Home state teams shine at Chick-Fil-A Classic

Columbia, S.C. - The majority of the heavyweights all went down in the first round of the third annual Chick-Fil-A Classic at Richland Northeast High School on Dec. 18. On Monday, two of the event's top names - Devan Downey and Vernon Macklin - were supposed to be the marquee match up but it was junior Mike Jones that had the definitive moments in the second round of action.
On paper, the top Monday match-up was supposed to be all about Downey against Macklin but a pair of underclassmen stole the show.
Down by 13 late in the second half, Lower Richland High School from Columbia, S.C., had to turn things around in the second half against a talented Dr. Phillips High School from Orlando, Fla. They got the answers they needed from 6-foot-6 junior Mike Jones.
The No. 54 ranked player in the class of 2006 scored six points in ten seconds and rallied the Diamond Hornets to a dazzling 86-82 victory. Jones put in 38 points on 17 of 26 shooting. He also ripped down 15 rebounds, most notably nine offensive boards.
Jones played every bit of the high major that he is. He's a jack of all trades and finds a way to get the job done on both ends of the floor. Not a quick player with the dribble or an explosive first step athlete, Jones can play above the rim but his best trait is his ability to score from five to fifteen feet consistently. Defensively, he's not afraid to get on the hardwood and check the softness of the floor.
Jones didn't do it alone. He had help from unsigned senior point guard Jeremiah Richardson. The 5-foot-7 sparkplug scored 27 points on 9-23 shooting. Not bad for a guy that was taking his midterm exams this morning. He's small no doubt about that but he should have some schools looking at him. Right now, he said, there aren't any at all.
While Jones and Richardson had big time games for Lower Richland, it was Chris Warren of Orlando, Fla.'s Dr. Phillips High School who had his national coming out party. The 5-foot-10 sophomore guard is going to be special over the next three years at the Sunshine State. He was downright awesome in defeat putting in 30 points (11-16 FG, 6-10 3 point). Warren has a great high release and a high arching shot. Athletically, he can compete with the best of them and is fearless by attacking the basket early and often.
Dr. Phillips head coach Anthony Long has coached guys like Orien Greene, who went to Florida and now at Louisiana-Lafayette, and Jason Rich, who is a freshman at Florida State. Long says Warren is a player that can be mentioned in that same group. All of the Florida schools have taken a peak and after this weekend, he could be a guy with interest from more ACC and SEC schools.
Macklin dominates, Cameron shines in defeat and Adams shines
They call him the "Big Ticket" but Vernon Macklin, the No. 9 ranked player in the class of 2006, played more like "Big Season Pass". The 6-foot-10 junior put in 29 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in 25 minutes of work. He dominated inside against Chester, a team with only one player over 6-foot-3. Macklin dunked nearly everything he touched and anchored the rebounding efforts for Norcom and gave the onlookers something to talk about for the next year.
His tenaciousness is a world ahead than what it was at this time last year. Norcom played in the Peach State Classic in Atlanta and he was touch and go. Macklin was not that player on Monday. In fact, the word NBA came up on several occasions. North Carolina isn't shying away from that. They had an assistant here on Saturday.
Ben Finney, a tough 6-foot-4 shooting guard, was a key figure in Norcom's win. He scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds. The class of 2006 prospect has moved his game in from the wing. Like Macklin, Finney played too far out in three point land in December but this year, he has made it a priority to toughen up inside and not shy away from grabbing rebounds and scoring inside. He said he's got interest from the likes of Temple and St. John's amongst others.
Simply put it wasn't Devan Downey's day. The future Cincinnati Bearcat guard shot a cold 7-26 from the floor. Six of those shots came late in the game. He finished with 24 thanks in part to his 10 of 14 shooting from the charity stripe. Coming into the game as a 40 points per contest player, his 24 was a let down in Downey's standards.
One bright spot for Chester (S.C) High was junior forward Sam Hampton. The 6-foot-5 forward had 18 points and a team high four rebounds.
Late Leeds rally stopped by ceiling speaker
With six seconds left on the clock and with the scored tied at 61, Leeds (Ala.) had a chance to win the game with a deep pass to the opposite end of the floor. Unfortunately the entry pass hit a ceiling speaker high above the Richland Northeastern gym floor, giving the ball back to the Baylor School out of Chattanooga, Tenn.
Old Dominion signee David Adams was the recipient of the inbounds pass and converted on the lay up. Leeds was done after that. The bucket capped a great day by Adams who showed little, if any, flaws in his game. The strong 6-foot-5 prospect finished with a very impressive 19 points officially and 25 by our count.
Adams will make a number of high-major programs wish they landed him in the early signing period. An ankle injury sidelined him in the summer which kept some teams out of the picture. Nevertheless, ODU has a player that will come up big in post season play.
Adam Plavich, the brother of UNC Charlotte sharp shooter Brendan Plavich, isn't as good of a shooter as his big bro but he's a smart player that runs an offense with very few turnovers. He controls the tempo for an offense that thrives on efficiency and crisp passing. The 6-foot-2 junior is a guy that a number of mid-majors will be luring him to their schools.
Senior Dallas Joseph, a 6-foot combo guard came up with three big three-point buckets and scored 17 points in the victory.
Auburn bound Joey Cameron, No. 107 ranked player in the class of 2005, looks trimmer and more physically defined than he did over the summer and that showed on Monday morning. The 6-foot-8, 245-pound power forward dialed in for 24 points (10-12 FG, 4-6 FT), 12 rebounds and four blocks.
Cameron played strong against double teams and used his size to get position and worked hard to get his buckets to fall. He was the only bright spot for a team that took a number of bad shots and was clearly frustrated by the defense Baylor threw at them.
Odds and ends
Sophomore Marshall Moses out of Aiken (S.C.) played like a guy that has been playing varsity basketball for the last three years. The 6-foot-7 lefty forward has a feathery touch from the midrange and his passing ability from the blocks is an underrated trait. The in-state schools, Clemson and South Carolina, are hoping he sticks home for college.
Butler High School out of Augusta, Ga., has an intriguing 6-foot-8 junior forward. Austin Steed, a long and lanky class of 2006 prospect, has already drawn the attention of Tennessee, who has offered, as well as Georgia, Clemson and South Carolina. All of the schools have come out to see him this season.
Steed scored just nine points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the second game in a row but it wasn't enough as the host school, Richland Northeast, won 52-48. Richland Northeast was led by Ayman Eggleston, James Barfield and Lucas Hargrove, who combined for 36 points.
Cassan Breeden and his Marlboro Co. team easily took care of Pinewood (S.C.) School 56-38. The future Florida State Seminole scored 14 points and secured a game high nine rebounds. It was a sleep walk for the majority of the game.
Speaking of sleeping, Glenn High School out of Kernersville, N.C. didn't have the luxury of sleeping in. They drew the 9 a.m. game against East Ridge High School from Kentucky and the early hour was evident all game. Glenn's talented sophomore Eric Wallace, a 6-foot-6, 205-pound wing man, was inconsistent in the 66-51 win.
Wallace, the No. 18 ranked player in the class of 2007, scored just eight points on 4 of 10 shooting form the field and he secured only two rebounds. Wallace showed off a nice mid range game, pulling up on a couple of occasions for buckets. The long and muscular sophomore has a great physical package and uses it to his advantage on the defensive end. Admittedly, he'll tell you it wasn't his best game and that showed. North Carolina sent an assistant coach on Saturday to see the in-state product.
Senior Zalindor Banks scored 25 points on 11 of 13 shooting in the win. He is a low major prospect but some mids have inquire this season.
David Weaver, the 6-foot-10, 210-pound Wake Forest bound senior, went down to an ankle injury in the first half and sat out for eight minutes in the early part of the game. When he returned, he actually played with more vigor and determination to help put his Owens High School (N.C.) over 43-33 against Ridge View (S.C.) High School.
Weaver, the No. 103 ranked player in the class of 2005, struggled in the first half, not fighting for position or make himself a presence inside but in the last 16 minutes of the game the future Demon Deacon looked like a player that wanted to win a basketball game.
He displayed a good looking hook shot and a confident face up game. On the defensive end, Weaver blocked a three shots and took Ridge View out of the paint, forcing the less than stellar team to shoot perimeter shots on nearly every possession. Weaver tallied a game high 13 points (5-10 FG) and nine rebounds.
Wake Forest has done a good job in finding big men and turning them into solid post players. Take Kyle Visser for example. The Deacons are hoping to get Weaver into that same mold.
And Ones
Anytime you have a tournament sponsored by a food company, you can believe the hospitality room will be the place to be at halftime.
Here's your stat of the day. Rebounding: Norcom 45, Chester 14.
Surprisingly, there were no major Division I coaches in the house. The handful of Division II and junior college recruiters loved that.
Macklin almost had the dunk of the year on a fast break. Norcom point guard Melvin Cost was running the break and bounced the ball off of the free throw line to a sprinting Macklin. The big fella caught the ball at a good 11 feet but clanked the attempt off the back iron. Oh what could have been.
Tomorrow's match-ups
9 a.m. - East Ridge (Ky.) vs. Ridgeview (S.C.)
10:30 a.m. - Leeds (Ala.) vs. Chester (S.C.)
12:00 p.m. - Glenn (N.C.) vs. Owens (N.C.)
1:40 p.m. - Baylor (Tenn.) vs. I.C. Norcom (Va.)
3:20 p.m. 3rd Place Game - Classic II Bracket - Pinewood (S.C.) vs. Butler (Ga.)
5:00 p.m. 3rd Place Game - Classic I Bracket - Dr. Phillips (Fla.) vs. Aiken (S.C.)
6:30 p.m. Classic II Championship - Marlboro Co. (S.C.) vs. Richland Northeast (S.C.)
8:00 p.m. Classic I Championship - Lower Richland (S.C.) vs. Keenan (S.C.)