The inaugural Best Buy Mile High Classic, held in Lakewood, Colorado, is now in the books, with Sunday’s tournament play crowning champions in four age divisions, from 17-U to 14-U. As is typical in weekend tournaments, the championship and tournament games featured prospects overcoming fatigue to excel in front of the present college coaches, and win games. The representation of college coaches at the tournament included coaches from the Pac-12, Mountain West, Big 12, WCC, Big Sky, Summit and several other D-1 leagues, which is impressive for a first year tournament.
Utah Hoops takes 16-U title in contested game
With Texas D-1 Amabassadors (Morse) cruising to a 17-U title, and Minnesota Pump n Run doing the same in the 15-U championship, the 16-U match-up featured the only close game. With both teams fighting through tired legs, Utah Hoops snuck by Minnesota Pump n Run 16s, 60-58.
A JP Macura 3-point shot tied the game for Minnesota Pump n Run with 16 seconds left, at 58 all. Utah Hoops had the ball on their half of the court, with 6′-3″ guard Sam Merrill making an in bounds pass. He got the ball in bounds, and almost immediately got in back. Merrill did what he was doing all day, and took the ball to the rack for a lay-up with only seconds left.
Minnesota Pump n Run pushed to get back in the game for the entire second half, with 2015 lead guard Jarvis Johnson setting up his teammates well, and 6′-2″ guard Dennis Austin getting to the line from shots in the paint late in the contest. Throughout the entire game, though, 6′-9″ center Brekkott Chapman was difficult to stop inside for Utah Hoops, and used his finesse and soft touch to keep putting points on the board.
Utah Hoops was a fundamentally sound team that continued to battle throughout the tournament. With several strong wins, they proved to be a force within tournament play. To get to the title game, Utah Hoops beat Colorado Chaos Elite, while Minnesota Pump n Run knocked off the Colorado Hawks.
Team play spurs Texas D-1 Ambassadors (Morse) to 17-U championship
In the end, one of the pre-seeded teams took the 17-U tournament, but it wasn’t one that was expected to do so. A team full of shooters and sound players, Texas D-1 Ambassadors (Morse) passed all tests in tournament play, and won the title behind an impressive 85-60 victory over Danny Granger Select. Both squads featured rosters that relied on strong performances from unsigned 2012 prospects, and with several junior college, low-major and other colleges closely watching, those players may have earned themselves an opportunity to play college basketball.
- John Gramlich, 6′-0″, 2013, PG, Texas D1 Ambassadors-Morse/Anderson (TX) – Capable of creating his own shot with the ball in his hands, or raining 3-pointers in catch and shoot situations, Gramlich’s outside shooting prowess was a large factor in his team knocking off the favored Danny Granger Elite team in the quarterfinals. He hit needed 3-pointers as time on the clock diminished, and was also steady in hitting free throws to ice the game. Not surprisingly, he also hit clutch free throws in an upset semifinal victory over Minnesota Pump n Run 17s.
- De’Ron Davis, 6′-8″, 2016, PF, Colorado Hawks 15s/Overland (CO) – While middle school basketball players are not normally covered on this site, Davis is an exception and has excelled against high school players for some time. A nationally elite big man, Davis continues to add to his game, which is scary because he still hasn’t started attending high school. His range on his shot now extends to almost the 3-point line, and he has developed his handle to go hand-in-hand with his post game. While he struggled physically at times against 2015 standout Henry Ellenson, his athletic gifts also shined through. When other national talent evaluators catch Davis in action, he will blow up. Until then, remember where you read about him first.
- Brekkott Chapman, 6′-9″, 2014, C, Utah Hoops/Roy (UT) – The find of the day on Sunday, Chapman is a highly-skilled, finesse-oriented big man that should immediately be tracked by mid-majors and up. He has nice shooting stroke, several consistent post moves, and can pass the ball extremely well. His left-handed finishes near the rack were nearly impossible for opposing defenders to stop. Chapman has an average frame and athleticism, but excels on the court due to his skill level and fundamentals.
- Jeremiah Paige, 6′-3″, 2014, PG/SG, Colorado Hawks 16s/Rangeview (CO) – With Wyoming, Colorado, Colorado State, and many others keeping a close eye on his game, Paige presents as a lithe but explosive combo guard. He has great intangibles, and is a worker on the floor. His bounce is legitimate, and he is a slasher/penetrator with the ball. At times, he showed signs of running a team as a lead guard, though his greatest instinct is to score with the ball in his hands.
- Ian Theisen, 6′-9″, 2014, C, Minnesota Pump n Run 17s/Osseo (MN) – Like fellow 2014 prospect and teammate Reid Travis (who was stellar on Sunday and was included in the Friday recap), Theisen is a big man that could have a Big Ten future with continued development. He rebounds his area, and has a nice stroke that extends beyond the paint. With a frame that looks like it can add some extra strength, he’s worth tracking as a “4” or “5” with solid potential.
- Sam Merrill, 6′-3″, 2014, PG/SG, Utah Hoops/Bountiful (UT) – Like his teammate Chapman, Merrill has an unassuming demeanor but a highly-skilled game. He is capable with the ball in his hands, and is adept at both mid-range to outside shooting, and on takes to the paint. With suitable size and court vision, Merrill played exceedingly well, especially in tight situations.
- Amir Coffey, 6′-6″, 2016, SF, Minnesota Pump n Run 15s/Hopkins (MN) – Like Davis above, Coffey’s success against current high school players earns him mention, though he’s not officially a high schooler just yet. The left handed wing forward can consistently hit the outside shot, and is capable on runners and off the dribble. Reportedly the son of a former Minnesota hoopster, Coffey lets the game come to him and has the potential to be a terrific prospect going forward.
- Marshawn Wilson, 6”-2″, 2015, SG, Minnesota Pump n Run 15s/Tartan (MN) – With notable inside-outside offense, Wilson is strong for his frame and shows solid versatility and athleticism.
- Kennedy Littleton, 6′-4″, 2013, SG, Next Level Elite 17s/Cherokee Trail (CO) – Was relentless in attacking the hoop from the perimeter on in. He has a knack for scoring, and a slender frame.
- Brenden Mann, 6′-3″, 2013, SG, Team Denver/Chatfield (CO) – Team Denver lost in the semifinals to Danny Granger Select, but Mann was a leading scorer and played extremely tough for a team that could have made the finals.
- Alex Frame, 6′-7″, 2013, SF/PF, Texas D1 Amabassadors-Ivany/Anderson (TX) – Long, active combo forward got the rack and played with intensity.
- Brady Baer, 6′-3″, 2014, SG, Colorado Chaos Elite 16s/Akron (CO) – Long range shooter hit shots with a regularity to get offense going.
- Jarvis Johnson, 6′-1″, 2015, PG, Minnesota Pump n Run 16s/De La Salle (MN) – Consummate point guard with good quicks and athleticism has tightened up his shot since last viewing.
- Alex Coleman, 6′-7″, 2014, PF, Colorado Hawks 16s/Kennedy (CO) – Terrific outside shooter, moves well as a face-up forward and has a chance.
- Paul Friendshuh, 6′-9″, 2014, C, Minnesota Pump n Run 16s/New Prague (MN) – True big man showed soft touch and range, as well as solid interior play, indicating he’s worth tracking.
- Austin Conway, 5′-9″, 2015, PG, Colorado Hawks 15s/Overland (CO) – With an extra burst and knack for getting to the hoop, Conway had good decision making and is a steady point prospect.
- Cameron Beards, 5′-5″, 2015, PG, Colorado Miners Gold 15s/Regis Jesuit (CO) – The undersized lead guard was terrific in a semifinal game against Minnesota Pump n Run 15s.
- Nick Tartaglia, 6′-2″, 2012, SG, Danny Granger Select/Rio Rancho (NM) – Electric rim attacker with tight handle.
- Andre Hughes, 6′-7″, 2012, PF, Texas D1 Ambassadors-Ivany/Harker Heights (TX) – Solid rebounder and moves well.
- Drew Wikelius, 6′-6″, 2012, SF, Texas D1 Ambassadors-Morse/Westlake (TX) – Good handle and shooter, can stretch the floor.
- 17-U: Texas D-1 Ambassadors-Morse
- 16-U: Utah Hoops
- 15-U: Minnesota Pump n Run
- 14-U: Colorado Elite
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.