rozier quickly hit a driving lay-up and then on the next possession found an open teammate for three which essentially sealed the victory.
Anton Gill, 6’4” 2013 SG Hargrave Military Academy: Gill was plagued with injuries during the July recruiting session, but looked healthy in his first Showcase game. Gill knocked down several 3’s and finished with 18 points.
Jaylen Brantley, 5’11’ 2013 PG Notre Dame Prep: Despite not being gifted with out of this world speed or length, this crafty pg still found a way to keep ND Prep in the game against Hargrave by knocking down 6 three pointers on his way to 26 points. When Brantley wasn’t knocking down threes he was effective using the pick and roll to get to the basket. Brantley is a smart pg, doesn’t make many mistakes, and is one of the top shooters at his position.
Kuran Iverson, 6’8” 2013 SF Fishburne Military School: Iverson’s first and second half performances closely resembled his high school career: up and down. Iverson struggled in the first half with countless misses on outside jump shots. He also tried to create off the dribble, but had difficulty penetrating against the Yale bound Anthony Dallier. This all changed in the second half as Iverson was seen finishing on the break, hitting short jump shots, getting to the free throw line, and even hitting an eighteen foot step back jump shot. With the game on the line, Iverson could not be contained in isolation situations.
Daniel Dixon, 6’5 2013 SG Fishburne Military School: The former Northern Virginia All-Region selection and William and Mary commit turned some heads with his performance against NMH. With Iverson struggling in the first half, Dixon showed off his skill set by using his quickness to create jump shots for himself along with several drives to the basket. Dixon, and current Tribe guard Marcus Thornton should provide William and Mary athleticism in the backcourt that has not been seen in Williamsburg in recent years.
Dayshon Smith, 6’2” 2013 PG Putnam Science Academy: Smith was right up there with Rozier for player of the day. Smith was unstoppable with the ball in his hands and had the crowd abuzz Friday evening. Along with his forays into the paint, Smith also threw down an impressive one handed alley-oop that got the crowd out of its seat. This would have been the dunk of the day if it were not for Aaric Armstead of La Jolla Prep (see below).
Goodluck Okonoboh, 6’9’ 2014 C Wilbraham & Monson: Okonoboh is easily compared to Nerlens Noel with his unique flat top and ability to block shots and he certainly did his best Noel impression on the first day. Okonoboh was not just blocking shots in the first half; he was almost playing volleyball with them. After a few of these monstrous blocks, Okonoboh was soon affecting shots even when they were not blocked. While he put on a dominating defensive performance, Okonoboh still showed that he is raw on the offensive end with several misses down low and a lack of a go to post move. Despite this, he has shown improvement from the previous high school and AAU seasons. Okonoboh hit a key basket in the final minute and then made the game winning lay-up.
Players to keep an eye on:
Luis David Montero, 6’5” 2015 SG Wilbraham & Monson: Montero was extremely impressive for only being a sophomore. A very long and lean, 6’5” Montero hit several three pointers and looked comfortable playing on the wing and bringing the ball up the court. He also used his length to finish in traffic. Montero picked up a technical foul while guarding Dayshon Smith and will need to work on keeping his emotions in check as he goes forward.
Mustapha Heron, 6’5” 2016 SF Wilbraham & Monson: If you didn’t know who Heron was you would probably think that he was a junior or senior. Heron played a key part during his team’s come from behind victory and even did a respectable job guarding Smith in the second half. Heron already has the athletic ability and his confidence is sure to grow over the years.
Dunk of the Day:
Aaric Armstead, 6’5” 2013 SG La Jolla Prep: Formerly a Chicago star at Hales Franciscan and an all-state selection in California as a senior, Armstead is now at La Jolla Prep and threw down the dunk of the day:
Day Two Game to Watch:
New Hampton vs. Hargrave: Indiana commit Noah Vonleh goes up against the Louisville duo of Hargrave.--------------------------------------------
For those fans that wish college basketball was a year-round sport, the College Basketball Newcomers Guide paperback and Kindle book previews the incoming recruits for every team nationally. There’s no need to wait until Fall to learn about the new names in college basketball that will be starring on the hardwood.