At the half, Monroe had 12 and 5 while Harris scored 6 points to go with 4 caroms. The third quarter was when it got closer. Our card gave the round to Monroe but while he won the round, he angered the beast. Instead of knocking Harris out, he staggered him on the ropes, then saw Harris regroup quickly to rally.
In the third, Monroe stroked a 3, took Harris to the free throw line and drove him deep. Scout.com's current No. 1 prospect also mixed in a handful of loud rejections. However, as good as Monroe was, he couldn't knock out Harris and that made for a good pay-per-view TV in the 4th round.
In the last 8 minutes, Harris seemingly gained strength, stamina and power. Earlier in the half Harris ripped the bandage off his hand when on back-to-back possessions he failed to catch passes. In the 4th, the gloves were literally off and Harris went to work.
In the final round, the lone round we awarded Harris outright, the New Hope center scored 11 points to Monroe's 3 and he was balling.
So, what did we learn? Monroe had an answer to his opening night 7-point performance. Whether or not he holds onto his top spot remains to be seen. What we do know is that he's not going to let it go without a fight. All eyes were on him and after he fouled out with a few seconds remaining, he'd earned the vibrant round of applause thrown his way.
While we knew Monroe had stud potential, Harris' two games at the City of Palms Classic have put him on the radar for the McDonald's All-American contest. Remember, he's faced Eloy Vargas and Greg Monroe on consecutive nights with a shooting thumb that definitely caused him pain. How good is he? He looked every bit like a Top 25 prospect in the country.
By the way, no rest for the weary. Not only did Monroe get the team win, he's now earned the right to take on Samardo Samuels in a Scout.com battle of the first and second ranked players in the class.
Samardo Samuels, C, St. Benedict's – Against Kinston's small frontline he was more Abominable Snowman than high school center. We caught a glimpse of the entire package today – foul line jumper, transition attack, power inside. Another day at the office with 23 points. The big fella finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds. His sidekick Greg Echenique chipped in with 12 and 8.
Sylven Landesberg, SF, Holy Cross – The biggest compliment one can pay to a player is that he affects winning. Landesberg epitomizes how to play the game and impact the outcome. Holy Cross plays 6 kids and he doesn't come off the floor. In a masterful performance Thursday night Landesberg scored 31 points on 15 shots and dig work on the glass with 15.
Eloy Vargas, PF, Amer. Heritage – For a guy who said he was about "86%" healthy, he sure can play. He's on a perimeter oriented team so making the most of his touches is paramount.
Ray Shipman, SF, Pace – He earned 20 points with a standout first half and led the way as Pace earned a hard-fought win over Gainesville.
Nasir Robinson, SF, Chester – While his future teammate at Pitt DeJuan Blair was putting in work against Duke, Robinson was up to his old tricks. He only missed 2 shots en route to 26 points and 11 boards. Chester crushed Scott County on the glass 43-23 and three players reached double-digit boards in the same game.
Matthew Humphrey, SG, Hales – Not much drama in this game as Hales raced out big early and wasn't challenge. Leading the way was the future Duck with 22 points.
Dale Hughes, SG, New Hope – We glanced over him last night because we got wrapped up in the Harris/Vargas battle. He deserves credit. He's a legit mid-major prospect who couldn't consistently sting it from downtown Thursday night. Regardless he pumped in 18 and earned a mid level schollie this week.
Greg Gantt, SG, Gainesville – Here's all you need to know: he went 8-for-9 from downtown and there were some challenged ones mixed in there. The junior lefty caught our eye this fall at a workout and he's lived up to his reputation as a shooter. When the smoke cleared, this gunslinging 3-point artist had 32. Next for him will be the invention of a mid-range game and he'll be doubly dangerous.
Reggie Bullock, SG, Kinston – The 6-foot-6 shooting guard is a talent and had the jumper working against St. Benedict's – even with Tamir Jackson checking him in the first half and doing a nice job. For Kinston, the problem was he didn't get enough pulls. As the season progresses expect Bullock to gradually become more assertive offensively and his game will continue to open up.
We've got to give tournament director Donnie Wilkie his props. While reading the internet late on night last year he noticed that New Hope had a Top 100 player in Rashanti Harris and a slew of starters back. Wilkie did his homework and everyone benefited from seeing an under the radar program do well here. Plus, Harris' swift ascension wouldn't have happened had Wilkie not been a night owl on the prowl for talent to bring into the fold. …
Rakeem Buckles shot 7-9 and finished with 16 points. His best play came on a sick fadeaway tip in to close the half. … Tamir Jackson showed another element of his game: defense. Bullock can be a tough matchup and Jackson did a solid job shadowing him. …
Taj Givens earned his first start of the year for Cox and delivered on his opportunity. Monroe got 30 and he worked his way to 20 points. He was excited about his performances and he should be. … Here's a Larry Drew line you don't see often: 18 points, 2-for-3 on trifectas, 0 assists and 5 turnovers. Taft's offense wasn't in rhythm all night and Landesberg made them pay. …
Scott County shooting guard Tyler Portwood has a strong feel for the game and good looking shot. We wouldn't be surprised to see a lower level team turn him into a productive collegian. …
Kenny Boynton said Duke, Georgia Tech and Texas were among his hardest pursuers. Florida, Florida State, Connecticut, Wake Forest, Miami and Villanova were also mentioned. He said Billy Donovan went to see his brother play a college game so we've got to give the two-time champ credit for being creative.
"I told him he had to be dominant."
This concludes our coverage from the City of Palms. However, we're going to try and update the feature matchup between Samardo Samuels and Greg Monroe. We're off to the Chick Fil-A where we'll bring you action Dec. 22 during the event's final day.