by Franklyn Calle / @FrankieC7
With four of ESPN’s Top 20 ranked seniors slated to converge in Charlotte, NC next weekend, the 2014 Under Armour High School Showcase is expected to be one of the most star-studded prep invitationals of the year. The one-day event is scheduled to take place at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology High School on Saturday, January 11th. The aforementioned blue-chippers in the class of 2014 include Emmanuel Mudiay, Karl Towns Jr., Theo Pinson and Goodluck Okobonoh. Highly-touted underclassmen include Terrance Ferguson. Top-ranked sophomore Harry Giles will be in attendance with his Wesleyan Christian Academy team but will not play, as he continues to recover from a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus that he suffered back in the summer.
Players won’t be the only ones looking to protect their rankings (or move up the list, for the that matter). Many of teams invited have national rankings to live up to and protect as well. Colorado’s Denver East is currently listed as no. 13 in the nation, according to a recent USA Today boy’s basketball national ranking. Washington D.C.’s St. John’s College merely missed the Top-25 bracket, coming in at no. 26. The fifth and final game will be a bout between two top-25 national powerhouses, with Prime Prep of Forth Worth, TX currently ranked fourth nationwide and Wesleyan Christian of High Point, NC having started the season as high as no. 22.
Can’t make it to the game? No problem. SLAM has you covered. We’ll be live streaming all five games for free right here on our website, so make sure to tune all day to catch the action.
Game #1 @ 12:00PM: Northside Christian Academy (NC) vs. Denver East (CO)
MaxPreps ranked Northside Christian at no. 12 in their most recent pre-Christmas rankings after their 9-0 start to the season. The Charlotte school won their first ten games before losing to nationally ranked (#2 USA Today’s Super 25) Montverde Academy in their last outing at the Wild Wing Hoop Classic. The team is led by a couple of senior swingmen in James Demery and Keyshawn Woods. Demery, a 6-6 small forward committed to St. Joseph’s, is highly regarded for excelling in transition and his ability to finish strong above the rim. He’s also known as a crafty scorer and superb slasher. Woods, a 6-5 small forward committed to UNC-Charlotte, is known for his athleticism and physicality, as well as his assertiveness on the defensive end. Northside went on to win the NCISAA state championship in 2013 with a 32-2 record.
Denver East, ranked #13 by USA Today, finished as the runner-up in the 5A state title game in 2013 with a 25-3 record. After a 7-2 start to this season, the Angels look poised to take care of unfinished business. They are led by Dominique Collier, a 6-2 point guard committed to Colorado, who’s known for being your prototypical PG due to his high level basketball IQ and play making abilities. He’s currently averaging 19 points per game, including three 25+ points outings — the most recent being a 30-point performance against California powerhouse St. John Bosco. Other notable players include Ronnie Harrell, a 6-7 small forward committed to Creighton, who’s known for his sharpshooting and long range. Jevon Griffin, Tyler Robison and Brian Carey are also key players to watch out for.
Game #2 @ 1:30PM: St. John’s College (DC) vs. Math, Civics and Science (PA)
After a 7-1 start to the season, St. John’s is as close as it gets to being a top-25 national program, ranked #26 by USA Today. The Cadets, who finished with a 20-10 record last season, are led by an extremely talented backcourt composed of Tre Campbell and James Palmer. Campbell, a 6-2 point guard committed to Georgetown, has gain notoriety for his lighting-quick speed. A slasher and crafty scorer, the future Hoya is constantly keeping defenders on their toes. Palmer, a 6-4 shooting guard committed to Miami (FL), is known for his deadly shooting stroke, especially from behind the perimeter. He is just as effective in all types of situations, whether it is off the dribble, spot up or off screens. Towson-commit Mike Morsell, Fairleigh Dickinson-commit Darian Anderson, and George Washington-commit Darian Bryant are also players to keep an eye out for.
After a 26-3 record and a deep run in the 2013 Pennsylvania state tourney, Math, Civics & Sciences has gotten off to a rough start to the ’13-’14 campaign — looking to get back to .500 with a 3-5 record in the early season. The Philly-based program is led by Samir Doughty, a 6-3 point guard that has drawn interest from Temple, LaSalle, Saint Joseph’s, Rhode Island, Villanova and Xavier. Although he can create for himself with ease, he’s just as effective setting up others for easy buckets.
Game #3 @ 3:00PM: Oldsmar Christian Academy (FL) vs. Hargrave Military Academy (VA)
Oldsmar Christian is led by Isaiah Manderson, a 6-11 senior center committed to Oregon State. Just Manderson’s presence in the paint is enough to alter offensive sets due his large physique. While he is still tuning up his offense and adding to his post game, his upside makes his a promising prospect in the PAC-12.
Hargrave’s postgrad squad is loaded with D-1 talent. Leading the way for the Tigers are a couple of forwards in Donte Grantham and Rashard Kelly. Grantham, a 6-8 senior committed to Clemson, excels on the break and is a great finisher. He can also sink it from mid-range or behind the arc. Kelly, a 6-7 senior committed to Wichita State, is very versatile and can play either forward positions. Fellow senior, Jabari McGhee, is another highly regarded forward that has drawn interest from the likes of Western Kentucky, Towson, Old Dominion and Marshall. He’s another one of Hargrave’s forwards that gets out on the break and excels in transition, as well as constantly finishing above the rim. In the backcourt, the Tigers have Ahmad Thomas and Justin Jordan, a couple of mid-major prospects, running the show. The team’s center, Karl Overstreet, a 6-11 senior committed to East Tennessee State, takes care of rebounding and protecting the rim. Junior forward Trey Grundy has already drawn some interest from ACC and SEC programs, among others.
Game #4 @ 5:00PM: St. Joseph’s Metuchen (NJ) vs Wilbraham & Monson (MA)
While all eyes will naturally be on the Karl Towns Jr. vs. Goodluck Okobonoh match-up, this game will feature an array of other future high-level D1 prospects. Leading the way for St. Joe’s is, of course, Towns. The 7-1 senior and Kentucky-commit is widely recognized for his versatility and ability to drop quadruple-doubles. He creates match-up problems, forcing defenders to come out on the perimeter, where he can sink three-pointers or put the ball on floor and take you to the rim. When he’s not looking for his shot, he can just as easily find open teammates.The future Wildcat averaged 20.6 points, 14.0 rebounds and 5.3 blocks last season, ultimately earning Gatorade state POY honors. Assisting Towns is Wade Baldwin, a 6-2 point guard committed to Vanderbilt. He loves pushing the ball and is constantly looking to attack, while also known for being a terrific passer. St. Joseph’s finished with a 27-5 record last season and won the NJSIAA Non-Public A championship.
For Wilbraham & Monson, Okobonoh will most likely be assigned to guard Towns. A 6-9 center committed to UNLV, Okobonoh is known for his shot blocking. He is superb at crashing the boards on both ends of the floor and finishes strong. On the frontcourt with Okobonoh is Max Hoesztel, an Indiana-commit. The 6-7 senior forward has some range that extends out to the perimeter. Junior wing Curtis Cobb, and fellow 2015 forwards Marcel Pettway and Joe Schneider have drawn interest from multiple high-major D1 schools.
Game #5 @ 7:00PM: Prime Prep (TX) vs Wesleyan Christian (NC)
The main event will feature two teams that collectively have four top-20 players in their respective classes. Prime Prep is led by Emmanuel Mudiay, who in his last Under Armour event took home MVP honors after dropping 22 points, six rebounds and six assists at the Elite 24 Game in Brooklyn during the summer. He is very crafty with the ball and can finish at the rim in all kinds of acrobatic ways. When he’s feeling it, his perimeter shooting is just as deadly. The 6-4 Dallas native is widely recognized as the top combo guard in the class of 2014. He will be under the guidance of Larry Brown at SMU next fall. Sharing the backcourt with Mudiay is Terrance Ferguson. At 6-5, he is regarded as a top-10 prospect in the class of 2016. The sophomore guard is known for his terrific shooting touch.
Wesleyan Christian will be without one of their top players, as Harry Giles, the top ranked sophomore in the country, continues to sit out and recover from his ACL, MCL and meniscus injuries. But the Trojans will have the services of Theo Pinson, a 6-6 wing and Tar Heel-commit, who is known for his versatility and well-roundedness. At his last Under Armour event, the Elite 24, he won the slam dunk contest after dunking over his own mother. His versatility allows him to play multiple positions and score inside or out. The Trojans won the state independent schools 3A championship last season after finishing the year with a 23-5 record. Other notable players include Houston-bound JaQuel Richmond and Charleston-signee Donovan Gilmore.
(Photo Credit: Kelly Kline / Under Armour)