Posted On: 01/31/18 10:30 PM
The Old Redford/Detroit Loyola matchup was the marquee game of the Prep Ball Classic at Voyageur Prep on Saturday evening. Two quality teams, multiple Division I and small college prospects made this a can’t miss game.
The first half was a battle of contrasting style, as Old Redford pushed tempo after every defensive stop and usually converted with transition layups by Kenjuan Andrews in the open court. Loyola on the other hand, played offense at a more methodical pace, attempting to isolate the Raven bigs and use their quickness advantage. It was a stalemate for much of the first half until Loyola guard Cam Hudson was able to convert a 4 point play just before the half after drilling a triple and the foul. The third quarter was an absolute battle, with Myron Gardner getting to the rim and finishing at will for Loyola, while Aundre Polk started to impose his will on the offensive glass for Old Redford. During the later parts of the third quarter, junior guard Troy Lattimore would take over. The Ravens guard hit 4 triples, shredded the Loyola pick and roll defense off the dribble and carried his team to victory in a thrilling game.
Here are five items that stick out in the aftermath:
Lattimore had a nice first half, controlling the offense as the primary ballhandler with several nice dimes out of high pick and roll sets in addition to a few nice finishes at the rim. The second half though, Troy was absolutely dominant. The junior guard knocked down 4 triples, displayed highlight reel shiftiness with the handle and broke the collective spirit of Loyola. While Mark ‘Rocket’ Watts and Isaiah Jackson get the majority of the attention for good reason, Lattimore may very well be the X factor for the Ravens if they are to make a deep run in March.
I’ve watched Myron twice this week, and he was dominant against a good, but undersized Muskegon team. Old Redford presented a different challenge with 6’8 top 50 sophomore Isaiah Jackson tasked with stopping the athletic Loyola junior. Gardner wasn’t deterred, as he was able to get to the rim at will against Jackson with great change of direction crossovers that had the crowd buzzing before finishing through contact. Myron has improved his jumpshot vastly over the last year, and he was able to knock in 2 against the Ravens. Known widely as a one of the best athletes in the state, Gardner crushed the rim on a tip dunk with authority. A 6’5 wing with shot creation ability, a plus shot from distance, a college ready frame and tremendous athleticism generally equates to high-major. It’s going to be a big Spring/Summer for Myron on the AAU circuit.
Old Redford is absolutely loaded at the guard spot, and there isn’t much buzz about KenJuan just yet, but that is going to change soon. Andrews is in attack mode on every possession, he has the approach of senior guard rather than an experienced freshman. The 6’1 guard attacks the rim off the bounce relentlessly and forces his defender into a bad angle by applying constant pressure. He showed tremendous speed in the open court and finished at a high level with good body control. Kenjuan is at his best attacking downhill where he can use his athleticism to make plays. His jumpshot is a work in progress at this point, but you simply cannot teach his combination of athleticism, ballhandling and aggression. Andrews is a name to get familiar with in a hurry.
Cameron was ready for this matchup from the opening tip, that much was obvious. One of the better guards in the 2019 class, Hudson probed the Old Redford defense consistently and showed a great handle and nearly made his defender fall on more than one occasion. More impressively though was his vision, as the Loyola lead guard repeatedly found teammates for assists after drawing a secondary defender. As a scorer he was able to knock down a heavily contested triple through contact for a 4 point play just before the half and a had a few drives where he scored using a floater to avoid shotblocking. Cam absorbed contact off the dribble very well and maintained his handle with good balance and vision. Really solid game, he’s a very good prospect when locked in at this level.
The top 50 sophomore may very well have the most physical upside in the Midwest. At a legit 6’8 with a wingspan approaching 7’0, Jackson has prototype measurements with the athletic abilities to match. He put that athleticism to good use against Loyola, blocking 8 shots and altering a ton more. Isaiah has natural quick-twitch explosion that simply cannot be taught at any level. His ability to quickly elevate from a stagnant position to block a shot is simply elite, and he does it multiple times within a second or two at times. Jackson’s timing, verticality, length and size make him the best rim protector and helpside defender in the state. The scary part is he’s only in tenth grade. To think what he’ll be in 2 years is almost unfathomable.