National Christian never trailed in easy wins over Our Savior (N.Y.) and Mt. Zion, using stifling defense and impressive team-oriented play to reinforce its status as a team to be reckoned with.
Our Savior, featuring five – count ‘em, FIVE –seven-footers, showed off its recently acquired future star, 7-foot-2 sophomore John Riek, but hit I-95 from the drive home with a couple of losses. Mt. Zion, which has an ever-changing roster boosted by a couple of recent big-time transfers, went 1-1. So did Patterson School (N.C), which has rapidly improving wingman in 6-8 junior Jamar Samuels.
Anthony McClain, National Christian - The nation's top uncommitted senior big man had a relatively quiet weekend, aside from taking a vicious elbow from Our Savior's Teeng Akol. But the seven-footer continues to improve his low-post skills and has come quite a long way in the past two years.
Marshall Moses, Patterson - The 6-7 Oklahoma State commit is athletic and has a strong build that is ready-made for D-I college hoops. After an sluggish outing Friday in a loss to Mt. Zion, he played solid, unselfish ball in a blowout win over Our Savior.
Tracey Smith, Mt. Zion - The 6-7 N.C. State commit had a relatively quiet weekend and never appeared to try and take over. He did lead his team with 13 points in the final and showed a few glimpses of the natural scoring ability and versatility that makes him the No. 45 player in the senior class.
Antonio Haymon, National Christian - The 6-foot-5 swingman is one of several highlight reel dunkers on his team, but he also is showing more well-rounded game than in previous years, and his attitude has taken a180-degree turn, for the better, in the attitude department. He does a little bit of everything for the Eagles and is their leading scorer this year.
Terrence Jennings, Mt. Zion - Jennings abruptly left Charis Prep (N.C. and joined Mt. Zion last week. The 6-10, 235-pound California native closely resembles former Mt. Zion star Amare Stoudemire in appearance and playing style. Of course, he's not on Stoudemire's level – Who is? – but he is an explosive leaper and potential big-time shot-blocker on the next level. Perhaps Joey Dorsey of Memphis would be a more fair comparison. He blocked 12 shots in the finale against NCA.
Jamar Samuels, Patterson - It was a homecoming weekend for D.C. native Samuels, who previously attended Archbishop Carroll in the District. He didn't disappoint the home crowd. The 6-8 forward averaged 19 points in two games, finishing strong on the break with a bevy of strong finishes and dunks. As his game and his grade continue to evolve, he looks more like a high-major prospect than ever before.
Teeng Akol, Our Savior - Akol, previously considered by some as a top-100 senior has officially re-classified to '08. At 6-10, he's got good versatility and footwork but needs to get stronger.
Joel Cerda, Patterson - Cerda's lack of size – he's slight and only about 5-8 – most likely makes him a low-DI hopeful, but the kid can play. He was the quickest guard in the building and has a variety of moves he uses to get into the paint. He's also strong enough to hold onto the ball once he gets there, and drops nice looking dimes off to teammates
David Diakite, National Christian - It would be hard to imagine there are many more explosive leapers out there. Diakite, 6-3, had a few SportsCenter-worthy jams and nearly brought the house down with a tomahawk attempt on one of Our Saviors trees. Word is, he can dunk from the free-throw line.
Wilbur O'Neal, National Christian - You won't find many high-school juniors as strong as the 6-6, 235-pound O'Neal. He scores down low against bigger guys because he's an ox. Mid-majors are interested, but he's also going to try his hand at some football combines this summer.
Karron Johnson, Mt. Zion - Johnson, ranked as one of the top 10 sophs in the nation, never asserted himself and didn't appear extremely interested. He's got a muscular, athletic build that college coaches will salivate over, but didn't distinguish himself save for a few brief flashes. Re-classified from the Class of '08, the recent transfer from Patterson showed off a beautiful, high-rising jumper and stuff a Moses dunk attempt with ease.
John Riek, Our Savior - Riek is a revelation. He's only been in the U.S. for a month and already holds an offer from Arizona, his coaches said. He's 7-foot-2 but not as raw as you might expect. He's got a decent feel for the game, good coordination and is a shot-blocking machine, as he showed by swatting shot after shot Friday against NCA. We wanted to see more of him Saturday, but he was sidelines with an elbow injury.
Joston Thomas, National Christian - The more we see Thomas, the more we like him. He's 6-5 with a strong build and can score in several ways. The Montrose Christian (Md.) transfer spent last year going head-to-head with Texas star Kevin Durant and '09 stud Terrell Vinson every day, and has emerged as a potential big-time prospect in his own right.
Donte Taylor, National Christian - Some local observers are extremely high on Taylor, a New York native, and it's easy to see why. He's a legit 6-8 but can handle and shoot well. Also is very unselfish. Needs to get stronger, but is a definite future high-major recruit.
Akol has a variety of suitors, but most are waiting to get more information on his academic/transcript situation … McClain seems to be fairly certain where he's going, but he isn't telling. UConn, once thought to be his destination, could be out of the picture because of a lack of openings. Cincinnati and Tennessee are strong darkhorse candidates, it seems … Jennings loves Maryland and wants to play in the ACC. He;s also hearing from UCLA, Arizona, Nebraska and Nevada, he said Samuels is leaning toward Tennessee but is also hearing from Kansas State, Ball State and Wake Forest… Ball State is one of several mid-majors interested in Haymon … Diakite is also getting D-I looks and could double them with a strong summer season … Taylor is becoming a favorite of college recruiters already, with UConn and Maryland among the interested … Riek will have a boatload of top-echelon schools chasing him before long.
"The big guy isn't playing today" – an assistant coach from Our Savior, announcing the absence of injured 7-2 sophomore John Riek. Riek is one of five seven-footers on the team, so it took a few follow-up questions to determine which ‘big guy' was being referred to.