City of Palms: Day One Rundown

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The City of Palms Classic opened with St. Benedict's dismantling Gainesville by 55 points. The No. 1 Gray Bees played like a team intent on staring down from the top of the mountain for a long time.

St. Benedict's, newly crowned as the nation's top team, looked the part Tuesday night. Dan Hurley's squad put four players in double-figures before the half as it dismantled Gainesville High.

Player of the year candidate Samardo Samuels got his usual numbers as he scored 23 points on 9-for-10 from the field. By the way, back in the day when we once referenced that he was an Elton Brand clone; he's looking the part. Only Swiss watches are slightly more reliable than this guy.

Hurley's stable of studs received 16 points from Greg Echenique, 14 from Scott Machado and 11 from Tamir Jackson. They shot 70% from the field.

Greg Monroe, PF, Cox – With the elite guards playing the way they've been so far this year, the race for the top spot is on and there's little margin for error. Monroe didn't have it in the opener. He found foul trouble and struggled with close range finishes. In one you know he'd like to have back, Monroe scored 7 points (2-6 FG) and had 6 boards. To make matters worse he shot 3-for-11 from the line. He spent time on the pine with foul trouble as he picked up his 4th with 2 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.

Karon Burton, PG, Chester – Gotta give the little man his props. Burton controlled the tempo and flow; his speed helps too. He'll be a lower level guy who can impact in the spring. There's room to tighten up his decisions and he'll gamble on defense but like any good point guard you know it's his team and his presence is felt.

Nicholas Has A Chance
Josh Nicholas, C, Fort Myers – The 6-foot-11 center missed half of last year due to academics. More prospect than player or producer, Nicholas has a big wing span, changes ends and will block shots. He's far from comfortable or confident offensively. His 7 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks weren't eye-popping but there's a mid level prospect in that frame. We've seen guys like him before and while he's unlikely to progress fast enough to go higher but he should be a solid mid-major recruit going forward.

Taj Givens, SF, Cox – Unless he comes off the bench and gets hot like did today they don't win. A long small forward, he's got enough skill and a decent shot to leave us wondering if he can do it again. He was the offensive firepower and deserves credit for stepping up. He had 17 points including 2-for-3 from downtown. Admittedly this was his best game of the year.

Tristan Thompson, PF, St. Benedicts – We haven't seen every team in America but we're pretty confident that no one goes to the bench and brings a kid like him into the game. America's top sixth man (?) is a 6-foot-8, rangy forward who has the makeup of a potential star in his class.

Without Bud Mackey, Scott County crushed Fort Meyers Dunbar thru 2 quarters. They led 24-7 at the half as Dunbar posted a whopping deuce in the first quarter. Mackey, as its been noted, is facing drug charges back home. Oops, a funny thing happened while we were typing this up: Dunbar outscored Scott Co. 34-15 BUT then gave up a driving layup to lose at the buzzer.

When the top-ranked prospect in the nation takes the floor there's an expectation level that fans/media want to see met. A helpful approach for Monroe would be to set the tone defensively early with a big block. John Carroll didn't sense there was an intimidator back there and attacked him. … Isaiah Philmore is a hard-nosed guy. He's tracking as a face-up 4-man who will bring the lunch pail. He'll be in the fight every night; sometimes he'll have favorable matchups, others he'll have to bust his rear to maintain his area (as he did against Monroe). Philmore had 18 points, 8 rebounds and 7 turnovers. …

Shavon Shine couldn't pull DeSoto through Tuesday night. He did score 20 but needed 23 shots to do it. In college he'll have to become a tighter defender and better handler but projects as a mid level starter in time. … Nasir Robinson was content to allow Burton to do his thing. The hard playing Pitt Panther scored 13 on 6-for-8 from the floor. …

Greg Echenique cited academics and becoming ingrained in an Hispanic community as two factors in his process. Notre Dame, Penn, Maryland, Rutgers, Duke, Miami were among the handful of programs he rattled off. …

Tamir Jackson is getting hit hardest by Mike Davis and UAB. Miami, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, Penn and St. John's were also mentioned and he indicated a slew of Big East programs were trailing him. …

Trevon Flores of Cox is a Columbus, Ohio, native. The 6-foot-9 center is hearing from Marist, Morgan State and Alcorn State. … Josh Nicholas is hearing from Detroit, Central Florida and a little from Tennessee. … According to Dan Hurley, Greg Echenique is racking up the scholarship offers. Add Duke and Memphis to his ever growing list of interested parties. …

"You know I once held Allen Iverson to 39. Held Ray Allen to 31 too!"

  • St. Benedict's coach Dan Hurley after two kids asked him for an autograph

    Head Coaches -- Karl Hobbs, George Washington.

    Assistant Coaches -- Central Florida, Charleston Southern, Florida, South Florida, UNC-Greensboro, Miami, Stetson.


  • Helen Cox 53, John Carroll 41
  • Scott County 43, Fort Meyers Dunbar 41
  • Fort Myers 69, DeSoto 59 (OT)
  • Chester 66, Bishop Verot 41
  • St. Benedict's 87, Gainesville 32

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