With basketball season in full swing, there are many high school showcases going on. I split the weekend spending one day at Mustang Madness in Paducah, KY and the second day at ARS National Hoopfest in Memphis Tennessee. While the teams in both events played at least two games, I was only able to attend one of each. Here’s my take on the games I attended.
Jalen Green 6’5 175 SG – Prolific Prep 2020
Green’s 28 points was a big contribution to Prolific Prep’s 93-85 win over Word of God Christian Academy. He had a number of athletic finishes and did a nice job drawing fouls where he shot 9-12 FT. He stepped into some pull-ups but shot 8-22 for the game, including 3-13 from 3PT. Green has no shortage of athleticism but as a scorer, finding more ways to create will be the next step for him as he prepares for the next level. He also grabbed six rebounds and passed out two assists to three turnovers in the win.
MarJon Beauchamp 6’6 170 SG – Dream City Christian 2020 (Chameleon BX)
Beauchamp led Dream City Christian to an 85-58 victory against The Rock School with 18 points. He caught fire in the second half, hitting 3’s within a few plays of each other with no hesitation and just a little bit of space. He scored off the catch and dribble. He only recorded one assist but made some nice passes, feeling out where the right play should be made. As a scorer, I would like to see him draw some fouls, but he shot an efficient 7-13 FG and 4-8 3PT. He also has some room to produce more in playmaking and rebounding (3) but he recorded four blocks on the defensive end.
Arthur Kaluma 6’7 190 SF/PF – Dream City Christian 2021
Kaluma has great mobility, scoring inside and out. He has good feet and touch around the basket, using glass at appropriate angles and can shoot from the perimeter. His strong body makes him a mismatch down low. He earned MVP against The Rock School with 18 points and four rebounds. He’s a good passer for his position, keeping his head up and making the extra pass, recording six assists.
Alex Tchikou 6’11 205 PF – Dream City Christian 2021
Tchikou played better than when I saw him last month and has a lot of potential. He showed smooth free throw mechanics and was comfortable shooting from 3PT range as well. He’s an athletic finisher and utilized his tools on the defensive end to block four shots. Although I wouldn’t label him a great ball handler, he had a few plays where he put the ball on the floor and drove to the basket on his own to make some eye-opening plays. The foundation is there for Tchikou, contributing with 14 points and ten rebounds.
Daishen Nix 6’4 195 PG – Trinity International 2020 (UCLA)
Nix displayed his advanced ball handling and passing, making accurate cross-court passes and hitting teammates in stride while leading in transition. He does a good job of initiating contact with the ball and selling the foul, putting the defender in a tough spot. Defensively, he stuck to his man on the ball and picked the ball handler a few times to record three steals, but he caught himself in foul trouble in the second half. He recorded five assists but his usage and ability/attempts to make tough plays also led to five turnovers. Nix finished with 25 points in the 72-66 loss to Minnesota Prep.
Zion Harmon 5’11 175 PG – Marshall County 2021
Harmon scored 30 points in the 77-70 loss to Callaway. He caught fire early with 22 points in the first half. Although he only shot 5-16 from 3PT range, he created against tight defense and hit some difficult shots while being face guarded, also drawing fouls and shooting 7-9 on free throws. His ball handling and passing were on display as well; splitting defenders to finish at the rim and baited defenders to find his open teammates on his way to seven assists to only two turnovers. Harmon roamed a bit defensively but has knack for getting clean swipes on the ball handler.
Daeshun Ruffin 5’9 160 PG – Callaway 2021
Ruffin didn’t start out as hot as Harmon but still put up 13 points in the first half, including a steal on the ball to lead to fast break dunk on the first possession. As usual he scored on pull-ups and he was aggressive taking it to the basket with Marshall County not having great size as help defenders or rim protection. Ruffin finished with 31 points and has a natural ability to score, staying balanced off the dribble and step-backs. He also ended with four rebounds, three assists, three steals, and three turnovers.
Nimari Burnett 6’3 185 PG – Prolific Prep 2020 (Texas Tech)
Burnett also poured in 28 points and although shooting 6-15 from the floor isn’t great efficiency, he shot 4-10 3PT and didn’t force his scoring. He shot a reliable 12-13 from the foul line as well. He’s good about making the extra pass and letting the game come to him. Burnett also posted eight rebounds, six assists, three steals, and four turnovers.
Isaiah Todd 6’10 210 PF – Word of God Christian Academy 2020 (Michigan)
Todd flashed his face up game, as well as versatility and coordination in the loss to Prolific Prep. He was best as a slasher but didn’t consistently finish in the paint or on jump shots but still scored 19 points on 7-18 FG and 1-7 3PT. He has the foundation to score inside and out but doesn’t excel in either post-scoring or 3PT shooting yet. He only had six points at half-time but picked it up in the second half, including a few dunks in traffic to ignite a comeback but was eventually ejected with his second technical foul. In addition to his offensive versatility, he showed some ability to switch onto different positions and defend other areas of the floor. Todd had three turnovers and wasn’t a big rebounder with four.
ARS National Hoopfest
Cade Cunningham 6’7 215 PG/SG – Montverde Academy 2020 (Oklahoma State)
Cunningham scored in a variety of ways and showed why he’s the #1 player in the country; shot well from 3PT, got to the rim to show his high-level athleticism, and used his jump hook in the post when given the opportunity. He finished with 23 points and shot 10-12 in the 82-51 win over Wooddale. His jump shot was on point and he got it off with a little bit of space. He rebounded well and took the ball to the other end displaying his transition handle without losing speed, making one-handed passes with either hand. Cunningham’s a natural talent and can feel when to score vs distribute, making both look easy. Defensively, when he was on the ball, he stuck very well and forced Jonathan Lawson into some tough shots.
Moussa Cisse 6’11 210 C – Lausanne Collegiate 2021
Cisse was fantastic in the 68-50 win over Vashon with a triple-double of 31 points, 17 rebounds, and ten blocks. He scored a lot of his points cleaning up around the basket; whether it was easy put-backs or athleticn finishes that the defense couldn’t contest, he made it look effortless. He lacks the muscle memory on his jump hook but still got what he wanted in the paint. Scoring inside wasn’t Cisse’s only offense as he knocked down both of his 3PT attempts. His effort is consistently high, and he made some nice passes out of the post, as well as outlets. Cisse might need to be reminded to get the ball to a guard throughout the game but he does have some ability to put the ball on the floor and his confidence is nice to see.
Cam'Ron Fletcher 6’6 190 SF – Vashon 2020 (Kentucky)
Fletcher had a solid showing against Lausanne Collegiate. He’s very athletic and quick off his feet, especially in the open floor. He hit a three and his form isn’t bad but he’s not a consist shooter yet. Finding more ways to score will benefit Fletcher as he prepares for Kentucky, but his above the rim finishing will stand out when he arrives on campus.
Felix Okpara 6’10 220 C – Hamilton Heights Christian Academy 2022
Okpara contributed with a double-double in the 62-60 comeback win over Crestwood with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He’s raw offensively, but still leaves an impact. On one play, he grabbed an offensive rebound well above the rim and tried to lay it up in one motion but put way too much on it to miss an easy one, showing natural athleticism and hustle but also learning how to utilize his tools in a game setting. His motor was second to none, consistently running the floor and crashing the glass. Only a sophomore, Okpara has been big for 16-0 Hamilton Heights.
Elijah Fisher 6’6 185 SF – Crestwood 2023
Fisher has been on the scene since he was dunking in the sixth grade, although he didn’t show any high-flying finishes, he played mature for a freshman. He was vocal and passed very well in the half-court. He could have looked to score more but unlike most freshman, he didn’t hunt for scoring opportunities. He stepped into two 3PTers in the first half and scored two points in the second half to finish with eight. Fisher’s going to blossom as he matures and the game slows down for him, he’s already an asset with much more to come.
Moses Moody 6’6 185 SG – Montverde Academy 2020 (Arkansas)
Moody started with a big jam and showed off his hops throughout the game. He doesn’t create much for himself or break down the defense with his dribble but he’s very good in catch and shoot situations as well as pull-ups off minimal dribbles. He took what the defense gave him and can spread the floor or cut to the rim when appropriate where Cade Cunningham will find him. Moody scored 16 points including 3-5 3PT, along with five assists and three steals against Wooddale.
Johnathan Lawson 6’6 170 SF – Wooddale 2021
Wooddale didn’t have the horses to run with Montverde, but Lawson gave his best effort with 23 points and eight rebounds. He forced but hit a lot of difficult shots, some deep while others from midrange. He favors his right hand on drives, but his shot looked good coming off the dribble and he displayed a nice floater as well. Similar to his brothers (Dedric, KJ, and Chandler], Jonathan has good length and coordination with ability to impact both ends of the floor.
Moussa Diabate 6’9 190 PF – IMG Academy 2021
IMG Academy lost in an upset to Briarcrest Christian 32-22. The game had minimal possessions and only 20 made field goals for the two teams total, making it a difficult game to evaluate which is why I’m only mentioning one IMG player in the article. Diabate showed his mobility and played everywhere on the floor at some point in the game. He’s a good athlete but not real explosive. There are times he can really impressive you; using a eurostep to score around the rim and keeping his head up to make a nice pass, while other times he shows how he lacks jump shot consistency and telegraphed passes on occasions. Diabate finished with eight points and five rebounds in the loss.
Kennedy Chandler 6’0 165 PG – Briarcrest Christian 2021
Chandler and Briarcrest pulled off the upset against IMG on their home floor in a sell-out crowd. He wasn’t able to score in the paint against IMG’s size in the half-court. Not using the word patience too lightly, Briarcrest didn’t force their offense and played keep-away throughout the game, where Chandler showed his ball-handling and bounce passing to slip in a basket when it opened up. Chandler didn’t shoot well from midrange but made one of his 3PT attempts, his two other baskets came on fast breaks, one a dunk and the other a layup. He finished with 12 points (3-12 FG and 5-6 FT), six rebounds, four assists, and three turnovers.