#OTRHoopsReport: City of Palms Friday Recap – December 19, 2015
Fort Myers, Fla., – The nation’s premier high school basketball tournament kicked off yesterday with opening round games. Some of the country’s top individual talent was showcased and allowed our staff to see stock-risers, sleepers and which players are in the running for the Naismith Trophy Player of the Year Award.
Wheeler (GA) 64 Wesleyan Christian (NC) 58
Wheeler is the tournament’s reigning champion. Coach Doug Lipscomb saw the departure of Jaylen Brown to graduation last year, which means that the Wildcats are probably no longer favorites to defend. However, they showed in the tournament’s opening game that they have a balanced roster that should blossom into one of the best in the state of Georgia. North Florida signee Al-Wajid Aminu and 4-star guard Darius Perry both led the team in scoring wth 18 points. Aminu tallied 7 rebounds with his high energy effort. Georgia Tech signee Romello White was productive and efficient scoring 13 points on 5-6 shooting to go along with 6 rebounds. They knocked off Wesleyan Christian, who also saw the departure of a 5-star player from last year’s roster in Harry Giles. They were led in scoring by Wake Forest signee, point guard Brandon Childress with 19 points.
Norland (FL) 50 West Linn (OR) 39
This low scoring affair was controlled by Norland the entire way. Miami signee Dewan Huell of Norland led all with 24 points and 7 rebounds. Huell has now put together back to back impressive performances in front of our staff dating back to NBPA Top 100 Camp in June. His versatility standing at 6-foot-10 make him a difficult match-up for big men. West Linn was led by Payton Pritchard, Oregon signee, who scored 20 points on the night. The senior floor general is a great handler and distributor, but he was called upon to find his own shot in this game. That led to a poor shooting outing of 7-22.
Tampa Cathloic (FL) 66 Charlotte (FL) 54
This game is a part of the tournament’s Sunshine Series, which features some of the state of Florida’s top high school teams. Kevin Knox was the story in this one. He has developed into one of the nation’s best wing-forward in the past year. He displayed his range on his jumper as he hit 11-22 from the field. The athleticism of the 6-7 junior had the crowd on their feet with multiple high flying dunks. He finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Oklahoma State signee, point guard Thomas Dziaguwa, finished with 23 as well for Tampa Catholic. Charlotte was led by Southeast Louisiana wing Brandon Gonzalez who scored 24 and hauled in 14 rebounds. Standing at 6-6, his versatility is notable. He proved he could handle, create and finish from nearly anywhere on the court.
Father Tolton (MO) 81 Lehigh (FL) 65
This game featured one of the top players in the class of 2017 in Michael Porter Jr. The 6-9 small forward put on a show en route to a 34 point, 17 rebound performance. This was as active as we have seen Porter in years. His motor was running and he was finishing plays above the rim all night. Even more impressive was the range he showed on his jumper as he hit a 25 foot pull-up at one point during the night. He was aided in the win by class 2018 post Jontay Porter. The 6-10 post already gave his verbal commitment to Washington and we saw why tonight. He blends skill and power on the interior to be an efficient scorer in the paint as well as an adept passer. Lehigh came into the game undefeated put a valiant fight. Their point guard Stef’An Strawder, in the class of 2017, will go into our report as a notable performer. A natural distributor, he dished out 9 assists in the loss. He also scored 25 points, which included five 3-pointers at critical times. Junior wing Berrick Jean-Louis led Lehigh with 26 on 10-19 shooting.
Chino Hills (CA) 91 Thomas Jefferson (NY) 90
Tournament director Donnie Wilkie promised fans in attendance that this game would have more points at half-time than the West Linn-Norland game had in it’s entirity. He was right as the score at half-time was 54-52 in favor of Chino Hills. The story here was how Chino Hills constantly put pressure in transition. By leaking two guards out each time a Thomas Jefferson shot went up, they were able to consistently create 3/2 situations on the offensive end. The Ball brothers for Chino Hills did not disappoint. All three are committed to play at UCLA, with Lonzo (senior), already signed. LiAngelo Ball, junior, led Chino Hills with 28 points on 11-28 shooting. Freshman Lamelo added 12 in the win. Thomas Jefferson did not go down without a fight as Shamorie “Slick” Ponds scored 40. The left-handed point guard headed to St. John’s next year, showed why he has his nickname. He was slippery in the lane and scored consistently with his jumper or off the drive. Although this was a game of offense, it would be a big defensive stand that would decide the game. Lonzo Ball block two shots in the game’s final :03 to seal the win. He would finish with 22 points, 10 assists and 5 blocks in the win.
— Jonathan Hemingway (@CoachHemi) December 19, 2015
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Jonathan Hemingway is a National Evaluator for the OTRHoopsReport. Hemingway serves on the Board of Selectors for the Naismith Trophy. He is also the publisher of CoachHemi.com. He has been involved in the community since 1996 as a coach, camp director and evaluator. You can reach him via email at JonathanHemingway@PeachStateBasketball.com and follow him on twitter @JLHemingwayPSB
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