Thursday was the first full day of basketball in Las Vegas and GI saw games at all four major events starting and ending with the Creator’s Cup at the Adidas Championships. Mass Rivals won yet another championship this evening led by lead guard Wabissa Bede.
Another Trophy for Bede and Mass Rivals
Wabissa Bede is having the month he has been dreaming of since he first started hooping. After winning the Adidas Finale he was offered by Minnesota and Dayton. Last weekend he led his team to the Peach State championship and brought home the MVP trophy. Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Nebraska have offered Bede this week. And tonight Bede scored 15 points and led his team to the Creators Cup (Mizzou offered after the game).
Why is Bede having so much success on the court and with scholarship offers after the games are over? Oh where to start. I would say you have to begin with his maturity. Wabissa turned 18 yesterday and he has the physical look of a more matured player. Bede does a fantastic job of using his size to help him turn corners as well as stay on balance when attacking the cup and making contact with contesting defenders.
It’s not just his size and skill that gets Bede into playmaking areas. He’s also got a quick first step plus his patience as a lead guard stands out. Wabissa will run 20 seconds off a clock with ball movement, receive the ball back, and then use a ball screen to get into space time and time again. Also, Wabissa has become a much better shooter at all three levels. He’s making shots with feet set at the arc, hitting the pull-up with his squared up touch or floater, and he’s getting to the rim and touching over the help defenders.
Let’s not forget the defensive effort. Wabissa understands angles to turn his man and he loves to pounce on a ball handler who tries to attack a spot and Bede beats him there. The 6-foot-1 Bede is also hard to screen because he gets low in stance and battles over the screen or he simply contacts the screen before the space is closed up and doesn’t allow that screen to be set.
Pitino Watches Livers
After the Peach Jam coach Richard Pitino offered 6-foot-8 Isaiah Livers and he (Pitino) and assistant coach Ben Johnson have been following Isaiah since. This afternoon the pair saw Livers and Meanstreets defeat UBC Elite and win their first game of the Vegas trip. Johnson went back and watched him again in the Vegas Classic late night game.
Livers is a long 6-foot-8 player that has been working hard on his perimeter touch. He’s hit 37 plus percent from the arc in EYBL and against UBC the long forward sunk a trey in the corner and another at the top of the key. Livers is becoming a more confident shooter with his feet and his one-dribble pull-up jumper looks strong as well. Also had a passing lane jump that he pushed the other way moving through traffic and producing a finger roll.
Isaiah looks like a defender that can defend multiple positions. First off, Isaiah has really good length and he uses that length well. Players had trouble getting looks over the top of him and his hands up in the passing lanes led to three deflections. Also, this is a guy that seems to love to make strong box-out hits. Once a shot goes up Livers turns to locate, makes a stiff forearm contact, and then holds his man well after making the initial hit. Also does a very good job getting over in help to use that length.
People are trying to make a comparison for Race Thompson and those comparisons are all over the board, but they are quality. We’ve heard everything from shades of Blake Griffin to Doug McDermott. Thompson definitely showed a high school version of the Griffin bounce to the rim throwing down three nasty dunks in the Thursday morning game.
But what about the skill in the sizable body, like a McDermott? Race made four treys in that first game on his way to 20 points (7-11 field goal shooting) and his sequence of: push a 6-foot-9 big off the block, force a bad shot, board the bad shot, push the other way, assist to a teammate with a last moment perfect feed. He also used his strength to get three And1 contact finishes today and in the late game he had a dozen boards.
How important is Race to Minnesota who was the first high major to offer the 2018? Richard Pitino, Ben Johnson, and Nate Pomeday were all at the game together showing how important Race is to the Gopher future. Also there? Greg Gard of Wisconsin, Fran McCaffery of Iowa, Ben Jacobson of Northern Iowa, and assistants from Michigan State, Iowa State, Tennessee, and others.
One of the best guys to see shoot a basketball in the 2018 class is AJ Green of the Iowa Barnstormers 16u team. Green is 6-foot-1 and doesn’t have a big frame so many at the mid-major level are hoping and praying he stays at the mid major level (and by many I mean Northern Iowa fans as AJ’s dad Kyle Green is an assistant at UNI).
However, the AJ Green feet set jumper and the quickness and consistency of his pull-up rank with the best. It’s so good that Big Ten teams are consistently at Green’s games taking notes including Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and others. Joey Hauser and Joseph Wieskamp grab a lot of the Barnstormer headlines but when GI has been in attendance Green has been the player giving the best results.
- Jarvis Thomas, a 2018, is one of the most explosive players in the 2018 class. At 6-foot-6 or 6-foot-7 Thomas has a wingspan 85 inches so his length plus his bounce makes him a rebounding, shot blocking, and rim finishing monster. And the biggest thing is Jarvis is playing about twice as hard as he did in the fall meaning schools are loving him. Arizona State offered today while Minnesota and Nebraska are following him close.
- Romeo Langford’s dunk over the top of a 6-foot-7 wing today was one of the sickest feats of athleticism we’ve ever seen. The five star 2018 guard was fantastic today but the highlight took away all the attention.
- What was a better highlight? How about the four two-hand dunks in traffic in six possessions from seven footer Majur Majak for LA Rockfish which blew up the crowd at the Fab 48 more than anybody excited a crowd all day.
- Matthew Hurt has just about every offer a player would need. The latest have been Ohio State and UCLA. What could be next? After Matthew Hurt hit 7 of 7 jumpers and 10 of 10 free throws for 24 points in the Creator’s Cup final don’t be surprised if Bill Self, Roy Williams, and/or John Calipari extend offers as well (Duke has had assistants at the games as well). Hurt’s backside cut score for a slam, his step through in the post, his pull-up on the baseline, his left hand attack-right hand touch shot, all of them are at such a high level.