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Chick-Fil-A Classic: Evans' Thursday Notebook

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COLUMBIA, SC. – The 17th annual Chick-Fil-A Classic got off to a great start on Thursday as some of the best from the upcoming classes descended upon the Richland Northeast High grounds. Dalen Terry, BJ Boston and emerging guard Aaron Estrada were just a few that impressed, CJ Wilcher made a push for a better recruitment, and a recap on the number two and three players in America.

CJ WILCHER'S TRUMP CARD

The need for shot makers has never been as a valuable than the current moment due to the reliance on the 3-point shot. That doesn’t hurt CJ Wilcher as the stronger bodied wing did what he always has done, which was make shots and in an efficient manner. Wilcher didn’t have a ton of space to get his shot off in the first half as he attempted just four perimeter jumpers but the fact that he was so willing to let the game come to him and not force the issue shows major maturity in the Rivals150 prospect. That patience was rewarded in the second half and thanks to Wilcher’s ability to move off of the ball and also use his polished footwork to get the proper spacing that he needed, he left a heavy mark on the game.

He finished with 19 points and converted five 3-pointers. He is a tough, competitive and smart wing that can take over a game with his jumper but has also improved in the playmaking department. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wilcher become one of the more recruited junior wings on the east coast due to his shooting alone but count Cincinnati, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Xavier as the five schools that have invested the most into his recruitment thus far.

NUMBER 2 & 3 IMPRESS

James Wiseman has been knocked for his shaky motor in the past but one wouldn’t have thought that on Thursday. Against an undermanned St. Frances bunch, Wiseman matched the Baltimore squad’s toughness and then some. Whether it was going up and snatching boards in traffic, repeatedly rejecting shots from in and out of his area, or throwing down authoritative dunks, it was a solid step forward for the Memphis bound star. While he wasn’t shy about getting his shots up and must do a better job in picking the time and place to shoot the perimeter attempt, Wiseman backed up his claim that he is one of the very best nationally which only works more in the favor for Penny Hardaway in his attempt to resuscitate the Tigers’ brand.

The top available senior in America, Anthony Edwards, had some good and bad on display. To begin with the latter, Edwards needs to become a better starter. He settled way too often for the contested perimeter attempt and while he has the firepower and abilities to make some of the more difficult shots out there, an aggressive Edwards is a great Edwards. That aggressiveness was put into effect in the second half where, for a five minute spurt, was straight NBA Jam flamethrower mode. In a rather dismal contest for his own standards, Edwards still finished with 27 points and seven rebounds as UNC’s Roy Williams and an assistant from Georgia was on hand. The Bulldogs are the only program to have hosted for an official visit thus far as Tom Crean is expected in for him tomorrow.

BOSTON EXPANDS GAME

A top-10 prospect in the 2020 class, BJ Boston played the part on Thursday despite his team going down in defeat. A long and slender wing that can play all three perimeter positions on the offensive end, while Boston has become known for his vast scoring abilities, he does not lack for a feel or vision, either. He ran the high-ball screen to precision and made timely passes within the early offense that made one believe that he has the chance to be a worthwhile secondary ballhandler at the next level.

However, Boston remains best in a scoring capacity. His feathery jumper and shifty dribble-drive abilities were on full display, that along with his now patented Euro-Step that would make Manu Ginobili jealous. A three-level scorer, Alabama, Auburn, Duke, Florida, Kentucky and Ohio State are the most talked about programs with Boston and after being forced to cancel his visit to Florida last month, there is a chance that he could head to Gainesville in the early portion of 2019. A commitment is not near, though it could take place much sooner than those as heavily as regarded in the 2020 class.

DEFENSIVE PROWESS OF DALEN TERRY

While his final box score numbers weren’t eye-popping, it would be a giant disservice to Dalen Terry if we weren’t to remark on just how good he was on the defensive end. Very rarely do we find high school prospects show the desire and even further, the willingness to exert so much energy in guarding the ball. Blessed with great size and length for a perimeter weapon, the top-40 junior has lockdown defender written all over him. A number of times he sat down, harassed his opponent and either forced the errant pass or the five-second call. Toss in Terry’s facilitating abilities on the offensive end and smooth approach and what you have is one of the best multi-positional perimeter prospects in the 2020 class. He has already taken an official visit to Utah as Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Marquette, Memphis, USC and Washington are just a few others that remain heavy in pursuit.

ARIZONA'S SCARY BACKCOURT

A minor step-back year in Tucson, it will be more of a one-year ordeal for the Wildcats thanks to their top ranked 2019 class. The least rated prospect of the four-man group would be someone else’s gem where Terry Armstrong looked the part of a 1,000-point scorer at Arizona. A 6-foot-6, smooth and skilled scoring wing, the Michigan native filled it up on Thursday. Finishing with game high honors of 24 points off of just nine shots from the floor, imagining the variety of lineups that Sean Miller will be able to throw out onto the court next season is beyond intriguing. Brandon Randolph, Brandon Williams, Nico Mannion, Josh Green and Armstrong should create one of the most dynamic and talented perimeter groups in the college game and catapult the Wildcats into potential national title talk.

JALEN DUREN IS ELITE

Jalen Duren is regarded as one of the best prospects to come out of the famed Roman Catholic High program within the past 20 years. His team went down in defeat on Thursday but to no fault of his own. A 6-foot-9, well-proportioned and active frontline prospect, Duren is one of the best defenders that I have seen at the respective stage in his development. For a freshman to understand how to defend the high ball screen, call out defensive coverages as a helpside guy, and also protect his team’s goal with authority equates to elite level stuff in my book. He finished with 13 rebounds and five blocks and if his offensive confidence ever matches up to his defensive tenacity, what we have is a complete game changer in Duren.

SLEEPER EMERGES OUT OF JERSEY

It was a night and day outing for Aaron Estrada. Practically a no-name headed into Thursday’s affair, his first half was rather ho-hum as he chipping in just three points compared to four turnovers. The next 16 minutes reflected a totally different story of what the hidden guard out of Jersey can do. Finishing with 20 points off of an 8-of-11 shooting outing from the floor, Estrada is likely the next out of Mark Taylor’s St. Benedict’s program to see his recruitment heighten tenfold. East Carolina offered towards the end of July joining Robert Morris and Wagner but his showing on Wednesday has brought newer attention from South Carolina and Tulane. Don’t be surprised whenever many more jump into the picture.