WORCESTER, MASS. - And they are off. The National Prep Showcase tipped off the season on Friday night at Assumption College for the first night of the loaded event. Two powerhouses go down and the nation's top player struggles while one star junior shines in front of friends and family.
Greedy effort from Notre Dame forward, Beasley struggles
Jamine Peterson quickly reminded everyone who he is. Playing the role of out of sight, out of mind, the New York native stepped up in a big way for Notre Dame Prep in a big and exciting win against Stoneridge Prep. The 6-foot-5 forward scored 33 points and pulled nine rebounds in the 98-95 victory.
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Peterson, who goes by 'Greedy', was efficient with both hands and the natural right hander looked like a natural lefty down low. His athleticism has never been a secret and he showed the springs that he's known for with some dynamic dunks in traffic. Peterson was outstanding on the boards, more so on the offensive boards, and was the best power forward on his team.
On the recruiting front, Peterson said he is straightening his academics up and righting the ship in order to play next year at the next level. Kansas came in to see him in action. Memphis, Providence, Rutgers, St. John's, Clemson, Iowa State and "pretty much the ACC and the Big East" are recruiting him, Peterson says.
Paging Michael Beasley. The No. 1 player in the country didn't look like the No. 1 player in the country on opening night. The athletic forward didn't show off his trademark versatility and more times than not, he floated through things and didn't play like he's very capable of.
Needless to say, there is another Michael Beasley out there. He seemed to show that late in the second half, including a key assist that helped seal the victory. Beasley finished with 11 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes of action.
Call it a bad night. It was his first game back from a pulled groin injury, he said. What he does on Saturday will speak volumes about his game and where he wants to take it.
Gillenwater shines in front of hometown
Troy Gillenwater is back home in Boston and he is playing like a guy with something to make his family smile about. Now suiting up for Stoneridge Prep in California, the 6-foot-7 junior forward is slimmer than he was at the end of the summer and that totally changed his game. He is quicker, stronger and more active around the basket.
Moreover, he has the dominating force that he had in the spring time and when he cemented himself as one of the top players in the class of 2008. Gillenwater was 11 of 20 from the floor for 27 points and collected 11 rebounds in the tough loss to Notre Dame Prep.
Gillenwater said he likes Oklahoma State, Georgetown, USC ("now that they signed O.J., of course," he said) and Arizona are high on his list while Kansas, Washington, Florida and Nebraska are also involved.
Guard play shines
Wow. That was tossed around a lot when talking about Angelo Johnson of Stoneridge Prep. The 5-foot-10 point guard brought it in a big way. Fighting through cramps in his legs the entire game, the Minneapolis native scored 25 points (10-15 FG), had six rebounds and four assists.
Johnson played much bigger than his size as he got into the lane and fought for rebounds amongst the trees. He knifed his way into the lane at will and knew what to do with the rock when he got there. Overall, it was a fabulous night for the class of 2008 prospect. Johnson said he likes where his recruitment is at right now, stating Cincinnati and Minnesota have offered scholarships while USC and Oklahoma State are also involved.
He may not have the same kind of national name like his future Villanova teammates Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes but Malcolm Grant will have his moments at the Big East school during his career. The 6-foot point guard does things you want your point guard to do. For starters, he'll win big games like he helped his Winchendon team do on Friday night against Hargrave Military Academy.
Grant was solid all around, scoring 23 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dropping four assists in the big win. The New York native was cool under pressure and set the intensity tone for his squad. He's always been that guy in big games. Don't expect that to stop at the next level, especially off the bench as a youngster in the league.
Bridgton's Greg Hill came out firing against Patterson, scoring 23 points in the first half, including five three-pointers. His sharpshooter set the tone against the loaded Patterson club and Bridgton walked away with a hard fought 96-85 win over the North Carolina school.
The lesser known player from the successful SYF AAU club from Indiana stepped out and proved that he is certainly a guy that can be effective at the next level. The strong-bodied 6-foot-2 guard is certainly capable of helping out a mid-major club. Surprisingly, Hill said his recruitment is rather quiet. He rattled off a list of San Jose State, Utah and Nevada.
Hill had plenty of help from future St. John's forward Justin Burrell. The 6-foot-9 forward got it done with 22 points and seven rebounds. Burrell picked apart the Patterson frontline and kept hacking away at them down low. Quite simply, there wasn't an answer for him.
Making the move from New York City to St. Thomas More, five-star junior Devin Ebanks looks very comfortable in his new surroundings. In just his second game under the helm of Jere Quin, the 6-foot-8 forward played with poise and showed flashes of why he is a hot commodity amongst the high-majors.
Ebanks was very effective from 12 feet, scoring off of curls, making great passes to cutters and even showed off a nice looking baby hook. For a five-minute stretch in the first half, he was flawless. Ebanks finished with 20 points and seven rebounds.
There is Kevin Durant likeness to his frame, minus four inches on the wing span, and like Texas freshman Ebanks has a good feel for the game away from the basket. But like Durant, Ebanks is still working on consistency from the perimeter. The skills have always been there and now he is starting to really tap into them.
Ebanks said he is not to too concerned with recruiting at the moment but he did rattle of a list that included Georgia, New Mexico, Miami, St. John's and Rutgers. Ebanks said Miami, Rutgers and New Mexico are recruiting him the most frequent.
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Florida native Chris Baez proved that he is one of the top shooters in the country still available. The Florida native is spending a year at Lee Academy in Maine. The 6-foot-4 shooter came out swinging in the first half against Our Savior New American, knocking down four for four three-pointers en route to 16 points.
Lee Academy point guard Nate Tomlinson is one of those players that doesn't need to score a bucket to be effective. The junior Australian point guard was the best set up point guard on the first day of action, finding guys at the right spot and valued the ball on a day where turnovers were overflowing. The 6-foot-2 floor general will be a guy to watch this season. He has a number of schools looking early and should have a number of schools talking down the road.
Johnny Higgins opened some eyes on his Notre Dame Prep team. The Baltimore native point guard had a good stat line (10 points, seven assists, five steals and four rebounds) and just made plays. He said he is hearing from Clemson, Virginia Tech, MEAC schools and Temple.
Donovan Monroe will score some buckets. The Waxhaw, N.C. native led Fork Union with 23 points in the loss to St. Thomas More. The 6-foot-2 combo guard was the only consistent force for the Virginia based club. He can shoot the rock, score with no problems whatsoever with his left hand and gets to the rim at will.
News & Notes
Dorenzo Hudson was the only shining force for Hargrave in a disappointing 80-72 loss to Winchendon. The future Virginia Tech guard scored a team high 22 points. He has always been a dynamic scorer and his body is slimmed up some since the summer and he is moving a lot quicker and doing more than spotting on the wing.
The rest of the Hargrave team really struggled as a whole, particularly Jordan Crawford, who just signed with Indiana, and Hudson's future teammate at Virginia Tech Jeff Allen. The two combined for 20 points but also 15 turnovers.
Trevon Wilcher was the only real spark of the night above the rim. The future UMass forward was flying down the court and dunked on nearly every near seven-footer on the Our Savior roster. He'll be a fan favorite Amherst.
Congrats to Valpo for getting it done in the final hour to sign Illinois native and current Stoneridge small forward Howard Little. He's athletic, rangy and should be a key player for the Mid-Continent program.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee has a steal in Minnesota native Deonte Roberts. The lefty combo guard is jet quick and explodes into the paint at a fervent pace. He scored 14 points, handed out six assists, grabbed five rebounds and collected four steals in a big win over Stoneridge.
Bridgton Academy guard Paris Horne played a big role in his team's 96-85 win over Patterson. The 6-foot-3 guard scored 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Coaches in the house
Bruce Pearl was the only high-major head coach at Assumption College on the first day. A number of assistants made the drive in from Boston or Providence to check out the action. Some notables included: Washington, Georgia, Tennessee, Rutgers, Kansas, Providence, Florida, Seton Hall, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt, Iowa State and a host of mid-majors.
SATURDAY, NOV. 18
9:15 a.m. - Northfield Mount Hermon (Mass.) vs. Our Savior New American (N.Y.)
10:45 - New Hampton (N.H.) vs. Champlain St. Lambert (Montreal, Canada)
12:15 p.m. - St. Thomas More (Conn.) vs. Patterson School (N.C.)
1:45 – Winchendon School (Mass.) vs. Fork Union Military Academy (Va.)
3:30 – Notre Dame Prep (Mass.) vs. Hargrave Military Academy (Va.)
5:00 – South Kent (Conn.) vs. Maine Central Institute (Maine)
6:30 – Brewster Academy (N.H.) vs. Massanutten Military Academy (Va.)
8:00 – Bridgton Academy (Maine) vs. American Christian (Pa.)
9:30 – Lee Academy (Maine) vs. Stoneridge Prep (Calif.)