Posted On: 12/2/17 8:50 PM
Holiday Hoopsgiving 2017: What We Learned…
• Montverde Academy (FL) is LOADED with talent:
o When your starting five consists of Florida, Gonzaga, Maryland, Georgia Tech, and Duke commits, you’re usually going to be in pretty good shape against your opponent. That is case for Kevin Boyle and his staff, as they came to Holiday Hoopsgiving and made their presence felt with two victories by an average of 39.5 points against formidable opponents in Trinity Episcopal (VA) and Westside-Macon (GA). All eyes were on the top prospect in the 2018 class in Duke commit RJ Barrett; and although Barrett didn’t disappoint, averaging 29.5 points on the weekend, it was the pace of the Eagles as a whole that resembled a collegiate or even a professional team. They have the length to block shots and keep the ball in play which then allows them to move the ball in transition with ease, finishing with lay-ups and dunks within seconds of the blocked shots. Another player that I was impressed with from this team was point guard and Georgia Tech commit Michael Devoe. At 6’3”, Devoe has great size to play the point guard position at the next level and plays with great pace even when leading the attack for a team looking to break 100 points every time out. Averaging 23 ppg in the Hoopsgiving showcase, the south paw has a smooth stroke from three and always found himself in the lane to score with a floater or tossing a lob to one of his many athletic teammates. Throw in consistent role players like Mahki Mitchell, Trevon Wade, and Andrew Nembhard and there is no drop off after Barrett and Devoe which makes the 2nd ranked high school team in the nation a legitimate one.
• Mountain Brook (AL) is fundamentally sound and well coached:
o There is a video from “Hoop Diamonds” twitter account that shows a one possession clip lasting about 2 minutes where this Mountain Brook team
worked the ball around against Norcross’ match-up zone, ending the possession with a wide open 3 from the corner. The video epitomizes the patience and discipline that this team possesses as they wore down both of their opponents at the Holiday Hoopsgiving. The Spartans are centered around 5-star guard Trendon Watford who put on a show against Norcross with 36 points, on 9-12 shooting and, and left the tournament averaging an impressive 29.5 ppg. He’s a player that can get it done on all three levels but made a living attacking the lane and getting to the line where he shot over 85% from the stripe over the two games. Throw in sharp shooter Britton Johnson and versatile wing Sean Elmore and there is no reason to doubt a back to back 7A Alabama state championship for the Spartans by seasons end.
• Ashton Hagans Newton (GA) could be Georgia’s high school edition 2016-17 Russell Westbrook:
o Ashton Hagans, who has been a hot commodity over the past few years, proved that Hoopsgiving was nothing more than just another opportunity for him to showcase his talents once more. The junior from Covington is a true floor general that makes those around him better while still being able to take over games when necessary. Hagans averaged a triple double (20.5 ppg, 11 rpg, and 11 apg) over the Hoopsgiving weekend and has posted similar numbers over the entire season for the Rams. Newton only took part in one game but edged out a scrappy Pebblebrook (GA) team by nine on day two of the showcase. With the absence of an impressive senior class from a season ago, the arrival of new playmakers such as Tre Clark and Tyrease Brown have been paramount to the Rams’ 6-0 start this season. Newton will again be a tough out when playoffs commence but his triple-double watch through the regular season will be something to keep an eye on as well.
• Khavon Moore Westside-Macon GA) is as good as advertised
o Although his team was outdone by the #2 team in America, Georgia’s top prospect in the 2018 class did what he could in the match-up with Montverde Academy at the 4th annual Hoopsgiving showcase. Khavon Moore had the opportunity of matching up with RJ Barrett which for a lot of guards is a nightmare match-up, but Moore displayed his abilities totaling 26 points and 8 assists for the Seminoles. This game was simply an opportunity to go against the best and Moore showed that he is more than capable of hanging with one of the perennial powerhouses in the country, individually. Westside will still have an opportunity to win class 3A and will do with Moore leading the way along with a scrappy supporting cast.
• Jalen Lecque of the Christ School (NC) will be a Stud on the Collegiate Level
o The most impressive performance over the weekend from a player I didn’t know much about going into the Hoopsgiving showcase, came from The Christ School’s Jalen Lecque. In the match-up against McEachern, Lecque was smart with the basketball; possessing a great handle and finding teammates on several flashy no look passes. He finished the game with 27 points and 11 rebounds in a loss, but in my opinion, the best player on the floor in the matchup. Lecque, who is fresh off an Oregon offer, has big time athleticism and will surely see more offers roll in as he continues to dominate as the primary option for the Greenies.
• Trinity Episcopal (VA) has a nice Guard/Big Combo
o Trinity Episcopal was the second team, along with Westside-Macon, that had the pleasure of matching up with Montverde at Hoopsgiving last weekend. Even though the Titans lost by 31, I saw some impressive takeaways from the game. For starters, the play of Old Dominion commit Jason Wade. The 6’5” slasher should fit perfectly with the Monarchs of ODU with his hard nose play on both ends of the f
loor. He was fearless in his attack to the basket and rebounded amongst the trees of Montverde Academy as well. The second individual that impressed on this Trinity Episcopal team was forward Armando Bacot. The 6’10” junior had arguably the most impressive dunk on the first night of Hoopsgiving, finishing with two hands over the top of Montverde Academy’s Alex Kotov. Bacot has impressive bounce and a nice touch around the rim which allowed him to average 21 points and 10 rebounds in the Titans’ two games over the weekend. This again is a formidable duo that will keep Trinity Episcopal in any match-up within their state this season.
• Norcross has a legitimate big 4
o The Blue Devils are coming off a state championship appearance last season and lost 3 pivotal players from that roster; however, this year’s team has used last year’s returners as well as one new addition that does the bulk of their damage offensively this year. Kyle Sturdivant, JoJo Toppin, and Dalvin White logged in many minutes a year ago, but it is the young sophomore Brandon Boston Jr. that completes this quartet for Jesse McMillan’s squad. Sturdivant leads the way with his complete package offensively; possessing a point guard like handle but still having the strength and finishing ability of a wing. His IQ is top notch and is the reason for his knowledgeable play on the defensive end getting steals for buckets and assists on the other end. Toppin, who recently signed to UGA, is the most athletic of the four, and uses that athleticism to sky for rebounds, dunks, and jump shots over contesting defenders. White is the speedster that makes up for any lack of height with his tenacity and 3-point shooting ability on the catch and off the dribble. He is one of the senior leaders and the heart beat of this team and his positive play will remain pivotal. And Boston Jr. possesses it all on the offensive end. At 6’5” he has a great release and is almost automatic when left open from 3. He has long arms to create havoc in the passing lanes of any trap situation defensively. He understands the game and has a smooth style of play that should bode well for him against any opponent. The Blue Devils came up short against Mountain Brook on Friday but came back the next day victorious against a tough nationally ranked Wesleyan Christian team on Saturday. Norcross is 6-1 so far on the year and will be a state championship favorite again for Georgia’s highest classification of high school hoops.