MORE CITY OF PALMS: Gathers, Muhammad rule
It was nothing short of a heavyweight battle with Ricardo Gathers leading his Reserve (La.) Riverside team against Tony Parker and his Miller Grove crew. Riverside got up big early and held on with Gathers sealing the deal.
Parker struggled early on and a dialed-in Riverside squad jumped out to a 20-7 lead after a Gathers' three-pointer to end the first quarter. Parker settled down in the second quarter, Miller Grove began its gradual chipping away at Riverside's lead.
Eventually Miller Grove, playing without the fouled-out Parker on the floor, hit a three-pointer to take a one point lead with one minute remaining in the game.
Gathers proceeded to put the finishing touch on his dominating performance. On the ensuing possession he had the assist on Riverside's game-winning shot. Then he contested a driving shot and grabbed a rebound in traffic where he was fouled. He made the frontend of a one and one and then grabbed the final rebound of the game.
End result - Riverside 59, Miller Grove 55.
Gathers' 19 points and 15 rebounds don't do justice to his full impact on the game. Choose your metaphor- Rock of Gibraltar, Spartacus, Samson with hair.
Gathers' simply brings a man's game and a man's approach to a court full of teenagers. His skill set is expanding and his physicality and competitive desire is unmatched at this level.
Florida's Billy Donovan and St John's head coach Steve Lavin were on hand to watch Gathers' performance.
Parker by no means backed away from the battle. He had an impressive six blocks and scored 14 points to go with six rebounds.
But as the game wore on, Gathers just had more explosiveness off the floor and easily matched Parker's strength. Parker's 6-of-21 shooting from the field provides evidence of his dilemma. Gathers was slightly better from the field, hitting 8-of-19 shots.
Gathers also had strong support from Donald Thomas. The slender combo forward is a sharpshooter who hit all three of his three-point attempts and ended with 15 points.
Zelvin Smith contributed 12 rebounds.
Riverside also has two names to remember out of the 2015 and 2016 class. Freshman Charvon Julien is a promising high major point guard prospect who has played well at this event. And eighth grader Khalea Turner is a 6-foot-9 center who provided valuable rest for Gathers and held his own in this high level battle.
On Parker's side, Georgia signee Brandon Morris had a productive game with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, 4-of-9 from the line and grabbed five rebounds and had three blocks.
GRACE PREP SURVIVES
In a back-and-forth game against Cincinnati (Ohio) Taft, it took a triple-double by Isaiah Austin and a near double-double by Jelon Hornbeak for Arlington (Texas) Grace Prep to pull out a 65-62 win.
Austin, who is headed to Baylor, was a dominant force, scoring 20 points on 9-of-18 shooting, grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking 11 shots.
Hornbeak arguably didn't get enough shots as he went 7-of-9 for 15 points and also grabbed nine rebounds. An Oklahoma assistant was in attendance to watch the efficient production of the future Sooner.
A couple uncommitted underclassmen Emmanuel Mudiay and Jordan Mickey had quieter games but did speak about their recruitments.
Mudiay, and elite 2014 prospect, is closely considering offers from Arizona, Baylor and Texas while a number of other schools have also offered. He also noted that Kentucky is showing strong interest and that the Wildcats are expected to watch him during this event.
Mickey labeled Kentucky as his dream school because of their style of play, but he hasn't had any contact with the Wildcats coaching staff. He is looking at offers from Kansas, Texas A&M, Providence and Houston. Duke hasn't offered but has been calling on the 6-foot-7 2013 forward.
Shining for the gritty Taft squad was Ohio State football commitment Adolphus Washington. The bruising undersized forward tallied 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Down 16 points with five minutes left to play, New York St. Raymond's looked dead in the water until Louisville (Ky.) Trinity got sloppy with the ball and succumbed to the intense defensive pressure of St. Raymond's. After forcing the game into overtime, St. Raymond's got four clutch free throws and a key defensive play from Temple commitment Daniel Dingle to seal the comeback win.
A competitive beast in the mold of Michigan State's Draymond Green, Dingle scored a game-high 24 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and 12-of-16 shooting from the line while also grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out five assists.
His running mate Nkereuwem Okoro was almost as impressive as Dingle. An Iowa State recruit, Okoro scored 19 points on 9-of-15 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds.
Class of 2013 Rivals150 prospect Darryl Hicks had a quiet second half for Trinity. On the game he finished with 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting from the field, 3-of-10 from three and grabbed eight rebounds.
The trio of Julius Randle, Zach Peters and Marquan Botley led Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian to a convincing 70-63 win over Philadelphia Constitution High School. A late surge by Constitution made the score much closer than the actual disparity during the game.
A Kansas signee, Peters scored 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field and 3-of-3 shooting from the line. Peters also used his physicality to gather up six rebounds.
Randle, who is an elite 2013 prospect, also took advantage of Constitution's small frontline, scoring 16 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field, 1-of-2 from behind the arc and 7-of-8 from the line. Like Peters, he also had six rebounds. Unlike Peters, Randle was much less conservative with the basketball and produced five assists to seven turnovers.
A 2013 point guard, Botley runs the show for Prestonwood Christian. His game was on point Saturday night with 5-of-7 shooting, 2-of-2 from behind the arc and 2-of-2 from the line for 14 points. He also had three rebounds, four assists, three steals and four turnovers.
Although diminutive, Botley is exceptionally quick and strong and is an acrobatic finisher around the rim. He looked every bit the part of a high major prospect.
Daiquan Walker was the high point man for Constitution with 18 points on 3-of-10 shooting, 2-of-8 from three and a perfect 10-of-10 from the line to go with two rebounds, six assists, three steals and four turnovers.
Struggling with foul trouble throughout the game, Savon Goodman tallied 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting, 0-of-2 from three and 5-of-8 from the line for Constitution. He also had two rebounds, one assist, one steal and three turnovers in 21 minutes of play.
BROWN LEADS MATER DEI
A scrappy Lake Wales (Fla.) High team pushed a loaded Santa Anna (Calif.) Mater Dei for four quarters but came up short 70-76.
Elijah Brown was the most consistent and top performer for Mater Dei. The four-star guard went for 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field, 1-of-3 from three and 7-of-8 from the line to go with five rebounds.
Class of 2014 four-star forward Stanley Johnson and future Colorado forward Xavier Johnson both produced double-doubles. Stanley produced 15 points and 12 rebounds while Xavier had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
For Lake Wales, point guard Russell Wilson put up 23 points and 11 assists. Forward Marcel White put up 18 points and six rebounds.