FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The stars shined bright at the City of Palms on Saturday. Ben Simmons, Jaylen Brown, Harry Giles were among the top performers on the third day of the City of Palms Classic at Bishop Verot High School.
SIMMONS TAKES OVER
Ben Simmons had the Bishop Verot gym buzzing at the City of Palms Classic on Sunday.
Simmons, a LSU commit and standout at Montverde (Fla.) Academy, put together arguably the most impressive performance of the high school season by going for 37 points and 18 rebounds in a 62-59 win over Alapharetta (Ga.) St. Francis.
With his Godfather and future assistant coach David Patrick looking on, Simmons dismantled St. Francis on the backboard and on the offensive end of the floor.
Simmons went after every rebound, both in and out of his area. He was active, aggressive, pursued the ball with both hands, played physical and always seemed to have great position in the paint. Half of his 18 rebounds were offensive boards.
Offensively, Simmons used his versatility to make plays with the ball in his hands. Simmons faced up defenders and drove them to the goal. He had a number of put backs, hit a 15-foot jumper and because of his aggressive nature made his way to the free throw line 13 times.
Simmons saved his best moments for the end. With St. Francis up one and under a minute to go, Simmons demanded the ball on the block, quickly spun when he got it and threw down a vicious one-handed dunk. He then added a pair of free throws and helped Montverde advance to the semi-finals.
BROWN GETS W, TALKS FUTURE VISITS
Jaylen Brown and Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler advanced past Paul VI by three in a quarterfinal match up on Saturday.
Brown, an elite level prospect in the 2015 class, scored 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting. He also added nine rebounds.
Brown made one pull-up jumper, the rest of his points came off drives to the rim or in transition. At his size, Brown is tough to stop when he drives because of his speed, size, strength and athleticism.
Following the game, Brown talked to Scout about the direction of his recruitment. While he’s focused on the season, Brown, who has already visited Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA, does intend to visit Michigan and North Carolina in the near future.
“I can’t remember the date right now, January something,” Brown said. “I’m going to go to Michigan and North Carolina. I’m definitely taking a visit to those two schools.”
A source told Scout that the plan is for Brown to visit UNC the weekend of January 10th.
Michigan and North Carolina both joined Brown’s recruitment in the fall, but Brown said that wouldn’t factor into his recruitment.
“It’s not about who’s been recruiting me the longest,” Brown said. “It’s about the best fit and who I feel the most comfortable with.”
Roy Williams was at the City of Palms Classic on Saturday to see him match up with another UNC recruit – V.J. King. Brown said after the game that he grew up following the Tar Heels.
“I grew up a UNC fan,” Brown said. “I always loved the Tar Heels growing up. I remember watching Tyler Hansbrough’s team, Ty Lawson and Danny Green. They had a stacked team. I fell in love watching that team. Ever since I’ve always liked them. As you get older things change of course it’s not about who you like growing up, it’s about what fits you. But growing up I was always a Tar Heel fan.”
What’s the draw to Michigan? Brown said he has family in the area and enjoyed his conversation with John Beilein.
“My family is from Michigan,” Brown said.” I have a lot of people in my family that went to Michigan and other people went to Michigan. Coach Beilein guy is real cool. I met him at Wheeler and talked to him for a while.”
CLASS OF 2015
Kevarius Hayes, PF, Suwannee – Just a day after watching Florida signee Keith Stone have a big game, Hayes, a 6-foot-9 forward, did the same in a match up with sophomore Zach Brown. Hayes used his mobility and athleticism to impact the game. He ran the floor with a purpose and got a handful of points in transition. He also made a pair of mid-range jumpers and a catch and shoot three-pointer. He’s quick off his feet, a good athlete and has good length, so he’s a good shot blocker at this level. Hayes finished an efficient 7-for-10 from the field and scored 25 points. He also added 11 rebounds and three blocks.
Raymond Spalding, PF, Trinity – If you glanced at the box score, you’d think Spalding struggled, as he was just 4-for-15 from the field. But the truth is he still had a major impact on the outcome. He missed some short-range shots that normally fall, but he reeled in 10 rebounds, recorded deflections, blocked a trio of shots and had a couple of steals. Spalding, who stands 6-foot-10, has always had the talent and now he’s starting to show a better motor, which is a great sign. He’s still not there yet and his best days are certainly ahead, but with this size, lengthy, mobility, athleticism and offensive tools he’s the type of prospect you bet on.
Alex Owens, C/PF, Oak Ridge – Owens’ calling card has always been his ability to rebound and that’s exactly what he did in a match up with Trinity. Owens went to the glass and battled with Spalding and others on Trinity. He finished with 15 boards, including five on the offensive end. He’s a below the rim guy, but he’s physical and strong, which allows him to carve out good position. Owens also added 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting.
Rex Pflueger, SG, Mater Dei – Up against Wesleyan Christian, Pflueger put forth an impressive effort and scored 25 points. Pflueger hit a handful of three-pointers, but also added back door oops and transition finishes. Pflueger stepped his game up in a competitive atmosphere and was clearly one of the best players on the floor. Pflueger will bring shooting and athleticism to the table at Notre Dame.
Malik Beasley, SG, St. Francis – Beasley is known for his ability to put up points and he did just that against Montverde. Beasley scored 25 points, including 17 in the second half, in the loss to Simmons and company. Beasley hit a clutch three late in the game, but they could fend off Montverde. A talented scorer, Beasley can get score it from all three levels and is better at slicing to the cup and finishing that has given credit for. It was an impressive performance in a big atmosphere.
CLASS OF 2016
Harry Giles, PF, Wesleyan Christian – Giles is among the top prospects in high school basketball and he proved that Saturday night. In a match up with Mater Dei and M.J. Cage, Giles had dominant spurts. Offensively he showed the arsenal, as he made mid-range jump shots, jump hooks and faced up defenders and drove the ball for finishes. Giles is a very good rebounder, as he’s strong, athletic and pursues the ball with two hands. He also impacted the game with his shot blocking. Giles, who stands 6-foot-10, appears back to true form and certainly played like an elite level prospect Saturday night.
Kobi Simmons, G, St. Francis – In the best and most competitive game of the day, Simmons was a major standout. A 6-foot-4 combination guard, Simmons did a little bit of everything for St. Francis. He used his speed and athleticism and made a handful of plays in transition, but he also scored off mid-range pull-ups and seemed to be dialed in on both ends of the floor. Simmons is a unique talent and his versatility and skill set at his size, make him an impressive long-term prospect.
CLASS OF 2017
Zach Brown, C, Miami Beach – Unfortunately Brown was strapped with foul trouble much of the game. Still in 22 minutes of action, Brown was quite productive. He finished 5-for-8 from the field and scored 11 points. He also added 11 rebounds. At 7-foot-1, Brown is an imposing figure with wide shoulders and lengthy arms. He’s physical in the paint, which is tough for opposing high school players to handle. He’s a very good rebounder and actively pursues shot blocking opportunities. While the box had him for one block, I thought he had a couple more. Brown is an elite prospect in the sophomore class.
NEWS & NOTES
2016 wing prospect V.J. King scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a loss to Wheeler. King certainly had his moments in this one. He aggressively looked for his shot and connected on a floater, a pull-up jumper and a bunch of adjusting finishes at the rim.
Montverde guard Howard Washington hit a trio of big three-pointers in the win over St. Francis. Washington finished with 12 points and connected on three of his seven long-range attempts.
IN THE STANDS
Roy Williams was the only head coach to show up at the City of Palms Classic on Saturday.
Assistants from Arizona, Furman, Georgia and LSU were spotted at the event throughout the day.