Here is a rundown of the top players at the Centralia, Illinois, Holiday Tournament:
Class of 2011
B.J. Young, 6'-2", point guard (McCluer North High School, MO – Arkansas)Young came into the tournament as the headliner and left with the championship trophy and tournament MVP. The 6'-2" combo guard is one of the fastest guards in the nation with the ball in his hands. His explosiveness on his initial step is outstanding, and he has the ability to finish at the rim through traffic despite the lack of elite strength.
He works well around screens. After turning the corner, he will either explode toward the basket or step back and pop a three point shot. His passing ability is good, as he recorded 9 assists in one game, but he prefers to score. A player comparison would be a right-handed Brandon Jennings without the elite court vision.
In both the semi-finals and championship game, Young started off slow in the first half but exploded in the second half for 30+ points. He says that is part of his design.
"I stay patient in the first half and run around a lot to tire my defender out because I know if he runs around with me as fast as I run, he is going to get tired. In the second half I like to pick up my energy and get the team's energy into a fast pace.
"I like to get my big man Jordan Granger going in the first half so they know we have a post presence and will have to respect that."
The last year has been a crazy ride for Young. Outside of Anthony Davis, no player went from unknown nationally to making as big a rise in the rankings as Young. He is thankful for everything he has been able to accomplish over the summer.
"It was a great experience. I was able to showcase my talents on a major scale in front of a lot of big colleges. I wanted to show people that even though I have been through stuff in my life, I am a good person and a great basketball player. I am thankful for everything I got to do over the summer."
In four games at the Centralia Holiday Tournament, Young averaged 30.5 points on 60% shooting from the field, 5.25 assists, 7.75 rebounds, and 1.5 steals a game on his way to the tournament's highest individual honor. He absolutely took his team on his back in stretches and won games for them in the second half. Young deserves the hype, and solidified his 5-star ranking at C-Town!
Roosevelt Jones, 6'-5", small forward (O'Fallon HS, IL – Butler)
I have stated many times in the past Roosevelt Jones is my favorite prospect to watch. He gets it done and brings it every single night. His game is so well rounded, and he fills every single statistical category in each game. The crafty scorer uses his thick body to maneuver around the hoop and score while drawing contact.
His first half performance in the semi-finals against Mt. Vernon was the best I have ever seen him. He dominated the game on both ends of the floor. Multiple times he stole the ball and took it down for a dunk.
Jones is an extremely smart defender. The single biggest dunk of the tournament came on an alley-oop pass to Jones where he caught the ball at its highest point and slammed it down. The crowd went wild.
Jones averaged 19 points (58% success from the field), 8.5 rebounds, 4.25 assists, 3 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game for the tournament. He was named to the 1st team and will be a great player at Butler.
Charles Joy, 6'-5", small forward (O'Fallon HS, IL – SIU-Edwardsville)
Charles Joy is a joy to watch play. Athletically, no one can stay with him. He is that caliber of an athlete. Joy had several highlight dunks in the first two O'Fallon games I viewed. The transition game is where Joy excels. He can attack his man off the bounce and get to the rim with the best of them. His shot is also coming along nicely.
The 1st team all tournament member averaged 14.5 points and 5.5 rebounds throughout the 68th annual holiday tournament. He has a bright future at SIU-E.
Phillip Mays, 6'-2", shooting guard (Woodale HS, TN)
Phillip Mays is an undersized scoring machine! He is quick with the ball in his hands and has a tight handle. The guard can really shoot the ball from behind the arc and is money at the line. The future airplane pilot put the ball into flight on the game winner in the consolation championship from half court as time expired to give his team the victory.
Mays averaged 20.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.75 assists, and 3 steals a game. The young man is an excellent student in the classroom and has already flown a plane.
Class of 2012
Jordan Granger, 6'-8", power forward (McCluer North HS, MO)
Granger was the breakout player of the tournament. He really impressed me with his combination of quick inside post moves and complimented that with mid-range jump shots. His footwork and skill set are high for a young post player.
Although he has the ability to step out, Granger dominates in the post when he needs to. He rebounds at a high level by boxing out and being aggressive attacking the ball. His passing ability is a plus skill and defensively he is a monster for teams to deal with on the interior.
He averaged 15.5 points on 61% shooting, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the event. The big man has a long list of schools considering bringing him to their teams in the future.
"Mizzou, Illinois, Illinois State, Tulsa, Arkansas, Detroit, St. Louis, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Syracuse, Ohio State, Kansas, California, and Missouri State."
The early leaders are Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, and Ohio State. Of these four the only offer Granger holds is Missouri.
Jay Simpson, 6'-8", power forward (Champaign Central HS, IL – Purdue)
Simpson played well in the game I viewed him. The aspect that really stood out to me was his passing ability for a big man. He made a couple of nice passes with good timing and touch on them for assists.
The Purdue commit also has the ability to step out and hit a perimeter jump shot. He will need to be more consistent in his game and conditioning to be a contributor at Purdue.
Class of 2014
Raymond Doby, 6'-6", power forward (Cahokia HS, IL)
Doby played very well in the second half of his team's game against Belleville West. The freshman is a long and lanky forward who projects as a power forward at the next level. He calls for the ball, works for position on the interior and opens up wide when receiving the ball. He has the ability to catch the ball and put a quick move on the defender and get a shot up in a smooth motion.
Defensively, his length will allow him to be a shot blocking presence. With time I believe Doby will be a good rebounder. I liked how hard he ran the floor in transition. Doby has nice upside. Illinois is very interested as are other Big 10 teams.
Darius Austin, 6'-5", point guard (Cahokia HS, IL)
Austin has great size at 6'-5" for a point guard as a freshman. He is long, which causes problems for opponents on the perimeter when he is defending them. Austin projects as a combo guard at the next level who can handle the point duties or slide over into a scoring role. The guard gets good height on his jump shot and has a smooth motion.
Jerry Johnson, 6'-1", shooting guard (Woodale HS, TN)
Jerry Johnson is a coach's son who really knows how to play the game. He is a strong power guard with the ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter with a quick release. His spot-up shooting was deadly throughout the tournament.
Off the bounce, Johnson can get to the rim using his strength. He is a mature player who knows how to play and has a great feel for the game at a young age. Passing is also an attribute that Johnson excels at.
The guard is considered the top freshman in Memphis and says he likes several high major schools including the home state Memphis Tigers and Tennessee Volunteers, but he would love to play at UConn.