2014 Hoophall Classic Top Performers

by Eldon Khorshidi, Franklyn Calle

Arguably the top showcase during the regular high school season, the Hoophall Classic once again delivered a contingent of future NBA draft picks to Springfield College over MLK Weekend, with as soon as the 2015 draft for a few of the players listed below. Among the biggest headlines that derived from the showcase were the upsets that transpired throughout the weekend, which included the top-ranked team in the country, Montverde Academy, seeing their perfectly undefeated season (18-0) go into smokes after losing to Curie HS. Another Chicago public school was also the culprit of an upset, as 29th ranked Whitney Young took down national powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, which came into Monday ranked No. 4. Below are some of the most impressive performers of the entire holiday weekend, in no particular order.  

Cliff Alexander, 6-8, F/C, Curie (IL), 2014: It isn’t often that a single performance can make such an impact that it’ll move a prospect up to the top spot in the rankings. But that’s exactly what Cliff Alexander potentially did on Monday when he put up 30 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks to upset Montverde Academy. And that was just after posting 30 points, 26 rebounds and 14 blocks in his previous game. He’s been on a tear all season long. On MLK Day, he had at least six dunks, with one almost shattering the backboard, which he’s already done in the past. Constantly crashing the boards, Alexander had three put-back dunks, including one where he posterized Montverde’s Keenan Robinson. And as if he hadn’t punished Robinson enough, on the very next possession he once again dunked on him off a pass after cutting to the rim. That was all after teammate Joshua Stamps dunked on Robinson in the first half. Not only did Alexander dominate the paint, his shooting stroke was a perfect eight-for-eight from the free throw line. The Kansas-bound big man was just as aggressive on the defensive end, even blocking a dude’s three-point shot attempt. He’s explosive and assertive. He moves superbly for his size. His physique is NBA-ready. He’s the real deal. —FC

Theo Pinson, 6-6, Wing, Wesleyan Christian (NC), 2014: The way he played in the first quarter, Pinson looked to be on his way to dropping 56 points. Playing at the point guard position, Pinson was assertive from the opening tip as he brought the ball up the floor. He had already accumulated 14 points by the end of the first quarter, which included a couple of three-pointers from the wing side. He was also finishing strong at the rim, hitting a beautiful up-and-under lay-up after going coast-to-coast, where he was ultimately able to draw a foul and finish the conventional three-point play at the FT line. Later on, the future Tar Heel converted another picturesque drive to the rim, this time switching hands and going with a reverse lay up. He finished with 23 points after cooling down the rest of the game, much due to Findlay Prep’s suffocating defense. —FC

Kelly Oubre, 6-7, Wing, Findlay Prep (NV), 2014: The last sentence should honestly be replaced with the statement: “much due to Kelly Oubre’s suffocating defense.” After Pinson dropped 14 points in the first quarter, Oubre was given the defensive assignment of guarding the UNC-bound wing in the second quarter. The result? Pinson was only able to score four points in that time period, and then five more points the entire second half. The entire Welsleyan team only scored 11 points in the second half, for that matter. Oubre, headed to Kansas in the fall, is relentless on both ends of the floor and thus fills up the entire stat line on most nights. His intensity on the defensive end led to him getting out on transition in offense. He does a great job moving without the ball and cutting to the paint, which led to a couple of alley-oop dunks for him in the second half. He’s also terrific in protecting the ball when driving inside and in absorbing contact. If left open, he also demonstrated the ability to sink in jumpers from behind the arc. The versatile wing’s stat line demonstrated his well-rounded game, finishing with 23 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals. —FC

D’Angelo Russell, 6-4, SG, Montverde Academy (FL), 2014: The future Ohio State shooting guard has arguably the smoothest-looking jumper in America. There should be a shooting instructional video based on his jumper’s form. Whether it is a pull-up from the elbow after getting by his defender via a pump-fake, a fadeaway jumper near the baseline, or spot-up shots from behind the perimeter, Russell puts on a shooting display in just about every big event he partakes. Additionally, his elusive ball-handles, where he changes speeds and shifts gears at any unexpected moment, leads to his effective stop-and-go moves that end up being poster-deserving floaters or strong finishes at the rim. He finished with 17 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds. Who doesn’t like him? —FC

Emmanuel Mudiay, 6-5, PG, Prime Prep (TX), 2014: Mudiay showcased immense scoring gifts, producing 20 points in 31 minutes. Although his team lost, Mudiay elevated his performance down the stretch like he always does, easily taking any Huntington Prep defender one on one. There was nothing Huntington Prep could do to keep him out of the paint. If you surround Mudiay with shooters, he has double-double potential in points and assists. His NBA frame, sick handles and unparalleled body control were on full display. —EK

Thomas Bryant, 6-10, PF, Huntington Prep (WV), 2015: Bryant has clearly added at least 20 pounds of muscle since the summer, and as a result he’s now a physical beast. He played with the energy and a punishing style similar to—dare I say—Cliff Alexander. 6-10, athletic, and can block shots. Raw offensively, but he dunks everything and is willing to step out and shoot. Bryant posted 11 points and 12 rebounds in 22 minutes vs. Prime Prep. In my opinion, he’s the best NBA prospect on a loaded Huntington Prep team. —EK

Cheick Diallo, 6-9, PF Our Savior New American (NY), 2015: Diallo imposed his will at Hoop Hall. He dominated La Lumiere with 18 points, 17 rebounds and 10 blocks. His offensive game is still a work in progress, but the 6-9 forward’s combination of energy, bounce, and sheer willingness to play harder make Diallo special . He gets off the ground to block shots as quick as any player in the Class of 2015. He still relies on dunks offensively, but, he’s clearly improved his coordination since the summer. If he can develop a few go-to moves, Diallo’s upside is through the roof. He reminds me of Serge Ibaka. —EK

Montaque Gill-Caesar, 6-5, SG, Huntington Prep (WV), 2015: Gill-Caesar is considering reclassifying to 2014, and based on what I’ve seen, he should do so. The 6-5 SG has an automatic step-back jumper and one-dribble pull up — moves which are hard to find and nearly impossible to stop on the high school level. He automatic shooting off the dribble, and has big hands to palm the ball in a triple-threat. His feel for the game and incredible upside as a scorer are ideal for a college shooting guard. He scored 13 points on 5-10 shooting, to go along with 9 rebounds. Gill-Caesar is a top-10 perimeter scorer nationally, regardless of class. —EK

Ben Simmons, 6-8, F, Montverde Academy (FL), 2015: The Australian forward, despite only being a junior, has already given LSU a verbal commitment and provides Tiger fans a whole lot to be excited about. Running superbly in transition, he is almost automatic on the break. At the high school level at least, defenders seem to have a hard time boxing him out, mainly because he can wrap around most defenders for put-back dunks due to his agility and nimbleness. He’s also active on the defensive end and blocked three shots on Monday afternoon. Easily finished with a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds in his match-up against Cliff Alexander. —FC

Rashad Vaughn, 6-6, SG, Findlay Prep (NV), 2014: One of the highest-ranked uncommitted recruits in the class of 2014, Vaughn returned to the hardwood on Monday after being out with an injury for the past month. And although he did look a little winded, understandably so, he continued to prove why he is regarded as one of the top shooting guards in America. Showcasing his deadly stroke with a couple of three-pointers, as well as his ability to finish at the rim, Vaughn was Findlay’s second-leading scorer with 12 points in his return. —FC

Dwayne Morgan, 6-7, F, St. Frances (MD), 21014: Morgan was caught between the perimeter and interior on Saturday—which essentially took him out of the game for long stretches—but his versatility and athleticism were nevertheless apparent. He can put the ball on the floor, competes for buckets in the post, and dunk everything in transition. If he can add skill to his athleticism, he’ll be a high-major small forward with a chance at the NBA.

Defensively, he has potential to lock-up small forwards and power forwards. He needs to get stronger, but if he can develop his interior touch, Morgan’s long term potential is as promising as any combo forward in 2014. —EK

Isaiah Whitehead, 6-4, PG, Lincoln (NY), 2014: Whitehead got off to a rough start vs. Yates, recording two points and six turnovers in the first half. In the second half, though, he controlled the tempo of the game, drove the lane with power and set up his teammates for open looks. He finished with 12 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 9 turnovers. A rather uneventful game for Isaiah—considering the game was over by halftime—but his college-ready frame and scoring ability were still apparent. —EK

Terrence Ferguson, 6-5, SG, Prime Prep (TX), 2016: I believe Ferguson is a five-star prospect and top-10 sophomore in the country. Great size for a shooting guard, NBA range on jump shot, and the athleticism of a track star. He finalizes plays above the rim. Smooth 6-5 guard who needs work on his in-between game—and also on rebounding the ball—but he should have every program in the country knocking at his doorstep. —EK

Goodluck Okonoboh, 6-9, F/C, Wilbraham & Monson (MA), 2014: He continued to showcase elite shot blocking, in terms of athleticism and timing. Offensive game is still a major work in progress, but Okonoboh’s explosiveness and defensive ability make him a threat every play. —EK

Daniel Hamilton, 6-6, G, St. John Bosco (CA), 2014: Combo guard who contributes across the board, posting 25 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists, while playing all 32 minutes. Hamilton is working to polish his jumper, but man, he’s a terrific facilitator and gets to the rim at will. Unstoppable first step, can see over the defense with a 6-6 frame and long arms, and a high basketball IQ to make instinctive decisions in the paint. At 6-6, Hamilton’s versatility, motor and skills give him one of the highest upsides in his class. —EK

Abdul-Malik Abu, 6-8, PF, Kimball Union (NH), 2014: Abu scored 15 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in a losing effort. Still, he showcased the physicality, athleticism, and bruising style of play that made him such a highly coveted recruit this summer. He can bang on both ends of the floor, and has the touch and strength to finish through all types of contact. Abu’s physicality reminds me of former UConn big man Jeff Adrien. —EK

Karl Towns, 6-11, PF/C, St. Joseph (MA), 2014: Towns’ combination of size and touch was unparalleled on Sunday. He executed several counter-moves in both face up and back-to-the-basket sets, scoring 21 on 9-12 shooting. Sound footwork, good court vision from the post, and impactful shot blocker due to his size. All that being said, though, Towns also has his fair share of struggles. Dematha sophomore Joe Hampton scored 23 points and grabbed six rebounds on Towns, beating Towns off the dribble with a quick first step. Most concerning though, he surrendered rebounds to below average athleticism. I’d also like to see Towns play with a fire in his belly—Hampton is a sophomore, yet Towns never really imposed his will. Overall, Towns is extraordinarily polished for a high school player, but I’m waiting for the physicality to develop. —EK

Isaac Copeland, 6-9, SF, Brewster Academy (NH) 2014: The Georgetown commit showcased a developing perimeter game to compliment his elite athleticism. 27 points and 11 rebounds vs. Wilbraham & Monson, and his improvement since the Big Strick Classic was impressive—terrific mechanics and confidence stepping into his shot, rebounded through traffic, and played at a comfortable pace. If his skills—and more importantly, his body—continue to develop, he’s an elite small forward prospect. —EK

Craig Victor, 6-8, Forward, Findlay Prep (NV), 2014: Heading to Arizona in the fall, he showed glimpses of what exactly Arizona is getting in him. Aside from actively working the glass, he demonstrated a great pull-up jumper from midrange, especially after getting defenders off the ground with a pump-fake. Back to him crashing the glass, all of Victor’s five rebounds were on the offensive end, demonstrating the tremendous asset he is by affording his team second-shot opportunities. He’s a hard-worker, and Wildcat fans are going to appreciate him for that. —FC

Paul White, 6-9, F, Whitney Young (IL), 2014: The Georgetown-commit worked hard on both ends of the floor on Monday afternoon, contesting almost all shots in his vicinity of the defensive end. Got it done in all types of ways, skying high for put-back dunks, sinking mid-rangers and stepping out to the perimeter and even hitting three-pointers. He ultimately finished with a team-high 19 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks.  —FC

Terrence Phillips, 5-11, PG, Oak Hill (VA), 2015: The younger brother of Detroit Pistons’ Brandon Jennings, the guard did a great job keeping defenders on their toes at all times– mostly because he’s almost always on triple-threat mode and never picks up his dribble, allowing to fake passes and shots multiple times before deciding on a play. While only scoring eight points, his nine assists were a direct derivement from keeping his head up at all times and not picking up his dribble. Although only 5-11, his speed gets him to the rim when he wants. —FC

Miles Reynolds, 6-3, PG, Whitney Young (IL), 2014: St. Louis is getting a very solid recruit in Reynolds. Despite not being nationally ranked, the guard looked to be the most hardworking guard on the floor. He was slashing to the rim all day long, and constantly got by his defenders while going baseline with a quick first step. And while he didn’t quite finish in traffic or through contact at the rim, he did a great job drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line often, much due to his great body control and making sure that he went straight up, thus getting calls in his favor. He shot a team-high ten free throws and ultimately finished with 13 points. —FC

Trevor Manual, 6-9, PF, Oak Hill (VA), 2015: An East Michigan commit, the long and athletic big was another one that ran the floor well and even put the ball on the floor on a couple of occasions, although limited. He’s very agile for his size and made every field goal he attempted. He finished with 7 points and 8 rebounds. —FC

Josh Perkins, PG, 6-3, Huntington Prep (WV), 2014: Although he posted only 4 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, Perkins had a clear impact in the win vs. Prime Prep. He didn’t commit a turnover in 32 minutes of play, moving the ball quickly get the defense moving and his teammates in their spots. Perkins’ contributions extend beyond the box score, as he possesses all the intangibles you’d want in your point guard. Great get for Gonzaga. —EK

Jared Terrell, 6-3, SG, Brewster Academy (NH), 2014: Terrell is one of the most physical wing players in the country. At 6-3 and 225 pounds, he plays with a “football mindset.” Strong and tenacious defender who takes pride in getting stops and tracking down rebounds. He’s in constant motion on both ends of the floor, and is always in a position to rebound when a shot goes up. He’s only 6-3, but he’s a powerful driver and a strong defender. I think Terrell will be one of the top 50 players in the class of 2014 when it’s all said and done—and if he can improve his jump shot, he has a chance to make noise nationally. —EK

Jalen Coleman, 6-3, G, La Lumiere (IN), 2015: A crafty 6-2 scoring guard, Coleman dropped 28 points—including eight 3-pointers—vs. Our Savior New American. He created space in the mid-range area, and showcased polished touch from all over the court. His silky-smooth game and elite range was reminiscent of a smaller Jamal Crawford. If Coleman can put on weight (he’s around 170 pounds right now), and finish around the basket with consistency, he’ll be one of the most fun—and dangerous—players in the class of 2015. —EK

Desi Rodriguez, 6-5, SF, Lincoln (NY), 2014: Rodriguez is an athletic combo forward who tries to dunk everything in his path. He is a high-flyer, running the break and to catch alley-oops and put-backs. He lacks a perimeter game, but his athleticism and unlimited energy make him an intriguing prospect. He had at least five dunks vs. Yates. —EK

JC Washington, 6-7, PF, Yates (TX), 2014: Washington recorded 15 points and 8 rebounds in 18 minutes vs. Lincoln. Wide post player who is crafty around the hoop and also competes for rebounds. He uses a strong upper body to initiate contact against bigger players, constantly “throwing the first punch,” if you will. Extending his range to 17-feet would help Washington take the next step. —EK

Vance Jackson, 6-6, SF, St. John Bosco (CA), 2016: Jackson showcased terrific size and shooting range. He scored 26 points (10-16) and grabbed 8 rebounds vs. St. Frances. He’ll become a matchup nightmare once he develops an interior game. Right now, he’s a knockdown shooter who can see over the top of defenses and set his feet quickly for a shot. Jackson could develop into a five-star prospect. —EK

JaQuan Lyle, 6-4, SG, Huntington Prep (WV), 2014: Lyle is a combo guard with a wide frame and deep shooting ability. He has a quick release running off screens, can shoot with his feet set, or off the dribble. A “wide trunk” allows him to create separation and get his shot off. However, he tends to jack up shots early in possessions, and he doesn’t contribute besides scoring. The next step is for him to impact the game in other ways. —EK

Romelo Trimble, 6-2, PG, Bishop O’Connell (MD), 2014: Trimble scored 26 points vs. Ranier, but shot 7-22 and finished with 7 turnovers to 0 assists. He has a strong build and a reliable jumper, but as a 6-2 point guard, he will have to distribute the ball more efficiently. —EK

Shaqquan Aaron, 6-6, G/F, Ranier (WA), 2014: Aaron is a lanky swingman who can shoot from deep and also slash to the hoop. He has a complete offensive arsenal, but he tends to over-dribble on the perimeter. If he can tone it down and let the game come to him, he has terrific upside as a prospect. He also needs to gain weight—6-6, 175 pounds won’t suffice at the college level. —EK

Sam Logwood, 6-7, F, La Lumiere (IN), 2014: Logwood impressed me with a strong motor and elite athleticism in the half court. He’s a naturally physical guard/forward who can bang down low, and also step out and knock down jump shots. Nice mix of floaters and mid-range moves in the paint, and a few powerful dunks in transition. An underrated prospect who could turn heads in the SEC. —EK

Elisha Boone, 6-3, SG, Lincoln (NY), 2014: The St. Peter’s commit is a terrific athlete with serious hangtime. A bit undersized, but he attacked the rim in transition and finished through contact on several layups. Boone finished with 26 pints and grabbed 11 rebounds. —EK

Joe Hampton, 6-6, SF, Dematha (MD), 2016: The sophomore made a statement against Karl Towns, scoring 23 points and grabbing 6 rebounds. He’s a 6-6 forward who can score from 15-feet and in, due to crafty ball fakes and a quick first step. He’s skilled, with a soft touch and developing body. —EK

Rakym Felder, 6-1, PG, Lincoln (NY), 2016: The lefty has a strong frame and excellent speed in the open court. He converted a few difficult layups through contact, and also grabbed 6 rebounds in 16 minutes of play. Only a sophomore, Felder should take over point guard duties at Lincoln when Whitehead and company graduate. —EK