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War on the Shore

November 28, 2003 Columns No Comments


2003 War on the Shore

by Phil Kasiecki

Bob Jacobs, the master architect of the Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament, put together an improved War on the Shore Tournament this weekend in Milford, Delaware. The games were better-played than last year, and the talent level was what one would expect from a Bob Jacobs event – loaded. It was not in a tournament format, but that didn’t spoil the competition, and it didn’t stop many college coaches and NBA scouts and officials from coming.

Here, we take a look at some of the highlights of the games, as well as notes on some of the players that caught our attention.

Top Team Knocked Off – Twice

Many experts pegged Laurinburg (NC) Institute Prep as the top prep school team prior to the season. Part of that projection likely included two players no longer there, high-major big man Jackie Butler (signed with Tennessee, now at Coastal Christian Academy) and Cincinnati native C.J. Anderson. But the Tigers are still loaded with Division I prospects like scoring machine Vincent Banks (signed with Cincinnati), athletic shot-blocker and rebounder Longar Longar (a member of the All-Name team, to be sure, and headed to Oklahoma) and strong post player Richard Dorsey, who didn’t play very well this weekend.

On Saturday, Oakdale (CT) St. Thomas More took on the Tigers and fell behind early. But the Tigers then went ice cold offensively, turning the ball over and taking bad shots (they shot 20% from the floor in the first half), going into the locker room with a 42-24 deficit. St. Thomas More shot over 51% in the half, getting some easy baskets off turnovers and rebounds. The Tigers would rally later in the second half, getting within 5, but Chancellor senior guard Joe Miles (team-high 17 points) hit two big three-pointers to open the lead back up. They would hold on for an 81-72 win despite 28 points from Banks.

On Sunday, the Winchendon (MA) School rallied in the second half after Laurinburg led for most of the game. With 8 minutes left, they took an 80-72 lead after scoring 11 unanswered points, and had their biggest lead at the end of the game, a 105-92 win in which five players scored in double figures. Northeastern-bound forward Stuard Baldonado led the attack with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Banks had a tournament-high 37 points in the defeat for Laurinburg.

Wright Is Watched Closely, But McClinton Steals The Show

No doubt, the NBA scouts and officials present were certainly interested in Dorell Wright, the 6’7″ star wing at South Kent (CT) School. Wright blew up this past spring in AAU competition, as his exceptional athleticism and open-court abilities were no longer a secret. The DePaul-bound wing, who has reportedly given up baseball to concentrate on basketball, is regarded as one of the top prospects in the loaded class of 2004.

Wright showed what he had in South Kent’s 100-87 win over Blairstown (NJ) Blair Academy on Saturday. He scored 25 points, hauled down 9 rebounds and handed out 5 assists in the game, showing his great athleticism and ability to lead as well as finish a fast break on several occasions. He also showed that he can shoot at times, though he didn’t put up great numbers and isn’t a consistent shooter from long range. With some added strength and a more consistent jumper, he’ll be a star at the next level.

While Wright was the main attraction, it was Baltimore native Jack McClinton who stole the headlines. McClinton quietly poured in 27 of his game-high 35 points in the second half and grabbed 9 rebounds. He didn’t dominate the game, but he was solid throughout and scored on many drives to the basket using his strength. McClinton flew under the radar last year, and will likely do so again this year on a team that features Wright and Clemson-bound Cheyenne Moore, but he’ll surely get more recruiting attention after this weekend.

Big Weekend, Big Strides For Joseph

New Jersey native Adrian Joseph had a nice showing last year in Delaware, when his Bergen Catholic team played in the Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament. Nearly a year later, Joseph isn’t just a complementary player benefiting from a teammate who was ranked among the best players in the country (Sean Banks). He is surrounded by an excellent cast at Wolfeboro (NH) Brewster Academy, to be sure, but the combo forward showed that he will be a good pickup for Virginia, with whom he signed recently.

Joseph was consistently knocking down jump shots off the dribble and scoring in transition, and he showed improved ball handling. He led Brewster with 42 points in their two games, making 16 of 31 shots, and he also added 17 rebounds. The loaded Bobcats won both games this weekend, fending off late comeback attempts against Ft. Washington (MD) National Christian Academy and Centereach (NY) Our Savior New American.

Vaden, Clarke Do Their Parts

North Bridgton (ME) Bridgton Academy brought in two of the more athletic wings in the class, though it wasn’t that long ago that Rashon Clarke was an undersized power forward with the athleticism to one day play on the wing.

Now, the 6’6″ Clarke has completed the transition, which undoubtedly makes the coaching staff at Iowa State happy since he signed there. Clarke is an active athlete who will get his share of offensive rebounds and stick-backs, and this weekend he showed better ball skills and a better jump shot. He looked much more polished at the small forward position, showing continued improvement.

For his part, the Indiana-bound Vaden showed why he’s one of the top wings in the class of 2004, scoring 31 and 28 points in Bridgton’s two victories, and shooting a combined 22-34 from the floor. Vaden is very athletic and takes good shots, getting to the basket often and finishing strong. He is a scorer, but he’s also a very able defender and uses both hands effectively to finish near the basket.

Bradley Takes Over

On Sunday, Fitchburg (MA) Notre Dame Prep and Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy were tied at 45, but it didn’t stay that way for long. Early in the second half, Notre Dame Prep got in gear and broke the game open with a 20-5 run en route to opening a 21-point lead. That was when Kentucky-bound guard Ramel Bradley got in gear after scoring just two points in the first half.

The native New Yorker, a quick 6’2″ guard, started making shots and getting to the foul line, and he made some plays at the defensive end. He made a layup with 10:11 left, then was called for a technical foul after the play. It was his fourth personal foul, but that was what he needed to pick it up. IMG would eventually get within six before Jerome Johnson fouled out after a solid effort (the 6’9″ post player had 17 points, 7 rebounds and 8 blocks) with under six minutes to play.

Bradley tied the game at 101 with a three-point play, then Penn State-bound shooter Danny Morrissey stole the ball and made a layup to give IMG the lead with a little over three minutes left. IMG later looked sunk when they called an illegal timeout and fell behind 111-107 after the free throws, but Bradley wasn’t done yet. After they cut the lead to two, Bradley stole the inbounds pass and was fouled with one second left. He made both free throws, sending the game to overtime, where Notre Dame Prep led by as many as 8 and was never seriously threatened.

Bradley finished with 33 points, 31 of them coming in the second half and overtime. His jump shot looks to be getting better all the time, which will be a big plus.

Palacios Has His Own Second Half

Like Bradley, big-time prospect Juan Diego Palacios didn’t play his best ball in the first half of Sunday’s game for Centereach (NY) Our Savior New American. The 6’8″, 240-pound multitalented forward consistently lost the ball trying to drive to the basket and was just 2-8 from the field.

But he warmed up in the second half, as he started making shots and rebounded the ball. He would finish with 31 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough as Wolfeboro (NH) Brewster Academy took home a 100-89 win. Palacios has plenty of talent, but needs to keep it under control and take good shots, which he did more of in the second half.

He has plenty of talent to help him out, namely 6’5″ athletic wing Gary Konate (24 points) and 7’2″ junior big man Kevin Mormin, who was a non-factor in the game in part because he was a victim of some bad calls. Mormin will get plenty of recruiting attention, while Konate doesn’t shoot the ball well but could be a nice pickup for someone.

More Player Notes

Best underclassman – Kevin Durant (6’8″ So. SF, Ft. Washington (MD) National Christian Academy) has grown and continues to show a lot of potential. He’s very long and young-looking, but he can shoot the ball and is very athletic. He needs to get stronger, and his shot selection wasn’t the best, but he isn’t lacking in potential. He gets the nod over Shomari Spears (6’6″ So. PF, Blairstown (NJ) Blair Academy), who was also very impressive.

Most underrated player – Michael Binns (6’7″ Sr. PF, Wolfeboro (NH) Brewster Academy) had an excellent showing. He’s basically a power forward who can play the wing in a pinch, well-built and plays strong, and he’ll defend away from the basket. He played no small role in his team’s two victories, and really comes to play the game.

Unsigned seniors who helped themselves – Rashad Bilal (6’3″ SG-SF, Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy), J.R. Hairston (6’7″ PF, Fork Union (VA) Military Academy), Michael Kach (6’3″ Sr. SG Winchendon (MA) School), Jerome Johnson (6’9″ PF, Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy), Oliver Lamoreaux (6’9″ PF, St. Lambert (Quebec) Champlain St. Lambert), Joe Miles (6’0″ Sr. PG, Oakdale (CT) St. Thomas More)

Idle thought – Did any mid-major sign as good an early class as College of Charleston, which had three of its early signees in this event? Joshua Jackson (6’8″ Sr. PF, Fitchburg (MA) Notre Dame Prep), Tavon Nelson (6’7″ Sr. SF-PF, South Kent (CT) School) and Marcus Hammond (6’3″ Sr. SG, Wolfeboro (NH) Brewster Academy) are all very good signees for Tom Herrion’s team. Jackson is a strong and mobile inside player, Nelson is a versatile warrior who leaves it on the court, and Hammond is a good scorer.

     

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