Deck the Hall
SLAMonline scouts the 2011 Hoophall Classic.
by Stephanie Mejia
I left 80-degree weather in Los Angeles to be bundled and layered in Springfield, MA, for the well known Hoophall Classic held at Springfield College over Martin Luther King weekend. Sprinfield is known for being the birthplace of basketball so I was definitely looking forward to embracing the atmosphere, the history and of course, the games.
Hoophall was filled with some of the top players that we will be seeing at the next level. Names included Myck Kabongo, Michael Carter-Williams, Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis, LeBryan Nash, Wayne Blackshear and the list goes on.
The games drew a large crowd ranging from family, friends, fans, coaches such as Kentucky’s Coach Calipari, Boston Celtics’ Nate Robinson, etc. As a whole, myself and others enjoyed the match-ups and the growth we saw in players over the four-day event.
Highlighted are some of the players who have vastly improved from this summer as well as players who I was watching for the first time:
Myles Mack, Paterson, NJ, St. Anthony, 2011, PG, 5-9, 155 pounds
This past summer I was able to see Rutgers commit, Myles Mack, in a tournament and camp setting, and one thing to take note is his constant motor. When Mack is on, he’s on, and there is not shutting him down regardless of his opponent which was evident here at a big stage. Initially, much was expected between the DeMatha & St. Anthony match-up but thanks to the hands of Mack, that idea ceased. Within the first half, Mack dropped 16 out of his team’s total 38 points, and he finished with 28 points for the game. Innately, Mack has the touch of gold so its no surprise that out of the 28 points, he had 6 3-pointers: MONEY-MACK. Beyond that, Mack proved in Springfield that he is taking the necessary steps to prepare for the next chapter of his basketball career, college. Any questions looming whether he can or cannot play the point guard position were answered —-say no more. Mack has the motor, the speed of light, the heart, the work-ethic and competitive edge that will translate over to Rutgers. With all that said, Money-Mack gets into a zone like Fabolous, “I don’t see nobody”.
Shannon Scott, Alpharetta, GA, Milton, 2011, PG, 6-2, 170 pounds
Hoophall Classic stays stacked with some of the top players but this game alone consisted of 16 division-1 players. Going up against an undefeated Oak Hill Academy, Milton knew they were going have to turn up the intensity and leave their hearts on the court to come out on top. Right out the gates, Milton started strong, and Ohio State commit, Shannon Scott took command with 16 points in the first half. Throughout the game there were a few lead changes but that did not affect Scott’s focus. He stayed on course with one objective: to win. Scott is a smart, instinctive player with a solid vision of the court, thus his ability to either drive the court or set-up his teammates. Selfishness is not in his blood, quite the contrary; his decisions are based on what’s best for Milton. In the end, between Scott, Dai-Jon Parker & Julian Royal, Oak Hill was not able to come out on top as they normally do; Milton cohesively as a team won the battle lead by their general Shannon Scott. The Buckeyes snatched a great pick to carry on the Ohio State basketball program.
Andre Drummond, Oakdale, CT, St. Thomas More, 2012, C, 6-10, 275 pounds
In June, I was able to see Andre Drummond along with the USA U-17 in San Antonio prior to their departure to Germany for the World Championship games so I was looking forward to seeing if there was any change in his game. From all the hoop-la surrounding Drummond, there has been a bar that outsiders have set for him ranging from his style of play, his body size, the comparisons to Dwight Howard and Amar’e Stoudemire, his recruitment and the list goes on. Basketball speaking, Drummond is genetically blessed, and does possess the tools to have a great career in college. With that said, with every game, the crowd expects to be “oooo’ed” and “aaaaaa’ed”. Drummond sprinkled us with a few swats, alley-oops and jolting dunk that nearly murdered the basket. As a spectator, you hope that he would flash you with more or even be a ball-hog but that’s not in his character; Drummond is a team player first. He would rather see his teammates rise to the glory before himself. By watching him, one will also notice he has an on-and-off switch of intensity; it’s never constant throughout a game but when it’s on, he slays the paint with no fear and posts up as a true center should. Ultimately, Drummond is the commander of his own fate, and it is up to him to embrace the position he was built for, a center. The day he makes that decision, is the day that we will see all and everything Andre Drummond is capable of. Until then, grab some popcorn, sit back patiently and watch him evolve to becoming a phenomenal player.
LaQuinton Ross, Jackson, MS, Life Center, 2011, SF, 6-8, 200 pounds
LaQuinton Ross of Life Center had the most to prove out of any of the players at Hoophall Classic. His basketball career thus far has been a rollercoaster full of lows-and-highs so no better place than Springfield to prove not only to others but more so to himself his potential and ability. Ross went up against St. Mark’s Erick Murphy and Kaleb Tarczewski, two highly ranked players. In the first half, Ross was the talk of the game by displaying his ability to shoot from the outside with four 3-pointers, driving to the lane, defensively sound and most importantly, it appeared he was enjoying the game. In the second half, Kaleb Tarczewski held him offensively to 5 points nonetheless, he continued to display his defensive ability and finished 6 for 7 at the line. As a whole, I witnessed the best LaQuinton Ross yet, and hopefully he continues to build on this momentum with confidence into college. Ross has the tools but needs to continue nurturing and developing them with a fire of passion that only he controls, and which he is doing. “I have been in the gym a lot and working at where I need to improve.” Overall, Ross was impressed with the outcome of the game. “I think I did great. I felt no pressure going into the game, and treated it like any other game. In the second half, offensively, I wasn’t as strong but I continued to play defensively. My team, though, took over on the offense. Our team came out with a win which is what’s important against a team like St. Mark’s and their 7-footer.”