Who stood out at State Farm TOC?
It was an exciting and action-packed week in Peoria, IL, home of the State Farm Tournament of Champions. Anytime you have the No. 1 team in the country and defending National Champions in the field, it automatically becomes the week’s marquee event. The Pep bands were rocking, the crowd was roaring, and the Pilots of Findlay College Prep were ready to tame any team who thought they had traveled to slay Goliath.
While the Pilots got a valiant fight from James Siakam’s Brehm Prep Bears, and an all out war from Quincy Miller’s Quality Education Academy Pharaohs, they still left Peoria the undisputed No. 1 team in America. The Championship game was as good a game as there has been in high school basketball so far this season, and although the Pilots escaped 69-63, they took some heavyweight punches along the way.
Here’s a look at some of the players SLAMonline felt stood out after taking in 34 games in 6 days.
Cory Joseph | Findlay College Prep
The tournament’s Most Valuable Player put on quite a show this week, scoring 72 points in 3 games. He pushed the tempo, buried a high percentage of his three’s, and made an abundance of tough shots which left fans shaking their heads and saying wow. Although his offensive output was the talk of the town, it was Cory’s defense which once again led the Pilots to victory. The pressure Cory put on opposing point guards made it next to impossible for them to feed the post or run their offensive sets. He gives all out effort until the final whistle, regardless of the score.
When SLAM asked Cory why he takes so much pride on the defensive end, the tournament MVP said simply, “I just go out, compete, and get after it in practice. It all starts in practice. I just focus in on defense because I believe defense wins games. If you stop them from scoring, the offense will take care of itself.”
Tristan Thompson | Findlay College Prep
Tristan was an absolute beast on the boards throughout the tournament. He held Findlay Prep’s opponents to one shot and handled his business on the offensive end as well, snatching the ball at its highest point and going back up with authority. They should rename Tristan “Windex,” because he can flat out clean the glass. Thompson also showed off an improved physic. He looked faster up and down the court and had more explosiveness when he leaped than he demonstrated over the summer. A very consistent week from Tristan.
Godwin Okonji | Findlay College Prep
Godwin may have been the biggest surprise in the tournament. His defense was absolutely “lock down” no matter who he was guarding. Against IMG he completely shut down Dwight Powell, making sure Dwight never got any touches near the basket. He used brute force to intimidate Dwight into taking his game to the perimeter, something which definitely contributed to the 81-37 beat down. Coach Peck told SLAM before the season that Godwin could guard one through five, and he certainly wasn’t lying. He proved it by guarding QEA’s Quincy Miller out on the perimeter throughout stretches of a very tight ball game. He moves his feet really well for a big guy while using his power to make it very difficult for opposing big men to establish good post position. He collected any rebound Tristan left for him and altered numerous shots around the goal. They say defense wins Championships and Godwin was a key contributor to Findlay’s Team Works National Classic title.
Quincy Miller | Quality Education Academy
Quincy put on a heck of a show this week in Peoria. He showed off his tremendous versatility; a trait that has made him one of the top prospects in the 2011 class. Not only can he create his own shot on the wing but he also establishes excellent post position despite his wiry frame. Regardless of how he chose to attack, the end result was the same. Buckets. The most impressive part about Quincy’s game this week wasn’t a particular skill set, rather his ability to put QEA on his back and carry his teammates during big moments. This was especially evident down the stretch of the Findlay Prep game, when Quincy made big shot after big shot to keep the Pharaohs alive. They came up a bit short, but Quincy’s 31 point effort gave the Pilots quite a scare.
Michael Shaw | Chicago De La Salle
Shaw is an athletic freak with an unlimited ceiling. He’s superb running the floor, finishes in traffic, and does an outstanding job protecting the rim. Although he didn’t score like he was capable of this week, he chipped in all the little things for De La Salle. He blocked shots (6 against Lake Forest Academy), rebounded the basketball, and took a lot of the defensive attention off his teammates. They didn’t get it done in the win column, but Michael showed the potential which has people calling him one of the best junior power forwards in the nation.
Dwight Powell | IMG Academies
Despite not getting much help from his teammates this week, Dwight found a way to be productive. With IMG having so much difficulty feeding the post, Dwight was forced to show off his perimeter game. He showed an ability to take his defender off the bounce, displayed range to 20 feet, and demonstrated quickness not seen on the AAU circuit. He also threw down the dunk of the weekend, posterizing a guard on Brehm Prep on a put back. I would have liked to see him operate closer to the basket as he’s much more affective around the rim, but he showed off a some skills no one had seen up to this point. Defensively Dwight was Dwight. He protected the rim, played excellent help defense, and showed excellent lateral quickness when guarding face-up four’s. It wasn’t a good week for IMG, but Dwight was excellent.
James Siakam | Brehm Prep
James is an extremely smooth player who possesses everything you look for in a quality wing. He can shoot it, he can rebound on both ends of the floor, he can slash to the rim, and he plays really hard. That’s about all you can ask for if you’re a coach. James can impact the game in so many different fashions that he always finds a way to be effective. He’s unguardable in transition, as he welcomes contact and finishes despite it. One of the most exciting wings in the country.
Dylan Ennis | Lake Forest Academy
Dylan was a leader this week in every sense of the word. He was extremely vocal out on the court, always providing his teammates with positive reinforcement. He also made sure guys understood their assignments and appeared to be an extension of the coach on the floor. Leadership isn’t the only thing Dylan brings to the table. Kid can ball too. He was excellent in transition, almost always finding a teammate for an easy deuce. Dylan’s one of those guys who doesn’t need to score to be a factor on the court. His best game of the tournament might have come against Culver Military Academy, a game where Dylan scored just 1 point. That’s not to say he can’t score. He proved he can, scoring 16 points in a win against Chicago De La Salle. The Akron commit showed the rest of the field he deserves to be mentioned when talking about the great point guards in the 2011 class.
Max Bielfeldt | Peoria Notre Dame
Max won’t blow you away with athletic ability, nor will you be intimidated by him when you see him in warm-ups. But once that ball is tipped, what Max does bring to the table is production. He broke the tournament rebounding record, pulling down 59 rebounds in 4 games. He also did a nice job scoring out of the post, displaying soft hands, good feet, and brute power. He made 10 footers facing the basket, he made powerful moves around the rim. Bottom line, Max just flat out got it done every time he laced ‘em up this week.
Nolan Shulman is the North American Recruiting Analyst for Flagrant Fouls. He provides an in-depth look at standout prospects and programs from Toronto to California.