By Michael Lemaire
The Spalding Hoophall Classic had a lot of talent on display Saturday. Here’s a roundup of the top players.
F/C Kevin Johnson, 6’10”, 240 pounds, 2011, Taft (Ca.), Uncommitted
Playing against a much smaller Mount Vernon squad, Johnson looked like a man amongst boys, controlling the paint and finishing with 26 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks. It was obvious however that the uncommitted big man still had polish to add on both ends of the floor. Other than grabbing offensive rebounds, Johnson struggled to create his own shot and didn’t show great touch inside ten feet. On the defensive end Johnson was large enough to disrupt plenty of shots, but he didn’t show great lift and occasionally watched as smaller players out-jumped him for rebounds.
PG Spencer Dinwiddie, 6-foot-4, 2011, Taft (Ca.), Colorado
Dinwiddie is unassuming and doesn’t look like much at first glance, but he was arguably the most impressive and important player in his team’s win. Although he scored just six points on three shots, Dinwiddie was the unquestioned floor general for his team and led all players with 11 assists. A 6-foot-4 point guard, Dinwiddie wasn’t exceptionally quick and may need to move off the ball at Colorado. But his length and instincts give him the potential to be an above-average defensive player in the new PAC-12.
G/F C.J. Blackwell, 6-foot-5, 2011, Taft (Ca.), Undecided
Dinwiddie called Blackwell the team’s most dynamic scorer and it’s not hard to see why. The 6-foot-5 senior transfer scored in transition, off the dribble, and from beyond the three-point line. He also led all players in rebounds with 14. Blackwell is athletic and very dangerous in transition. But he does need to improve his shooting and ball-handling as some of Mount Vernon’s longer defenders seemed to bother him when he put the ball on the floor. He is strong enough to play forward at the next level and played well defensively, albeit against lesser competition.
G Jabari Hinds, 6-foot-1, 2011, Mount Vernon (N.Y.), West Virginia
Hinds was easily Mount Vernon’s best player and No. 1 scoring option. unfortunately for Hinds, he knew it, and it looked as if he was trying to do too much right from the start. Hinds did a good job of creating his own shot off the dribble, and showcased a good-looking stroke. But his shot wasn’t falling and he finished just 7-for-25 from the field. He also got frustrated with his teammates when they didn’t find him for open shots and seemed to lose interest as the game went on and Mount Vernon couldn’t close the gap. Hinds can clearly score in bunches when he is on, but he will need to become more consistent and mature to make an impact at the next level.
PG Myles Mack, 5-foot-10, 2011, St. Anthony’s (N.J.), Rutgers
In his team’s blowout win against DeMatha, Mack was one of the smallest players on either side. But once the game started, it was clear Mack was the best player on the floor. He is generously listed at 5-foot-10 and doesn’t have a lot of muscle on his frame, but he makes up for it with a fearless offensive game. Mack scored most of his points from behind the three-point arc, but he also attacked the rim when afforded the opportunity and went right at DeMatha’s big men. Defensively, he has quick feet and active hands, but his lack of size allowed DeMatha’s bigger guards to drive against him and shoot over him.
F/C BeeJay Anya, 6-foot-8, 2013, DeMatha (Md.), Undecided
His statistics weren’t gaudy, but it isn’t hard to see why a lot of Division 1 programs will be fighting for the giant sophomore’s services in two years. At 6-foot-8 and well over 250 pounds, Anya isn’t in the best of shape. But he has worked hard just to get to where he is now. Despite his bad body, Anya showed decent leaping ability on both ends of the floor and ran the floor well for someone his size. He didn’t have a very polished offensive game, and most his points came on easy touches inside. He also lacked assertiveness against smaller but feisty defenders from St. Anthony’s. But he is only a sophomore, so the future is bright.
F Mikael Hopkins, 6-foot-8, 2011, DeMatha (Md.), Georgetown
A Georgetown commit and one of the more highly regarded players in the country, Hopkins was a complete non-factor in the team’s blowout loss to St. Anthony’s. He has a lean and athletic frame and has the potential to be an excellent defender thanks to his size and leaping ability. But if Anya lacked assertiveness then Hopkins was a complete disappearing act. He managed just one shot in 20 minutes and really struggled to get into good position, even against smaller defenders. Give credit to St. Anthony’s tenacious interior defense, but it seems inexcusable that one of the biggest and most athletic players on the floor would only take one shot.
PG Tony Wroten, 6-foot-5, 2011, Garfield (Wa.), Washington
Against Morgan Park’s 3-2 zone, Wroten seemed more content to play the role of distributor than that of scorer. A deft passer with excellent court vision, Wroten ended with five assists and it likely would have been more had his teammates been able to handle some of his trickier passes. At 6-foot-5 and 206 pounds, Wroten is a load to handle going down the lane, and even playing zone, Morgan Park struggled to keep him away from the basket as evidenced by his 21 free-throw attempts. His only offensive weaknesses are his inability to shoot from deep and his tendency to shy away from using his weak hand. Defensively Wroten is quick enough and long enough to be an excellent defender and he harassed Morgan Park star Wayne Blackshear all game. But there were also times when he seemed disinterested and would lose track of his man.
G Wayne Blackshear, 6-foot-5, 2011, Morgan Park (Illi.), Louisville
Hobbled by a leg injury while trying to dunk in the first half, Blackshear spent most of the second half rotating between the court and the trainer’s table, and he still managed 26 points and eight rebounds. Blackshear struggled to beat Wroten off the dribble, especially after the injury, but he made up for it by constantly coming off screens and showing good range. A sturdy 6-foot-5, Blackshear should be difficult to defend when he goes to the basket, but it was tough to read into his lack of success because he was hobbled.
G/F Ben McLemore, 6-foot-5, 2011, Oak Hill (Va.), Undecided
Despite bringing the crowd to its feet more than once thanks to alley-oop passes from Cook, McLemore struggled to get untracked against the long and athletic Milton team. He rarely attacked the rim and seemed reluctant to shoot at times. Coach Steve Smith pulled him from the game multiple times because of poor decisions and to his credit McLemore did play better in the second half. He is clearly a talented shooter with plenty of athleticism to spare. But for one of the more highly touted players in the tournament, McLemore’s performance left a lot to be desired.
PG Quinn Cook, 6-foot-1, 2011, Oak Hill (Va.), Duke
Cook was another highly touted guard who struggled against comparable competition. Guarding Shannon Scott, Cook struggled to keep the quicker and bigger guard in front of him and Scott drove to the basket at will. Cook did do a good job of organizing and settling his team when it was needed, and he also showed impressive ball-handling skills. But for every good pass there was a bad decision to go with it. He struggled shooting the ball as well and more than once he seemed to force shots early in the shot clock.
PG Shannon Scott, 6-foot-2, 2011, Milton (Ga.), Ohio State
Perhaps the most impressive player in a game full of them, Scott has the size and speed to wreak havoc on opposing point guards. He didn’t shoot much and his distributing left something to be desired. But he maintained excellent body control when attacking the rim and was strong enough to absorb the contact as well. Perhaps his most impressive quality is that even when Oak Hill rallied to take the lead, Scott remained calm and steady, sparking a Milton rally of its own.
G Dai-Jon Parker, 6-foot-3, 2011, Milton (Ga.), Vanderbilt
There is no question, Parker’s greatest strength is his outstanding athleticism and leaping ability. He nearly brought the crowd to its feet in the first half but he missed the dunk. In the second half, after stealing the inbounds pass, he didn’t miss and threw down a huge dunk that wowed the crowd. Park is slightly stronger than Scott, but the two have very similar body types. Like Scott, Parker was at his best driving to the basket and needs to work on his shooting. Unlike Scott, Parker showed no hesitation when confronted with a shot and missed some badly. His length and quickness also paid dividends on the defensive end. He occasionally lost his man coming off screens, but he might not have been beat of the dribble all game.
F/C Julian Royal, 6-foot-8, 2011, Milton (Ga.), Georgia Tech
Royal must frustrate Milton coach David Boyd to no end. The big-bodied senior is supremely gifted and possesses a soft touch and a solid mid-range game. At the same time, Royal seemed more comfortable playing on the perimeter against the larger Oak Hill team, and there were times when he disappeared from the offense all together. He had some impressive up-and-under moves, but he didn’t do much with his back to the basket. His size helped him grab plenty of rebounds, but he was often out-rebounded by smaller guards and was a non-factor defensively.
Check back for scouting reports from players in Sunday’s and Monday’s games.
Also don’t forget to read our regularly updated game recaps from the event.