High School OT Holiday Invitational
With it’s 44th year, the High School OT Holiday Invitational in Raleigh, NC is without question the standard when it comes a well organized basketball tournament. As expected, Bill Sewell and his staff did an amazing job in running the event. In addition the competition is always at its best, featuring not only some of the top teams in the state, but across the country. From the North Carolina state champions to national powerhouses, this years HSOT was packed with high profile players.
Good luck finding someone smoother than Thomas Allen…
It should be safe to say that Garner High School’s Thomas “The Iceman” Allen is no longer under the radar. The C/O 2017 Point Guard has been doing damage on the court for some time [Read about his play in the Millbrook Showcase], so when the bright lights were on at the High School OT it was no surprise that he showed out. In Allen’s 1st game (vs. Panther Creek) he had the game high 26 points, putting him over 1,000 points scored for Garner High School; as a junior! Allen wasn’t done as he went on to score 28 points against Terry Sanford (Fayetteville, NC), and a cool 40 points against Voyager Academy (Durham, NC)! How does he do it you ask? Well, in a smooth fashion of course. Allen scores at all three levels – getting to the rim; knocking down the mid-ranger jumper; hitting the 3 point shot consistently – and makes it look effortless. As he continues to bulk up and put on muscle he’ll become that much tougher to contain. Allen may have not been getting a lot of attention when it comes to rankings and offers, but that is sure to change as he routinely puts on a show on the big stage.
Johnson brothers have only scratched the surface…
When it comes to futures there won’t be too many that are brighter than Terry Sanford’s Telligence and Malik Johnson. They are the perfect 1-2 combination of speed, athleticism, and agility. Telligence, a C/O 2017 Shooting Guard, is an all-around player with the height and strength to score in a number of ways. He has a smooth jumper and highly efficient at getting to the basket in a 1-on-1 situation. When Telligence makes a decision to score, it’s extremely difficult for defenders to stop him from doing so. He also excels at slashing to the basket and catching lobs for the ally-oop. Telligence also isn’t above clashing in the paint or scurrying to get rebounds and garbage points.
Malik, C/O 2018, is an extremely quick and crafty ball handling Point Guard, that can get anywhere he wants to on the court. He also has the athletic ability to finish above the rim with ease, scoring over defenders. He’s a match-up nightmare that makes opponents think twice about playing him too closely. While Malik often dazzles with his handling wizardry, it may be easily overlooked that he is an elite level defender. There is never any hesitation for him when it comes to guarding his man full-court. With his fast hands you can expect Malik to come away from a game with at least 3 to 4 steals, plus forcing turnovers. Once he is able to knock down his shots and finish at the basket consistently, there will be no stopping him at either end of the floor.
Leesville’s 2019 Class is something to look forward to…
Leesville High School’s (Raleigh, NC) Jalen Benjamin, DJ Horne, and RJ Wilson are all freshman names to write down and remember. In the state of North Carolina it doesn’t get any bigger than the High School OT and these players showed no intimidation. When the “lights” were on, these players did not shy away. They all played with poise, maturity and confidence that showed they were ahead of their years and will be the future for their program!
Point Guard, Jalen Benjamin may have a small frame (at the moment) but possess the skill, IQ, and toughness that shows he is no pushover. While he’s always in control one of the things that stood out most during the High School OT was his defensive abilities. Again, at Benjamin’s current size, you would think it would be easy to take advantage of him, but he proved he would not be no walk in the park and can hold his own. Offensively, good luck with trying to take the ball from him. Benjamin has exception handle and is a lights out shooter (Check out “Who’s Got Next?”); but most of all he’s a conditioned leader that’ll do great for his school.
Shooting Guard, DJ Horne is a deadly shooter who also does well staying under control and can handle himself in pressure situations. Another player with a small frame, but it’s easy to tell that he’s battle tested. Horne and Benjamin are a really good tandem that can cause havoc on defenses. One of the best aspects of Horne’s game is his calmness. He possesses an easiness that makes him seem level headed at all times. Horne is definitely going to be a big time player in the state.
Forward, RJ Wilson stands at approximately 6’4 and already has the skill to work defenders in the paint. Wilson has good footwork and mechanics that allow him to be highly effective, especially close to the basket. With the expectation that he’ll continue to grow, he can be a dominant post player. To excel, Wilson will need to continue to add strength and put on muscle. During the High School OT, even being undersized for his position he still was able to enforce his dominance and make his presence felt.
If these 3 stick together, they’re going to make it tough for the competition for years to come. Remember you heard it here first!
Voyager’s Chance Greene is small with a HUGE heart…
Usually when discussing the Voyager Academy (Durham, NC) basketball team, the first thing that comes to mind is their 6’11 University of Virginia commit, Jay Huff. A name you do not hear often is C/O 2016 5’8 Point Guard Chance Greene. While he is small in stature, he has the heart of a tiger. Greene plays with such fearlessness and ferocity that his size easily becomes a non-factor. While there are some physical attributes that don’t go in his favor, he makes sure to excel in other areas. Greene is a floor general can command the court. He has an excellent shot that looks good every time he lets it fly, and most of all, he’s a reliable leader that he can carry his team if need be. Greene is crafty with the ball, using his speed and quickness to shake defenders left and right. He’s also a sound passer that knows how to place the ball right into the hands of his big man or catch cutters on the slash. Wherever he ends up at the next level, it’s definitely going to be a steal!
Michael Okauru is lightening in a bottle…
Standing at 6’4, Ravenscroft’s (Raleigh, NC) C/O 2017 Point Guard, Michael Okauru, is arguably one of the fastest players in the state from end-to-end with or without the ball. While being a one man fast break he’s also pesky on defense, and at his length its obviously bothersome to the opposition. Once he gets in transition there isn’t much that can be done to stop him. So far this season its been noticeable that Okauru has turned it up and is playing with more aggression and attitude. This has been translating into him becoming more dominate and the High School OT was no different. Not only did he standout amongst all of the talented players in the tournament, he helped his team win the championship against a well coached Terry Sanford team. There are clear improvements that Okauru has made to his overall game, such as, his change of pace and better form on his shots. Currently he’s not being heavily recruited, but as he remains consistent in his dominance it is certain that he’ll be among the most sought after recruits in the 2017 class.
Broughton’s Tharon Suggs is a vicious competitor…
When you watch Broughton High School’s (Raleigh, NC) C/O 2016 Point Guard Tharon Suggs, it’s as if he’s playing to prove something. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and it seems to give him an edge over the competition. He gives you a sense that there is no mercy, even if it’s his own family out there! Every game during the High School OT, Suggs was relentless and he showed that he had the skills to back it up! Inside the perimeter is where he does most of his damage. If he lets it go anywhere inside the arch you can go ahead and count the 2 points. Suggs is also a decent 3 point shooter, so it wouldn’t be in the defenses best interest to leave him alone. Another great quality he possesses is leadership. No matter how loud the gym is, you can always hear Suggs giving his teammates instruction, direction, and motivation. He plays the game with a high IQ and usually finds ways to out smart his opponents, exploiting easy opportunities for himself or teammates to score. Suggs also is gifted in the art of trash talking. But again, that’s only acceptable if you can back it up and he does just that. Suggs is always exciting to watch because he plays the game with such passion.
NOTES FROM STEVEN BOONE OF “BOONE HOOPS TALK…”
The Wesleyans Trojans get huge victory over Cypress Lakes 94-65!
The Trojans definitely get the job done by committee. Although many thought this year would be tough due to the departure of Harry Giles to Oak Hill, Coach Gatlin found away to prove the odds wrong. Here’s why:
The Tennessee Commits – Kwe Parker (SG/6’1/2016) is more poised than ever and very comfortable knocking down outside shots. In the open floor he’s spectacular to watch because of his high flying athleticism. Defensively, he doesn’t mind matching up on the best guard and giving them a hellacious fit to find a rhythm. Meanwhile the future Volunteer teammate, Jalen Johnson (SG/6’7/2016), will be loads of fun to as he develops in Rick Barnes system. He’s another high flyer but more the type that tends to finish over the top in traffic. He adds some toughness by hitting a few contested jump shots. Overall, seeing these guys contributing as freshmen next season and improving their bodies to endure the physical contact in the SEC will be fun to watch.
UK Got Studs!
Every year it’s self explanatory that Kentucky always get richer with a new cast and the C/O 2016 is no different. Throughout the entire tournament each Kentucky recruit put on impressive performances and even had Coach Cal make a special appearance in support. There’s no doubt in my mind that Edrice “Bam” Adebayo (High Point Chistian/6’10/PF/2016) was the best player all tournament long with his ferocious style of play. The 6’10 battering ram is no joke around the basket and dominates the front court. Every time he’s goes up for a dunk or putback there two things you can expect; for the crowd to erupt and the goal post to shake.
Also his future running mates De’Aaron Fox (Cypress Lakes/6’1/PG/2016) and Sacha Killeya-Jones (Virginia Episcopal/6’10/PF/2016) are too much to handle as well. Fox is a 6’4 lead guard with electric quickness and explosiveness. To break it down further, his speed has a vast resemblance to NC State’s Anthony “ The Cat” Barber. Jones is a legit big who’s improvement developed him into something great. However, what was really impressive about his performance was how he dominated in the second half against JM Robinson on the last day. During the first half he was off to a slow start but came out in the second and went nuts, finishing up with 29 points and 16 boards. Overall this group has the ability to help The Big Blue go dancing and possibly to another final four.
Michael Huiett Jr Crowned MVP!
Wow… Michael (High Point Christian/6’3/SG/2017) has gone from prospect to player and started to define his game. In times past it would be hard to fathom Huiett Jr. being the MVP of this very prestigious tourney. His ability to knock down the 3-ball is off the charts and he’s doing so with hands in his face. Right now he’s a specialist when it comes to catching and shooting. As Huiett continues to bulk up (strength wise) and work more on his dribble penetration he’ll become more of an overall threat. Not to mention he holds several offers from: Hampton, Old Dominion, Yale and Missouri.
Arlington Country Day still going strong!
When legendary high school coach Rex Morgan retired months ago and was looking for a successor there was only one man for this job and that was Shaun Wiseman. Anyone who knows this guy’s resume will tell you it doesn’t take him long to build a program, especially one like ACD. This talented group is lead by Ty Gadsden (6’2/PG/2016) a PG that can score it from outside and get into the lane. Also Luguentz Dort (6’3/PG/2018), a strong body wing man that blows by defenders and able to finish through contact. Along with big man Koch Bar (6’11/PG/2016/Bradley) who possesses a great feel for the game. He used his length well in the paint, and challenged anyone brave enough to come into the lane.
Ty Graves (High Point Christian/6’1/PG/2016/Boston College) – It was seeing the BC commit despite him playing on a hurt ankle, however, the impact this kid make on his team was remarkable. What Jim Christian will get next fall is a legit 3-point shooting assassin that can pull it at anytime. He’s also a lead guy that has sneaky athleticism and can control the game.
Jalen Seagars (High Point Christian/6’5/SF/2017) – Seagars is a complete animal that does whatever it takes to chip in for the win. Whether its a lose ball around the rim or on the floor you can expect him to clean up the area. He’s also good for catching put-backs and sealing boards! So coaches, it would be wise to invest time in recruiting this kid.
Ben Robertson (High Point Christian/6’7/SF/2016) – This kid can be very dangerous from the corners when he gets hot. To match that he contains some pretty decent athleticism and knows his role on the floor which should benefit him next fall.
Ian Steere (Wesleyan Christian/6’8/PF/2018) – Steere is really starting to break out of his shell and show off some of his many talents. He’s a serious banger with a mean drop step and can finish with power. Adds he adds toughness, both mentally and physically you can expect him to transform into one of the more dominant big men in the area. Right now he owns one offer from Charlotte but more will be added, you can believe that.
Brandon Childress (Wesleyan Christian/6’1/PG/2016/Wake Forest) – Someone once said, one who follows in their fathers footsteps is definitely set up for success. In Brandon’s case it’s no different due to the fact that his dad is legendary Wake Forest guard Randolph Childress. He’s a very calm, but uptempo guard that can control the pace and set up others to do well. With his humble spirit and developing play he should be a nice addition to the Decs next season.
Lavar Batts Jr. (JM Robinson/6’1/PG/2017) – It was great to see the vast improvement he made to the form on his jumper. Batts is a very humble kid that can stroke it from anywhere now and punch on you at any moment. As the season goes by his stock will continue to rise.