Classic at Damien: Ten Best

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Southern California

Posted On: 12/28/17 11:27 AM

The Classic at Damien has cemented has cemented itself as one of the top post-holiday high school basketball tournaments on the west coast.

The Classic draws most of Southern California’s top teams and is beginning to branch out to the national level as the tournament directors added another 16-team division and brought in a couple of out of state teams.

Plenty of top prospects showcased their skills Tuesday and these ten players made Wednesday’s “Ten Best” list.

Ten Best

Best Scoring Performance: Tevian Jones, Culver City

The 6-foot-6 junior swingman scored 47 points in the Centaurs triple overtime loss to Taft, and while he did force the issue at times, Jones scored from all three levels. He stepped in to transition 3-pointers, threw down a couple of bouncy dunks in transition and finished better through contact around the rim.

Best Distributor: Kihei Clark, Taft

The Virginia-bound point guard had his full passing repertoire on display and even when his teammates blew easy opportunities he created, Clark continued to trust them and feed them the rock in spots where they could be successful. It all paid off in a shot-for-shot battle with Culver City and Clark, a 5-foot-8 senior, finished with double digit assists and the game-winning bucket.

Best Shooting Performance: T.J. Wainwright, Culver City

The awkward releasing lefty was on fire in Culver City’s loss, knocking down 10 3-pointers en route to 34 points. Wainwright. A 5-foot-10 pure two guard, is deadly off the catch from any spot and any range and has one of the quickest releases you’ll find for a prospect his age.

Best Rebounder: Jordan Guest, Santa Margarita

The Boston University-signee brings a much-needed physical presence to the Eagles lineup and much of that is felt on the offensive and defensive glass. Guest, a 6-foot-8 forward, thrives off of contact and physicality, finds a body in the paint when a shot goes up and grabs the ball at its peak.

Best Clutch Performance: Elijah Harkless, Etiwanda

Harkless is an unsigned senior who has been turning the heads of college coaches through the first couple of days at Damien. The Eagles were locked in a close game with Oak Park before the 6-foot-3 combo guard stepped in and made two huge plays down the stretch. Harkless slid in front of a driving Wes Slajchert and took a charge on one end before attacking the basket on the next possession and nailing two free throws with 11.5 seconds left to give Etiwanda the win.

Dylan Gaines is one of the better perimeter defenders in SoCal.

Best Perimeter Defender: Dylan Gaines, Etiwanda

Gaines is a big guard at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, but moves very well laterally for his size and is a flat out dog on the defensive end of the floor. Even though Wes Slajchert had a good game for Oak Park, Gaines made him work for every look, forcing him off balance into shots he normally wouldn’t make. The unsigned senior forced the game-ending turnover with his ball-hawking defense.

Best Gritty Performers: Isaiah Morris, Vista and Nick Bowden, St. Bernard

Both of these guys play with a huge chip on their shoulders and the head-to-head matchup between the teams didn’t disappoint. Morris is an intense combo guard headed to Cal State Dominguez Hills and he made a number of tough shots and high IQ plays down the stretch for the Panthers.

Bowden talks a lot of junk on the court and it seems to pump him and his game up to another level. The 5-foot-9 sophomore knocked down a handful of big time shots in crunch time and made key plays at the defensive end, as well, in the winning effort for the Vikings.

Best Last Shot Taker: Wayne Arnold, Dominguez

Arnold hit a fading right corner triple at the buzzer to help Dominguez top Rolling Hills Prep, 46-45, and advance to the Gold Division semifinals. It was the second straight day Arnold sunk an opponent with a last second shot and there are few other guys who I’d want letting one fly with the game on the line.

Best Efficiency Score: Jake Kyman, Santa Margarita

Kyman has been shooting at a high clip from the field this season and Wednesday was no different. The 6-foot-7 junior didn’t miss in the first half of the Eagles win over Pasadena and finished with 21 points on 70 percent from the field. Kyman isn’t a guy that just shoots high percentage looks, either, which makes his efficiency all the more impressive.

Best Grid-Hoop Performer: Jeremiah Martin, Cajon

Martin helped Cajon to a CIF State championship football appearance, tallying better than 32 sacks as a defensive end this past season. While the 6-foot-6 forward says he’s still getting back into “basketball shape,” he hasn’t missed a beat. Martin a freakish vertical athlete with power and strength to boot. He pursues rebounds with ferocity, looks to dunk everything around the basket and can knock down the occasional 3-pointer.