With Montverde's win over the No. 1 seed, Westchester, they'll take on Paterson (N.J.) Catholic, while St. Benedict's and Winter Park will tangle in the other semi-final match up.
Fab Melo, C, Sagemont – The City of Palms crowd was treated to a new and improved Fab Melo. The 7-foot big man has cut majority of the fat off his frame and has reshaped his body. The reformation was clear during the game action, as he moved better and maneuvered extremely well in the paint.
Offensively he was patient and made quick, precise moves in the lane. A hook over his left shoulder is the go-to move at this point, but he also showed a skyhook and isn't against facing up defenders. Throw in that he was a defensive presence and rebounded well and Melo had quite a game. Melo was 8-for-14 for 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Will Sheehey, SF, Sagemont – This 6-foot-5 didn't waste any time getting it going against Dudley. He scored it well in transition and was particularly aggressive attacking the rim. Sheehey uses both hands at the rim, but is clearly more comfortable attacking from the right side. He's a guy that you don't have to worry about playing hard and he'll buy in on both sides of the ball. Sheehey went for 17 points and eight rebounds.
Thomas Laerke, SG, Findlay – In his first extensive amount of playing time, Laerke proved he's worthy of getting more burn for the Pilots. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard buried four three-pointers on five attempts on his way to a 17-point outing. It's clear he's a knock down spot up shooter, but he also showed off a mid-range pull-up. He finished 5-for-8 from the field and hit a trio of free throws.
James Bell, SF, Montverde – Every time we've seen this 6-foot-5, 215-pound wing over the past year he's looked better and better. He continued that trend on Monday, where he mustered a heck of an effort against Westchester. Bell went for 23 points against the Comets, and worked in four three-pointers. He's rounding out his game, and it's clear he's spent quality time working on his jump shot.
Mike Shaw, PF, De La Salle – During his 12-point, six-rebound effort against Ft. Myers (Fla.) Bartow, Shaw played fairly well, despite his six turnovers. When given time and space he can knock down three-pointers, but his best offensive work is done closer to the rim. Rebounding is definitely a plus for Shaw, as he hits the glass on both ends. His best rebound of the day came on a tip dunk that he threw down over a helpless defender.
Jabari Brown, SG, Findlay – Against Fort Myers (Fla.) Dunbar, Brown, a 6-foot-3 guard, put together a big game. The California native dialed in from deep, hitting a trio of three-pointers. Brown has as strong frame that he uses well when he attacks the rim and scores well in transition. He finished with 24 points on 9-for-14 shooting.
Myck Kabongo, PG, St. Benedict – There aren't many guys in high school basketball that are more fun to watch. Kabongo is incredibly active on both ends of the floor and sets a terrific pace for his team. Defenders have trouble keeping him in front, and he changes speeds very well. He's also a tricky ball handler that creates well for teammates. He finished 5-for-8 from the field for 19 points in St. Benedict's win over St. Frances.
Brett Comer, PG/SG, Winter Park – Florida Atlantic picked up a solid junior in Comer. Playing in the backcourt with Austin Rivers, Comer is a calm, steady guard that makes great decision, doesn't turn the ball over and has the ability to finish at the rim. In this one he put up quite a line scoring 22 points, tossing out eight assists, grabbing six boards and turning the ball over just once.
Austin Rivers, PG/SG, Winter Park – After his first half against Milton, some college coaches were claiming him as the best prospect in the class. He ripped off 16 points through the first two frames and it was impressive. He attacked the rim, using tricky ball handling and athletic moves to scores at the rim. Mix in floaters and he was on top of his game. The second half wasn't so good to him, as he couldn't get his jumper to fall. He finished 7-for-22 from the field scoring 21 points.
Julian Royal, PF, Milton – Easily the best effort we've seen from Royal since watching him as a freshman in high school. Royal took high percentage shots that included jump hooks and mid-range jumpers. When he got an opportunity on the block, he made crisp moves towards the rim and played with more confidence than we've seen from him in the past. He finished 10-for-16 from the fielding scoring 24 points and snagging 13 rebounds.
Alex Foster, PF, De La Salle – This freshman is full of potential. At 6-foot-7, he's got a solid looking frame, equipped with long arms. He moves well and is already fairly aggressive on both ends. The southpaw hits the glass, can score around the rim and passes well out of the post. He scored six points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked three shots.
Austin Rivers, one of the nation's top guards, admitted that he's still committed to Florida, but also said he's giving Duke a look.
"I'm just letting them recruit me," Rivers said. I think it's important to see what's out there."
Any chance Rivers makes a visit to Durham (N.C.) in the near future?
"I'll probably take one next year when I get time," he said. "Right now I'm focused on the season."
Thomas Laerke has only heard from Idaho, according to Todd Simon and Mike Peck, of Findlay Prep. That will likely change in the near future.
A number of assistant coaches made their way to the City of Palms Classic. We spotted Texas, Florida, Virginia Tech, Temple, Florida Atlantic, Rhode Island, Fairfield and Georgia Tech. We didn't see a head coach in the gym on Monday.
Godwin Okonji scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against Ft. Myers (Fla.) Dunbar. He was 5-for-9 from the field. P.J. Hairston played hurt and it was obvious. He struggled from the field going just 5-for-19. Sam Cassell Jr., of Baltimore (Md.) St. Frances, showed that he can shoot it from long-range. He buried three three-pointers on his way to 13 points. Cassell's teammate Dante Holmes is quite a scorer. He went for 19 points and nine rebounds in St. Frances' loss to St. Benedict's. Aaron Brown put up 17 points and tossed out five assists for St. Benedict's. The 6-foot-5 wing used his strong body to finish at the rim. Another analyst made a good point about Ohio State commit Shannon Scott. The more you watch him the better appreciation you have for his game. Dai-Jon Parker, an explosive, deserves credit for taking the task of defending Austin Rivers in the second half. He did a great job with him defensively. With that said, he really struggled from the field against Winter Park.
"I haven't been this excited since Neon Boudeaux." – A fan said while watching Winter Park and Milton, referring to the star character in the movie Blue Chips.