The Tip-Off Classic Independent Report (BLM Bracket) – July 10, 2020
Atlanta, Ga- For the 2nd weekend in a row, we had an event in Georgia that featured some highly-touted prospects from the Southeast. The Tip-Off Classic included numerous sponsored programs in its Black Lives Matter Bracket, to go along with some of the top independent teams in the Peach State. These groups more than held their own with some impressive wins and players who took advantage of the stage. Here’s a recap of the local independent programs who were in the event’s 17U BLM Division.
By: Trent Markwith
It was a statement weekend for Team Dickerson as they were the lone independent team in the BLM Division to go 4-0. They had their full team this time around and also picked up Cam McDowell. Each guy knows their role and they play with a chip on their shoulder. Jusaun Holt continued his hot start to the summer, bringing his trademark activity and hunting his shot from deep while still maintaining efficiency. McDowell was comfortable and confident immediately with this group; he gave them consistent offense and played extremely hard alongside Holt on the wing. Charleston Southern commit Matt Davis brought a shooting boost also and was more active as a rebounder. JoJo Peterson and Zach Bell split PG duties and both had good moments throughout the event. Peterson showed why he is one of Georgia’s best passers and defensive guards while also being more aggressive in finding his own offense. Just like he did at The Opening, Bell made some eye-popping plays athletically, created problems on defense and mixed in some outside shots. He’s one of the top sleepers in the state. Derrick Brown displayed his versatile offensive package with his shooting and ability to create with the ball, he was also a consistent factor on the glass. Taje Kelly’s upward trend did not halt last weekend. His polish offensively has come along nicely and he’s still doing the dirty work in the paint.
Huncho put together a very impressive weekend, going 3-1 with their lone loss coming to the Atlanta Celtics by 5 points. Like Dickerson, they have considerable depth with close to 10 guys coming in and out of the game with lots of energy. Their small but fearless and talented backcourt of Andrew McConnell and Travis Burrus helped themselves during the tourney. McConnell continued to show why he is a premier shot-maker in the Southeast while Burrus gave them steady play at PG with good decision-making and aggressive downhill attacks. Jaden Harris was added into their guard group and started with an excellent game against Game Elite on Friday night, overpowering guys on his way to the basket time and time again. South Alabama commit Tyler Shirley and Camden Blount were reliable contributors on the wing and Huncho also had productive inside play from their forwards. Jalen Deloach’s motor was on full-go and impacted the game with his defense and rebounding even when his offensive opportunities were scarce. Isaac Abidde had a particularly good showing against ABC Elite, playing as hard as I’ve seen from him and rebounding at a high level. Marius Ellis and Dara Olonade were enforcers in the paint and made their usual athletic plays at the rim.
Success for AC Georgia at the Tip-Off Classic didn’t come in the form of wins as they suffered some close losses, but they featured one of the top individual stock risers from the weekend in Derrick “Mannie” Harris. He had people talking good performance against Game Elite on Saturday morning and followed it up with 22 points while taking on Team Dickerson in a game that I watched Sunday morning. Harris is wired to score and plays with ultimate confidence. He gets great elevation on his pull-up, goes into traffic without second thought, and is adept at getting to the free throw line. Charleston Southern, Stetson, Northeastern, and Wintrhop all offered him following the event, and some Power 5 programs have started to show interest. While Harris headlines this team, others like Ian Davis, Joseph Scott, Kiree Huie, Christian Williams, and more are capable players who should help themselves in upcoming tournaments.
ABC Elite brought a host of former SE United players to the tournament, including recent Vanderbilt commit Peyton Daniels. Aside from Daniels, who was his usual self and played well, ABC had a plethora of sleepers who helped them defeat both Game Elite and the Atlanta Xpress. Kedrick Green was tremendous against the Xpress, especially in the 2ndhalf. He was very accurate from 3 and found ways to create openings in traffic among taller opponents by being patient and using his body. He’s savvy and brings a lot of competitive fire to any team he’s on. Jordan Mitchell ran the floor well, finished, and was frequently in the right place at the right time. You don’t have to worry about many mistakes from him as he keeps it simple and knows who he is. I was also impressed with Lidon Pate,a 2022 guard who was playing up with ABC. He’s smaller as well but is poised and not afraid at all. Pate was opportunistic as a scorer with some sneaky layups and nice lefty pull-ups. They’ll be at LakePoint this weekend, so expect to hear more.