Basketball Recruiting - Chick-fil-A Classic: Shaw's Takeaways
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Chick-fil-A Classic: Shaw's Takeaways

Braelon Green
Braelon Green

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The week after Christmas is a hoop-head’s favorite week of the year. High school tournaments across the country bring together the best talent and put them under one roof. No event brought together more talent than the Chick-fil-A Classic in South Carolina.

This year's event featured a major upset in the first round, standout performances from Braelon Green and M.J. Rice and a breakout freshman at a familiar school. Rivals.com’s Jamie Shaw was courtside to take in this year’s action.

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2022 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

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Braelon Green is back from injury

Green has missed the last seven months with a shoulder injury. The 6-foot-2 guard is now back, showcasing why he is the No. 70-ranked player in the 2023 Rivals150. Green’s reputation is centered around his explosion, and he has earned that. He had three dunk attempts in this one - all misses - that left the crowd buzzing and would have shut the gym down had he connected.

Green is still shaking off some rust with Glendale (Ariz.) Dream City Christian. Watching him from an evaluation standpoint, as he settled into the game's flow, you see he has a smooth pull-up jump shot and he can touch the paint and make a play. He made some nice reads after penetrating drives and he played aggressive defense both on and off the ball.

Green says he has visited Michigan State and Arizona State and spoke highly of both programs.

“I want to go somewhere that has a family atmosphere, where I can bring my family back to, possibly move there, and build a legacy at that school,” he said.

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M.J. Rice shows off a complete game  

Since his freshman year, M.J. Rice has been a name on the national radar. Each year, the 6-foot-5 wing has continued to improve pieces of his game. Naturally, Rice carries a solid and well-put-together frame. He has good length and is very explosive. Rice showcased an improved 3-point shot at the showcase, knocking them down both off the bounce and off the catch. The release point was consistent, and the balance was true.

Rice has always had a comfortable handle. While he is at his best in driving straight lines to the rim, he showed a good pace and noticeable patience in this one, moving the ball and picking his spots to attack. Defensively, Rice has the frame and athleticism to guard multiple positions and he showed well here in the passing lanes.

Rice finished with a game-high 17 points on 3-for-6 shooting from three in the win. He is committed to Kansas, and with the current success of senior wing Ochai Agbaji, Kansas seems like an excellent fit.

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  Takai Simpkins spearheads the upset  

If you have been paying attention to our Rivals updates this is not the first time you have heard of the Charlotte (N.C.) Liberty Heights guard. Standing 6-foot-3, Simpkins has no real holes in his offensive game. In the upset win over Huntington (W.V.) Prep, the unsigned senior finished with 18 points (6--for-13 from the field, 6-for-6 from free throw). He is lengthy and explosive with a smooth jump shot and is a true three-level scorer. After his game, Simpkins made it to the event’s 3-point shooting contest finals. Carrying a single D-I offer - from North Carolina A&T - Simpkins should become a very trendy name during the Late Signing Period.

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Seth Hubbard shines   

While Huntington (W.V.) Prep came out flat in its first-round matchup against Charlotte (N.C.) Liberty Heights, Hubbard was possibly the best player of the day. He finished with an event-high 36 points while shooting 14-for-21 from the field with four rebounds and five assists.

The attractive part of Hubbard’s game is the steady nature with which he plays. He is comfortable both on and off the ball. The 6-foot-3 guard was 6-for-10 from 3-point range, showing deep range with outstanding balance. He also showed an aptitude as a true combo guard, handing the ball and getting his team into sets.

Hubbard currently claims offers from East Carolina, Wichita State, Middle Tennessee State, UAB and UNC-Wilmington. Expect that list to expand and possibly raise if he continues to stack together games like this.

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Danny Carbuccia is an electric freshman  

While watching White Plains (N.Y.) Archbishop Stepinac, you notice a compact guard who always has the ball in his hands and plays with a little extra flair. After multiple jump shots and paint-touch finishes, you look at the roster to see Danny Carbuccia is only a freshman. Stepinac is the same school that produced UNC guard RJ Davis. In 30 minutes during a come-from-behind win, Carbuccia finished tied for a team-high 13 points while adding three rebounds and two steals.

“I do a little bit of everything. I play defense, create for my teammates, and score for myself," he said. "I try to put my team in the best situation to win. I am working on my consistency right now, staying the same from game to game.”