basketball Edit

Thanksgiving Hoopfest: Bossi's Saturday takeaways; Smart excels

Javonte Smart
Javonte Smart (Courtesy of Showcase Dallas)

DUNCANVILLE, Texas - Saturday was the final day of the Thanksgiving Hoopfest and LSU-bound senior point guard Javonte Smart put on a show for the ages in a duel with 2020's R.J. Hampton to close out an epic two-day performance. The Smart/Hampton duel tops national basketball analyst Eric Bossi's takeaways from Saturday's action.


Javonte Smart
Javonte Smart (Courtesy of Showcase Dallas @ShowcaseDal)
R.J. Hampton
R.J. Hampton (Courtesy of Showcase Dallas @ShowcaseDal)

I've been scouting high school basketball for nearly 20 years now, and LSU-bound senior Javonte Smart completed one of the single best two-day performances I've ever seen. Smart scored 59 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists in a big-time showdown with 2020's top point guard R.J. Hampton.

As good as Smart was on Friday while going off for 43 points, seven rebounds and seven assists he was even better on Saturday. What I was most struck by was his efficiency. Smart needed only 25 shot attempts to do his damage, and he never settled or took bad shots. He's a kid who deserves a lot of credit for getting in the gym and making sure that his game continues to evolve. He's never been considered a particularly good shooter, but in two games he was 32-for-46 from the field and made 13 of 20 from beyond the three-point line.

Smart did all he could to make a claim for a coveted spot in next March's McDonald's All-American Game. In a class that is guard heavy, it would be tough to not take into account what I just watched him do.

As good as Smart was, Hampton was spectacular, too. After going just 3-for-9 from the field and scoring eight points, Hampton made 11 of 18 shots in the second half to finish with 40 points, four rebounds and three assists. With each outing, Hampton backs up his status as the highest ranked guard in the sophomore class. He's been on the campuses of Baylor, Duke, Kansas, TCU and Texas to date, and of that group only Duke has yet to offer.


Chris Harris
Chris Harris (Courtesy of Showcase Dallas @ShowcaseDal)

When I first saw Chris Harris two summers ago, he was a stocky and tough kid whose calling card was his jump shot. It's what he specialized in, and while he was a very good shooter he was somewhat predictable. Fast forward, and the Rivals150 guard has clearly been in the gym working on his game with great results and he's becoming a much more versatile scorer.

After watching him on back-to-back days, there's no doubt in my mind that he's developed into a legitimate high-major shooting guard and he's one of those guys who grows on you with each outing. In addition to the deep jumper he's developed a deadly one-and-two dribble pull-up, he's got strength to finish through contact and he's very good at freeing himself away from the ball.

During the fall Harris took unofficial visits to Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. Both have offered and had assistants watching Saturday. He's also seen Tulsa and SMU, and has offers from both of those programs. Other offers for the on-the-rise scorer include Baylor, UNLV and North Texas.


Jalen Wilson
Jalen Wilson

One of the hottest recruits in the state of Texas is skilled small forward Jalen Wilson, and he proved why in a big-time battle with Austin (Texas) Westlake on Saturday night. Westlake features three high major signees and a five-star junior big man (more on them below), and all Wilson did was hit them up for 27 points and six rebounds on an efficient 10-for-15 from the field.

Wilson is strong and skilled and likely due for a bit of a bump in the rankings. Along with Oklahoma-bound teammate De'Vion Harmon (who had 23 points and four assist), he forms one of the best junior duos at any public school in America. Wilson's most recent visits were to Oklahoma and Texas A&M and he's looking to get to Kansas -- which offered earlier this month -- Marquette and Michigan. Baylor, Oklahoma State, SMU, TCU and Texas Tech have all offered.


Miller Kopp
Miller Kopp

Coming off of their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance, Chris Collins and his staff at Northwestern put together a top 25 class for 2018. Though he's not currently the highest-ranked member of the Northwestern class (skilled big man Pete Nance is ranked higher), I am pretty sure that he's going to be the most impactful from the day he steps on campus.

Kopp has a blend of skill, toughness and will to compete that is hard to ignore. He moves well away from the ball, is a great shooter and his passing is outstanding. He's a pretty complete ballplayer and the kind of guy who is going to show up on campus and tell the veterans that he's there to learn from them, win games and take as many of their minutes as he can. He came from off the radar to move into the national top 100 over the summer and I doubt his climb up the rankings is done.


Will Baker
Will Baker

The most touted matchup of the weekend was the one between Denton (Texas) Guyer and Austin (Texas) Westlake. In a game featuring at least seven high-major prospects, Guyer got the win behind Jalen Wilson and De'Vion Harmon (as we mentioned above). However, fives-star big man Will Baker of Westlake was a bright spot and backed up his status as the highest-ranked prospect on the floor. Baker isn't just big. He's highly skilled, shoots with deep range and can really run. He's right in the heart of Texas' back yard, but the Longhorns have a big fight on their hands, and at the moment Kansas, North Carolina and UCLA appear to be the biggest threats to pull him out of state.

Texas-bound teammate Brock Cunningham got off to a hot early start by hitting some contested threes and finishing with 18 points. The three-star senior is a bit of a tweener but does have toughness. With his future head coach Scott Drew watching on, four-star wing Matthew Mayer took some time to get going. Once he did, he had a stretch in the third and fourth quarter where he was the best player on the floor, attacking the rim and showing range. He's at his best once he gets angry and it is a matter of learning to play with that energy more often. He had 18 as well. Xavier-bound shooting guard Keonte Kennedy was quiet for much of the game and only got five shot attempts but did score some late to finish with 12.

Four-star teammate Bryce Thompson is already pretty well known regionally and nationally, but keep an eye out for Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington guard Trey Phipps. Like Thompson, he's only a sophomore and, like Thompson, he's a dangerous outside shooter. Phipps' father is now the head coach at BTW and is a longtime college coach, so he's got that coach's kid feel for the game and he plays with a sizable chip on his shoulder. Over the past years the state of Oklahoma has produced some undersized shooters who were really productive in college, like Rotnei Clarke and Keiton Page. Phipps might be next in line.