SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – We take a look at some of the players we saw on the opening day of the Hall of Fame National Invitational.
Zach Auguste (6’9″ Sr. SF-PF, Marlborough (MA) New Hampton School) This maturing forward had his moments in two games, but all in all was just all right. He drove and dunked while getting fouled on one play, and didn’t look over-matched against Andre Drummond although that also reflected Drummond’s foul trouble in the game. His ball skills look better and he was active, but he also forced play a little much and didn’t shoot well. High-major minus prospect.
Benjamin Bentil (6’9″ So. PF-C, Philadelphia (PA) St. Andrew’s School) He didn’t show much offensively, but he’s unquestionably a prospect with his physical gifts and ability to block shots. He has a good body with a more developed lower body right now and was very active inside, and right now he’s impacting a game the way he can while his skills try to catch up offensively.
Deonte Burton (6’5″ Jr. SF, Milwaukee (WI) Brewster Academy) Well-built wing is athletic and relentless and carried his team to a victory in a game we saw. The lefty scored on drives, finishing while fouled, and had 16 points as his team’s clear best option, and did it all while competing every second on the court.
Andre Drummond (6’11” Sr. C, Middletown (CT) St. Thomas More) The best prospect here has an NBA body and at times was dominant, but he was also in some foul trouble. That, along with his team getting a nice lead early thanks to forcing a lot of turnovers, led to his minutes being limited in their first game of the day. While he was out there, though, he was unquestionably a factor. Big-time prospect did not have a current school listed in the program, and there is reason to believe he will not be back at St. Thomas More next season although he has publicly said several times that he will be.
Kris Dunn (6’3″ Sr. PG-SG, New London (CT) High) Continually improving guard really thrived with his team’s pressure defense against a team with so-so guards. He’s athletic and a high-energy player, and a lot of his 18 points came in transition and/or off turnovers. High-major minus prospect will attend Wilbraham & Monson Academy next year.
Nick Emery (6’1″ Jr. SG, Alpine (UT) Lone Peak HS) A left-handed guard with a mature body, he struggled shooting the ball from long range although his stroke seemed okay. He instead got a lot of his 21 points from running the floor for layups, mostly off turnovers.
Egi Gjikondi (6’9″ Sr. PF, Malden (MA) High) Although he’s hurt himself with off-court issues, from a basketball standpoint there is some talent, and he showed it here. He’s always been able to score in close, including off stickbacks, and he’s improved at rebounding and getting loose balls consistently during his high school years. One annoying thing that he constantly does is put the ball on the floor unnecessarily, and he seems to need to do that to score as he hasn’t learned to make a simple move without a dribble or to go right up if he has the ball at the basket. Mid-major/mid-major plus prospect could be in college in the fall.
Steve Haladyna (6’4″ Sr. SG, South Hamilton (MA) St. John’s Prep) Although he has a slight frame, this talented guard comes to play and isn’t lacking basketball talent. He had a nice assist on one play from breaking the press, got a stickback on another, and took a charge at the defensive end. This all came in addition to his scoring ability on the wing, which should take center stage for his school team this season.
T.J. Haws (6’3″ So. PG, Alpine (UT) Lone Peak HS) This point guard has a motor that was going the entire game we saw, and he showed some speed with the ball to boot. He clearly likes playing fast, as he was always looking to push the pace, and at times he looked like he might have just one speed. But that’s something that can be rectified with all the time he has left in high school, and there’s plenty to like from his 18-point outing here.
Ricardo Ledo (6’6″ Sr. SG-SF, Providence (RI) Notre Dame Prep) Long, athletic and talented wing put up 17 points in each of two games on the day, but he’s played better than he did here. He showed his touch from long range and at times made it look effortless, but he’s capable of more than he showed here. Big-time prospect.
Akosa Maduegbunam (6’3″ Sr. SG, Hyde Park (MA) Winchendon School) Fresh off a few days at the Reebok Breakout Challenge, he continued to show his good stroke from long range. In an 18-point outing, he knocked down four shots from long range. That talent has always been there, and he’s kept it up while improving other aspects of his game. Mid-major plus/high-major minus prospect has committed to Penn State.
Jeffland Neverson (6’5″ Sr. SF, Brooklyn (NY) Boys & Girls HS) A solid contributor for his high school team, here he played more on the perimeter and showed a nice skill set. While he didn’t show much in the way of scoring, his ball skills looked good and he handled the ball a fair amount for his team. Mid-major prospect.
Sean Obi (6’8″ Jr. PF, Greenwich (CT) Greens Farms HS) A post player with a good frame, he’s mechanical and needs to improve his conditioning but has a chance if he does those things. He has a good frame and isn’t lacking from a basketball standpoint, although he’ll need to improve the post scoring skills in addition to improving physically.
Russell Robinson (6’8″ Sr. PF, Warren (OH) school TBD) Long post player is a baby physically and wasn’t quite the factor he probably could be. The lefty is very raw offensively and also didn’t get a lot of touches to show what he can do there. At this point, he’s very much a “potential” player.
Keandre Stanton (6’6″ Sr. SF-PF, Lynn (MA) Classical HS) This athletic forward has always had potential, and in a solid game against Dorian’s Pride, he may have earned himself a scholarship or two with his play. He blocked shots, was assertive inside, hit a short floater as a sign of his offensive ability, and his body still has a little ways to go. Mid-major prospect.
Noah Vonleh (6’7″ So. SF-PF, Haverhill (MA) New Hampton School) An intriguing talent, he had his moments in the losing effort against Connecticut Basketball Club, where he scored 15 points. He finished while fouled, scored some good baskets, but also traveled and looked like a player transitioning from one position to another. He’s not lacking fundamentals, so at some point down the road he shouldn’t be in a position transition.
Anton Wilson (6’6″ Sr. SF, Flint (MI) Quality Education Academy) Athletic wing didn’t put up big scoring numbers in two games for his team, in part from being a bit long on some three-pointers. He has range out to that spot, and he also scored on a nice floater en route to 19 points in two games.
Other players who caught our attention:
Andre Chambers (6’6″ Sr. SF, Bronx (NY) Wings Academy)
Isaac Fleming (6’3″ Jr. SG, Bear (DE) William Penn HS)
D’Vario Gaines (6’7″ Sr. SF-PF, Saginaw (MI) High)
Richard Maitre (6’0″ Fr. PG, Montreal (Que.) Edouard HS)
Chris McCullough (6’9″ So. SF-PF, Bronx (NY) Salisbury School)
Senne Nickmans (6’9″ Sr. PF-C, Belgium)
Damian Rashford (6’6″ Jr. SF, Pickering (Ont.) High)
Ryair Smith (6’3″ So. SG, Bear (DE) Phelps School)
Dion Wade (6’4″ Sr. SG, Belgium)