Posted On: 11/24/19 3:43 PM

Like previous years, the Jared Cook Classic’s 2019 field is loaded with talent and big names. While some of the top dogs came to play and impressed, Day 1 of the event also provided an opportunity for new names to step up and prove themselves. Here are a few that left their mark on the opening day.

Iajah Phillips (Lanier)– A transfer from Mill Creek, Phillips came into his junior season as an unknown, but is doing his best to change that quickly. He is providing Lanier with another quality option in the backcourt alongside Sion James and Andrew McConnell. Although he’s only about 5’11”, Phillips has a chiseled body and is a tremendous athlete. He can explode to the rim with ease and doesn’t hesitate to do so among bodies in traffic. Phillips stays under control with his athleticism and is capable of finishing inside even after taking contact and adjusting his body mid-air. What I’ve liked most from him early this year is his that he is not complacent on the court. His physical attributes are used on defense, he runs hard in transition, and stays around the action for loose balls. I think we’re going to hear Phillips’ name a good bit more this winter.

 

Draylan Burton (Powdersville)- The one out-of-state team at the event had Day 1’s highest-scoring individual performance as Burton went for 33 points in a valiant effort against Apalachee. He did not waste any time inserting himself into the action, scoring the first 8 points for the Patriots. Burton is exceptionally strong and bullied his way to the basket many times during the game. An impressive balance of scoring was used by Burton as he connected on 4 triples and look for mid-range opportunities also. Even when the defense was entirely focused on him in the 2nd half, Burton found ways to manufacture points to keep his team in the game. I really liked Burton’s on the defensive end; he constantly bothered defenders with active hands and created numerous turnovers. He is one for coaches to look into the rest of this winter.

 

Jonathan Taylor (Mill Creek)- Mill Creek’s primary option, Jack Kostel, played as expected in the Hawks’ win over South Gwinnett yesterday, but I was impressed with how Taylor stepped up and contributed also. With Zion Wimby hindered by an injury, Taylor emerged as another point producer outside of Kostel and ended as the other double-digit scorer for the Hawks. Just a freshman, Taylor did not display any type of tentativeness or nerves. He challenged bigger defenders in the paint and showed he can hit mid-range shots as well. Taylor already has some athleticism and used it to grab multiple rebounds and make a few defensive plays for Mill Creek throughout the game. Although he may not be ready to consistently give the type of production he provided yesterday, I think a bright future is ahead for him.

 

Jordan Brown (St. Francis)- St. Francis came out firing in their highly-anticipated against Pace, and all of the attention was on Brown early. He sank 4 3’s in the 1st quarter alone, barely even touching the rim on the makes. Brown also showed a reliable pull-up jumper once defenders started to run him off of the 3-point line. He finished with 19 points for the game, 15 coming from deep, and got those points without taking a bunch of shots. When you have a guy like Dwon Odom who can get in the paint whenever he wants, a reliable outside shooter is important, and that’s what Brown is proving to be. This goes without mentioning his own ability to breakdown defenders and create, which he has displayed early in his high school career and will be even more evident next year.

 

Kobe Jackson (North Gwinnett)- Jackson showed some potential during June and had a nice start to the season for the Bulldogs last night. He’s really quick in the open court and can get by guys to finish at the basket pretty easily. This quickness is evident on the defensive side of the ball too. Once the opposition adjusted to his ability to penetrate, Jackson showed he could knock down shots beyond the arc, hitting 2 3’s in the game on his way to 15 points. Jackson played with good energy and although he primarily looks to score, he had a few nice moments passing the ball as well. As he continues to mature and improve his decision-making, Jackson will be a big help to North Gwinnett’s success. Having him and Brendan Rigsbee, who also played well against Heritage, gives the Bulldogs a nice 2021 duo.