Hoophall Classic: Bossi's Saturday Blog
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- One of the crown jewels of High School Basketball, the Hoophall Classic features many of the game's top college prospects. Follow along with Rivals.com national analyst Eric Bossi who details Saturday's top performers and news in a live blog from the event.
INSTANT OFFENSE ON THE WAY TO THE SEC
If fans at Tennessee and Ole Miss are hoping that scoring punch is on the way, then they'll be very happy with the additions of Bradenton (Fla.) IMG teammates Jaden Springer and Matthew Murrell who put on an offensive display against Hillside (N.J.) Patrick School.
All set to play his college ball in Knoxville, Springer is a bruising and tough two guard who simply shows up and produces every time he hits the floor. He gets to the rim, he is dangerous from the mid range, he rebounds and he has really developed as a playmaker. The biggest key is that he's physically ready to compete in the SEC. He and fellow five-star Keon Johnson are going to make for an awfully fun duo for the next few years.
Headed to Oxford to play for Kermit Davis and the Rebels, Murrell is a pure scorer who has added to his game. He made his bones early in his career as an athletic driver who was really dangerous as a pull-up shooter from mid range. Now, he's become just as dangerous from deep and is playing with all kinds of confidence. Guys like him score in big numbers and he reminds me a lot of former Missouri star Marcus Denmon. If he's anything like him, he'll do huge things.
DYNAMIC DUO LEADS CAMDEN TO BIG WIN
On one side was Temecula (Calif.) Rancho Christian and No. 1 ranked senior Evan Mobley. On the other Camden (N.J.) High with Kentucky bound senior Lance Ware and freshman Dajuan Wagner Jr. In a battle of West v. East, it was Ware and Wagner who combined for 35 points to lead their team to a two point win.
I love what Ware can bring to the table at Kentucky. He's got to get stronger, but he has an energy and bounce to him around the rim and in the lane that the Wildcats are missing with their current group of bigs. He can make a 12-15 foot jumper and despite his relatively lean frame, he flat out competes on both ends of the floor.
As for Wagner, well, get ready to read a lot about him over the years. The son of a former NBA player and Camden legend -- and one of the single most dominant high school scorers I have ever seen -- Dajuan Wagner, the freshman guard is dynamic in every way. He had some shots roll out that hurt his shooting percentage, but the skill and level of craft he showed to get any shot he wanted was simply ridiculous. It's hard to believe he won't turn 15 until May and he's got game way beyond his years.
For Rancho, the USC bound Mobley wasn't involved nearly enough. He was an afterthought to teammates for much of the game but also floated on the perimeter too much. He did finish with 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and four blocks but he and his team came up short.
FUTURE BIG TEN FOES TEAM UP FOR WIN
Two of the country's top teams locked up in a slugfest as La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere outlasted Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga for a 47-42 win.
First of all, Eastern Kentucky stole one signing La Lu point guard Wendell Green. He led his team with scoring and while he isn't the biggest guy, he is tough and leads from the point of attack. But, I want to address a pair of Big Ten bound teammates of his in four-star senior guard Jaden Ivey who is committed to Purdue and Minnesota bound four-star junior big man Treyton Thompson.
Some readers may wonder why I want to single out Ivey who didn't play particularly well, spent a big stretch of the second half on the bench and only scored four points. Here's why, teenagers are going to have bad days and I want to see how they handle some adversity. Instead of moping or going through the motions, Ivey remained engaged on the bench and the floor. When he got his chance late he contributed to a few big stops and then scored the game's most crucial basket on a nasty contested dunk that effectively ended the game. That's how you handle adversity.
As for Thompson, this was my first time ever seeing him in person. He's slight of build but has very good hands and is mobile with some lateral quickness. He went to work in the post and wasn't scared to attack stronger players and relied on getting good position and soft touch to finish. He's got a long way to go physically for sure, but he's a nice early pickup for Richard Pitino and the Gophers.
For Gonzaga, I was able to get my first look at touted 2022 shooting guard Judah Mintz and he made a strong first impression. Bouncy, lived bodied and has some pop to him as a scorer with feel for the game. He looks like a guy to monitor for our rankings in the sophomore class.
RIVALS150 SENIOR MWANI WILKINSON COMES UP BIG, NEARS DECISION
When it came time to make some toughness plays and lead Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman to a win over Roselle (N.J.) Catholic, four-star senior Mwani Wilkinson was there to get it done.
One of the most athletic and pound for pound physically tough players in the country, it's not a surprise that he got it started with a brilliant defensive play. He hedged on a screen to disrupt a drive and then recovered to sky and reject an attempted alley oop to monster big man Clifford Omoruyi. Then, he scored several clutch baskets down the stretch and finish with a win.
When I last checked in with Wilkinson during December, he had been hoping to set up a visit with Texas Tech. Now, he says they are pretty much out and that he'll pick between LSU, USC, UNLV, Vanderbilt and it could be sooner than later.
"I think I could be doing something pretty soon," said Wilkinson. "I'm getting close. I won't need to wait until the season is over."
Prior to Wilkinson taking over, four-star junior Will McClendon carried the load for Gorman. Not only did he hit several deep threes, he filled in quite well at the point for another four-star junior Zaon Collins when Collins suffered a tailbone injury. Last month, McClendon hit UCLA for an official visit.
As for Omoruyi, he was tremendous for Roselle Catholic and it was a shame he didn't get more touches. I saw several instances where he was wide open commanding the ball and his teammates simply refused to hit him for easy buckets. He made the most of his nine shot attempts by hitting seven to score 14 while grabbing eight boards and blocking two shots. He's down to Arizona State, Auburn, Connecticut, Kentucky and Rutgers. So far the only official visit he's used is to Auburn (he's been to UConn and Rutgers unofficially) and it looks like it will be until the end of the season before he does any other visits.
MICHIGAN BOUND DICKINSON ATONES FOR BIG MISTAKE
Midway through the fourth quarter, Michigan bound big man Hunter Dickinson of Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha made a big mistake when he fouled a three-point shooter for Chicago (Ill.) Simeon. The seven-footer then compounded things by picking up a technical for woofing at the refs over the call.
He would make up for it.
After a pretty quiet game, Dickinson ramped things up down the stretch and got tough on the interior scoring the majority of his points down the stretch. Dickinson finished with 15 points and seven rebounds and showed the exact role he can play for Juwan Howard on the next level. He'll eat space, finish with touch to 15 feet and dish out some occasional pain or send a message with a physical foul.
Prior to Dickinson taking over, it had been the Earl Timberlake show. The future Miami Hurricane and current five-star was just too strong and too tough for anybody to deal with. He punished the rim, pushed the ball in transition and was basically the DeMatha's offense for the first three quarters of the game. There's no question he can play immediately in the ACC, heck he would help Miami now. He finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and three assists.
For Simeon, DePaul bound junior guard Ahamad Bynum had it cooking from deep early hitting several deep threes and putting pressure on the defense. He looks like a great fit for the Big East and is a microwave like scorer with Chicago toughness. He cooled off late but finished with 18 points and seven rebounds. Also for Simeon, unsigned three-star senior Jeremiah Williams continued his strong season. He's athletic and has crazy energy that puts him around each and every loose ball. Pushing 6-foot-5 he's got some size and will make a jumper here and there as well. Southern Illinois and Valpo are among those involved.
YALE SIGNEE STEALS SHOW AGAINST UNC BOUND R.J. DAVIS
The second game of the day didn't go quite as expected on Saturday.
Archbishop Stepinac out of New York was supposed to have the upper hand against Manchester (Conn.) East Catholic but it didn't turn out that way.
Stepinac was without Duke bound five-star junior wing A.J. Griffin (knee) and by the time North Carolina bound four-star senior R.J. Davis scored his first bucket on a floater with 1:40 to go in the first quarter, Stepinac was already 17 points in the hole.
Making a statement during the game was Yale bound senior wing Matt Knowling. For the game he was the best player on the floor and his attacks on the basket, tough defense and timely rebounding put East Catholic in a good spot. He appears to be a very nice signing for Yale and finished with a game high 26 points and eight rebounds.
As for Davis, he finished with a hard working 29 points but it wasn't a vintage performance. The idea is that he'll help to stretch the floor during his career in Chapel Hill but he just didn't have his jumper from deep on Saturday. Davis missed all six of his shots from deep and was more effective off the dribble. Davis did a nice job on the glass grabbing eight rebounds but also had six turnovers to just three assists. At least early on, he'll be at his best playing with another ball handler.
JYARE DAVIS LOOKING LIKE SOLID PICKUP FOR PROVIDENCE
After missing time between junior and senior year with injury, I like what I saw out of future Providence forward Jyare Davis as he scored 18 points to help lead Hockessin (Del.) Sanford School to a win over Albany (N.Y.) Academy.
Davis is strong, has a nice inside and out game and looks to be a good fit for the Big East. I would expect Ed Cooley to appreciate Davis' toughness and that he can play either the three or the four in Providence lineups. He'll pressure, he'll rebound and he is a team player. After watching combo guard commit Allyn Breed on Friday, I feel pretty good about those two guys future with the Friars.
For Albany, it was a mixed bag for future UConn Husky Andre Jackson. An elite athlete who has had a strong senior season, Jackson didn't have his greatest game. He hit a few deep jumpers late, but between the second and third quarters while the game was in the balance he was relatively quiet. Looking forward, it's always going to be a matter of whether or not he can be consistent.