Sunday, October 20, 2013
Recap: Sharette Dixon Memorial Classic
By Adam Finkelstein
BRONX, N.Y. -- The fifth annual Sharette Dixon Memorial Classic was held Saturday night at Gauchos Gym, pitting top prospects from the state of New Jersey against their peers from the greater New York City area in both an underclassmen and upperclassmen game.
The collection of talent was a fitting tribute to an inspirational woman who was a wife, mother and educator. Proceeds from the event will support a family education and child care fund established for her three children.
New York City defended its home turf in both games, winning a hard fought battle in the underclassmen game and then running away with the upperclassmen matchup.
The wide-bodied big man stood out this past spring and summer as a highly talented youngster, but since then he’s made some easily recognizable strides and taken his game to a whole new level. First and foremost, he’s improved his conditioning, trimmed his frame, and become more athletic. That had him hammering dunks in traffic on Saturday night while continuing to show the quick feet, soft hands, and developing skill that made him so intriguing in the first place.
There’s athletic … then there’s explosive … then there’s Unique McLean. Even after seeing him a dozen times before, his leaping ability never ceases to amaze. He’s capable of playing above the rim like so few others, and while that’s bound to capture attention, what’s gone far less noticed is the developments he’s made to his game. He’s handling the ball much more consistently, become a much better mid-range shooter and evolving into more of a combo guard.
Most Versatile Scorer
Devonte Green (West Babylon, N.Y./Long Island Lutheran)
2016, 6-2, 175, Shooting Guard
This was one of the best showings we’ve seen from Green in quite some time. He has a catch-and-shoot game from behind the arc as well as the mid-range game to complement it, but was also more effective getting to the rim. The open flow of the game certainly didn’t hurt, but he seemed to be playing with an extra step of quickness and plenty of speed while also showing great improvisation in eluding secondary defenders on his way to the rim.
He’s undersized, and some recruiters are bound to hold that against him, but this is a guy who will eventually delight college coaches looking for a throwback-style floor general. He’s the type of pure point guard that has become an endangered species -- skilled, unselfish, and very heady with the type of feel for the game that can’t be taught. As for his size, he’s crafty enough to compensate, whether it’s passing in traffic, finishing around the rim, or defending bigger guards.
Seton Hall commit Isaiah Whitehead showed a multi-faceted game even though his jumper wasn't as automatic as usual.
The southpaw combo forward has a naturally thick and strong frame. That might be why he doesn’t always get recognized for how athletic he is, but there was no denying his combination of power and athleticism in this setting. That combination led to a variety of buckets on Saturday night, as he made the most of his touches. Overall, it was an opportunity for him to show why there might not be another 2014 product in NYC who has improved more in the last year.
In this all-star style setting all eyes were on Whitehead to work his magic. While his deep jumpers might not have been falling with his normal regularity, he was still able to make plays off the dribble that no one else in the field would have been capable of completing. There are two things he doesn’t necessarily get enough credit for -- he might have the best off-hand in the entire country while also being as good of a below-the-rim finisher there is.
Most Talented Big Man
Cheick Diallo (Centereach, N.Y./Our Savior New American)
2015, 6-8, 210, Power Forward
Big men don’t get the touches necessary to truly dominate in these settings, but Diallo made a couple of plays that simply screamed his incredible talent. His length, athleticism, and high motor are all well-known, but it was his quick feet around the rim that really stood out, including one incredible spin move where he literally whipped around an unsuspecting defender while still maintaining his balance to rise up and finish in stride.
Mike Williams (New York/Bishop Loughlin)
2014, 6-2, 175, G
In a game that was all about players looking for highlight-reel plays, Williams stood out with his efficiency. He has a reputation as a shot-maker, and rightfully so, but is far more versatile than he gets credit for. He has the quick first step to attack off the bounce and was consistently able to use his body to absorb contact and finish at the rim. The fact that he’s a threat to play on or off the ball and make plays in all three ranges makes him an intriguing prospect at the next level.
One player who stood out with a string of those highlight reel plays was Baldwin. A long, athletic guard best known for his defensive prowess, Baldwin entertained the crowd with a series of high-level plays late in the first half. While those aren’t necessarily things that translate to the next level, his physical tools and competitive nature certainly do.