The Cassidy Awards: Hoophall Classic
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Hoophall Classic is traditionally one of the most loaded events on the high school basketball calendar, and the 2022 installment has lived up to that reputation.. This year’s five-day showcase is well underway and has featured a long list of America's top high school prospects. Rivals.com’s Rob Cassidy was on hand for two full days of action and recaps some of the top performances by dishing out his own set of awards.
2023 Rankings: Rivals150
2024 Rankings: Top 40
MR. DO IT ALL: Jalen Hood-Schifino
What he did: One of the most impressive performances of the weekend by anyone’s definition belonged to Hood-Schifino, who posted a triple-double in a win over Maryland’s DeMatha Catholic High School. The Indiana-bound star scored 12 points to go along with 11 rebounds and a head-turning 13 assists, all while playing within the offense and shooting 50 percent from the floor. He showed off his defensive versatility as well, as he found success guarding smaller guards and longer wings.
Recruitment: Hood-Schifino is signed with Indiana.
ATHLETIC PROWESS: Dillon Mitchell
What he did: Mitchell's reputation is that of an elite defender, and he’s certainly earned it. That said, there aren’t many players more athletic than the 6-foot-7 combo forward. So while he’s yet to develop as a complete offensive threat, the potential is certainly there. The Texas-bound standout shined as his Montverde Academy team took down DeMatha on Saturday, finishing with 22 points, six rebounds and a chasedown block that saw him pin the ball against the backboard and bring the crowd to its feet. If Mitchell becomes a better shooter, the sky’s the limit. NBA personnel are already intrigued by his tools.
Recruitment: Mitchell is signed with Texas.
TOP SOPHOMORE: Ian Jackson
What he did: One of the most athletic underclassmen in the country, Jackson is more than just highlight reel bait. So while he ripped off a pair of impressive open court dunks in a win on Sunday, it’s his motor, defensive potential and ability to score at all three levels that make him an intriguing long-term prospect. A no-doubt five star, Jackson scored a game-high 30 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists to lead his New York Cardinal Hayes squad to a win. He’s likely to be one of the more in-demand prospects in the 2024 by the time he makes a verbal commitment and could insert himself into the discussion for the No. 1 spot in his class.
BUZZWORTHY: Marvel Allen
What he did: It’s been an eventful few days for Allen. On Friday, he committed to LSU over offers from a long list of other major programs. He followed that up by turning in an MVP performance in an easy win over a loaded Camden High School team on Saturday night. In addition to scoring 22 points and grabbing four rebounds, Allen helped frustrate No. 1-ranked junior Dj Wagner, who was held to an uncharacteristic 5-for-20 shooting performance. Allen defended as well as he ever has on Saturday night and shot relatively well from long range.
Recruitment: Allen is committed to LSU.
CAPTAIN CLUTCH: Layden Blocker
What he did: Blocker had a decent all-around game on Saturday, but really turned it on in overtime, as he willed his Sunrise Christian Academy team to a win over Combine Academy with seven straight points including a massive 3-pointer to help seal the victory. A class of 2023 prospect, Blocker has taken tremendous strides as a facilitator and a shooter since transferring to Sunrise prior to the season. He finished Saturday's win with a respectable 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists from the point guard spot.
Recruitment: Blocker has taken unofficial visits to Baylor and Arkansas, but Kansas, Memphis, Oklahoma State, Gonzaga and Auburn remain involved. He intends to take additional trips following his high school season.
UNDERVALUED: Jayden Pierre
What he did: A senior at Long Island Lutheran, Pierre looks more and more like a steal for Providence, which secured his commitment back in September. Perrier chose the Friars over a handful of offers from larger programs, but his list of opportunities never matched his talent. On Sunday, the 6-foot-2 guard turned in a performance that included 16 points on 70 percent shooting and a game-high nine assists despite sitting the entire fourth quarter because his team had built a massive lead. Pierre showed off his full range of offensive skill in the shortened performance, though, and made a compelling case to break into the Rivals150 when it gets an update next month in the process. Pierre is a pass-first point guard that still manages to impact games from a scoring standpoint despite rarely taking an ill-advised shot.
Recruitment: Pierre is signed with Providence.
THE SNIPER: Elijah Moore
What he did: A sophomore at New York’s Cardinal Hayes High School, Moore is a prospect on the rise, He’s developing a reputation as one of the region’s best long-range shooters. And while he backed that up by knocking down five 3-pointers on Sunday, he also proved he’s more than just a specialist. Moore gets up and down the floor with pace, handles the ball reasonably well and is a much better passer than he gets credit for being. His trajectory is encouraging to say the least, and college coaches are likely to take notice soon.
Recruitment: Moore holds an offer from St. Peters, and there will be more where that came from eventually. He’s in contact with schools such as Hofstra, Penn State and Fordham.
WORTH THE TRIP: Chris Livingston
What he did: Kentucky head coach John Calipari made the trek north to get a look at Livingston on Sunday afternoon, and the 6-foot-6 forward was at his very best for the occasion. Calipari looked on from the baseline as his future player turned in a 19-point, 13-rebound double-double that unfolded without a single turnover. In addition to the bruising, rim-attacking style for which he’s become known, Livingston also knocked down a 3-pointer and a mid-range pull up jumper on his way to earning game MVP honors.
Recruitment: Livingston is signed with Kentucky.
MR. EFFICIENT: Roddy Gale
What he did: An Ohio State commit, Gale led his Wasatch Academy squad in scoring in a win over The Patrick School. More impressive than his 22 points, however, is the fact that he scored them on 7-for-12 shooting. Gale showed the ability to change the game in both the half-court and transition while playing within the offense and not forcing the action. He was 3-for-3 from three-point range as well. The performance was in line with his recent trajectory, as Gale has been playing partially well as of late.
Recruitment: Gale is signed with Ohio State.
WELCOME BACK: Johnuel Fland
What he did: Fland returned after missing roughly two months with a back injury and looked mostly back to his old self in limited minutes. Fland knocked down two corner 3-pointers on his first two shot attempts on his way to nine points in his Archbishop Stepinac team’s win over Don Bosco Prep. The 6-foot-3 Fland is one of the premier guards in the 2024 class and comes with a smooth shooting stroke in addition to length capable of making him a versatile defender. Fland only played 13 minutes on Sunday, but he certainly didn’t look rusty when it came to shooting the rock.
Recruitment: UConn was the latest school to offer Fland, who says he doesn’t give much thought to his recruitment because of his young age. He holds offers from places such as Illinois, Kansas State, Pitt and St. John's in addition to the Huskies.
NEW ON THE RADAR: Myles Rubin
What he did: A class of 2023 prospect at Chicago’s Simeon High School, Rubin is intriguing to say the least. The 6-foot-9 forward gave five-star McKenzie Mgbako all he could handle, frustrating the touted prospect at times and helping hold him to just five points. Rubin finished the contest with 14 points, nine rebounds and six blocks while showing an impressive motor, a reliable floater and the willingness to mix it up under the basket. Ideally, Rubin will add muscle and show more as a shooter, but that may come in time. There’s Rivals150 upside in play.
Recruitment: Rubin, who plays alongside his twin brother Wesley, holds offers from Southern Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Akron. There should be more in store in the year ahead, as the junior has had a handful of impressive performances as of late. He feels like a prospect ready to attract high-major interest.
FLOOR GENERAL: Darrin Ames
What he did: Ames’ Sunday stat line wasn’t exactly overwhelming, as the Kenwood Academy point guard managed just nine points on a poor shooting day, but he impressed as a ball-handler and facilitator. At just 16 years old, Ames is young for his class and there still aren’t many guards that boast a tighter handle. He tallied 10 assists and just four turnovers in a loss, and the potential he brings to the table is obvious. Ames had an impressive summer with Mac Irvin Fire on the EYBL circuit and looks ready to take the next step in the coming year as he continues to add muscle to his frame and become more consistent with his jumper.
Recruitment: Ames has taken unofficial visits to both Illinois and Marquette, but the Golden Eagles seem to have the leg up for not. Following Sunday’s game Ames expressed the desire to return to Marquette on an official visit in the future. Oklahoma is also also involved in his recruitment.
STOCK UP: J.J. Starling
What he did: Starling is becoming a more well-rounded offensive threat and isn’t relying as heavily on his jumper from deep to impact games. Sure, the Notre Dame commit can still knock down 3-pointers, but he’s now using his body to score at the rack as well. He still has room to grow from a facilitation standpoint, but he’s becoming a better defender in addition to a more versatile scorer. Starling finished Saturday’s contest with 20 points on 53 percent shooting. Currently the No. 40 prospect in the 2022 class, he could find himself ranked even higher when the rankings update should he keep playing at his current level.
Recruitment: Starling is signed with Notre Dame.
GET TO KNOW: Danny Carbuccia
What he did: Carbuccia sees the floor incredibly well for a freshman and isn't afraid to make creative passes that seem to always set up easy buckets. He finished Sunday’s game with four assists and just one turnover, but it was his 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting that defined his performance. He’ll need to get more consistent shooting from three-point range, but he certainly has the skill set to be one of the top point guards in his class.
Recruitment: A class of 2025 prospect, Carbuccia’s recruitment will change drastically in the years to come. For now, however, he holds offers from the likes of Seton Hall, UMass and Fordham.
BIG MAN, BIGGER MOTOR: Patrick Wessler
What he did: Few bigs in the country play as hard as Wessler, who made his mark on his Combine Academy team’s overtime loss to Sunrise Christian on Saturday with a double-double performance. The broad-shouldered big man uses his strength as well as his length to change shots on the defensive end and make an impact on the boards. It’s difficult to match the 6-foot-11 Wessler’s intensity, but he still manages to avoid bad decisions despite being comfortable in a fast-paced game. He blocked five shots to go along with 11 points and 11 rebounds on Saturday. He also showed off impressive touch in the form of a baby hook in the paint.
Recruitment: Wessler is signed with Virginia Tech.