Over the weekend, the Road Show made the journey down to Springfield, MO for the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions. The TOC is one of the best run events in the entire country and brings in some fine talent to play before a crowd of 6,500-8,000 people each night.
This year, future Kansas Jayhawk Mario Chalmers was among a handful of high profile high school players who put his game on display in Springfield. Other high profile players on hand included Tyler Hansbrough, J.P. Prince and super freshman Korie Lucious.
TOP PERFORMERS AT THE TOC
Mario Chalmers - Surely Chalmers didn’t want to travel from his home in Anchorage, AK so that his Bartlett High team would lose three games. Unfortunately, that is the way things played out as Bartlett struggled at the TOC. For his part, Chalmers had an up and down weekend as he showed flashes of brilliance while appearing frustrated at other times.
Chalmers biggest strength is his ability to create on the fly and put the ball in the basket. At 6-2 ½ -- and perhaps still growing -- he uses his quickness to drive in either direction where he can get to the hoop and dunk on big men. If he can’t get all the way to the rim, Chalmers can change directions quickly in the lane and manufacture a shot or find a teammate for an easy bucket. He’s a scorer first and is starting to pull up for 12-15 foot jumpers as well off of drives.
His range extends to three point land and mechanically his smooth stroke looks good from the waist up. However, he has a tendency to shoot flat footed making his release a little slow at times. Defensively he uses quick hands and super instincts to pick defenders pockets and get into passing lanes -- without too many gambles -- for steals which he converts into offense on the other end.
At this point, Chalmers is a scoring guard who is just discovering how to use all of his physical and fundamental tools. He does spend some time talking to the refs but he also spends a lot of time on the court smiling and actually plays pretty unselfishly. Look for him and Russell Robinson to rotate between the one and two next year.
Tyler Hansbrough - Kansas fans know Hansbrough pretty well considering how heavily the Jayhawks pursued him before he chose North Carolina. Once again, Hansbrough proved why he is one of the elite big men in the class of 2005.
On Saturday night in a loss to Springfield (MO) Kickapoo, his Poplar Bluff teammates failed to get him the ball against a tough pressure defense. The result was Hansbrough being held to only 12 points and nine rebounds. On Sunday, the 6-9 BF made Bronx (NY) St. Raymond’s pay dearly with a 44 point and 16 rebound effort. He hit a few short jumpers, crashed the offensive glass, made a jump hook and had his usual array of dunks and tip backs.
There are other guys out there who may be more physically gifted or who may have more potential, but Hansbrough is everything that you could want out of a high school big man and projects as a very good college player.
J.P. Prince - Long and slender, the 6-6 Prince has been advertised as a PG but he is much more suited to playing on the wing. The lefty doesn’t handle the ball proficiently enough or possess the lateral quickness to guard quicker and smaller points which he would be asked to do next year at Arizona. He is very talented, though, and has a knack for finding himself in the open court where he finishes with long gliding dunks.
In a half court set, he slithers into the paint off of drives and uses his length and timing to pick up a number of offensive rebounds. Out of the press, he gets into passing lanes and creates open court opportunities. His jump-shot is more of a two handed push shot and he’s got a low release so it obviously needs some work. Attitude can be an issue at times and Prince spends an awful lot of bending official’s ears when a call doesn’t go his way.
Korie Lucious - It’s hard to believe that this kid is only a freshman. A 5-9 jitterbug with superb quickness and a good looking jump shot, Lucious is a top shelf athlete who backed up his lofty reputation. He didn’t put up huge numbers, he did something even more important. Lucious showed that he is a pure PG whose interest is in running his team and not getting his.
He can score though and does so with an assortment of clever dribble drives, soft jump shots and pull-ups in the lane. He’s obviously got to get bigger and stronger, but he’s certainly a guy that will have to be monitored closely over the next few years.
Shane Laurie - The younger brother of Mizzou guard Spencer Laurie, Shane is a pretty nice player himself. A 6-3 WG from Springfield (MO) Kickapoo, Laurie looked pretty comfortable on the floor of Southwest Missouri State’s Hammonds Center -- where he will play his college ball -- and was named the MVP of the event.
He’s a very good athlete who can shoot the ball extremely well from deep. He’s worked hard in the weight room and has a college ready body that he uses to get into the lane for rebounds and buckets off of drives.
- Total games seen- 123
- Total teams seen- 97
- Total miles traveled- 9,188