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2014 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Sunday notes

January 20, 2014 Columns No Comments

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Blake Arena at Springfield College was home to six games on Sunday in the Spalding Hoophall Classic. The day featured three ten-point games in between three blowouts, but each game had some good talent and a host of college coaches since it was a lighter day on the college front. A day earlier, it was a different look with 151 Division I games on tap.

First, the scores from the day, then some notes coming out of the games.

Sunday Scoreboard

Northfield (MA) Mount Hermon 80, Meriden (NH) Kimball Union Academy 51
Ashburnham (MA) Cushing Academy 93, Worcester (MA) Academy 83
Jacksonville (FL) Arlington Country Day School 64, Newark (NJ) St. Benedict’s 54
LaPorte (IN) LaLumiere School 65, Centereach (NY) Our Savior New American School 55
Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha Catholic High School 73, Metuchen (NJ) St. Joseph’s High School 45
Wolfeboro (NH) Brewster Academy 91, Wilbraham (MA) and Monson Academy 73


Donahue can shoot, but that’s not all

Jackson Donahue (6’1″ Jr. PG-SG, Stonington (CT) Northfield Mount Hermon) took the headlines in the first game of the day, and it started with the thing he does best: shoot the ball. He scored a game-high 26 points on 9-15 shooting, including 6-11 from long range. That doesn’t tell you how he has come in and helped this team right away, though.

While his shooting stands out because he does it so well, Donahue does more than that. Besides being a capable ball handler and passer for the off guard position, he’s a tough kid and won’t give an inch defensively. The highlight might have been late in the first half, when he sprinted back in transition and managed to strip a player of the ball before he went up, then managed to keep the ball alive.

Donahue is a nice complement to Aaron Falzon (6’6″ Jr. SG-SF, Newton (MA)), who has established himself as a big-time threat to shoot the ball. With both on the floor, teams have to pick their poison a little more. But like Falzon, Donahue does more than that to help the team.

Northfield Mount Hermon has a lot of size, and Donahue and Falzon complement them on the perimeter. In his first season at the school, Donahue is adding more value beyond his shooting, and that’s bound to get him more college suitors because he helps a team win.


Adams grabs headlines, but Lawrence impresses just as much

On Cushing Academy, it’s easy to notice Syracuse-bound Kaleb Joseph (6’3″ Sr. PG, Nashua (NH)) and Jalen Adams (Jr. SG, Boston (MA)). They have the ball in their hands often and along with St. Bonaventure signee Idris Taqqee (6’4″ Sr. SF, Snellville (GA)) are the clear leaders of this team. Adams was scintillating at times on Sunday en route to a game-high 32 points, although he also picked up a technical foul for taunting. In that game, a freshman impressed after getting the start, and will be on the radar a little more.

Kimani Lawrence (6’6″ Fr. SF-PF, Providence (RI)) got the start and was a big factor playing off the perimeter trio. It was his first career start and clearly his best game, as he had 14 points and 10 rebounds. He also dove for loose balls and was in a lot of plays, so he was a consistent factor throughout the game.

Joseph said he and the upperclassmen have worked on Lawrence to give him confidence, and it showed up. He’s shown flashes of this all season, but not in a full game like on Sunday. He chose a pretty good stage to break out given all the college coaches in attendance. He lacks strength, and that was evident several times as he gets pushed off his base easily and can go down quickly with some contact, but that will change as he gets stronger and his body matures.

Head coach Barry Connors said Lawrence has been a fine practice player, with effort never being an issue. He loves the potential Lawrence has, and after Sunday there are surely a few more people who feel the same way.


Miller’s motor leads ACD

Terrell Miller (6’8″ Sr. SF-PF, Jacksonville (FL) Arlington Country Day School) has a great motor and showed it on Sunday. He was in a number of plays at both ends of the court. His stats certainly reflected it, as he had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, but it was bigger than that.

Miller was seemingly everywhere the ball was at both ends of the floor. He doesn’t have the best body – he’s mature physically but not all of his weight is good weight. That’s something that can be remedied in time as he’s still young, and it will be a must at the next level. While he isn’t lacking in skills, the best thing he does is make plays. Put him out there alongside some better offensive talent and let him find his own scoring chances and make plays at the other end.

His recruitment is still ongoing, and he’s seen interest all over the spectrum. Miller has good talent around him and seems to play off it well. He’s not the most talented or athletic player on his team. But he helps them win games with his motor, and he can help a team at the college level do that, too.


Coleman’s shooting carries LaLumiere to a comeback

LaLumiere had some trouble early on against Our Savior New American, especially as big man Cheick Diallo (6’9″ Jr. C, Centereach (NY)) piled up the blocked shots and altered several more. But shooting can be the equalizer in a game like this, and leading the way in this case was Jalen Coleman (6’4″ Jr. SG), who put on a show to carry LaLumiere to a 65-55 win.

Diallo had a monster game with 18 points, 17 rebounds and ten blocked shots, but Coleman arguably upstaged him. The junior guard had 28 points on 10-17 shooting, including 8-11 from three-point range. He kept LaLumiere in it early, then helped them take over in the second half to get a comfortable lead and hang on. His shooting gave the team a way to score instead of having to venture inside.

Coleman is a plus athlete, so he won’t blow you away there. His long range shot is deadly, but he’ll hit from mid-range as well, including off the bounce, and showed the tools to be more than just a shooter. There’s room to improve his driving game, and if he does that he’ll be a little harder to guard.


Towns a refreshing big man to watch

Nowadays, so many big men fancy themselves to be wing players and try too hard to play on the perimeter. They try to handle the ball and look awkward or turn it over, and then they jack up ill-advised three-pointers all day. Against that backdrop, watching Kentucky-bound Karl Towns (7’1″ Sr. C, Meutchen (NJ) St. Joseph’s HS) is very refreshing.

In the Falcons’ loss to DeMatha, Towns had 21 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots. He isn’t exactly a dominating big man, as he can score with finesse post moves as much as with power ones, but for the most part he went to work inside. While he had just one assist, he made several nice passes and showed a nice feel for the game that a lot of big men don’t have.

Later in the game, perhaps because his team was down and he wanted to bring them back, Towns was on the perimeter a couple of times and did something else. One time he impressed when he went off the dribble and hit the kind of floater that a point guard needs to have in his arsenal. He’s at his best, though, when operating inside.

Towns has some other talent on his team, like complementary wing Wade Baldwin (6’2″ Sr. SG), who is headed to Vanderbilt, and athletic guard Breein Tyree (So. PG). They had good moments early but struggled in the second half; Tyree can get better physically and has some upside. Towns is the man on this team, and it’s nice to watch a big man go to work inside most of the time for a change.


DeMatha wins with more than talent

It’s not a surprise that DeMatha has talent, as that is usually the case. This team has plenty of it, and across all classes as well. As much as that helps, this team seems to really play well together, and that was a big reason they overcame an early deficit and then ran away from St. Joseph’s.

DeMatha trailed by seven after the first quarter, but took the lead by halftime and then broke it open in the second half. It was never really a contest after the first few minutes of the third quarter.

Joe Hampton (6’6″ So. PF) had the big game with 23 points on 10-16 shooting and six rebounds, but he also had three assists. That’s where this team shined, as Corey Henson (6’0″ Sr. PG) had 18 points on 8-13 shooting and led the break nicely a couple of times, while Darren Harvey (6’5″ Fr. SG-SF) showed his potential as he’s athletic and has a good body for his age. They also got nice contributions from prospects like Thomas Bruce (6’7″ Jr. PF), Terrell Allen (6’1″ Jr. PG-SG) and Alani Moore (5’8″ So. PG). Allen might have had the highlight of the night as he buried a deep three-pointer that caught none of the rim as the shot clock ran down.

DeMatha will win plenty of games with this group, and there are plenty of prospects to watch at all levels. On Sunday, they showed how their talent alone isn’t why they win, and head coach Mike Jones picked up his 300th win in the process.


Other Notes

  • Every time out, Josh Sharma (7’0″ Jr. PF-C, Lexington (MA) Northfield Mount Hermon) looks a little better. The big man continues to show excellent fundamentals, and with it an ability to score inside and out as he had 13 points on 6-7 shooting, including the only three-pointer he took. He also finished with contact, and while foul trouble limited him to a minute in the first half on Sunday, he can remedy that as he’s still relatively new to the game.
  • Duby Maduegbunam (6’4″ Sr. SG-SF, Kimball Union Academy) looked good in the opener. In going for 14 points on 6-12 shooting, he looked as athletic as before his knee injury and showed a good game off the bounce.
  • Matt Cimino (6’10” Sr. PF, Falmouth (ME) Worcester Academy) continues to improve in his last go-round. He’s rounding into form with his post scoring ability along with hitting short jumpers, and he’s been active at both ends, going for 22 points and eight rebounds on Sunday. His recruitment is ongoing, and he intends to take his visits after the season and decide after that.
  • Saul Phiri (6’3″ So. SG, Haverhill (MA) Worcester Academy) is another player who looks better each time out. Besides his scoring, he made several nice passes inside on Sunday and handled the ball at times.
  • Lamonte Turner (6’2″ So. SG, Jacksonville (FL) Arlington Country Day School is probably his team’s best prospect. His body has a ways to go, but he was 3-4 from long range en route to 16 points, and also finished while getting fouled. Also keep an eye on Ladamion Keys (6’9″ Sr. PF), who is long and a baby physically but can block shots.
  • Elijah Cain (6’5″ Sr. SG, Newark (NJ) St. Benedict’s) turned in a nice afternoon in a losing effort, scoring a game-high 18 points on 7-9 shooting, including 4-6 from deep.
  • Alex Olesinski (6’9″ Jr. PF, LaPorte (IN) LaLumiere School) is an intriguing prospect. He lacks strength, and that was evident a few times including when he got very little on passes, but he has a good frame and a little length.
  • UCLA commit Jonah Bolden (6’8″ Sr. PF, New South Wales (Aus.)) was a difference-maker for Brewster Academy with nine points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots. He didn’t get many good offensive chances, but he impacted the game greatly with his length and motor inside.
  • Although he can get overshadowed among some of the talent at Brewster, Isaac Copeland (6’8″ Sr. SF, Raleigh (NC)) had a big night with 25 points on 11-16 shooting and 11 rebounds. The Georgetown signee did all of this in 29 minutes, and although he had a couple of highlight-reel plays he generally wasn’t flashy.

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