Bob Gibbons TOC: Top Underclassmen
These youngsters are THAT good.
A fixture of Memorial Day weekend, the 19th annual Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions almost didn’t go down in 2011. The NCAA dropped a ruling effective immediately in late April that banned events from being played on DI college campuses, meaning that no longer would the TOC be able to hold games at Duke, UNC or NC State. For many AAU coaches, the main selling point of going to a closed event such as this was to give their players the lifelong memory that they’ll be able to pass on to their grandchildren about playing at Cameron or leaving their imprint at the Dean Dome. That is now a thing of the past, thanks to a harsh ruling by the powers to be in Indianapolis.
The TOC lived on, though. Renting out just about every high school gym you could imagine, they still assembled some of the top talent from around the country regardless of shoe affiliation. The field wasn’t as deep as before due to the loss of gyms (32 17-U teams, 16 16-U, 16 15-U), but the quality of each game go up that much more. Here’s a look at some of the top youngsters who did their thing:
Anton Gill, 6-3, SG, Garner Road 16′s, 2013
In his first tourney back following a stress fracture in his foot, this FRESH 25 member ended the TOC in dramatic fashion with a 30+ footer at the buzzer to win the national title for 16s. The lefty didn’t quite have the explosiveness that we’re used to (which is to be expected given a six-week layoff), but still found ways to put points on the board. What I love most about Gill is that he’s straight fearless going at guys every time he laces them up, which will continue to set him apart from most guards in his class.
Malik Newman, 6-3, PG/SG, MBA 15′s, 2015
It’s not too often that you’ll catch us writing about an 8th grader, but Malik Newman is THAT good. Drawing comparisons to Tyreke Evans, you can definitely see where the come from at this point in the game. Newman basically gets any shot that he wants on the court and truly makes the game look effortless while playing a year up. He’s a very ball dominant guard and does the majority of his work in isolation situations, just like Reke did for Team Final and at American Christian. Many respected cats out of Mississippi are guaranteeing that he’s going to be better than Mo Williams and Monta Ellis when it’s all said and done, so I guess we’ll just have to sit back and enjoy the show.
Josh Newkirk, 6-2, PG, Team United 16′s, 2013
If you went to watch him during the high school season, you may wonder why the incumbent at John Wall’s alma mater had received offers from schools such as Indiana and Arizona so early in the game. Any doubts you may have had were put to rest at Gibbons after the super soph was the focal point in Team United’s championship run.
Patrick Rooks, 6-3, SG, SC Raptors Elite 16′s, 2013
Fresh off of popping to Clemson, Rooks put on a spectacular shooting performance against Long Island Lightning in the final four for the 16′s. The lefty showed no problem creating his own shot and shooting off of the dribble, catching guys off guard with his unique lefty game a la Nick Van Exel. It was our first time taking a glimpse at this emerging soph, but he’s firmly supplanted himself as a cat to keep an eye on in the future.
Kuran Iverson, 6-9, SF, Long Island Lightning 16′s, 2013
Ranked in the top 10 sophomores by just about everyone in the country, Iverson came into the TOC with some pretty lofty expectations that he was expected to fill. Though his team made it to the finals, it wasn’t quite the dominating performance that you expected to see out of a player so highly touted. There are some things that the Connecticut swingman does that not many other 6-9 players at the high school level can do and hopefully we’ll get to see those more often than not.
BJ Gladden, 6-5, SF, SC Raptors Elite 16′s, 2013
The epitome of a power wing, I’ll honestly say that I walked into the gym having no idea who Gladden was and walked out knowing that I was going to have to write about him. He’s capable of scoring at all three levels (at the rim, mid-range, and beyond the arc) and is strong enough that you can slide him over to the power forward spot in a jiffy if you need him to play some spot minutes. Xavier and East Carolina have already been showing Gladden some early love and expect that list to grow once college coaches get a glimpse of him in July.
Kahari Beaufort, 6-4, PG/SG, Long Island Lightning 16′s, 2013
Like Gladden, Beaufort was a guy who I didn’t know much about coming into the TOC and left excited about. The stocky combo guard has a build reminiscent of Deron Williams or Demetri McCamey with a gritty game to match. The combination of size, toughness and ability to play either guard position at the next level will certainly keep Beaufort’s name in the conversation this summer.
Caleb Martin/Cody Martin, 6-5, SF, Team Loaded 15′s, 2014
Debating calling it a night and getting some grub at Cookout, I figured that I’d hang around for a few minutes and catch a little of a 15-U game. An hour or so later, you had people from SLAM, ESPN and Rivals tweeting about two relatively unknown twins. With great size for wing players, the brothers actually have quite similar games to one and other. Caleb was a little more impressive in the first half with his outside shot and athleticism, while Cody put in major work in the second with his versatile scoring game. College coaches will definitely be making the trip to tiny Mocksville, NC to evaluate these two a number of times in the coming future.