Vegas week kicked off this evening and GI attended three different games in three different buildings for today’s report. Who was the Wednesday night highlighter? Main target Jericho Sims once again.
Consistency is Coming for Sims
The progression of 6-foot-9/6-foot-10 Jericho Sims of Cristo Rey Jesuit/D1 Minnesota continues. Jericho’s next steps in fulfilling his massive potential is consistency of play and more comfort in his low post game. That consistency was there the first week in South Carolina, Sims was solid in last week’s tournament, and tonight in the opener competing against Aamir Sims, Jericho had 14 points and a dozen boards.
Consistency and comfort. That’s what you want to see from Jericho. Consistency of effort was there as Sims played more disciplined defense doing a very good job of showing on screens and stopping guards from a corner turn attack and then on the inside Sims made opponents continually attempt over the top of his reach which lowers percentages immensely. Finally, Jericho had six second half offensive rebounds and his team score on five of them on their way to a 74-68 win over Team Loaded.
Next is comfort and that is coming in his low post game. Jericho trusts his teammates to get him touches on the inside and today we saw two special post moves starting with a baseline spin out of a double into a two-hand jam over the help defenders. That was followed by a low block catch, fake to the left shoulder, turn over the right shoulder soft touch make. We’ve seen Jericho get comfortable with these moves in each event this year.
What’s next? Adding a trust with his left hand a few feet from the rim and then being maybe a little bit vocal on the floor. But those are things that he has a lot of time to work on. Right now he’s getting double-doubles against the best bigs in the Adidas high level of play so just keeping with consistency is the most important item.
Richard Pitino was joined by fellow head coaches Dana Altman of Oregon, Archie Miller of Dayton, and Tim Miles of Nebraska as well as assistants from Kansas State, Clemson, Ohio State, and others.
Washington is a Fit
Kimani Young and Richard Pitino identified Isaiah Washington as a perfect fit for Minnesota over two years ago when they began recruiting him. Young has been to everything that Washington has done (when allowed to) and he was front row for Isaiah’s game once again. Minnesota was joined by Seton Hall, Providence, and others to see Isaiah.
New Heights was facing area rival NY Rens and the game was highly physical and close until the end before the Rens pulled ahead on a late game Jordan Nwora scoring run.
Washington’s ability in the open floor is matched by few. His speed up the floor ranks with the best and his reads on timing with the delivery was flawless. Washington hit teammates with perfect chest passes on a rope, he sent an ideal bounce pass up the floor for a score, he lobbed a ball with the perfect lead for a score and then there was the alley-oop finish that he provided the delivery on. There are few as good as Washington delivering in transition.
Defensively Isaiah was better than expected. The first thing noticed about Isaiah on the defensive end was how verbal he was in commanding his teammates. Talking on defense is what coaches want to see because it means they are buying into coaching, they are buying into defensive concepts, and they are a leader on the floor. Isaiah did all of that plus he jumped passing lanes three times to get possession and Washington was outstanding beat his man laterally over the top of screens as well as turning him with his lateral quicks.
Theo John is recovering from an ankle injury and tonight didn’t get much warm-up time because he was getting that ankle taped and then he didn’t play in the second half so the assumption was that Theo may have tweaked it again.
John produced a final list of six yesterday choosing six programs from his 15 scholarship offers. Who made the cut? Minnesota, Marquette, Illinois, Cal, Purdue, and Oklahoma. Of those six programs the only head coach in the building to watch Theo tonight was Richard Pitino of Minnesota. Oklahoma’s Lon Kruger was actually in the building but watched others in the other gym. Assistants from Cal, Purdue, Illinois, and Ben Johnson from Minnesota joined Pitino.
So what did they see Theo do in his about eight minutes of play? Three nasty blocks patrolling the middle, one dunk, and six rebounds. All in eight minutes of play.
Name to Watch
If you are a long time GI hoops recruiting follower you’ve heard the name Alonzo Verge a few times. Minnesota assistant Ben Johnson has been tracking him for over a year watching and evaluating his ability. What did Johnson and Pitino see tonight?
They saw a guy that destroyed initial defenders with quick separation moves and scored with floaters in the small space between his beaten man and the oncoming length of the helping big. The 6-foot-2 Verge has a lot of flare to him. He threw some passes anticipating cuts that few guys can but not all of them were completed as his teammates weren’t prepared.
The Pulley defenders weren’t always prepared for Verge’s explosive step after the separation move nor where they ready for Alonzo’s behind the back assist, his jumper off a rapid spin move, or his final floater that put him in double figures for the game.
- Mass Rivals point guard Wabissa Bede had 26 points leading his team to a win in the Contender’s Cup. Bede made nine jumpers from mid-range and out, he defended with an extreme effort as he always does, and Bede brought his team closer to year another event championship.
- McKinley Wright set the tone for D1 Minnesota this evening with scores of his own or assists (four of them) on six of the first seven possessions of the game. He did this with Richard Pitino of Minnesota, Archie Miller of Dayton, and assistants from Iowa State and others were looking on.
- Goanar Mar of D1 Minnesota didn’t need to score. Jericho Sims and Nathan Reuvers did that. Mar defended three different spots this evening (a lead guard and both forward spots) using his long 6-foot-7 frame with some of the best lateral quicks in the Midwest to limit the best Team Loaded wings.
- Moses Brown, a 6-foot-11 2018 big, played with aggression and skill Wednesday night scoring on three straight possessions late to hold off the Rens before the final run. Brown has a very long frame and the best part of his low post position is the aggressive fight he puts forth to get low, use his strength to gain leverage, and then open up and demand the ball. Brown did this several times and then showed off his hands to catch and finish. With Rens all over him Brown stayed on balance to complete consistently.
- The Gary Trent Jr vs Brian Bowen match-up at one point looked like it was going to be historic but simmered late. Trent Jr knocked out six treys and shot 11 of 22 from the floor making shots with Bowen’s length out-stretched in front of him. Playing in front of Duke and UCLA assistants Trent Jr looked like a future leading scorer of a major program.
- Tre Jones had ten points, eight assists, six boards, and five steals for Howard Pulley in their win over Meanstreets. As good as those numbers were, his on ball defensive pressure may have been the best part of his game. Tre looked eyes on his man, intimidated them with his gaze, strength, and effort, and overall forced about eight different turnovers (including his direct steals).