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HOOPHALL CLASSIC 2012: SUNDAY RECAP
By Brian Bosworth, National Recruiting Analyst
While the action at the Hoophall Classic was terrific on Saturday, the overall atmosphere jumped to a new level on Sunday. College coaches who had been busy coaching their own teams in action Saturday were out in full force. John Calipari (Kentucky), Jim Calhoun (Connecticut), Steve Lavin (St John’s), Mark Gottfried (NC State), Ed Cooley (Providence) and Mick Cronin (Cincinnati) all made appearances along with assistants from Florida, Texas, North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Oregon, Utah and DePaul. These coaches witnessed a large collection of highlight performances none more impressive than that by a player with the nation’s best haircut.
Nerlens Noel (Tilton School 2013) – Noel and his high top fade put on a show worthy of the #1 2013 ranking I dubbed him with in my preview podcast of the event. Long considered the top shot blocker in America, Noel proved to be that and more in his nationally televised showdown with Mitch McGary and Brewster Academy. His final stat line reads 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 blocks with just about everyone in attendance agreeing that the 7 blocks is an extremely conservative estimate. I had one longtime scout tell me that Noel is the best shot blocker he has ever evaluated on the high school level. While his defense was as amazing as ever, Noel’s offensive progression continued its steady climb from the past year. He drove baseline and made a floater over Mitch McGary. He used a spin move and finished a lefty hook in the lane. He hammered down multiple tip dunks flying from out of nowhere to grab them. He drew contact at the rim repeatedly eventually fouling out Jakarr Sampson. Noel put on a virtuoso performance which stands up against the absolute best I’ve seen from him in the past. He looks like a future all-American, future lottery pick, future NBA all-star.
Sleeper Performance of the Day:
Denzel Gregg (St Thomas More 2013) – Gregg is a 6’5” long armed forward who made energy plays and finished everything around the rim. He tallied 11 points and 6 rebounds on 4-5 shooting and did it in only 19 minutes of action. Gregg ran the floor very well for St Thomas More and created easy opportunities for himself by consistently beating his man to rim. His perimeter game needs improvement as his 6’5” size dictates he play on the wing at the next level but he is already athletic enough to defend the wing position.
Other Top Performers:
Chris Obekpa (Our Savior New American 2012) – While somewhat forgotten because it took place in the early 10AM game, Obekpa put on a shot blocking performance just about on par with everything Nerlens Noel did on live TV. He came just 2 blocks shy of posting a triple-double finishing with 10 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 rejections all while battling a nasty cold. Obekpa is the premier shot blocker in the 2012 class and perhaps most impressively is able to swat and alter so many shots without picking up fouls. His offense is still well behind his defense but he does show signs that he can eventually be an impact player on that end as well. He has solid form on his jump shot and makes athletic plays above the rim. Obekpa needs to drastically improve his handle as he isn’t comfortable putting the ball on the floor at all but it must be remembered he has only been playing basketball for a few years.
Kameron Williams (Mount St Joseph 2013) – The long and lanky 6’3” guard is an outstanding scorer. He can make shots from anywhere on the floor and did so with great efficiency on Sunday. Williams was 4-7 from long range and made dribble pull-ups as well as floaters in the lane. He was the only Mount St Joseph’s player who didn’t seem bothered by Chris Obekpa inside using his floater to score over the big man. Williams needs to improve his ball handling so that he can become more of a combo guard and stressed that as his main focus when I spoke to him after the game. A college weight room will also benefit Williams as he could use more bulk to stand up to the rigors of high major conference play.
Kaleb Tarczewski (St Mark’s 2012) – signed with Arizona – The 7 footer is the best pure center in the 2012 class. He knows where his strengths lie and stays on the low block going to work for the entire game. Tarczewski has excellent footwork and repeatedly sealed his man and then caught a pass after the ball was swung from one side of the court to the other. Once he catches near the rim a 2 handed power dunk follows every time and he left the backboard shaking back and forth on more than one occasion. Tarczewski’s passing out on double teams also stood out as he netted 5 assists when Friends Central tried to bring an extra man.
Aaron Thomas (Brewster Academy) – signed with Florida State – Thomas had the strongest performance I’ve ever seen from him in front of a national television audience. He punished Tilton for trying to play zone by knocking in multiple 3 pointers from beyond NBA range. He also finished on midrange pull-ups and by getting out in transition and using strong body control at the rim. With the outcome still in doubt Thomas sealed the win for his team by stripping star sophomore Wayne Selden, then drawing a foul, and icing the game. He is often the forgotten man on the loaded Brewster academy roster but Thomas has a bright future in the ACC.
Felix Balamou (Our Savior New American 2012) – Balamou is a 6’3” wing from Guinea, West Africa with some serious athleticism. Every time I looked up he seemed to be floating above the rim and making another play for his team. He made 8-14 shots including a couple of dunks that were on par with the best of the day. Balamou’s overall ball skills and perimeter shot are still a work in progress but he is still very new to the game and by all accounts a great kid and a hard worker.
Chier Ajou (St Thomas More 2012) – Ajou is a perfect example of the old saying “you can’t teach size.” He is every bit of the 7’2” he is listed at and uses that size to alter the game on both ends. Not a great athlete, Ajou doesn’t try to do too much defensively rather just standing straight up with his arms raised as drivers approach. This keep him out of foul trouble and is still very imposing because, again, the kid is 7’2” tall. On offense Ajou is somewhat limited but is effective setting screens and rolling straight to the rim. He has strong hands and finishes with power when he catches it close.
Jakarr Sampson (Brewster Academy 2012) – Sampson was one of the only players for Brewster able to have success in the paint against the imposing presence of Nerlens Noel. He is a superb 6’8” athlete who likes to catch from the mid post and use 1 dribble to the rim. Sampson also uses his athleticism to crash the offensive glass grabbing 5 rebounds on that end and finishing 2 of them off with spectacular tip dunks. His perimeter shot and ability to use more than a couple dribbles need more work but Sampson can impact the highest levels of college basketball already with his above the rim athleticism.
Jared Terrell (New Hampton 2014) – It was a very tough day for New Hampton as a team (the game was far more lopsided than the 55-49 final suggests) but individually Terrell showed off his great talent. He made 6-10 shots including 3-4 from downtown for a team high 17 points. At one point mostly a driver, the improved jump shot significantly strengthens Terrell’s upside as does his continued success transitioning to the point guard. He looks more and more like a top 30 player in 2014 every time I see him play.
Myles Davis (Notre Dame Prep 2012) – signed with Xavier – Davis has picture perfect form on his jump shot to the point that I’m noticeably surprised any time he misses one. His form carries over to the free throw line where he made 14-15 icing the game for his team down the stretch. The improvement in Davis’ game recently has come not from his elite shooting but rather his ability to get to the rim and absorb contact. He has become deadly in screen and roll sets because going under is not an option giving his shot making and he has become a threat to turn the corner and get in the paint. Musketeer fans are going to fall in love with Myles Davis.
Hoophall Classic Free Throws:
The energy in the gym for Tilton vs. Brewster was the best atmosphere I’ve seen for a high school game so far this season. The play on the court backed it up as it was basically a high major college game disguised as a high school game… Steven Adams’ debut in the states was one of the weekend’s top story lines but he was never able to get on track after early foul trouble. The Pitt-commit’s size and athletic ability are undeniable; however, as are the 23 points and 14 rebounds he reportedly put up against Tilton and Nerlens Noel on Saturday… Mitch McGary’s season long struggles continued as he was dominated in a head to head matchup with Nerlens Noel… Nick Stauskas to Michigan is a PERFECT fit. He’s smart, makes shots, understands spacing, and belongs in a John Beilein system… 8th grader Devonte Green (brother of former UNC star Danny) is going to be SPECIAL. The 2016 guard has no problem scoring against high level competition already… Best dunk of the day goes to Goodluck Okonoboh when he took off from the edge of the paint and blasted down a two-hander. Jaw dropping.
Nerlens Noel (Tilton School 2013) – Noel rarely likes to mention specific schools rather saying vaguely that the Big East, the SEC, the Big 12, etc. are all recruiting him. He changed from that stance today acknowledging Syracuse, Kentucky and Connecticut as the three schools pursuing him the hardest. Noel also addressed the possibility of jumping back to his original class of 2012 and going to college next year stating that he is 85% sure he will remain in 2013 but a definite decision on the matter will come within the next week.
Chris Obekpa (Our Savior New American 2012) – Obekpa is still a long ways from making a decision and his lengthy list speaks to that. Connecticut, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Georgia Tech, Cincinnati, DePaul, West Virginia, Oregon, Texas, Florida, and Kentucky are all in hot pursuit of the shot blocker’s services.
Kameron Williams (Mount St Joseph 2013) – Williams has offers from Virginia Tech, Miami, UMass, and VCU along with interest from Wake Forest, Clemson, Maryland and Providence. He has visited unofficially all the schools that have offered along with Maryland.
Felix Balamou (Our Savior New American 2012) – Balamou is considering all his options including possibly doing a post-graduate year and joining the 2013 class. Grades are not an issue and he will be able to remain in the 2012 class if he chooses to according to Coach Eric Jaklitsch but 2013 is a possibility. St. John’s, Providence and Virginia Tech are the first schools showing interest in the talented wing.
Chier Ajou (St Thomas More 2012) – Eligibility concerns are a major issue for the big man from the Sudan. His is a 5th year senior at St Thomas More and according to head coach Jere Quinn it just isn’t known yet whether he will be eligible to play college basketball next year. This is scaring away most potential suitors but high majors such as Oklahoma and Cincinnati have expressed interest and are keeping tabs on the situation.
The 2012 BIG EAST Tournament promises to be one to remember. As usual, tickets will sellout, but fans can get yours early at the best prices by following the links below and get that special holiday gift for YOURSELF that you did not receive from your loved ones. Also, buy with our relationship with TicketNetwork and .