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Posted On: 01/7/17 3:19 PM
While the snow that blanketed the midatlantic region caused a number of cancelations, including the second day of the Chance Harman Classic, it didn’t keep the highlight game of Day 1 from occurring as USA Today’s #18 and top ranked team in VA Blue Ridge met up with perennial powerhouse Huntington Prep of West Virginia in Floyd County to help support Pediatric Cancer Research. The game featured over ten possible division one players, including Florida commit Chase Johnson, Clemson commit Aamir Simms and top 20 wing Keldon Johnson who was the former #1 player in Vantage Hoop’s 2018 rankings. Huntington came out hot, but Blue Ridge fought back in the second quarter before Huntington ended on a 12-2 run to go into halftime with an 8 point lead. The Barons fought back, tying the game on three separate occasions, but the size, athleticism and depth of Huntington wore them down and eventually gave them their first loss of the season 85-77 to move them to 13-1 on the season.
MVP | Keldon Johnson | Huntington Prep ’18
The former number one ranked player in Virginia showed exactly why he’s considered a top 20 player in the country for his class. Since moving to Huntington from Park View in South Hill, VA, Johnson has shown that he has much more to his game than just a big scoring wing. Playing with great talent around him, he’s become an all around playmaker on the offensive end and a better overall player as well. He was efficient, unselfish, a leader and hands down the best player on the floor.
Play of the Game | Keshawn Bryant | Huntington ’18
There were a number of highlight reel worthy finishes, but the nod has to go to Huntington’s 2018 wing DeShawn Bryant who had a number of tough finishes for them. My personal favorite came about midway through the first quarter, when Bryant caught a skip in the right corner, attacked the closeout and exploded off two feet and finished way above the rim with two hands in traffic. He also won the dunk contest easily, with finishes like the one below.
Best Offensive Performer | Keldon Johnson | Huntington Prep ’18
Despite an offensive outburst by Blue Ridge guard Darius McGhee which we will talk about later, Johnson’s ability to takeover the game and still make his teammates better was a big reason they won the game. He finished with 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the floor, and he pitched in a game high seven assists and had six rebounds as well.
Best Defensive Performer | Sardarr Calhoun | Blue Ridge ’18
He showed improvement on the offensive end (as you’ll see below), but possibly Calhoun’s biggest attribute is his ability to guard multiple positions, or in this case everybody because Huntington plays a lot of positionless guys. Calhoun did a great job against highly touted wing Chris Smith, holding him to just nine points on 2-for-7 shooting from the floor. He’s a great lockdown defender, and once he understands team concepts better he could be one of the top defenders in VA.
Best Guy off the Bench | Rasir Bolton | Huntington Prep ’18
It was a toss up between Bolton and the other guard off the bench Jon Kabongo, but Bolton’s clutch free throws down the stretch give him the slight nod. The nationally ranked point guard who just transferred from Bishop Sullivan in Virginia Beach gave a huge spark off the bench in the first half when Huntington needed it, scoring eight points quickly in the second quarter when momentum was swinging Blue Ridge way. He finished with 12 points and two assists, shooting a perfect 3-for-3 from the floor and 4-for-5 from the line.
Best Intangibles | Josh Colon | Blue Ridge ’17
Going up against nationally ranked players didn’t intimidate the 5’8” point guard from Blue Ridge, because he’s always been overlooked and underrated. A lightning quick and tough as nails lead guard, Colon stepped up with Blue Ridge star Aamir Simms in foul trouble, scoring 23 points and dishing out four assists in their loss. Colon had no problems attacking Huntington’s big front line and wings in the paint, and no matter how hard he was put on the floor he came right back at them the next play down.
Best Under the Radar Performer | Darius McGhee | Blue Ridge ’18
The other 5’8” guard for Blue Ridge, McGhee was lights out for the Barons in the second half and if it weren’t for the toughness of Colon and him the game likely would not have been that close. While Colon is more under the radar, McGhee showed that despite his height he has the toughness and scoring ability to be the best scorer on the floor regardless of who’s on it. Playing against three nationally ranked guards that were 6’2”, 6’2” and 6’6”, McGhee went for 29 points, 21 of them in the second half, and did so by attacking the bigs, getting to the line 12 times and converting on 11 of those trips.
Best Underclassman | Jaden Frazier | Blue Ridge ’19
Frazier has always had the skill set, but it was the confidence and toughness that he seemed to lack early in his career. Against one of the best teams he’s played in high school, Frazier came out aggressive on both ends, scoring six points and grabbing four rebounds in the first half. He showed improved post moves with a couple nice jump hooks, and he banged inside, even picking up a technical when things got chippy because he wouldn’t back down.
Best Inside Presence | Chase Johnson | Huntington Prep ’17
The Florida commit was outstanding inside for Huntington, and his versatility goes so well with the likes of Johnson, Bolton, Kabongo and the rest of the attacking HP guards. He can step outside and knock down the midrange, is athletic enough to finish lobs at the basket and he’s tough enough to bang inside and rebound with other bigs. The 6’9” Johnson finished with 19 points and eight rebounds.
Most Improved Shooter | Sardarr Calhoun | Blue Ridge ‘18
Calhoun has always been an intriguing prospect with good size on the wing and freak athleticism, but it seems like the move to Blue Ridge is already starting to pay off in his improvement. While he isn’t the first option offensively, Calhoun showed improvement in his three-point shot, going 3-for-4 from deep including two that were at least from NBA range. The 6’5” wing shot it very confidently, and if he can continue to improve that along with his team defense he should see mid major programs come rushing to St. George for him soon.