The best part about Wenyen Gabriel’s game is his versatility and that was on full display at the Hoop Hall Classic on Sunday. With John Calipari, his future head coach looking on, Gabriel scored 18 points, reeled in 13 rebounds and tossed out eight assists. Gabriel is long, quick and athletic. Offensively, he scored in a variety of ways, including off the catch from three, by driving the ball and with his back to the basket. Defensively, he’s versatile, as he moves well, gets off the ground quick and is able to swat shots with either hand.
2016 available center prospect Jordy Tshimanga put together the best performance I’ve seen from him in MacDuffie School’s win over Wilbraham and Monson. Tshimanga, a 6-foot-11 bruising post player with a 7-2 wingspan, owned the paint, especially from a rebounding standpoint, as he grabbed 19 rebounds. While the book only had Tshimanga for three blocks, he certainly impacted others. He also added 13 points, majority coming off put backs or strong left finishes close to the rim. According to his brother, Yannick, who is handling his recruitment, he’s hearing from Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Baylor and Providence.
Miami signee Bruce Brown, a 6-foot-4 combination guard out of Saxtons River (Vt.) Vermont Academy, was tremendous in a 35-pount outburst against Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy. Brown is an extremely gifted athlete that is tough to contain in transition. He finishes well around the basketball, plays well through contact and is the ultimate competitor. Defensively, Brown disrupts ball handlers and makes life difficult on the opposition. Not known for his ability to shoot, Brown hit a trio of long distance shots, including a pair off the bounce.
The best player for Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy in their win over Vermont Academy was 2016 available prospect Taurean Thompson. Thompson scored 23 points on 7-for-14 shooting and added a game high 16 rebounds. At 6-foot-9, Thompson is mobile and athletic power forward. He ran the floor well, finished off plays inside and made multiple mid-range jumpers. There’s a lot of value in his ability to shoot, as he has good shot mechanics and is confident in his shot. Thomas is full of upside and when he consistently plays hard, like he did Sunday, is tough to contain.
For the second day in a row Markus Howard was the top performer for Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep. In fact, Howard’s outing was even more productive and efficient, as he scored 26 points on 9-for-9 shooting (6-for-6 from three), tossed out six assists and didn’t record a turnover. Howard’s biggest strength is his ability to make shots from long distance and he shoots the ball with tremendous confidence from at or even well beyond the three-point stripe.
In a match up against a physically imposing post like Udoka Azubuike, Mohamed Bamba excelled and dominated the painted area. Bamba, a 6-foot-11 big man, was active, played with tremendous energy and was ultra-productive. Although Bamba gave up a lot of weight and strength to Azubuike, he used his length, instincts and timing to impact the game. Offensively, he turned offensive boards into put backs and connected on a right hook. Defensively, he made things difficult for Azubuike and his teammates. In all, Bamba finished with a triple-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds and 10 blocks.
La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere got a huge win over Elizabeth (N.J.) The Patrick School and Brian Bowen was the catalyst, as he got the better as the game wore on. Bowen has terrific size for the position at 6-foot-7 and is a quality athlete. He was aggressive on the offensive end, making mid-range jump shots, driving the ball to the right side of the rim and putting back misses. Bowen was an efficient 10-for-18 from the field and scored 29 points, grabbed five rebounds and recorded three steals and blocks.
DePaul snagged a player that can really help them in La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere standout Brandon Cyrus. A 6-foot-5 wiry wing, Cyrus is athletic and has always had potential as a perimeter defender. On Sunday, Cyrus showed improvement on the offensive end too, as he connected on a pair of floaters, plus a catch and shoot three-pointer. Cyrus finished 5-for-8 from the field and scored 11 points.
After a so-so first half by Hamidou Diallo’s standards, he broke out in a major way in the second half, igniting Putnam (Conn.) Science Academy to win on his way to 30 points (10-for-17) and 11 rebounds. Diallo was aggressive off the dribble in the half court and in transition, using his lighting quick first step and explosive athleticism to do all types of damage in the paint and at the rim. His relentless driving led to 16 trips to the free throw line. Diallo, an elite guard prospect in the 2017 class, is a tough competitor that scores it well through contact, doesn’t mind physical play and also has potential as a defender.