NCB On The Trail: Montaque Gill-Ceasar

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NEW YORK -- The Dick's Sporting Goods High School National Tournament crowned a champion on Saturday at Madison Square Garden with a familiar name as Montverde Academy (Fla.) won its second straight title, this time 71-62 over Oak Hill Academy (Va.). Over the six-year history of this prestigious event, this was the deepest field of teams and the highest level of talent from top to bottom. Montverde came in ranked as the No. 1 high school team in the country and should walk away in that top spot when the polls are finalized.

As the final high school team event of the 2013-14 season, let's take a look at five things we learned from this year's tournament:


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Who is the best high school basketball team in the country?

That question will be answered by the end of the weekend as the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School National Tournament began Thursday at New York Christ The King High School.

Huntington (W.Va.) Prep was the first team to advance to Friday’s semifinal round after ESPN 100 guard JaQuan Lyle drilled a game-winning 3-pointer with two seconds left in a 65-63 victory. Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) followed suit in the second act, handling Charlotte (N.C.) Northside Christian 69-60.

Las Vegas Findlay Prep looked to be on the verge of pulling away early in the second half of the third quarterfinal, but Seattle Rainier Beach came storming back, ultimately cutting the deficit to two points before Findlay was able to hang on, 67-59.

In the nightcap, Kevin Boyle made a return to the tri-state area as his Montverde (Fla.) Academy squad handled Sagemont (Fla.) 81-63 in the most lopsided game of the day.

Top Performances

[+] EnlargeMontaque Gill-Caesar
Dave Telep/ESPN.comJunior forward Montaque Gill-Ceasar helped Huntington Prep outlast La Lumiere in the Dick's Sporting Goods tourney quarterfinals.
JaQuan Lyle, Huntington Prep
Point guard, Class of 2014
6-foot-5, 215 pounds
Committed to Oregon


The first 31.5 minutes are almost an afterthought following the dynamic way in which Lyle closed the game. While he’ll be remembered for the game-winning 3-pointer he hit from the top of the key with just two seconds left and a defender draped all over him, his play on the previous possession was just as important. Huntington was trailing by one when La Lumiere (Ind.) went into a zone, hoping to confuse Huntington. Instead, Huntington got the ball to Lyle at the high post and let him go to work. He spun into the lane, attracted three defenders and dumped the ball to Thomas Bryant for an easy dunk.

Montaque Gill-Ceasar, Huntington Prep
Small forward, Class of 2015
6-6, 215
Undecided


The powerful wing might not have been the last-minute hero, but he was as efficient as anyone for Huntington. He made shots from behind the arc, moved well off the ball with curling screens and timely basket cuts and showed the versatility to bully smaller defenders on the block or score over top of them from the mid-range area. He’s a matchup nightmare because he’s so powerful for his position, but unlike most with his build, his offensive game isn’t just brute force. Therefore, almost everything he does translates to the next level.

Jalen Coleman, La Lumiere
Shooting guard, Class of 2015
6-2, 170
Undecided


Coleman didn’t have his customary shooting performance, especially in the first half, but his response to that slow start was most impressive. Even when his shots weren’t falling, he was still scoring, in large part because he was able to mix up his attack, get into the paint and get himself easy points at the free-throw line. Later on, he made a pair of huge 3-point shots with the game on the line, the last of which would have been the game-winner had it not been for Lyle’s shot.

Caleb Martin & Cody Martin, Oak Hill
Small forwards, Class of 2014
6-7, 190 and 6-7, 205
Both signed with N.C. State


Northside Christian came out of the gates with a lot of defensive intensity to catch Oak Hill off guard, but both of the Martin brothers stepped up and were critical to their team’s ability to settle down and take control of the game. Caleb was the first to respond, showing his length and smooth open-floor game to get to the rim, then following that up with a 3-pointer to get his team going. Cody was forced to take over as the team’s primarily ball-handler, where he proved be a dependable decision-maker and a valuable distributor. He asserted himself on the glass, adding 17 points to his brother’s 18. Both were an efficient 7-for-12 from the floor.

Craig Victor II, Findlay Prep
Power forward, Class of 2014
6-7, 205
Signed with Arizona


With Horace Spencer and Derryck Thornton both out of the lineup with injury and Rashad Vaughn and Kelly Oubre shaking off the cobwebs following Wednesday’s McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago, Victor stepped up to lead Findlay on Thursday. He looked a step quicker than earlier this winter, both in getting off the floor to finish around the rim and facing up his defender. He was a menace on the offensive glass, showed his soft touch on several short jumpers and even made a couple of high-level passes on the interior.

Ben Simmons, Montverde Academy
Power forward, Class of 2015
6-9, 230
Committed to LSU


Simmons was a man among boys inside the paint, not only showing off his unmatched athleticism for a variety of explosive finishes and blocks but also showing some of his more subtle tools that don’t often get as much recognition. He impressed with his quick feet and interior reflexes, the soft hands to come up with deep catches (both low and high) and the ability to get easy points by beating opposing big men from rim to rim. Once he got going, he even stepped out to hit a corner 3-pointer. Simply put, Sagemont had nobody that could come close to providing the same type of physical presence and sheer talent inside.

Semifinal Preview

Oak Hill Academy vs. Findlay Prep, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Oak Hill received excellent production out of the Martin twins in the quarterfinals, and they’ll need that again Friday if they’re going to hold off Findlay’s one-two perimeter punch of Oubre and Vaughn. Findlay has almost no interior depth to work with, so it will need not only another big game for Victor, but help from Oubre on the glass as well. Ultimately, look for depth and tempo to become potential factors here, as Oak Hill will look to wear down a Findlay team that is currently playing with just seven players. Findlay will likely play quite a bit of zone to try to slow the game as much as possible.

Montverde Academy vs. Huntington Prep, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Montverde ran away in its quarterfinal matchup while pushing the pace at every opportunity, getting a lot of easy baskets in transition as a result. Transition defense is going to be key for Huntington, but just as importantly, it will need to take care of the ball offensively and not settle for contested jumpers that could lead to potential run-outs for Montverde. Two of the best junior big men in the country will be going head to head, as Bryant and Simmons will likely be matched up. Lyle and D'Angelo Russell will lead their respective teams on the perimeter.

#AskCoachB: Future for Kansas

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.
Freshman center Joel Embiid has yet to officially announce his NBA draft decision, but it looks like fellow freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins will do so on Monday. The school released a statement that the 6-foot-8 freshman from Canada will make an announcement at 3 p.m. ET. When you have an announcement set up, it usually means you are going somewhere, not staying.

Looking ahead to 2015, Naadir Tharpe will be graduating next year, which makes point guard an absolute need in the 2015 class. Everyone will also be keeping tabs on returning wing Wayne Selden and incoming freshmen Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre next season.

The Jayhawks' needs in 2015 could be many depending on which players declare for the NBA draft next year. Here is an early peek at their wish list in 2015. On the perimeter there's Malik Newman, Jalen Brunson, Jalen Adams, Antonio Blakeney, Montaque Gill-Ceasar and P.J. Dozier. Dozier, who has been sidelined with a knee injury this year, will be back and has already shown the talent to be a high-major prospect.

The main targets for the frontcourt are ESPN 60 No. 1 Ivan Rabb, Diamond Stone, Stephen Zimmerman, Chase Jeter and Carlton Bragg.

This is an early, fluid list of recruits Kansas has targeted. There is a very good chance this list will change after the spring evaluation period.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.



I have spoken with Teki Gill-Ceasar several times about reclassifying up to the class of 2014. He is still considering this option and if he did so, it would be after his season in the spring. In terms of the rankings, he currently sits at No. 18 in the ESPN 60 and would be somewhere around the top 30 in the ESPN 100. Gill-Ceasar is a big wing who scores, rebounds and defends. Don't forget he went against Andrew Wiggins every day in practice at Huntington Prep. This senior class is deep at the SG and SF spots as there is established talent occupying the higher markers on the board. Still, some of the best and biggest programs in the country would be lining up to secure his signature if he decides to move up. Like all those college coaches, I will be keeping tabs on his situation.

#AskCoachB: Oh Canada

December, 27, 2013
12/27/13
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.



The U.S. high school game has seen a wealth of talent from Canada over the last ten years. Not only has there been a quality and quantity of players who have come into the U.S., but recently there the talent has been impactful.

Players such as Tristian Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers), Corey Joseph, Anthony Bennett (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Kelly Olynyk (Boston Celtics) are in the NBA and Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), Tyler Ennis (Syracuse) and Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga) are making their mark in the college game.

The high school game has Montaque Gill-Ceasar (Ontario, Canada/Huntington Prep), who is ranked at No. 19 in the ESPN 60 junior rankings.

Not many know the name Justin Jackson (Ontario, Canada/Findlay Prep), but he’s a player to watch and is the No. 7 prospect in the ESPN 25 sophomore rankings.

His size, skill and his versatility make him special at a young age. His stroke behind the arc is smooth and he puts the ball on the deck and demonstrates body control with a soft touch to score at the rim.

I like where his game is headed he but one area that needs development is his middle game. However, he will be the next top player from Canada that will be on everyone's radar.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Basketball is a global game, and that was apparent at this past weekend’s Nike Global Challenge. After a spring and summer full of competition with the Nike EYBL circuit, the Nike Skills Academies and the Peach Jam, 40 of the top U.S. high school basketball players were brought together on four regional teams to compete in the invite-only Global Challenge against teams from Canada, Pan-Africa, Brazil and France.

At the conclusion of the eight-team, three-day tournament featuring some of the world’s top young hoops prospects, the USA West team emerged with the championship following a 98-95 victory over USA South. Uncommitted ESPN 100 small forward Stanley Johnson (Fullerton, Calif./Mater Dei) for the West and Ohio State-bound shooting guard D'Angelo Russell (Louisville, Ky./Montverde Academy) for the South were named co-MVPs of the event for the U.S. contingent. Johnson led all scorers with 23 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in the championship game.

With so much talent from not just the United States but across the world on display for three days, here are five things we learned from the 2013 Nike Global Challenge.

Stanley Johnson
Courtesy of NikeESPN 100 SF Stanley Johnson continued his strong summer with a co-MVP performance at the Global Challenge.
The deepest position in 2014

We are two-thirds of the way through the July recruiting period, but these players have been playing on the travel team circuit since April and it's clear that the wing position -- the shooting guards and small forwards -- has an elite group that scores easy and often.

The Global Challenge only confirmed that thought as the collection of wing talent was elite. It's the deepest position in the 2014 class, and the core players at the top are starting to separate themselves because of their ability to consistently score, play at a high level and win.

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ESPN 100 prospects star at Peach Jam 

July, 12, 2013
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video Editor's note: This is the latest entry in Dave Telep's July Road Trip blog. Throughout the month, Dave will check in each day he's on the road while covering some of the biggest basketball recruiting events in the country. He'll let you know where he's at, offer some highlights of the day and give a quick look at what's next.

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Thirty minutes before the start of the second session at the Nike Peach Jam on Thursday, the rains came. And it rained. And rained harder. And kept raining and then rained some more. A torrential downpour gave the event a new perspective.

Watching assistant coaches sprint to the gym so they wouldn’t be late to a game was kind of fun. Without any scholarships to give out, the best seat in the house for me was in the car until there was a letup in the downpour.

Sandwiched around the rain, however, there was some great action on the court and a who's who of big-time college coaches on hand to watch. Here are some nuggets from the first official day of the Nike EYBL finals at the Peach Jam.

[+] EnlargePaul White
Dave Telep/ESPN ESPN 100 PF Paul White put on a show in front of coaches from Florida, Memphis, Wisconsin, UConn, Michigan State and Illinois.
White turns in one of his best days of the summer

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