Road Trip! HS Hoops Style
Four potential All-Americans and two ridiculous dunkers in three days. Does it get any better?
In between our coverage of Flyin’ To The Hoop in Dayton, OH and Primetime Shootout in Morgantown, WV, I was faced with a tough dilemma: Make the venture back to Cleveland to deal with our worst storm of the winter, or stay on the road and check out four potential McDonald’s All-Americans? For someone who hates the snow and loves high school hoops as much as I do, it was mad easy to decide which way to go.
I spent an extra night in Dayton to catch Adreian Payne go up against a really nice Dayton Thurgood Marshall squad that made it to the state championship last season. From there, I shot East on I-70 straight over to Indianapolis to catch Nap-town’s finest. On Wednesday, we saw top-3 junior Marquis Teague and Pike go up against 6-10 manchild AJ Hammons and Carmel. Then on Thursday, we took in the Indianapolis City Championships, which had beaucoup talent. The conclusion of the road trip took us back into Ohio, to peep that nation’s No. 1 team (Columbus Northland) against city league rival Brookhaven.
These are some of the top guys we caught in our travels:
Jared Sullinger | 6-8 | PF/C | Columbus Northland (OH) | 2010
SLAM’s top player in the Class of 2010 did his thing against Brookhaven, resembling his usual man-child self when he got the rock. Sullinger had a pair of gorgeous coast to coast takes, stepped out and drilled a three, and made some gorgeous passes in the open floor. Throw in his ability to bully anyone in the paint and you see why he’s our top dog in the senior class. Two years ago, I thought that Big Sully reminded me of a smaller Kevin Love. With the way that he’s came along with his perimeter game and is continually toning his body, he’s making me rethink my words. He’s still smaller, but he’s better than KLove at the same point in the game. Scary.
Adreian Payne | 6-10 | PF | Dayton Jefferson (OH) | 2010
A day after going at it with Brandon Knight, Payne had to battle a really tough Thurgood Marshall squad. While it was clear that his basketball IQ is not where you’d want it to be, there’s no denying the talent that oozes from his pores. The Michigan State commit had a number of coast to coast takes, had 6 ridiculous dunks, and exhibited a silky smooth J when facing the cup. Defensively, he was an eraser with nearly 10 blocks on the evening. Sure, he’s still really rough around the edges. However, with the right coaching, he’s a near lock to make the League due to his long-term potential.
Marquis Teague | 6-2 | PG | Indianapolis Pike (IN) | 2011
The best point guard in the junior class struggled a bit against the zone D that Carmel packed in to the paint in efforts to stop him. Jeff’s baby bro struggled in the half court, but showed why he is so special when he got the ball out in the open. Teague was a straight-up blur, making great decisions and showing vision that is flat out rare at this level. He utilized his crazy wingspan to put the clamps on people defensively as well. Marquis still needs to work on his J, but showed the potential that has many openly stating that he could easily be better than his big bro.
Ron Patterson | 6-4 | SG | Indianapolis Broad Ripple (IN) | 2012
This assassin dropped 28 points advenging his team’s loss to Cathedral earlier this season in impressive fashion. He drilled 6 three pointers, threw in a couple of dunks, and played harder than just about anyone on the hardwood. Defensively, he was the best defender that his team put on the floor both with his ball pressure and ability to create TO’s. The sophomore didn’t show us a ton off of the bounce, although what he did show us was enough to make SLAM understand why he’s already got about 10 offers from bigtime programs.
AJ Hammons | 6-11 | C | Carmel (IN) | 2012
The biggest player who we saw on our trip is looking to follow in Josh McRoberts’ footsteps as the next pro out of Carmel HS. Though he’s not the most athletic guy, Hammons uses his massive body to seal people off in the paint and finish around the cup with both hands. Hammons has lost a ton of weight since we last laid eyes on him in the summer, rocking a svelte 260 pound frame with the results showing in his game. Indiana has already offered and Notre Dame front man Mike Brey was in checking him out at this game, and many more high majors will be doing the same in the near future with the progress he’s showing.
JD Weatherspoon | 6-6 | SF/PF | Columbus Northland (OH) | 2012
One of the most powerful leapers in the Class of 2010, Weatherspoon did not disappoint with a number of sick dunks in the game that we took in. It appears that Coach Satch Sullinger is trying his best to prepare him for the next level, by letting him play what will be his ultimate position at Ohio State, small forward. It’s clear that Air Spoon is not a fulltime wing yet, although he did have a couple of strong left handed drives to the rack. The potential that JD offers as a defender has OSU coaches drooling to have him on campus next year. Well, that and the fact that he does this on the regular.
Trey Burke | 5-11 | PG | Columbus Northland (OH) | 2011
The diminutive guard is a flat out nasty scorer who has proven that can get buckets on anyone, even though he’s barely 150 pounds. Equipped with a nasty crossover and killer range, he established himself as one of the better scoring guards on the 16-U AAU circuit last spring. Burke is surely going to have to bulk up and improve on D, but should thrive at Penn State with their open style of play and the way that they let their guards go.
Chrishawn Hopkins | 6-1 | SG | Indianapolis Manual (IN) | 2010
This guy immediately caught my eye in warm-ups, when I saw him throwing down ridiculous 360 windmills with ease. A little more research, I found out that he’s committed to mid-major powerhouse Butler and one of the better dunkers in the nation. Hopkins’ explosiveness carried over to his game in terms of his first step and ability to elevate over defenders to finish. There have been some crazy transfer issues over the last year that led Hopkins to leave Manual, transfer, and then be forced to either come back or sit out his senior season. Butler is sure hoping to see this guy donning their uni next season, but word on the street is that it’s not a surety at this point.