Best of the Midwest: Day One

Marion, Ill. – Day One of the Best of the Midwest tournament kicked off on Friday. Leading the way was a future Buckeye in Sam Thompson, but several other players, including one of the best unsigned big men in the 2011 class, had impressive performances.

Sam Thompson, SF, Whitney Young – The two questions have surrounded Thompson for the better part of his high school career. Those have been about his ability to hit the perimeter jump shot and his ability to stay healthy. For the first time in nearly a year, Thompson says that he is now 100 percent healthy with his ankle, and it showed in his performance.

Thompson was the best player on the floor for Whitney Young in their win on Friday Night. Thompson finished the game with 17 points and eight rebounds. What was impressive is that Thompson got those 17 points on 7-12 shooting from the floor. Also Thompson blocked several shots and showed the high level athleticism that makes him such an intriguing prospect. The future Ohio State Buckeye did struggle shooting from the perimeter, but that was the only negative in what was an impressive performance.

Devin Langford, SF, Lee – One of the better unsigned wings in the country, Langford had a solid game in a losing effort. He battled foul trouble to post a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds, but was only 2-9 from the floor. Langford showed a solid ability to pass, rebounded well on both ends, and has a good feel on the perimeter, but still he is most effective in the mid-range and attacking the rim. With his shot struggling, Langford settled too much and didn't use his size to his advantage going to the bucket.

Walter Pitchford, PF, Summit Christian – As an unsigned player with legitimate size and a solid skill level, Pitchford is attracting attention from all over. While his team got blown out, Pitchford did do some nice things. He has good ball skills on the perimeter, a solid stroke out to the three point line, and can rebound with his length and athleticism. Pitchford didn't show much of a desire to post up on the block, but the ability will be there with added strength. With his size, athleticism, and solid skill level there will be no shortage of interest with so few big men currently available in the class.

Kris Brewer, SG, Brehm Prep – The scoring assault from Brewer continued this weekend with another impressive performance. After breaking out over Thanksgiving Day weekend, Brewer hasn't slowed down at all. Brewer again showed the ability to hit shots in the mid-range and from deep on his way to nearly a 30 point performance. Most impressively is the improvement that Brewer showed on the defensive end. After struggling with that earlier in the year, Brewer played excellent defensive and his ball pressure led to several turnovers and easy buckets.

Luke Hager, SF, Whitney Young – Hager is a complimentary player on a loaded Whitney Young squad, and he produces in that role. He showed an ability to really drive to the bucket and finish above the rim with solid athleticism. Also Hager did a good job facing the rim and showed that he will either be a big wing or a stretch power forward when he gets down to UNC-Wilmington. Outside of Thompson, Hager was the most productive player for Whitney Young in their big win.

Rakeem Dickerson, PG, Brehm Prep – He isn't the most skilled offensive player, but Dickerson absolutely gets after it on the defensive end. He forced several five-second calls with his strength and quickness to stay in front of the player he is defending. Also Dickerson did get to the rim off the dribble using his quickness. With his teammates scoring, Dickerson focused on the defensive end, and his ball pressure wouldn't let Summit Christian get the ball over half court for minutes at a time.

Aaron Adeoye, PF, Marion – An undersized power forward, Adeoye had a solid game for the hosting school. He showed very impressive bounce off the floor, an ability to hit a mid-range jumper, and the desire to rebound in his area. He will struggle against taller opponents, but a strong kid who can really jump makes him a no doubt division I prospect going forward.

Tommy Hamilton, C, Whitney Young – Hamilton is one of the most gifted natural talents in the class. He looks to be in the best shape of his life, and with that he is making strides running the floor and attacking the glass. What might be the best thing about Hamilton is his feel for the game and ability to pass. Sometimes he tries to do a little too much passing, but his floor vision out of the high post is impressive. Also Hamilton has very soft hands, and with his improved mobility that is allowing him to secure more rebounds outside of his area.

Mangok Mathiang, C, Brehm Prep – This is a young big man that keeps on improving. He runs the floor very well, catches the ball on the move, and showed an added post move in this one. Mathiang is now showing the ability to spin off the block and score with either hand around the rim. He is still a work in progress and needs strength, but the hands, feet, and feel are all there for him to be a very good player before it is all said and done.

Jahlil Okafor, C, Whitney Young – There can't be a more physically impressive prospect in the class. Okafor only gets limited minutes right now, but down the road he just screams big time player. He has huge soft hands, long arms, he runs the floor, and showed a decent touch down low. On top of it all, Okafor also plays hard. With it being early in his varsity career he is still trying to figure it all out, but the potential down the right is just through the roof for Okafor.

Paul White, SF, Whitney Young – The other half of the dynamic freshmen duo, White is all about long term potential. He shows a decent shooting stroke, long arms, and the ability to really move for a prospect his size. Down the road he could grow into a power forward, or he could stay in the wing. As he adds strength, his natural ability with long arms, a good feel, and the ability to handle the ball will show through.

Tommy Hamilton says that he isn't paying attention to his recruitment, but he has taken a visit to Illinois. Also schools in the Midwest have all been by to check him out. At this point he isn't sure of any scholarship offers.

Walter Pitchford mentioned interest from Memphis, Arizona State, Indiana, TCU, Kentucky, Michigan State, and Minnesota.

Aaron Adeoye is hearing from Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Eastern Illinois, and Tennessee-Martin.

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