Monday, January 21, 2013
Best of Monday from Hoophall
By Adam Finkelstein
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The 2013 Spalding Hoophall Classic saved the best for last as the final day of action on Monday included entertaining matchups from start to finish.
A sold-out gym watched some of the nation’s top prospects show out one after another, including huge showings from Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon and Nigel Williams-Goss, who nailed a game-winning 3 to give No. 2 Findlay Prep (Nev.) a comeback win over No. 1 Montverde Academy (Fla.) in a highly anticipated matchup of the nation’s top two teams.
Here were the best performances from Monday’s games at the Hoophall Classic.
Best Clutch Performance
Nigel Williams-Goss (Happy Valley, Ore./Findlay Prep)
2013, PG, 6-3, 180
Status: Signed with Washington For three quarters, Williams-Goss was solid but unspectacular, locking up Kasey Hill on the defensive end and showing his most consistent offense with his trademark floater. But in the fourth quarter, he simply took over the game and virtually single-handedly delivered a huge win, scoring 18 of his 26 points in the final quarter. His relentless attacking of the rim was punctuated by a dagger, game-winning 3-pointer to seal the come-from-behind win for Findlay. In total, he did a lot of everything -- defended, rebounded, took care of the basketball and, most of all, showed an ability to put his team on his back when needed the most.
Most Advanced Skill Set
Jabari Parker (Chicago/Simeon)
2013, SF, 6-8, 220
Status: Committed to Duke Parker’s offensive game is as mature as most NBA veterans. He’s super skilled with a high, compact release to shoot over defenders from the 3-point line and mid-range area alike. He also has terrific poise and decision-making, and excellent shot selection to help him score efficiently. He’s not necessarily the type of guy who is going to create his own shot at will, but his ability to thrive in an offensive structure will help him make an immediate impact next year at Duke, and also give him longevity down the road.
Most Impressive in Defeat
Aaron Gordon (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty)
2013, PF, 6-8, 210
Status: Considering Kentucky, Arizona and Washington It’s hard to fathom that anyone on a team that lost 81-46 could have been as impressive as Gordon was on Monday, but he shined in every way possible -- athleticism, production, motor, unselfishness and leadership. He put on an aerial assault that is likely to become the stuff of YouTube legend, but he also showed a tremendous nose for the ball coming off the glass, excellent passing skills for a frontcourt player and a shooting release that can be developed down the line. Most impressive was the way in which he competed to the max on every possession, stayed positive with his teammates and set an example for all 32 minutes.
Best True Center
Dakari Johnson (New York, N.Y./Montverde Academy)
2013, C, 6-10, 250
Status: Committed to Kentucky The recently reclassified senior still isn’t the most fluid athlete in the lane, but he’s gotten himself into the best shape of his high school career and is changing ends with long, fluid strides as a result. Johnson came out intent on making his presence felt against Findlay, and was a major factor on the offensive glass, utilizing his long arms and soft hands to rebound above his head in traffic and score on put-backs. He was also able to score by getting deep post touches, and even in the pick-and-roll. The bottom line was that Findlay had no answer for him or his frontcourt mate, West Virginia signee Devin Williams.
Toughest to Stop Off Down Screen
Brannen Greene (Monroe, Ga./Tift County)
2013, SG/SF, 6-6, 215
Status: Signed with Kansas Greene was perfect from behind the 3-point line in the first half and continued to be especially difficult to contain coming off down screens in the second, although Tift didn’t go to it nearly enough. He has a good sense for how to set his man up and read screens, and he is especially difficult to rattle -- even when properly defended -- because he has a compact and high release. The fact that he’s more of a threat to find his teammates only keeps defenders that much more honest.
Biggest Green Light
Nick Emery (Highland, Utah/Lone Peak)
2013, G, 6-2, 180
Status: Signed with BYU The southpaw sniper is listed as a point guard in our database, but he was doing anything but thinking about his teammates in Monday’s game. This guy is a flamethrower, and he only needs half a second of daylight to launch. He has that ultra confidence all great shot makers possess, which allows him to hit shots off his back foot or fading away. With just a little better shot selection, Emery will be the closest thing to Jimmer Fredette BYU has seen since the real thing.
Best Blue-Collar Big Man
Eric Mika (Highland, Utah/Lone Peak)
2013, C, 6-9, 220
Status: Signed with BYU Mika is all substance with no interest in style. He’s well built with a solid frame, runs the floor hard and is an absolute warrior on the glass. In the midst of Aaron Gordon’s dominance, what was lost on most was the fact that Mika actually outrebounded him. Mika’s energy and intensity are constants, regardless of the fact that he isn’t always rewarded with the appropriate level of touches on the offensive end. Moreover, he’s an excellent passer from the low post, and the perfect anchor to Lone Peak’s lethal 3-point shooting.
Connor Toolson (Highland, Utah/Lone Peak)
2013, SG, 6-2, 165
Status: No Division I offers It wasn’t Emery, Mika or BYU-bound junior T.J. Haws who took MVP honors for Lone Peak against Archbishop Mitty -- it was unsigned senior Connor Toolson. In a market where an endless number of schools are scrambling to find shooters, it’s incredible that Toolson has no Division I offers to his name. He’s a knockdown shooter, has a high basketball IQ and is adept at knowing his role and picking his spots. Lone Peak runs as advanced an offense as you’ll see, so Toolson is uniquely prepared to fit in at the next level.