With star power from St. John's future stars, including JaKarr Sampson, Sir'Dominic Pointer, and Moe Harkless, this year's IS8/ Nike Spring High School Classic tournament is the place to be for seniors getting ready for college basketball.
The tourney in Jamaica, Queens, isn't not just for seniors. Sophomores and juniors are hooping. Ringers are joining rosters late in the playoffs to get some run. For those of us who love watching hoops, this tournament is spectacular...
...And there are more than St. John's recruits participating. The best players from the New York area and beyond have come down from their prep schools to ball in small gyms packed to the gills with fans and even some NBA players.
A look at how the future Johnnies and Johnny recruiting targets Ricardo Gathers, Jevon Thomas, and Kyle Anderson did, below the fold>>
Semifinals1 will be Sean Bell vs. New Heights (Artie Cox team)
Sir'Dominic Pointer is suiting up for the Sean Bell All-Stars, named in honor of the slain Sean Bell, who was riddled with bullets by plainclothes cops about 5 years ago. The Bell All-Stars include Louisville commit Angel Nunez, Khem Birch, the highly touted center going to Pittsburgh next season, and Naadir Tharpe, who is going to Kansas. Only Pointer is coming up from North Carolina; the others are in New England prep schools (Notre Dame Prep and Brewster Academy).
After a close win on Saturday, the Sean Bell team stepped things up against the New Heights team. There are several; this is Kimani Young's squad. This one included Cincinnati-bound Jermaine Sanders who dropped 33 points. Pointer scored 23 points in a win, scoring 9 in the first quarter and 11 in the final quarter, according the Rivals recap ($ req'd).
Sir'Dom, Nunez, and the rest of the Sean Bell All-Stars will face another New Heights team (Artie Cox) that last week featured George Mason-bound point guard Corey Edwards with Arizona commits Nick Johnson (the crazy athletic leaping guard) and New York forward Sidiki Johnson.
Semifinal 2 will be Real Scout vs the Playaz Club (senior team)
On the other side of the bracket, Nate Blue's Real Scout team kept rolling, despite an ankle injury to Maurice Harkless. Moe Harkless injured his ankle on Saturday against the Raising Champions crew after scoring 7 fast points.
So Iowa State commit Tavon Sledge and St. John's recruit Jakarr Sampson stepped their games up. Sampson had a stomach bug but still contributed. On Sunday, Sampson heard about his weak performance on Saturday:
When he walked into the tiny gym yesterday, he was not so gently reminded of his performance.
"Don’t let that happen again," the tournament emcee, Hassan Jennings, joked.
Against the NIA prep team with Ryan Rhoomes (the Texas Christian commit) and Shaquille Thomas (going to Cincinnati), Sampson threw down dunks, rebounded, and was the story of the day, it seems. Recruiting expert Tom Konchalski was asked about Jakarr Sampson (and Moe Harkless):
"Even in the last month, his skill-set has improved significantly," New York recruiting expert Tom Konchalski said. "He was the logical obverse to Maurice Harkless, who has an incredible skill-set and has effortless athleticism, but he’s got to play every possession which he doesn’t. He's too casual and that's his personality.
"[Sampson] is the exact opposite, but he’s really improved his skill-set significantly."
Next week's semifinals will feature the talented - but newly-together - Real Scout team against NJ Playaz clubs' senior team and Rutgers commit Myles Mack. The Real Scout team could be joined by a pair of ringers committed to the Red Storm - Norvel Pelle, the center from California and D'Angelo Harrison, the high-scoring guard from the Houston area.
That will be some must-watch basketball for St. John's fans, for sure; I'll be keeping track of the action and relaying info as I can.
Kyle Anderson: That New Heights Artie Cox team defeated Kyle Anderson's Playaz Club junior team along the way; Anderson is a top prospect in the country and a St. John's target. Near the end of the game, Johnson stole the ball from the normally sure-handed Anderson, setting up a game-winning shot for Corey Edwards.
Amir Garrett played for the Playaz Club Juniors as well. Konchalski commented on him:
"Amir Garrett is an extra-terrestrial athlete. He’s left-handed, which is an advantage. He plays hard. What he’s got to do is improve his skill-set, he’s got to extend his range offensively. He’s got to become a legitimate 3-pointer shooter. He’s got to develop a right hand."
Jevon Thomas, Ricardo Gathers, Isaiah Whitehead: The committed St. John's point guard, the power forward prospect who spent the weekend visiting the Red Storm on an official visit, and the young up and coming NY schoolboy star Whitehead all played for the Juice All-Stars. An omen for the future, perhaps? The 2014 starting lineup, maybe? Whitehead dropped 21 points on Friday evening to help the team to a win; Thomas had 15.
On Saturday, the trio lost to Kimani Young's New Heights team 68-61, despite 13 points from Isaiah Whitehead, 25 points from Jevon Thomas, and 13 from Ricardo Gathers, who is reportedly still developing his offensive moves.