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City of Palms: Porter impresses

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Day one at the City of Palms Classic was headlined by the play of the nation's
No. 3 ranked junior, Michael Porter of Columbia (Mo.) Father Tolton.
I was impressed with...
The 6-foot-8, 190-pound Porter plays with ease. That is not to say that he
doesn't play hard, just that he makes the game look easy. He has one of the
prettiest jump shots around but doesn't settle for jumpers. Porter connected for
34 points on just 17 field goal attempts against Lehigh Acres (Fla.) Lehigh High
School. He is long, agile and quick in the open floor, Porter has long arms and
collects rebounds -- he had 17 for the day and 11 in the first half. He also has
a knack for getting to the free throw line where he connected on 15-of-16
attempts.
Al-Wajid Aminu was efficient scoring 18 points on seven-of-eight shooting. He
scored at the basket, in the mid-range and knocked down a three-pointer. Aminu
scored 13 of his points in the second half, nine in the decisive third quarter
when Wheeler pulled away from Wesleyan Christian (N.C.). The North Florida commit
made hustle plays at both ends of the floor and displayed good decision making
with the ball in his hands. Knee injuries slowed Aminu over the past two season,
but he's finally healthy and playing without a knee brace. the The younger
brother of NBA player Al-Farouq Aminu, Al-Wajid will need to add strength but he
is very athletic and his face-up game will work well at North Florida.
After scoring eight of his team's first 11 points, West Linn (Ore.) point guard
Payton Pritchard cooled off under the relentless defensive pressure put on him
by Miami Norland, until the game was out of reach. The Oregon signee never
showed frustration and continued to deliver on target passes to open teammates
but their shots were not falling. Meanwhile Pritchard's dribble drive was
repeatedly cut off by Norland's help defense as they applied a group effort to
keep Pritchard from getting to the cup. He did score 20 points but he needed 22
field goal attempts to get there. Surrounded by better talent at the next level,
Pritchard should be an excellent facilitator for the Ducks.
Kevin Knox has hit jumpers, scored at the rim and facilitated for teammates.
Defensively he's capable of grabbing rebounds, leading the break, finding a
teammate in transition or finish the break himself. Skills that landed Knox
recent offers from both Duke and North Carolina. Steve Robinson was in the gym
Friday to see and be seen by Knox who filled up the stat sheet with 27 points,
12 rebounds, two assists one block and one steal.
Miami (Fla.) Norland Power forward Dewan Huell continues to live up to his
five-star ranking. The athletic forward runs the floor as well as a guard but his
face-up game continues to improve. Norland used a suffocating defense that
limited West Linn (Ore.) to just three second quarter points. When Huell flushed
one home early in the third quarter he had as many points as his opponents. His
length and athleticism are exceptional and will fit in well at Miami and in the
ACC. Huell finished with 24 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
Chino Hills (Calif.) senior point guard Lonzo Ball did a little bit of everything
for his No. 6 ranked (USA Today) team in a win over Thomas Jefferson (N.Y.). He
looked to get his teammates involved whenever he could using his elite court
vision to make crisp passes he should his quickness and his ability to finish
above the rim. Ball finished with 22 points, 10 assists, five rebounds, five
steals, five blocks -- including two blocks with 3.1 seconds left to preserve
the Chino Hills victory -- and just three turnovers, while playing every minute
in a game that featured a combined 181 points. He is a big time pick up for
Steve Alford at UCLA.
I was surprised by...
Wake Forest-bound point guard Brandon Childress was very good getting into the
paint to create for his teammates. Unfortunately High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan
Christian couldn't capitalize against the Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler defense.
Childress knows when to push it and when to bring it back out and set up their
half court offense. Although he didn't shoot it very well Friday, Childress got
to the free throw line consistently and finished with 19 points, six rebounds,
three assists and three steals in just 24 minutes. Childress has very good
anticipation on defense.
UCLA 2017 commit LiAngelo Ball may play in the shadow of his five-star brother
but the Chino Hills junior is a high level scorer with the versatility to play
either small forward or slide over one spot and be a big shooting guard. Ball
showed good footwork in the post along with a determination to extend
possessions by gobbling up offensive rebounds -- he had six. "Gelo's" 28 points
led Chino Hills in their win.
Another younger brother to a big-time player, Jontay Porter is a skilled power
forward who showed his ability to block or alter shots at one end of the court
and impressed us with his in-between game and passing ability. On a couple of
occasions he demonstrated that can get it and lead the break. Porter posted a
double-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two
steals.
Other thoughts...
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Wheeler
big man Romello White ran the floor well and guarded the paint with good lateral
movement. The Georgia Tech signee scored 13 points -- mainly with his right hand
over his left shoulder -- grabbed six rebounds and had two assists and two
blocks. White is mobile and a good above the rim finisher on the break. Fatigue
became a factor late in the game, but when his motor is turned on, he is better
than most inside guys.
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Wesleyan Christian small forward
Jalen Johnson had a quiet 11 points in the
tournament opener against Wheeler. The long, wiry Tennessee signee also grabbed
seven rebounds. Athletic in the open court, Johnson is known as a "three and D"
guy. Friday he connected on just two three-pointers but one was waved off due to
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Thomas Dziagwa shot wasn't falling in the first half
connecting on just two of nine attempts. He got his teammates involved. The
second half was a different story. The 6-foot-5 Dziagwa jump started his offense
by getting to the rim early and made six-of-nine attempts. A coach's son,
Dziagwa plays with a high basketball IQ and is an effective passer. Dziagwa, who
had 23 points, five assists and two steals, could contribute early in Stillwater
if Travis Ford uses him in a similar way that he utilizes Phil Forte.
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