AKRON, Ohio: The King James Shooting Stars Classic kicked into high gear on Saturday as pool play came to an end and tournament play began. With more on the line some big name players really brought it, and one of them was Duke commitment Michael Gbinije.
Taking over the game
Team Takeover doesn't have the services of Mikael Hopkins or Darion Atkins this weekend, so that puts on the onus on their perimeter players to do work, and none stepped up bigger than Gbinije.
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The future Duke Blue Devil was absolutely spectacular on Saturday with a lot of eyes on him. Going up against a strong Team Detroit team led by Michigan State commitment Brandan Kearney and big man Percy Gibson, Gbinije looked to be the best player on the floor with his play.
What makes Gbinije so unique is the fact that he looks like he is barely working. He is such a smooth athlete and the game seems so natural to him, that everything just looks easy on the floor. Saturday was a perfect example of that.
Gbinije went to the rim and used a floater to score, or he would pull up from deep, and beyond that he would get all the way to the bucket and finish through contact and draw a foul. Overall Gbinjie was the key in helping Takeover get the win, and he certainly showed the form that has some people feeling he could be a five-star player before it is all said and done. Quite simply there was just nothing that Team Detroit could do to slow him down.
It wasn't just a one man show for Takeover. Sophomore James Robinson, Julian DeBose, and A.J. English all did some god things in the victory.
Robinson especially stood out with his slick passing and ability to get into the lane. As a kid who is a big time playmaker, Robinson still needs to learn how to make the easy play and not always go for the spectacular one, but still the tools are there. The 2012 combo guard can really pass, has a great feel for the game, and also proved to be a capable scorer in the process.
From the 2011 class, DeBose and English both had their moments. DeBose is a major high riser who has a chance to be very good. He needs to work on his jump shot from the guard position, but his handle and bounce are very impressive. English is just a solid do it all player. He is long, makes good decisions with the basketball, and showed the ability to hit all the way out 22 feet.
For Team Detroit it was Gibson doing the most work. The left hand dominant post man was using his size and strength advantage to its highest level. He continually would score down low with the left hand, and did so on a variety of hooks, dunks, put backs, and solid post moves. Overall it was an excellent performance for Gibson despite his team taking the loss.
Queen City Standout
The talent has never been an issue with Aaron Thomas, and now the 6-foot-5 wing is beginning to put it all together. In a night game for the Queen City Prophets, Thomas was nothing short of spectacular in taking his game to a new level.
During the high school season Thomas looked to be more of a small forward because of his average ability to handle the basketball, but since that time he has put in work in the gym and now it is showing itself on the court.
Quite simply Thomas couldn't come close to being stopped on Saturday night. He was hitting from three, he got to the rim, finished well above the rim with a variety of dunks, and also was hitting from the mid-range with great touch.
What was most impressive is how tight his handle looks. Thomas now legitimately has made the transition to being a shooting guard, and it showed. He was able to break his man down off the dribble going either direction, and also now has a dynamic crossover dribble, especially from left to right.
On his way to probably well over 40 points, Thomas proved that he is a high-major basketball player in a big, big way.
Other Notable Performances
This just in, Quincy Miller is good. The 6-foot-8 forward keeps showing why he is one of the best in the nation. On Saturday afternoon he was great. The long and lanky forward had it working in a big way. He was 6-7 from beyond the three point arc, and also showed an ability and desire to rebound and score down low. When he is playing like that, there is just nothing that opponents can do to stop him.
Also playing well for D-One Sports was Anthony Fields. The Michigan native has really seen his game grow since transferring to North Carolina. He is a jet quick point guard with good size and an ability to go score. Still what Fields does best is get others involved. He is a high level passer with good court vision.
After missing night one due to transportation issues, Chane Behanan arrived in a big way for Ohio Basketball Club. Behanan dominated down low against the Milwaukee Hurricanes. Using his powerfully built 6-foot-7 and 240 pound frame, Behanan was too much on the block with his strength and explosion. Also Behanan rebounded and ran the floor very well using maximum effort. Overall it was one of Behanan's better performances, and he seems to be re-emerging as a major national talent.
Trying to stop Behanan, without much luck, was Elgin Cook and Darnell Harris. Cook is a scrappy garbage man type forward who has a lot of athleticism and a nose for the ball. Harris is a face up power forward who can really shoot from three, but didn't seem to give maximum effort, and for his size didn't do enough on the glass. Cook had the much better game using his bounce to corral rebounds and also finish above the rim with dunks.
Playing very well for Florida Assault was Shane Larkin. Back in the state of his birth, Larkin had it working. The 5-foot-10 point guard was an absolute problem off of high ball screens either beating his man to the rim where he showed an ability to finish, or simply stepping back off the screen and making shots. Also Larkin showed an ability to finish in the mid-range using great body control. Beyond that he showed a much greater desire to defend.
Going against Larkin was Ryan Boatright. The Chicago point man has a lot of flash to his game, and is ultra quick with the ball. Boatright didn't start the game, and it took him a little while to find his rhythm, but he was solid overall. His handle is very impressive, and also he has a great looking shot. He still needs to do more to set up his teammates, but Boatright kept D-Rose in the game with his play.
At the 16 and under level Gary Harris had a good showing for D3 Heat. Playing against Team Takeover C.I.A. Bounce, Harris showed why his stock is soaring through the roof. He hit a three from deep, soared well above the rim to finish, used his handle to push the pace for buckets from his teammates, and also was an excellent defender. He needs to get more consistent with his deep jumper, but overall Harris had a very solid game in the winning effort.
Also playing well for D3 Heat was Tyler Corley and R.J. Hunter. Hunter, who is the son of IUPUI head coach Ron Hunter, is a big time long range shooter who at 6-foot-3 can really stroke it. Corley is a pinball type point guard who gets to the rim at will. Both of them complemented Harris in a big way.
Give credit to Carlton Brundidge, the kid is putting in work. The only knock on him in the past has been the lack of a consistent jump shot from three point range, but that looks to be coming along nicely. With defenders playing a sagging zone designed to stop Amir Williams, Brundidge was hitting from deep with ease. As always he still finished going to the rim off the dribble, but Brundidge really looks improved shooting the deep jumper.
After missing Friday night, CP3 big man Joseph Uchebo joined the party on Saturday. The NC State commitment is an excellent looking prospect. Uchebo is a major space eater down low who knows how to rebound and also possesses a decent touch around the rim. With CP3 up one and time winding down, Uchebo stepped to line and calmly knocked down the first and second shots of a one-and-one to give CP3 the win over the New York Gauchos.
Quincy Miller rattled off a lengthy list of schools. Those mentioned were Georgetown, Oklahoma, Memphis, Kentucky, Texas, Duke, Wake Forest, Kansas, and Syracuse.
James Robinson has an offer from Notre Dame to go with interest from Maryland and Georgetown. He did note that it is still extremely early in the process for him.
A.J. English has offers from Marquette, Clemson, and VCU along with interest from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Stanford, and virtually the entire Atlantic 10.
Anthony Fields dropped a list of Temple, Dayton, Michigan, Arizona, and Purdue.
Since opening up his recruitment, Chane Behanan has added offers from West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Alabama, Mississippi State, Georgia, Western Kentucky, and Purdue. Behanan still holds the offer from Cincinnati, and is getting interest from Kentucky, Louisville, Kansas, and Seton Hall.