Posted On: 02/10/21 6:14 PM
After seven of their first eight games were postponed due to COVID-19, as expected, Classen SAS got off to a slow and unconventional start to the season. By the new year, while most schools had a month of games under their belt, the Comets were trying to get into a rhythm. After a (1-1) start through Dec. 31., they’ve gone (11-1) and are actively climbing the ranks of class 4A as the regular season nears an end.
With a (12-1) record after a dominating performance at home against 2A’s No. 4-ranked Millwood Falcons, Classen SAS looks better than the team last year that qualified for the State Tournament before the OSSAA canceled due to COVID.
While Classen has a team full of contributors, they have a big three that make them elite. That big three consists of two seniors, Camari SmileyCamariSmiley6'3" | SFClassen SAS | 2021StateOK and Anthony TurnerAnthonyTurner6'2" | PGClassen SAS | 2021StateOK, and one junior, Tony PalmaTonyPalma6'0" | PGClassen SAS | 2022StateOK. They are the most cohesive trio in the state and wreak havoc for opposing teams on both ends of the floor.
Smiley is a 6-foot-3 combo-guard that seemingly does everything on the court. From running point to providing instant offense with his ability to shoot over most guards with his length, go around defenders with his speed and craftiness, or out-muscle a defender in the paint with his bulky stature, Smiley is Mr. Do It All for the Comets.
In addition to the way he plays on the offensive end, Smiley’s hustle drives his defensive game. He’s active, he plays fundamental defense, and his awareness results in steals, blocks, deflections that result in turnovers, and altered shots.
On Friday, Smiley wasn’t as effective in the scoring department but played a vital role in the Comets win with a near triple-double, seven points, ten assists, and 12 rebounds.
Palma is the youngest of the three by just being a junior, but he’s the smartest. Palma’s one of, if not the most, cerebral point guards in 4A and among the best in the state regardless of class, yet he hasn’t gotten much credit or attention.
He’s a true point guard that rarely makes mistakes, and during crunch time, you absolutely want the ball in his hands. Palma can score from three and can weasel his way to the basket against most defenders, but that’s not his priority. His focus is to put Turner, Smiley, and other teammates in the best positions to score.
Palma also had a balanced stat line with eight points, nine assists, and two steals against Millwood.
Turner warrants the most attention from opposing teams because he’s Classen’s Swiss army knife and a jack of all trades on the court. At 6-foot-4, Turner’s primary position for the Comets is in the post, but he’s not limited to that. Turner won’t play the post in college, he’ll be a guard, and that transition won’t be a big deal for him.
Though most of his buckets come from the painted area, simply because teams can’t deal with his athleticism, Turner regularly steps out to the perimeter and instantly becomes a threat from deep. He’s comfortable bringing the ball up the court and creating his shot or creating buckets for his teammates, which is what makes the Comets so hard to beat.
Against Millwood, Turner was the high point man with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists on 3-of-7 shooting from three. Turner also had four steals and two blocks on the night, and none of these stats are atypical for him.
I’m not saying that other teams don’t have three guys as good as Classen’s, but this trio’s “do it all” mentality is what makes them the best trio in 4A. Most eyes are on Kingfisher, Heritage Hall, and Daniel Webster, but Classen SAS is just as much of a threat and will surprise some people come State Tournament time.
As for Smiley, Turner, and Palma, they all three have the makings of solid collegiate players with their two-way ability, raw talent, hustle, and exemplary character.