SPRINGFIELD, MASS. - A number of quality players hit the hardwood on Sunday at the Spalding HoopHall Classic, and none were more impressive than Henry Sims, another quality big man headed to Georgetown.
Oak Hill Academy 73, Mount St. Joseph 70
In a tight affair throughout, Brandon Jennings made a steal in the backcourt and sealed the game with a lay up with 2.4 seconds on the clock.
It wasn't the only play Jennings had in the contest as he finished with 32 points on 11-24 shooting, 2-7 from three and 8-9 from the line, 1 rebound, 3 steals, 3 assists and 3 turnovers. In typical fashion, Jennings gave the Mount St. Joseph's guards trouble with his quick hands and got out in transition where he scored at the rim and in the midrange.
Jennings' teammates in the interior, Glenn Bryant and Keith Gallon both had efficient games inside. Bryant put up 14 points on 5-7 shooting and 4-5 from the line, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks, 3 steals, 1 assist and 1 turnover. Gallon scored 10 points on 5-7 shooting, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists and 3 turnovers. As usual Bryant's length and athleticism was a factor all over the floor on defense. Gallon was a force in the paint, but unlike Bryant, spends a lot of the game out of the play because of his poor conditioning.
More than matching Oak Hill's inside play, Henry Sims put a huge stamp on the game as clearly the best big man on the court. The 6-foot-10 post man registered 32 points on 10-16 shootincg, 0-1 from three, 12-16 from the line, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 assist and 5 turnovers. Always a player to play with a strong motor, Sims is also developing into a highly skilled player. He looked extremely comfortable in the midrange where he both made jumpers and slashed to the basket. In traffic he rebounded the ball with strength and ran the floor with passion. Don't be surprised if Sims works his way into the company of stellar big men who have played at Georgetown.
Also impressive for Mount St. Joseph's was sophomore guard Eric Atkins. Playing primarily off the ball, Atkins went for 18 points on 6-11 shooting, 2-5 from three, 4-4 from the line, 4 rebounds 1 steal, 4 assists and 4 turnovers. As a young prospect, Atkins needs to get stronger, but he plays with a high level of composure, is crafty with the basketball and can score it off the pass and dribble.
The Patterson School 68, Winchendon 67
Winchendon came out strongly and gave The Patterson School trouble with its zone defense with John Riek in the middle protecting the rim. But a late first half surge by The Patterson School notched the game at 40-40 at half time. From the onset of the second half The Patterson School took the lead and never gave it up.
Arkansas bound Courtney Fortson set the pace for The Patterson School, scoring 21 points on 8-19 shooting, 1-5 from three and 4-8 from the line, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 assists and 3 turnovers. Showing no fear of Riek's presence at the rim, Fortson was the one player who consistently finished on Riek. A superb competitor, Fortson is more than ready to run the point in the SEC.
John Riek had a solid outing for Winchendon scoring 14 points on 4-8 shooting and 6-7 from the line, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks and 5 turnovers. It was on the defensive end where Riek made the biggest impact. The two blocks by the official scorer seem awful conservative, and a host of shots were altered by Riek. As for his development since his impressive showings at the NIKE Hoop Jamboree and the Lebron James Skills Academy, Riek's upper body is more developed although his lower body is still quite skinny. As for his hands, he did have a couple fumbles and isn't ready to make the difficult catch. But when he does get a hold of the ball, he secures it. Offensively, Riek took his moves aggressively to the basket. His problem, however, is that even though he keeps the ball high, he has to gather himself after pivoting before he can shoot the ball. His coach implored him to use a jump hook but Riek continued to make a full pivot and completely square himself to the basket, which is not going to work against bigger, more advanced players. At the free throw line, Riek looked completely comfortable making his first six attempts which bodes well for him developing a face up jumper. In the end Riek looks pretty much like the same prospect we saw this summer. He's limited offensively but is a difference maker around the rim on the defensive end.
Expect Riek to enter this year's NBA draft and to go somewhere late in the first round.
St. Benedict's 75, DeMatha 41
DeMatha was simply overwhelmed with the size and strong overall play of St. Benedict's.
Samardo Samuels was the game high scorer with 22 points on 8-10 shooting, 6-8 from the line. He also had 7 rebounds, 1 block, 3 assists and 5 turnovers. Simply a man amongst boys in this one, Samuels was not only the strongest player on the court but also the most athletic.
Samuels teammate Greg Echenique was also a dominating presence on the court, scoring 12 points on 4-5 shooting, 4-4 from the line to go along with 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 assists and 1 turnover. Working his way into one of the top post prospects in the 2009 class, Echenique's constantly improving physique bodes well for his future. Although he is not an overwhelming athlete, he is thick and immovable in a Kevin Love type fashion.
Providing the scoring pop from the outside was junior guard Tamir Jackson who ended up with 20 points on 8-15 shooting, 3-5 from three, 1-1 from the line, 3 rebounds, 6 steals, 2 assists and 1 turnover. Talk about a player with a knack for scoring the ball. Jackson isn't the type of athlete who will blow by or jump over an opponent, but give him any type of crack and he will exploit it for a bucket. A confident shot maker, Jackson's scoring ability will translate to the next level despite questions about his size and athleticism as a scoring guard.
Brewster Academy 111, Chinese Junior All-Stars 47
Not much of a game in this one as the Chinese squad was overwhelmed by the speed and strength of Brewster.
Xavier commitment Mark Lyons had his way against the Chinese backcourt, scoring 21 of his 24 points in the first half.
2009 prospect Givon Crump shot the lights out from three, hitting 5-7 three-pointers to finish with a total of 17 points. At a healthy 6-foot-6, Crump has a feathery jumper and an intriguing high major prospect.
Benedictine 69, St. George 49
Don't let the score fool you. This game wasn't nearly as close as the final score. Playing without five-star prospect Elliot Williams, who is out for a couple weeks with a knee injury, St. George found itself down 25-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Ed Davis led Benedictine with 21 points on 10-11 shooting and 1-2 from the line, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks, 1 steal, 1 assist and 1 turnover. The North Carolina commitment ran the floor well and had his way in the low post.
Laurence Bowers led St. George with 18 points on 7-20 shooting, 0-1 from three and 4-4 from the line, 15 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals, 1 assist and 2 turnovers. Still caught somewhat between the two forward positions, Bowers spent a little too much time on the perimeter offensively. How much success he has at Missouri depends largely on how much he can build up his body.