Thursday night ESPN put together three fantastic high school basketball games dripping with talent. Who stood out among the best of the best? ESPN Showcase: The Best in Show gives you the Five Best, The Five New Names to Know, and more.
The Five Best
of Minnehaha Academy HS (MN) 2021. somehow took his reputation as America’s number one senior prospect and number one 2021 high school basketball player, and strengthened it with an iron fist. Holgmren’s 31 points, dozen rebounds, eight blocks and five assists was put together shooting 72 percent from the field (13 of 18) while facing the player who many believe – or at least did until last night – is the best high school prospect in the last ten years. Chet is considered the best shot blocker in high school basketball leading to a reputation as a complete defensive game changer, and he did that once again with eight swats and numerous shot contests. However, Chet’s spin move into a finger roll is on track to become a national trademark, if Chet’s knockdown three-point touch getting to space off a ball screen doesn’t get there first.
of Ypsi Prep (MI) 2022. When knocked out his four threes on his way to a 36 point national televised evening, it had that feel of a professional shooter. The touch, confidence, and timing of a 6-foot-9 riflemen that will be at the top of the Lottery soon. The ease at which Bates handles the basketball blitzing out of each dribble to space also ranks with the best and it led to his 11 of 22 shooting and 36 points. There is no defender at the high school level that can consistently move their frame into space to defend Bates (he was at the foul line to make 10 of 13 foul shots). Throw in the ten boards and that was a professional scoring night.
of Coronado HS (NV) 2021. If you love shooters you will love . And you will be hoping for Hardy to land in the lap of your favorite NBA franchise very soon. Few basketball players have developed the same beauty with their quick release as Hardy has and his ice cold focus locks defenders out of the picture regardless of their defensive position. Hardy had the top scoring night of the ESPN Showcase putting 39 points in the book on 13 of 26 shooting leading Coronado to an 89-83 victory. There are attacking scorers (39 points), and there are shooters (7 made threes), and then there’s who is both.
of Coronado HS (NV) 2021. When the game was on the line, Michigan recruit made plays. Need a basket? Collins posted up and scored. Need a board in traffic? Frankie threw his body into a mass and pulled down what was likely the game winning board. Who is going to get that loose ball? Collins chased it down and sent it ahead for a basket. Throw in a late foul shot for an 89-83 win and your four-star guard was the difference in the clutch. Collins finished with 19 points and seven assists.
MJ Rice of Oak Hill Academy (VA) 2022. I like to use the term small forward or “three” even though people hate it. Positionless basketball is the modern day term and I agree, but coaches still position guys via the one, two, three, etc. But in this case, it seems very odd to call MJ Rice a small forward because he shoots the ball so well from the wing (that’s a position name!) and he has the arms/strength of someone on Vince McMahon’s roster so the power at forward (power forward!) is there too. Oak Hill Academy does a marvelous job of instilling team defensive fundamentals into its players and Rice fits that mold as well. Rice ha 17 points on 5 of 9 shooting (two threes, a long jumper, two muscle buckets, several foul shots) , grabbed seven boards, assisted four times and had an early seat in a 17 point win.
The Five New Names to Know (On a National Level)
of Lake Norman (NC), 2021. The West Point commit had one of the more memorable games of the night for me standing out as the poster child for “I will do whatever it takes for us to win”. Allenspach had a double-double of 11 points and 15 boards throwing his body into the paint to collect with two strong hands. AJ defended well, he handled the ball in transition, and contested shots like a college veteran. In my opinion he’s a steal for the Army program.
Camryn Carter of Oak Hill Academy (VA) 2021. It’s my belief the recruitment of Camryn Carter is about to explode into orbit and last night’s ESPN Showcase was the launching pad. Carter produced a game high 20 points making 8 of 11 attempts proving to be the most efficient offensive player on the floor. Carter earned his attempts by sprinting in transition for a score and then following that up with the rewarding kickout for a three (a sequence occurring three times). Carter made four shots at the arc and likely earned himself about 20 calls from high major schools today (Steve Smith’s phone will be ringing). Georgetown, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Virginia Tech are among those that have offered.
of Coronado HS (NV) 2023. Kambala earned the nod of 6th Man of the ESPN Showcase with an 11 point, five board, six assist performance off the bench. Kambala’s instant impact scoring with touch attacks combined with a rapid transition push kept him on the floor for the duration. Kambala was another trusted hand facing one of the nation’s top teams and that played an important role in Coronado’s ability to consistently put points on the board. Kambala and teammate (8 points, 10 rebounds) proved to be the most productive underclassmen of the contest.
of Minnehaha Academy (MN) 2022. seemed born to shoot the basketball. And what makes him even more dangerous is that he knows it. Smith sunk eight three-pointers in the Redhawks win including a late game dagger that was as cold as an iceball on a Minnesota February night. Smith’s reaction after each make? An expression of certainty. In all Donovan scored 24 crucial points knocking down 8 of 13 field goal attempts for the winners. Offered by Toledo and South Alabama after the game.
of Oak Hill Academy (VA) 2021. The term Microwave in basketball circles is often given to the player that comes off the bench and instantly releases (and makes) shot attempts with confidence. That’s what did last night for Oak Hill with his four three-pointers and 15 points total. The Lake Norman defense didn’t seem ready to closeout on him especially in quick transition so Williams put the ball down for a dribble and quickly lifted into the touch. Offer list includes George Washington, Hampton, Richmond, Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, and others.
Five More Headliners (+1)
of Ypsi Prep (MI) 2021. The 4-star Michigan State commit scored 17 points on 7 of 14 shooting including three three-pointers made.
of Sierra Canyon HS (CA) 2022. The 5-star, top five junior played to his potential scoring 29 points with six assists shooting 11 of 21 from the field.
Chance Westry of Sierra Canyon HS (CA) 2022. A top 30 player in the junior class, Westry gave the country a glimpse of his playmaking potential scoring 17 points with seven assists.
Shy Odom of Sierra Canyon HS (CA) 2022. When top 200 junior power forward Shy Odom got his hands on the ball good things happened. Scored 22 points on 8 of 11 shooting and totaled a double-double with his ten boards.
of Oak Hill Academy (VA) 2021. The all around stat stuffer of the night, top 200 senior helped his team win with eight points, a dozen boards, and six assists.
Mickey Williams of Lake Norman (NC). Williams is one of the most explosive scoring threats in the nation. Last night Williams scored his 24 points on 7 of 12 shooting overall while also making 8 of 13 foul shots.