SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Spalding Hoophall Classic officially began on Thursday and continued on Friday. But the event really kicked into high gear on Saturday, as is always the case, as teams from out of the area got into the action. Seven games were on tap, and all featured good talent. While there were only two blowouts and another convincing win, the last game of the day was the best one, and perhaps not coincidentally, the only one to go to overtime.
With many college games being played on Saturday (over 140 in Division I alone), the college coach area was not exactly packed for most of the day. There were more later in the day than early on, and Sunday figures to be a little different with the college slate being much lighter.
We’ll start the look back at Saturday with the scores, then some notes.
Brooklyn (NY) Bishop Loughlin 58, Newton (MA) North 51
Kinston (NC) High School 56, Trenton (NJ) Catholic Academy 54
Waterbury (CT) Sacred Heart 64, Middle Village (NY) Christ The King 51
Radnor (PA) Archbishop Carroll 77, Chicago (IL) Simeon 68
Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha Catholic HS 69, Roselle (NJ) Catholic 45
Henderson (NV) Findlay Prep 84, Lincolnshire (IL) Adlai E. Stevenson HS 58
Tempe (AZ) Corona del Sol 60, Springfield (MA) Putnam 57 (OT)
Bishop Loughlin has a bright future
Bishop Loughlin has been a prominent program over the years, although they have been a bit under the radar of late. They have produced several big-time players over the years. But now, the current team has a core that gives reason to think they will be tough to beat in the future while they grow right now.
Bishop Loughlin has three guards who all have the potential to be nice college prospects and lead them back into prominence. Keith Williams (6’4″ So. SG) was the most impressive of them on Saturday with 20 points on 9-13 shooting. Marques Watson (6’3″ So. SG) didn’t score much, but hit a couple of three-pointers and handed out four assists. Jordan Thomas (6’5″ So. SG-SF) scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half and had nine rebounds, and he has a good body for his age.
Watson is the furthest from his ceiling physically, while Williams looks to be the most developed in terms of skills right now. All three, however, have plenty of development to come, and that has to have the program excited.
Although they have good seniors like Dominic Grayer (6’0″ Sr. SG) and Donovan Dunham (6’0″ Sr. PG), they are looking to the sophomores to contribute a great deal. That will help them grow for when they’re the veterans as much as it will help this team. Saturday’s win over a good Newton North team will help them out.
Ingram carries Kinston to a great win
Brandon Ingram (Sr. SF, Kinston (NC) High) has been on the radar for a while now, and likewise has been highly-recruited. He’s long, athletic, still a baby physically and has a lot of tools at his disposal. It took a little time, but on Saturday they were all on display later as he led his team to victory with the help of a couple of good complementary players.
Ingram handled the ball most of the game and showed off some passing ability along the way. He was more of a facilitator for a lot of the game, but in the second half he got more aggressive. He drove more often and more assertively, finishing with contact, getting a big turnaround jumper from about the free throw line and creating good chances.
Before then, Ingram had good help from the likes of Mykel Hart (6’5″ Sr. SF) in the first half and Darnell Dunn (6’6″ Sr. SF-PF) in the second half. They were among the beneficiaries of his play. In the second half, Ingram went 5-10 from the field to finish with 22 points on 9-17 shooting.
While a highly-regarded prospect, Ingram still needs to gain strength, and his body needs to mature. He can be easily pushed off his base, which was noticeable a couple of times. Consistency has also been a concern. But he showed some of his potential on Saturday, carrying his team to a good win.
If you blinked, you missed Derrick Jones
Archbishop Carroll beat Simeon largely on the back of Derrick Jones (Sr. SF, Radnor (PA) Archbishop Carroll). He put on the performance of the day, scoring 31 points on 13-22 shooting, grabbing 15 rebounds and blocking three shots. But the numbers don’t do justice to how well the UNLV-bound forward played.
Jones out-scored Simeon all by himself for the first quarter, and that was still the case a little into the second quarter. Scoring also wasn’t all he did. He was in so many plays at both ends, whether it was an offensive rebound, a loose ball, a blocked shot or something else. He got a number of stickbacks and scored in a few other ways.
If you thought every time you looked up, you saw Jones in a play, you weren’t hallucinating. That’s how good he was on the afternoon.
Talented point guard Josh Sharkey (5’10” Jr. PG) certainly helped out, and his stat line showed four assists although it felt like he had more. Other role players also helped. But there was no question that Derrick Jones was the star of the game from the outset to the buzzer.
Markelle Fultz an unlikely prospect
You would never imagine that Markelle Fultz (6’5″ Jr. SG-SF, Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha Catholic HS) was a junior varsity player a year ago. Simply put, he was the best player on the floor in his team’s blowout win over a powerful Roselle Catholic team.
DeMatha has plenty of talent, as is often the case. They got a nice game from D.J. Harvey (6’6″ So. SG-SF), but it was Fultz who stole the show. The athletic guard finished often, including with contact, and hit a lot of mid-range jumpers en route to 25 points on 9-19 shooting. He didn’t score all in one burst, as he did it consistently over the course of the game.
With his help, DeMatha broke the game open, especially in the fourth quarter, to pull away and turn the game into a blowout. He was one of the beneficiaries of Terrell Allen (6’1″ Sr. PG) running the show well, handing out five assists but doing more than that suggests.
While Roselle Catholic has become a powerhouse of late, DeMatha has been one for a while now. This year’s team is yet another good one, and Fultz is just one more who has developed there and appears to have a Division I future.
Marvin Bagley has that dreaded word
The last game of the night featured a local powerhouse and a team from out west with a player that has as much upside as anyone in this event. It was a game worth sticking around for just on that account.
Marvin Bagley III (6’10” Fr. C, Tempe (AZ) Corona del Sol HS) will leap out at you right away. The lefty is long and tall. Then when you watch him play, you get excited. He’s athletic, can handle and pass for a big man and has a nice touch with the ball. When you see him drive and swish a short runner going across the lane or hit a baseline fade-away, you start thinking he can be special.
The word “potential” is always prominent with a player like this. Get ready for a few years of it. He has that and more, because he has much more than just physical gifts. The big thing he needs is a fire burning to keep getting better, because that potential will be meaningless if he doesn’t work to harness it over the next three-plus years. Considering he has a basketball heritage – his grandfather is Arizona State legend “Jumping” Joe Caldwell – there’s reason to believe he will put in the necessary work.
Corona del Sol has other pieces that make them tough to beat. New Mexico-bound Dane Kuiper (6’7″ Sr. PF) and Alex Barcello (6’2″ So. SG) are chief among them, and Barcello and Bagley could form a potent inside-outside combo the next few years. The winning basket came from floor leader Tyrell Henderson (6’3″ Jr. PG-SG), who ironically almost never looked to shoot all night long. When it counted, he buried a three-pointer, and they held on to win.
Putnam battles like a team that doesn’t lose often
The two-time defending Division I Massachusetts champions, Putnam, gave the home fans a great show despite not pulling out the last game of the night. The only thing missing from it was the win.
For starters, Putnam was without captain Johnathan Garcia (Sr. SG), who was out with an injury. As important as he is, however, this team has some other talents, but more important, they are a tough team that doesn’t lose much. In fact, the last time Putnam lost a game to a Massachusetts school was over two years ago. In that time, they have lost just two games overall.
For a while, it looked like they might get overwhelmed by Corona del Sol’s size and talent. They kept within striking distance all along, but you never sensed they had a run in them to get close enough to tie or lead it. Then in the third quarter, Tyonne Malone (6’5″ Jr. SG-SF) and Ty Nichols (6’2″ Sr. PG-SG) took over. Malone got better chances and cashed them in en route to 21 points and seven rebounds, while Nichols became even tougher driving to the basket and finishing with contact. He ended up with 14 points and six assists.
Putnam would take the lead at times, including in the final minute, but late free throws sent the game to overtime, where both teams struggled to score at first.
Putnam will still be a very tough team to beat in March. Malone has been on the radar since the eighth grade, and he’s showing some of the potential he has. Nichols is underrated. This group has done a lot of winning, and they’re not about to slow down in that respect.