As a way to reintroduce its brand to a new generation of young hoopers, AND1, the classic basketball brand, has decided to host a series of high school and grassroots events before embarking on its own summer hoop circuit. This past weekend’s Philadelphia High School Classic featured teams from Philly and surrounding regions. Below are some of the players that stood out:
Damian “Day-Day” Bryant, 5-9, PG, South Philadelphia HS (PA), 2017
In today’s game, the point guard position is critical to a team’s success. Good point guards are often extensions of their coaches while on the court. They are leaders, know their personnel, and are often tasked with making decisions that could influence the outcome of games. Although his team was not victorious, the aforementioned characteristics describe South Philadelphia High point guard, Damian “Day-Day” Bryant. Facing a Lincoln team that pressed the entire game and went 10 or 11 deep, Bryant was able to handle the pressure well – often using his court vision to dish out assists. He also demonstrated a tight handle, and continuously got by his defender by changing speeds and directions. Once Bryant was in the lane, he was able to use different finishes to score at the basket. Defensively, Bryant locked in, and provided pressure to opposing ball handlers. Adding a mid-range or floater to his game would enhance Bryant’s game tremendously.
Jahi Randall, 6-3, G/F, Abraham Lincoln HS (PA), 2018
After finding his rhythm in the 2nd quarter, the senior forward launched an offensive assault guiding his team to a 73-63 victory over South Philadelphia High. Randall is a tough, physical player who scored from almost every spot on the court. As always, Randall scored the bulk of his points in the paint, and surprisingly showed long range accuracy from behind the arc. He also proved his worth on the defense- shooting the passing lanes for steals or providing good interior defense. If Randall improves his ball-handling, and continues to develop his perimeter game, he would be a great fit for a good Division 2 program.
Malik Archer, 6-3, G Math, Civics, & Sciences (PA), 2017
Malik Archer’s scoring output was, by far, the best performance of the entire showcase. During the best game of the day, he poured in 34 points in a victory over a gritty Simon Gratz squad. Already known as one of the top shooters in the region, Archer effortlessly drained five threes, showed that he could score by driving to the basket, and posted up smaller guards. The most fact about Archer’s performance is that got his points within the flow of his team’s offense. While he’s already hearing from a number of Division 2 programs, I wouldn’t be surprised if he garnered the attention of low Division 1 programs by season’s end.
Sam Sessoms, 6-0, G, Shipley School (PA), 2018
Philly has always been known for its tough, gritty guards. Sam Sessoms is no exception. Sessoms used his heady guard play and knack for scoring the ball to guide his team to a victory over Cristo Rey. Sessoms is excellent at creating space from his defender and using his body to shield the ball when finishing at the rim. He is also great making plays for others – as he was able to find open teammates after drawing the defense. Sessoms has already caught the eye of several Division 1 programs, and will increase his stock if he continues to develop his midrange and long range jump shot. Look for Sessoms this spring and summer as he competes with Team Final.
Ray Somerville, 6-9, F, Shipley School (PA), 2019
If you looked at the stat sheet after his game, one would think Ray Somerville’s production was almost not existent. Upon seeing him play, one understands that his impact on the court was very evident. Defensively, Somerville’s presence in the paint was a deterrent for guards who dared to drive to the basket. While he only had two blocks, Somerville used effective timing to alter numerous attempts. In transition, he often beat his man down the court, and caught passes in stride for easy lay-ups. Somerville would benefit greatly from developing go-to post moves. All in all, Somerville has laid a great foundation for him to be successful in high school and beyond. Fans and coaches can get a glimpse of him when he plays with Team Final this summer.
Best of the Rest
Khai Champion, 5-10, G, Shipley School (PA), 2020
High energy combo guard who scored in bunches. Is only scratching the service of his potential.
Malik Green, 6-1, G, Mastery Charter-Simon Gratz, 2018
Quick, lean combo guard who can knock down threes and scores well from the wing.
Khalif Meares, 6-3, G, Abraham Lincoln (PA), 2018
Long, athletic wing with a shifty handle. Did damage from the point and the wing.