On Saturday, the basketball gods were good to those who paid their dues all day long.
The nightcap featured No. 1 Mater Dei against a tough bunch from Philly, Roman Catholic. Tyler Lamb hit a pair of free throws to put the Monarchs up a deuce. Roman's Maalik Wayns, with 5.5 seconds left, drove the length of the floor and clicked off a three that didn't draw iron. However, Rakeem Brookins was in position for a catch and shoot rebound but dropped the tip in attempt.
In this East Coast versus West tilt, the boys from Philly had it flowing. Wayns dropped 9 assists and had 20 points despite being unable to connect from deep. He was, however, difficult to stop off his trademark penetrations. His running mate Brookins should play all his games at Bishop Verot. He had 27, many of which were tough jumpers off the pull.
Ari Stewart, SF, Wheeler: He was feeling great after beating Lincoln and for good reason. His 25-point effort was definitely one of the best complete games we've seen him have. Great energy, rotation on his jump shot and made all three of his triples.
John Wall, PG, Word of God: Plain and simple, it wasn't his day. In the first half, Wall didn't have a board or an assist, which almost defies logic given his opening day performance. He did stick a series of tough mid-range pulls. An off day for Wall reads: 21 points, 8-for-19 from the field, 7 turnovers and zero assists.
Roger Franklin, PF/SF, Duncanville: His best game of the event was a 23-point, 9-for-13 outing as Duncanville righted the ship against Briarcrest.
Richard Howell, PF, Wheeler: He's going to see a lot of James Padgett in the ACC and he got ready for the future with a 16 and 12 game. Howell did a nice job of mixing in the power and the touch inside. Give him a face up look in the vicinity of the paint and he's pretty reliable.
Lance Stephenson, SF, Lincoln: You would have thought that by the final score Lincoln got the tempo it wanted. However, the Railsplitters never seemed to have their defense feeding the offense in transition like they're accustomed to. Stephenson played through first half fouls to finish with 26 but Wheeler advanced.
Noel Johnson, SG, Fayette County: This is not going to end well for Fayette County. Every game down here they're going to be outmanned. Johnson had 18 on 8-for-19 field goals. Nice work on the glass with 12 boards.
Perry Jones, C/PF, Duncanville: The numbers aren't eye-popping (someday they will be) but his 3-for-3 from the field, 7-point, 5-block morning game is once again noteworthy as he's one a handful of elite prospects in the event.
James Bell, SG, Montverde: So far in our travels this season, Bell ranks as one of the most improved players in his class. He's used his time at Montverde wisely. Not only has he beefed up his skill package, he's playing harder and smarter. His 34 paved the way for a Montverde win.
Austin Rivers, G, Winter Park – It wasn't quite Willis Reed-esque but Rivers had it flowing upon returning from a bum ankle. He hit three step back 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to seal the deal against Westchester. Long arms, a great looking shot and a bevy of advanced scoring moves are measurables that rank him at the elite level. His competitiveness is the fuel for the engine. We'll tell you he had 30 points but it doesn't come close to detailing his impact on the game. Tabbed as the No. 4 sophomore in the country, he's making good on the ranking.
Michael Gilchrist, SF, St. Pat's: Obviously, this is an elite basketball talent. In this particular instance, with Dexter Strickland and Kyrie Irving in sweat suits and Word of God looming, his team needed him. From the tip he was the hardest playing guy on the court. He impacted as a passer and scorer inside. It's refreshing to see one of the nation's best high school players operate within himself. There were no bad shots, just a display of hustle, skill and athleticism. In the coming years he's going to be the standard at the small forward slot. Gilchrist dropped 30 points, 14 rebounds and a crisp 10-for-10 from the line. Scintillating performance.
Derrick Gordon, SG, St. Pat's: He stepped up and helped set the tone. For a young wing his poise, pace and overall steadiness stands out. Looks like he's a shot maker and definitely committed on defense. It's his first game of the season and he goes out and drops 27 points. Not too shabby.
Briarcrest's Johnny Williams, Leslie McDonald and Gregg Wooten scored 17, 16 and 15 points respectively. The rest of the team: two and no one else had a single assist. … Western Kentucky-bound William Green used his athleticism to come up with 17 points and 8 boards. … Phil Taylor had seven assists for Wheeler and that was big. However, the diminutive point man did an even better job of finishing tough shots inside. …
Knowing Rivers and how he's wired up, we're thinking he won't be satisfied shooting 8-for-17 from the line the last two days. … Jordin Mayes struggled for Westchester going 8-for-23. At this stage, through three games he's played exclusively off the ball. He finished with 20 points. His role on this team doesn't call for his duties as a point. Still, can't get his summer moonlighting as a point out my mind. Two different evaluations for sure. …
An unsung standout for Winter Park is Robert Lovaglio. A junior, he's a big wing with great instincts and feel. We'd tag him as a Patriot League style player. … Stanford signee Andy Brown is a blend guy. He's an extremely savvy passer with a strong hoops IQ. …
Justin Jackson ran the floor and scored 16 points. He's an A-10 style power forward right now who's always in a good mood, looks like a communicator and a great teammate. Energy guy. … Zion Lutheran's top dogs were point guard David Joseph who should be a Division I junior. Senior big man Renaldo Dixon had 19 and 8. He's a guy the highs and mids will lay eyes on for a spring ring. …
Zion Lutheran's Renaldo Dixon is receiving looks from Connecticut, Western Kentucky, Florida State and Florida Atlantic. … If you're recruiting Kyrie Irving, get in line. Florida, Pittsburgh, Marquette, Notre Dame, Duke, Ohio State, Maryland, Virginia, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Memphis and Seton Hall were mentioned. OK, that's a long list so we asked Irving who say makes him feel like he's "their guy." Notre Dame, Rutgers, Seton Hall and Duke were the responses. … Derrick Gordon lists Florida, Florida State, Western Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee and Rutgers. "My favorite right now is Western Kentucky." Gordon says he's got a great relationship with head coach Ken MacDonald. …
St. Pats will be without the services of junior Kyrie Irving for the next 30 days as he sits out due to transfer rules. Dexter Strickland did not play due to suspension. "Coach Boyle is trying to teach me a lesson," Strickland said. His first game of the season comes Monday in the semifinals. …
East Carolina returned to watch Gregg Wooten. … Kansas and Southern Cal were the long big names in the gym last night for Lance Stephenson. … On Saturday, there was not a single school on either John Wall or Lance Stephenson's lists in the gym watching them. …
What's up North Carolina! We got some Big 12 right here!