John Wall, PG, Word of God: When he plays with passion and energy like he did in Springfield, Wall is almost without a peer in the class of 2009. There's no need to rehash what he's capable of athletically because we know how mind numbing he can be with his speed and ability to finish at the rim. The most important thing Wall did was lead, compete and refuse to let his team fail in the finals.
With the championship on the line, Wall stepped up and made plays. Whether it was knocking down free throws (17-18), finding teammates for lob dunks or coming up with a defensive stop, Wall put together what just might be the signature performance of his high school career.
Ferrakohn Hall, PF/SF, White Station: Lots of 6-foot-7 kids go through an identity crisis where they can't decide whether they are a wing or a four man. In this regard Hall deserves a lot of credit for accepting his role as his team's big man and turning himself into an effective rebounding machine. As he's started to fill out he's also become much more bouncy and added strength will only improve his ability to finish in the lane. He's still capable of facing up and attacking off the dribble -- particularly along the baseline -- but has really focused on doing the dirty work. Still unsigned, he earned all-tournament honors for his efforts.
Kadeem Batts, PF, Mc Eachern: He slowed down a little on the event's final day, but the Providence bound big man had an effective showing. Bouncy and quick in the lane, he's added some needed bulk and does a terrific job on the glass. Runs the floor, understands that he's most effective making hustle plays on the glass and does a lot of the little things that a team needs.
Sherwood Brown, SG, Olympia: An unsigned 6-3 wing, Brown is a dangerous shooter from deep who plays hard on both ends of the floor. He hit a host of big shots for Olympia as they nearly took home the title and has a terrific demeanor on the floor. Without many shooters left in the senior class, mid-level programs in need of a guy who can fill it up and play both ends of the floor should think about taking a look at Brown.
Martell Buie, PG, Olympia: The younger brother of Indiana Pacers guard Marquis Daniels (who was on hand Saturday night), Buie would have earned MVP honors had Olympia been able to pull one out. Tough as nails at around 5-10, he makes his team go on both ends of the floor and is a true floor general. He was only a few missed conversions away from setting the event's all-time assist record and won over everybody in attendance with his approach to the game. He believes that he could help out a mid-level program and he's absolutely worth a look.
C.J. Leslie, PF/SF, Word of God: Until Wall totally exploded in the second half of the championship game, Leslie was building his own case to be named the event's MVP. Playing with focus, Leslie cut down on his mistakes and really made things happen inside and out. He stepped up and hit some good looking jumpers, was a force on the glass and delighted the crowd with his towering jams. Because of his length and athleticism he's emerged as a shot blocker. Still just scratching at his potential, he's unlocking the tools to turning himself into a big timer.
Joe Jackson, PG, White Station: Despite his scrawny frame, the 5-11 PG is as tough a customer as there is in high school basketball. He's got no fear when attacking the lane and gets into there at will thanks to a devastating first step. He's got classic form on his jumper elevating straight up down to release a shot that has a high release point, lots of arch and lots of rotation. Exploded for 37 in the third place game and carried White Station back from a double digit deficit for a win.
Trae Golden, SG, Mc Eachern: Burly and strong, Golden is a volume shooter who can get it cooking from deep like he did en route to 21 first half points on Saturday night against White Station. However, when he's off Golden is still working to diversify his all-around game. A scorer at heart, he's got the frame to finish with contact and the jumpers seem to fall a little easier when he gets into the lane for some easy buckets.
Sidiki Johnson, PF, St. Raymond: At 6-7 with long arms and a very nice looking frame, the young man has already emerged as a double-double machine. He equaled event records in both total rebounds (43) and a single game (20) while racking up 53 points during his three games. A good, but not great, athlete he finds success because of his already high skill level. He can stick 15 foot jumpers, passes well and plays physically on defense. It may sound simple, but his mastery of pivoting with either foot allows him to create a lot of easy baskets. He's looking like a guy that is going to be tracked somewhere on the high major level.
Stephan Drane of Word of God is certainly a work in progress, but the skinny big man really understands his role of rebounding and scoring around the rim. … Julian Burton of White Station isn't the most imposing guy at about 5-7. But, the junior point guard makes a lot of plays and does the little things that help White Station win. His play deservedly earned him the Father John Savage award, which is given yearly to the player who shows the most sportsmanship, hustle and does the little things. …
5-11 PG Johnathan Gray of Springfield Central earned his way onto the All-Tournament team and helped orchestrate a consolation bracket championship as Central made a big comeback late against St. Raymond. Extremely athletic and quite quick, he's likely bound for a two year stint of junior college but has the potential to eventually work his way onto a division one roster. … Another local earning All-Tournament honors was 6-0 shooter supreme Casey Goss of Springfield Glendale. Nailing 7-9 from deep on Saturday locked up his spot on the team. … Even though they fell a little short in the championship game, Olympia earned admirers for it's all around team play. We mentioned Buie and Brown, but guys like shooting guard Dexter Fields, sky walking forward William Green and hard-nosed Jamel Marshall and Jordan McCoy are equally important to the success of a very well coached squad. … We can't say enough about the Springfield area's support of the Bass Pro. With huge crowds each night, at least 25,000 spectators rolled through the JQH Arena at one time or another. … Speaking of the JQH, the recently opened building is a sparkling facility and should become a major tool for Cuonzo Martin and his staff in selling the Missouri State program to recruits. … Special thanks to tournament director Mark Fisher and his staff for their hospitality and professionalism throughout the weekend.
All-Tournament team:John Wall (MVP) and C.J. Leslie, Word of God. Joe Jackson and Ferrakohn Hall, White Station. Trae Golden, Mc Eachern. Johnathan Gray, Springfield Central. Casey Goss, Springfield Glendale. Sidiki Johnson, St. Raymond. Martell Buie and Dexter Fields, Olympia.
Kansas head man Bill Self was in attendance on Thursday night and back on Saturday night as he tracked John Wall and got an initial look at Joe Jackson. Kansas also dispatched an assistant to track Wall on Friday. Memphis boss John Calipari was accompanied by assistant Josh Pastner as they tracked Wall and Jackson on Friday night. Missouri State head coach Cuonzo Martin sat courtside with assistants on Thursday and Friday while Missouri had assistant coach Matt Zimmerman in town checking in on Ferrakohn Hall. …
Hall's school list reads Memphis, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma State. ...