PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- The Max Preps Holiday Classic tipped at noon on Friday and some of the best teams in the west took the floor. Malik Fitts, Bryce Peters, Derek Ogbeide and Dikymbe Martin were among the top performers on the first day of the event.
CLASS OF 2015
, C, Pebblebrook – There’s been some serious talk out of Georgia
about the early play of Ogbeide, a Georgia signee. Ogbeide, who is pushing 6-foot-9 is an enforcer in between the blocks. He didn’t get things going until the second half, but when he did it was impressive to watch. Ogbeide is tough, aggressive and active. He pursues the ball off the glass, looks to block every shot attempt in the paint and loves physical play. Look for him to help Mark Fox and the Bulldogs early on at Georgia.
, SF, Damien – There aren’t too many wings still available that can shoot the ball like Fitts can. Standing 6-foot-6, Fitts has good size for the wing and didn’t have any issue getting his shot off against a scrappy Pebblebrook bunch. Fitts hit a half dozen three-pointers and scored a couple baskets in transition. He’s an intriguing prospect because of his size and ability to rip the nets from deep.
CLASS OF 2016
, PG, JW North – In a 20 plus point win, Martin was the catalyst for JW North. A 6-foot lead guard, Martin showed a nice change of pace and a strong handle. He made multiple three-pointers, a pull-up from 18-feet, found ways into the paint and found teammates for open looks. Martin appeared to be in good shape and even looked quicker than my last viewing.
, C, Mater Dei – In a massive blowout, Cage’s pure size allowed him to impact the game on both ends of the floor. The 6-foot-10, 225-pound big man contested shots and made it difficult for Rancho Mirage to get good looks inside. He also showed good touch with his right hand and had multiple put backs and dunks inside.
, C, Saddleback Victory – Up against Bishop Alemany, Irshad, a 6-foot-8 post player, was active on both ends of the floor and played with great energy. Irshad, who boasts a lengthy set of arms, grabbed rebounds in and out of his area, ran the floor well and contested shots on the defensive end. While Irshad didn’t flash any go-to post moves, he did finish with his right hand in the paint.
, SG, Damien – The surprise of the day was this 6-foot-3 strongly built wing prospect. Peters made multiple three-pointers, hit a pull-up from mid-range and had a handful of tough finishes at the rim. Peters is strong, tough and a pretty good athlete. While his team lost to Pebblebrook, Peters made a lasing impression and is a player that will surely see his recruitment rise over the course of the high school season.
CLASS OF 2018
, PF, Mater Dei – There’s already been some talk circulating about this freshman and with the Monarchs up by over 50 at certain points, Wang got a lot of opportunities in this one. At 6-foot-8, 190-pounds, Wang is equipped with a nice set of mitts. The part of his game that impressed the most on Friday was his passing. He displayed a nice feel and multiple times found teammates from the high post or within the flow of the offense.
NEWS & NOTES
UC Riverside picked up a steal in Eric Rwahwire, a 6-foot-5 lengthy and strong wing prospect. Against Bishop Alemany, Rawhwire was aggressive with his drives, competed on the defensive end of the floor and made floaters, mid-range pull-ups and a three-pointer.
Ernie Sears is just a sophomore, but the now 6-foot-4 long armed wing prospect is oozing with potential. Sears is quick and as the game wore on you could see him get more confident attacking the basket. Sears had a handful of adjusting finishes at the rim in both of the half court and in transition.
Opinions across the country have certainly varied on Daron Henson, a 6-foot-7 face up four-man. One thing everyone can agree on is Henson has a knack for making jump shots. He connected on a handful of three-pointers and in the first half showed a stronger desire to rebound than in the past. He’s runs end-to-end well, is a solid athlete and made his way to the free throw line a handful of times on Friday.
Ty Hudson’s shooting performance against La Verne (Calif.) Damien is one he will likely want to forget, but it was his competitiveness and tough, hardnosed defense that stood out. Hudson, a Clemson signee, was a pest on defense and forced a number of turnovers with his ball pressure.
San Diego State signee Jeremy Hemsley is a talent. While he was forced into a few too many turnovers for Damien, he certainly showed and proved why he’s a highly rated four-star by Scout. He’s pushing 6-foot-4, has terrific body control and finds ways into the paint. A true combination guard, Hemsely is skilled and scores it well going to the rim.
There aren’t many post duos in high school basketball that can match or compete with Plano (Tex.) Prestonwood Christian’s big men -- D-Jerry Baptiste and Schnider Herard. Both are strong, physical players that rebound and protect the rim.
From December 24th to the 26th is a Recruiting Dead Period for college coaches. So on Friday there weren’t any college coaches in the gym. That will certainly change on Saturday and throughout the rest of the weekend.