Underclassmen Show Well At Slamfest VIII

RICHMOND, Va.– Slamfest VIII offered a chance to watch a bevy of talented underclassmen. James McAdoo held court and was the most impressive prospect of the day. However, juniors Hippolyte Tsafack and Brandon Britt helped their stock immensely.

Steven Pledger, SG, Atlantic Shores: His 28-points was a tale of two halves. A series of good-looking shots didn't go down early but as the game wore on, Pledger couldn't miss including 4-for-4 from downtown. His perimeter touch triggered a third quarter run that sealed it for Shores. As his senior sendoff progresses, Pledger has defined himself as more than a shooter behind the line. He made a lefty runner and made all six of his free throws.

Darien Brothers, PG/SG, Benedictine: He's exactly what the doctor ordered for Richmond. This kid has guts, a stroke and a basketball mind. He's got this – and don't go overboard with the comparison – Deron Williams style body where he's built for contact and can't be knocked off his game. He'll have no problems transitioning to college and is a sticky defender. Brothers had 26 points.

Marshawn Powell, PF, Miller School: On the court, he's a blue-collar guy. He won't shoot many 3s in college but the fact he made two of his four tries lets you know he's worked on his shot. He'll be able to score in college, use his body and though he's not a great leaper inside, he's a crafty guy in the paint.

Naji Hibbert, SG, DeMatha: Hibbert was held in check for the better part of three and a half quarters and then he made two plays which won the game for the Stags. Hibbert toughed out a pair of strong finishes, both resulting in fouls. The hits changed the game and sealed the deal; he finished with 17. Credit him for finishing strong though this team needs his aggressiveness early.


Tsafack Breaks Out
Hippolyte Tsafack, C, Miller School: He was one of the two main surprises on the day. Saw him in December and he was much more powerful and focused. With the pre-game focus on the wing showdown (Gbinije vs. Parker), this Cameroonian stole the show with a dominant effort in the paint. He takes care of his job inside, keeps the ball high over his head and owns a body that will be a problem for defenders. He'll hit a cutter with a pass and if this effort gets replicated, he'll be all over the high-major radar this spring. Finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Brandon Britt, PG, Atlantic Shores: The other big revelation of the day. This young man is a mid-major point who is about to get his due. Britt dropped 35 points and made 10 of 14 trifectas. His shot has a low release but he was open and accurate. He has good quickness and a demeanor at the point that has collegiate value. This was his coming out party and his teammates were feeding off his big day.

Andre Dawkins, SG, Atlantic Shores: There's reason to believe that one day he'll slide into the role Gerald Henderson occupies at Duke. He caught an alley-oop and exploded for the best highlight play of the day. Athletic at both ends and we know he can stroke it. His 15 points were loud and through the rim. The series we liked best was when he drove in for a dunk, got rejected but sprinted down the court and returned the favor with a rejection of his own.

Josh Hairston, PF, Courtland: What's been his trademark has been consistent hard play and that's what he did in a 25-point effort on Saturday. Hairston demonstrated his game from mid-range and ability to operate in face-up attack mode. He's comfortable with his own game and typically strives for a balance inside and out.

Mychal Parker, SF, Miller School: The wing finished with 16 points and 8 rebounds. His highlight was a big time drive and dunk. He's good for at least one strong take and throw down a game. Gave you a taste of what he can do with a pull-up and pair of 3s. When he's aggressive going to the hoop he really shows well.

Travis McKie, SF, John Marshall: McKie's numbers were good – 21 points and 12 rebounds – included a 6-for-7 from behind the line. His best quarter was the final one where Marshall made a push against DeMatha. Simply put, for his team to max out its potential, McKie has to ratchet up the aggression early and be more of a force offensively. The best part of his game on Saturday came as a rebounder where he was active and above the rim.

James McAdoo, PF, Norfolk Christian: The best prospect and player of the day. McAdoo was a few missed chippies from 30+ points. Easily one of the handful of elite players in his class with a chance to be a college star and beyond. His body is maturing and he's pushing 6-9. He pursues rebounds out of his area, uses the glass and is comfortable and mature with his game. Uses the glass, hustles, he's got the package. They zoned him, he slid out and generated offense facing the hoop. There's a Tim Duncan-esque approach and calmness to his game. 21 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks and four steals.

Michael Gbinije, SF, Christchurch: Versatility is the buzzword here. His team got smashed but he quietly competed the entire game. He can be sneaky at both ends of the floor. He didn't have a great day with his jump shot and finished with 14 points. He can score from different areas on the court. Likes the step back, has a spin move in his repertoire and he's a high-level talent.

Trey Davis, PG/SG, Henrico: His team instituted all kinds of defenses on McAdoo and at times he guarded the big man in the box-and-one. Conversely, his offense struggled early (0-7 field goals to begin the game). Forget the stats, he's a talented player with size and the potential big either a scoring point of two guard. 12 points, 3 assists and didn't turn it over.

Quinn Cook, PG, DeMatha: All your looking for is steady progression and Cook's game has made a jump from a year ago. He's a little bigger, more confident and his court vision is a major asset. Inside the line he would appear to be a better shooter, which is likely a function of strength. As an assist man he's exciting. He turned it over a few times late but his team won and he had a big hand in the victory. Has the markers of a high-major prospect at his position.

DeMatha junior Josh Selby was suspended and missed Saturday's game. We are not sure when he'll return to action. …

Hot after Gbinije is North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Florida and Georgetown. … McAdoo said playing as a freshman is important to him. He said the head coaches most involved in his recruitment are Billy Donovan, Roy Williams, Seth Greenberg, Dave Leitao and Oliver Purnell. …

The most impressive play Gbinije made was actually a alley-oop that never made it to the rim. Off balance and with no way to complete the play, Gbinije tipped the ball to a teammate as he fell to the floor. … McAdoo's game and approach is well beyond that of a high school sophomore. … The last football star we saw play at Slamfest was Percy Harvin. Deep Run's Antoine Exum, a Virginia Tech signee, implements the same approach on the court: spread it and drive it to the rim. He had 31 points. …

Duke's 2011 class is a lot like Purdue's two years ago when the core of players were from the same region or AAU team. Hairston and Dawkins are friends. Tyler Thornton, the quarterback of the recruiting class didn't play at Slamfest. However, his parents attended to support Hairston and Dawkins; Thornton and Hairston both run with D.C. Assault on the AAU circuit. The point being is these are guys with winning resumes and pre-existing relationships. Collectively, this is a valuable group of Top 20-50 prospects. …

Be on the lookout for 2012 wing James Ford. The Christchurh freshman had 13 points and his ability to convert while facing contact was impressive. Makes sense since he dabbles with football in the fall. ...

Christchurch point guard Coron Williams will visit Robert Morris next weekend. … Tsafack is hearing from Virginia Tech, Virginia, VCU, Canisius, Clemson and Maryland. … Trey Davis is being watched by Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Richmond and VCU. … Brandon Britt said he's hearing from Hampton and Richmond. "This is my coming out party," Britt said. …

Head Coaches: Oliver Purnell gets big props. He arrived early and stayed late.

Assistant Coaches: Virginia, Duke, Clemson.

Scoreboard:

Miller School 68, Christchurch 49; Atlantic Shores 85, Deep Run 62; Henrico 53, Norfolk Christian 49; DeMatha 69, John Marshall 65; Benedictine 63, Courtland 54.

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