2009 National High School Invitational

Sat, 04/04/2009 - 5:52pm

ROCKVILLE, Md. - When ESPN/RISE decided to create the National High School Invitational - their version of a national boy's basketball high school championship - this is exactly what they were hoping for.


Avery Bradley
The stage has been set, and the two undefeated heavyweights are coming back for a game of epic proportions Sunday as No. 1-seed Oak Hill Academy and No. 2-seed Findlay Prep vie for the undisputed top spot on national high school rankings.

Saturday at Georgetown Prep's Hanley Center in Rockville, both teams handled their business. In the first game, Oak Hill (40-0) squeaked past an insurgent and undersized St. Benedict's (24-3), ending in a 74-66 game that was even closer than that for much of the early going. In the second, Avery Bradley and Findlay (32-0) rocked a Montrose Christian (21-3) team that had previously only lost to Oak Hill, winning nearly every category en route to a 60-43 victory.

Here are some player evaluations from Saturday's games. You can watch Sunday's championship game at 3 p.m. on ESPN, and come back here for more insight live from the final.

ST. BENEDICT'S (Newark, N.J.):

Jr. G Aaron Brown - 6-4, 180 lbs. - Undeclared
Brown had almost no fanfare coming into the season - heck, he was an unknown entering this weekend for the most part. But the junior has a nice game that, even if it never reaches an NBA level, would be a good fit for a college team. He scored 18 points and had perhaps the best day of any St. Benedict's player on the court Saturday.

Sr. G Tamir Jackson - 6-3, 180 lbs. - Signed to Rice
Jackson scored a team-leading 20 points for the Gray Bees. Still, it was plenty evident that he's not going to be turning too many heads at the college level for his scoring ability. Jackson is a hard working, scrappy defender who was called for a few questionable fouls in Saturday's game. He does have a good feel for the game, but he's not really a completely natural point guard. Think of him more along the lines of a poor man's Chris Duhon-type player. He's got no real NBA prospects, but he's certainly going to make an impact at Rice and probably could at a high major team, as well.

Soph. G Myck Kabongo - 6-1, 155 lbs. - Committed to Texas
Kabongo is easily the player with the most upside on the Gray Bees. The willowy sophomore has great length, which makes you believe he can grow into his frame. And he better. He's a rail, but his quickness is outstanding. Kabongo has the ability to develop into a legitimate playmaker, though he finished the game with five assists and six turnovers to go along with 14 points. Texas should be a very good fit for him in two years, should he stick with his VERY early commitment to Rick Barnes.

Sr. F Lamar Patterson - 6-5, 220 lbs. - Signed to Pittsburgh
Patterson scored just eight points and seemed overwhelmed at times by the significant size advantage of Oak Hill. He is a smooth player who moves well without the ball, and this is the type of player Pitt has built around in the Ben Howland/Jamie Dixon era.

OAK HILL ACADEMY (Mouth of Wilson, Va.):

Sr. F Glenn Bryant - 6-7, 185 lbs. - Undeclared
Bryant's game is, to say the least, raw. But the hyper-athletic swingman has the kind of hops and length that make him extremely interesting as a long-term recruit, which is probably why he's getting looks from teams who he couldn't get a minute on right now. Bryant finished with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including a few impressive dunks.

Sr. F Keith "Tiny" Gallon - 6-9, 290 lbs. - Signed to Oklahoma
Gallon, who once allegedly weighed 370 pounds, is incredibly nimble on his feet. He's one of the biggest names in this tournament, and he has delivered at least in terms of ego. Saturday, he came across as a bigger version of Antoine Walker, trying his hand at perimeter play, making a few dangerous passes, and shooting jumpshots far too often. He finished with 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting. Defensively, he's lazy but has the potential to be a very good post defender. He struggles to run when the pace gets too intense, though he is quick with the ball in his hands. It's tough to tell right now if he's giving it his all when he knows his teammates are good enough to be relied upon consistently. Gallon did finish with 14 rebounds, though it was often a case of simply using his size to clear the lane for himself. He's got the talent to be a starter in the NBA, but does he have the drive? And can he lose 20-30 more pounds?

Sr. G Lamont "MoMo" Jones - 5-11, 190 lbs. - Undeclared
Jones, who recently pulled out of a Virginia Tech commitment, was the best player on the court beyond a shadow of a doubt. He has an incredible feel for the game, looks just as comfortable setting up his teammates as scoring himself and plays strong defense. Maybe part of that is because he's still playing for something - a bigger, better offer than the ones he has on the line right now. All I know is, if a team like Duke misses out on John Wall and Eric Bledsoe, MoMo can really play.

Jr. G Doron Lamb - 6-4, 185 lbs. - Undeclared
Lamb has a lot of hype as the centerpiece of the Oak Hill offense. He entered the weekend having averaged 20 points per game in the last month of the season and is considered a five-star recruit by some services. But Saturday, it was evident Lamb was off his game. Perhaps because Gallon and Jones were dominating ball control, he never really got into a rhythm. The junior is a very fluid athlete, though, and in previous games I have seen of his, he's looked like a very solid pure scorer.


Fr. G Justin Anderson - 6-5, 185 lbs. - Undeclared
The single most impressive player on Montrose today was its only freshman. Anderson has a developed frame that makes it hard to believe he's a freshman. And on the court, he's a hustle player who blocked three shots and grabbed three rebounds in an all-around great effort. He finished with just 5 points on 2-of-7 shooting, but it's tough not to be impressed by a freshman with this kind of development already.

Sr. F Isaiah Armwood - 6-8, 195 lbs. - Signed to Villanova
The first thing you notice about Armwood is that the guy is simply a broomstick with arms and legs. But he was actually one of the most impressive performers for the Mustangs, finishing with 10 points on 5-of-11 shooting with eight rebounds and four blocks, all in 23 minutes. Armwood is still very weak and clearly would have struggled this season without Yarou's presence, but as a power forward on the college level, he could eventually develop into something. He's got the athleticism and energy, though his skills are unrefined.

Jr. G Terrrence Ross - 6-5, 180 lbs. - Undeclared
Ross has impressed me in the past, but he really struggled this game. He looked completely overmatched by Findlay's quickness, and it shed light on the fact that he may be a swingman in college. Ross finished with just six points on 2-of-12 shooting, while also committing three turnovers.

Sr. C Mouphtaou Yarou - 6-10, 250 lbs. - Signed to Villanova
Yarou will be a professional down the line, probably even a good one. But it wasn't evident today at all. He was completely dominated, struggled finishing after getting fouled and went the entire game without a field goal, shooting 0-of-6 on the game. His five offensive and eight total rebounds were nice, but Yarou clearly was overmatched today by Findlay's big men, Carlos Lopez and Godwin Okonji.

FINDLAY PREP (Henderson, Nev.):

Sr. G Avery Bradley - 6-3, 175 lbs. - Signed to Texas
Bradley was, simply put, EASILY the best player to grace the court today. Bradley was completely dominant in every phase of the game. The long, athletic point guard scored 27 points, grabbed six rebounds, grabbed four steals and blocked three shots. He took jumpers and made them. He went inside and converted. It was to the point where Montrose simply resorted to fouling him. But Bradley's best feature is his incredible defense. Pesky would be putting it mildly. What's not clear is whether he is a true point guard, but at this point, you can pencil him into the starting lineup next year for the Longhorns, and Rick Barnes should be very excited about that.

Jr. G Cory Joseph - 6-3, 180 lbs. - Undeclared
Joseph, along with having a great last name, matches Bradley in terms of quickness. He's not nearly as developed as his fellow guard, but he clearly has a lot of talent. Joseph is known for his rebounding ability, and he's a more natural point guard than Bradley, for sure. You can't argue with eight points, six rebounds, three assists and no turnovers.

Sr. C Carlos Lopez - 6-11, 210 lbs. - Signed to UNLV
Lopez, along with teammate Godwin Okonji, did a good job shutting down Yarou. His defense is solid both on and off ball, but he's got to work on his offense. Lopez finished the game 0-of-4 from the field with no points and two turnovers.

Jr. F Tristan Thompson - 6-9, 215 lbs. - Committed to Texas
Perhaps the best NBA prospect in the arena was relatively quiet on offense today. But he made his impact with solid defense and 10 rebounds to go along with an eight-point performance. I'm going to hold off on saying too much about Thompson today, but come back tomorrow for a more filled out analysis.
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Signed to Oklahoma

Signed to Oklahoma
Gallon, who once allegedly weighed 370 pounds, is incredibly nimble on his feet. He's one of the biggest names in this tournament, and he has delivered at least in terms of ego. Saturday, he came across as a bigger version of Antoine Walker, trying his hand at perimeter play, making a few dangerous passes, and shooting jumpshots far too often.
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