LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The Bluegrass Showcase, which is being held at Dunbar High School, tipped off on Friday and Thon Maker didn't waste anytime leaving his mark on the event. The five-star prospect went for 24 points and 14 rebounds in a win. But other players like Josh Jackson, Jalen Coleman and Nate Grimes had solid outings as well.
Jalen Coleman, SG, La Lumiere – The Illinois signee lead La Lumiere in scoring with 28 points on 9-for-16 shooting. Coleman hit five of his 10 three-pointers. His other four field goals came off aggressive moves to the rim. He hit a pair of floaters and two other finishes at the basket. Coleman’s reputation is of a terrific long-range shooter, and he’s certainly that, but he can do much more. He impressed with his ability to create shot opportunities on Friday.
Kaleb Johnson, SF, Carlisle School – In a loss to La Lumiere, Johnson did his best to keep Carlisle in it. Johnson, a 6-foot-6 wing with lengthy arms, was active and played with toughness. Johnson attacks the basket, plays well through contact and is a good finisher. He’s also a very good rebounder for a perimeter player. Johnson hit two of six three-point attempts. The next step for Johnson, a lefty, is to gain consistency with his long-range shot.
Munis Tutu, PG, La Lumiere – A steady lead guard, Tutu played with confidence and when La Lumiere needed someone to make a play, many times it was Tutu that stepped up. Tutu made timely three-pointers and hit four of his five three-point attempts. Tutu also tossed out five assists and reeled in five rebounds. The 5-foot-11 lead guard showed a high IQ and is clearly a key piece for La Lumiere.
Nate Grimes, PF, Quality Education Academy – Grimes put together the best performance I’ve seen from him. The 6-foot-7 forward, who signed with Fresno State, made a three-pointer, hit a pair of mid-range jump shots and was active in the paint. In all he finished 9-for-11 from the field and scored 19 points. Grimes also added nine rebounds in QEA’s win over Arlington Country Day.
Devin Gage, SG, Curie – Gage took home the game MVP award and lead Curie to a decisive victory over Fort Wayne (Ind.) Homestead Senior. Gage was effective off the bounce, as he scored off drives to the rim and dropped in floaters with each hand. He’s a tad undersized at 6-foot-1, maybe 6-2, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in quickness and he clearly score. Gage finished 7-for-11 from the field and scored 16 points on Friday.
Thon Maker, C, Orangeville Prep – This was a signature Maker type performance. Effort and energy was his calling on Friday. He used his length, athleticism, mobility and motor to impact the game. Maker recorded six block shots and affected many others. He was also as active on the glass as I’ve seen him, as he pursued the ball with relentless effort. Offensively he was efficient and finished 5-for-8 from the field, including one three-pointer. Maker hit 13 free throws and finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds in a win over Prime Prep.
Josh Jackson, SF, Prolific Prep – One of the elite prospects in the 2016 class went for 18 points and 10 rebounds in a loss to Sunrise Christian. The book only had Jackson for four assists, but I charted him with more than 10. Jackson’s unselfish nature and deft passing ability was the biggest takeaway from the Prolific Prep/Sunrise Christian game. Jackson has terrific vision and consistently finds teammates for open looks. When Jackson wants and needs to score, he’s more than capable. At 6-foot-6, he’s a strong driver, an elite level athlete and a capable shot maker. He’s truly one of the elite players in high school basketball.
Miles Bridges, SF, Huntington Prep – In a blowout win over Burlington (N.J.) Life Center Academy, Bridges left his mark on the game. The 6-foot-6 combo forward showcased his athleticism and punished the rim with dunks both in transition and in the half court set. Bridges is strong, physical and tough to stop when he’s going full steam ahead towards the rim. Bridges, a lefty, also hit a pair of catch and shoot three-pointers. He finished with 16 points in the win.
Dennis Tunstall, PF, Life Center Academy – Although his team took a thumping, Tunstall was a bright spot, at least in the first half, where he buried four mid-range jump shots. Tunstall played for Team Final last year, but was buried on the bench at times. Now he’s being aggressive, playing with intensity and he’s being productive on the court. Tunstall did a good job stretching the floor, but he also went to the glass and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with the size that Huntington Prep rolled out on to the court.
IN THE STANDS
There were a handful of heavy hitters at Dunbar High School for the Bluegrass Showcase on Friday.
Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl was at the event most of the day. Among the players he was watching were 2015 available center prospect Yankuba Sima and Josh Jackson.
John Calipari showed up for Caleb Swanigan’s game midway through the day. He also watched Josh Jackson, Miles Bridges and Thomas Bryant.
Rick Pitino was flanked by his entire staff for Josh Jackson’s game. His staff was also there to evaluate new Louisville target Traci Carter.
Charlotte head coach flew into Lexington for one game. He watched Carlisle School early Friday afternoon to watch top target Kaleb Johnson.
Assistants from Oregon, Iowa, Towson and LeHigh were also in attendance.