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Posted On: 05/21/18 8:00 AM
The West Coast Spring Showcase has officially come to a close in the Portland, Oregon metro area. Below, I review the top 5 interior defenders from the 17U Division of the tournament.
Dakota Kurahara – 6’7 – Nike Team Northwest (Knight) – Hood River H.S. (OR) – Class of 2018
Dakota Kurahara came to play this weekend. He wasn’t the tallest or strongest guy in the tournament, but he was certainly in the running for best rim protector throughout the tournament. Not only was he able to limit his man in the paint, but he was quick to contest and/or block shots out of help defense. Kurahara’s athleticism allows him to cover a lot of ground on the defensive end.
Andrew Graves – 6’10 – Fly Select (White) – Jefferson H.S. (OR) – Class of 2019
Need a big who can stretch the floor offensively and patrol the paint defensively? Take a look at Andrew Graves. The 6’10 big man was able to knock down a few threes this weekend, while shooting with fairly solid mechanics, in addition to blocking multiple shots per game. With Jefferson High School having lost their starting 4 and 5 to graduation, look for Graves to have an impact this June.
Kaden Perry – 6’8 – BG Select – Battle Ground H.S. (WA) – Class of 2021
Kaden Perry was probably the top prospect in this tournament, having already drawn the attention of multiple big-time Division I schools during his freshman year at Battle Ground High School. The 6’8 Perry is a rare combination of size, athleticism, offensive ability, and defensive awareness. He played like it this weekend. Opponents were unable to shoot in the paint as long as he was anchored in the middle. Perry also continues to develop his one-on-one defense in space.
Josh Morgan – 6’10 – EBA Pharaohs (Black) – Pleasant Grove H.S. (CA) – Class of 2019
Josh Morgan was hands-down the most impactful defensive player in this tournament. In his first game of the tournament, Morgan opened the game with 4 deflections in the paint within the first 3 minutes of the game, 2 of which were steals for the big man. He followed that up with 3 first-half blocks. With a high motor and a wingspan long enough to touch the ceiling, Morgan keeps the paint on lockdown. He helped lead EBA to the tournament championship, but the team had to forfeit the game in order to catch their plane back to California.
Matthew Kroner – 6’8 – Fly Select (Williams) – Chiawana H.S. (WA) – Class of 2019
Matthew Kroner is the type of gritty interior defender that coaches love. While he is not the shot-blocker that some of the aforementioned players are, he defends with IQ and spirit. He communicated better on defense than anyone in the tournament this weekend, calling out screens and help positions loud enough to hear across the gym. At one point in the quarterfinal game, Kroner checked back into the game with his team down 10. Fueled by his defensive presence, his team managed 3 straight stops, all of which led to scores, and cut the lead to 3 points. He and his team would go on to win that game, as well as the next, making it to the championship game, which they won as a result of a forfeit.