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Evans' Takeaways: Cancer Research Classic

RANKINGS: 2019 Rivals150 | 2020 Rivals150 | 2019 Team Rankings

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Ethan Morton
GoldandBlack.com

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WHEELING, W.V. – The Cancer Research Classic has become one of the best two-day high school events each calendar year and the 2019 event lived up to that billing.

MORTON IS A TOP PLAYMAKER IN THE 2020 CLASS

Ethan Morton has been a heavily lauded and respected prospect here at Rivals.com for the past two years. I am lucky enough to see him a good amount due to my proximity to the Butler High standout, but what Morton did on Saturday was something that surprised even me.

The Rivals150 junior set the event’s assist record, with still five minutes to spare, by dishing out 14 assists. These weren't all simple, drop-off passes in the lane or moving the ball around the perimeter, but also impressive wrap-around passes off of the high ball screen or 30-foot off-handed passes on the break.

Morton is a throwback guard that favors the mid-range jumper but what he loves even more is making his teammates better. He is not a sexy athlete but rather a grinder that is going to win a lot of games in college. He looks the part of a top-five facilitator in his class, which is a good reason for why Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, Pitt, Purdue and Stanford have made him priority. Look for his recruitment to pick up again this spring and a commitment to take place next fall.

PRODUCTION IS ISAIAH STEWART’S MIDDLE NAME

He might not have the height of James Wiseman, the versatility of Jaden McDaniels or the explosive abilities of Vernon Carey, but pound-for-pound, I am not sure that there is one player from the 2019 class that I would rather have on my college squad next year than Isaiah Stewart.

A model of consistency in the frontcourt, knock Stewart all you want but whenever the tough gets going, the five-star center usually comes out with the win. He began things in a strong fashion this weekend, dominating the interior and setting the tone in another impressive, resume-boosting win over nationally-ranked Montverde.

In all, Stewart posted double-double averages in the points and rebounds categories in Wheeling. Each time you see him, he finds a way to raise his basketball ceiling. Stewart is now making jumpers to the perimeter and is that much more difficult to guard.

He is expected to make a commitment before February rolls around, with his final five set at Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, Syracuse and Washington.

N’FALY DANTE SHOWS GROWTH

Regarded as arguably the best rim protector in high school ball, N’Faly Dante did nothing to dispute those notions over the weekend. His 7-foot-6 wingspan, dexterity and instincts around the basket are things that should, even if his offensive repertoire stalls, should still earn him some major NBA interest thanks to his ability to change things as a backline defender.

Unfortunately for his opposition, Dante's offensive spark has only gotten better. On Saturday, he did his usual around the bucket. Dante impacted practically every shot around the rim, forced his opposition to shoot less than 26 percent from the floor, all while coming up with 13 boards. On top of all of that, his face-up game really stood out.

While he didn’t hit his four jumper attempts, mechanically, it is all there with Dante. He can shoot the high elbow jumper with his feet set, score on patient moves in the lane, and make eyebrow-raising dishes from the high post.

This just adds more to the package of abilities that Dante presents as he is a sure-fire, top-10 prospect in the 2020 class. There is a chance that he could make a leap into the 2019 class, though, and he has already taken official visits to LSU and Oregon, with many others keeping close tabs on him.

POWER CONFERENCE COACHES IN ATTENDANCE

It was impressive to see five power conference head coaches in Wheeling despite it being the meat of the college season.

While fans saw Florida and Ohio State go down in defeat on Saturday, what they didn’t see was Mike White and Chris Holtmann, less than 24 hours later, sitting courtside in Wheeling, watching and evaluating prospects. Nor did fans see Auburn’s Bruce Pearl, LSU’s Will Wade and Xavier’s Travis Steele burning the midnight oil by hitting the trail in hopes of upgrading their rosters.

LA LUMEIRE STICKS TO NUMBER ONE SPOT

We don't really get involved with ranking high school teams but it's hard to dispute La Lumiere's claim as the best team in the country after knocking off both Bishop Gorman and Montverde in Wheeling.

Sure, IMG, Montverde and Oak Hill may have more talent from top to bottom, but whenever it comes to playing the games and team chemistry, no one has done it better than La Lumiere. It has seen its past two coaches take college gigs at Creighton and DePaul respectively and Pat Holmes looks to be one of the next in line thanks to his ability to draw talent and max out his roster.

Isaiah Stewart and Keion Brooks, two of the best prospects available this winter, are the faces of the program, but don’t underestimate the team's role players. Wendell Green is a dynamic lead guard and is due to expand his recruitment soon as he currently holds a lone offer from Oakland. Gerald Drumgoole is a hard-nosed wing that can really make shots; Minnesota, Pitt and South Carolina are just a few of the programs in pursuit. Loyola Chicago has a winner headed its way in Paxson Wojcik, Desmond Polk is a Rivals150 junior that is months away from his national explosion while Kamari Lands might end up as the best of the bunch.

In all, it was another impressive showing for La Lumiere.