SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Prep schools took center stage on Sunday at the Spalding Hoophall Classic as eight games were on tap. It was also a day where the weather became an unexpected story, as a warm-up that was widely forecast never occurred, and as such many people had some horror stories. It also affected the event, as New Hampton arrived late due to road conditions and Brewster Academy had a five-hour drive home after their win.
It was a reminder that winter weather in New England is, as a coach once put it, basketball weather: why we play the game indoors. With that, we take a look at scores, then some notes.
Wilbraham (MA) and Monson Academy 62, Suffield (CT) Academy 57
Wolfeboro (NH) Brewster Academy 100, Montverde (FL) Academy Prep 69
Burlington (NJ) Life Center Academy 64, Orangeville (Ont.) Prep 48
Huntington (WV) St. Joseph Prep 76, Centereach (NY) Our Savior New American 57
New Hampton (NH) School 64, Barrington (RI) St. Andrew’s 48
Northfield (MA) Mount Hermon 80, Tilton (MA) School 72
Oakdale (CT) St. Thomas More 83, Saxtons River (VT) Vermont Academy 76
Granby (MA) MacDuffie School 66, Springfield (MA) Commonwealth Academy 65
Adams continues to shine at a new school
After winning two straight NEPSAC Class AA titles, Jalen Adams (6’2″ Sr. PG-SG, Roxbury (MA)) took his talents to Brewster Academy for his last year. Now part of a star-studded team that has seven players committed to high-major programs, Adams is continuing to shine and could make it three straight championships as Brewster looks like the favorites in NEPSAC Class AAA once again this season.
Adams led Brewster Academy’s blowout of Montverde Academy’s prep team with 23 points on 9-16 shooting, six rebounds and five assists. He made the scoring look easy at times, whether it was with his smoothness going off the dribble and pulling up, or driving and finishing over or around a defender. Although he’s a willing facilitator, he’s so good at finding ways to score that you notice that more readily.
Brewster Academy has a crowded backcourt, including three point guards if you count Adams as one. They frequently go with at least two of them together, as they along with Louisville-bound Donovan Mitchell (6’4″ Sr. SG, Greenwich (CT)) give them a tremendous perimeter unit. Mitchell came on late last season and picked up right where he left off, and in Sunday’s blowout he had 20 points on 8-13 shooting.
With the way Adams continues to get better, there’s little reason to think he won’t make an immediate impact at Connecticut next year. With Ryan Boatright finishing up, there will also be an opportunity to come in and be the go-to guy quickly.
Life Center guards take advantage of the stage
Orangeville Prep, led by Thon Maker (7’1″ Jr. C), was one of the star attractions of the event. As such, their game against Life Center Academy was one to watch. Taking full advantage of that stage were two fine guards on the opposing team.
One was a fine prospect in his own right coming back from an injury, Malik Ellison (6’6″ Sr. SG-SF). The son of head coach and former NBA player Pervis Ellison, he led the way as Life Center ran out to an early lead and never looked back. He scored 19 of his game-high 28 points in the first half, starting off with three-pointers before scoring off the bounce. Though he doesn’t have the widest frame, he drove and finished well. He didn’t shoot as well in the second half, but he had good help.
The other was perhaps a surprising selection as their player of the game, but Traci Carter (6’1″ Sr. PG-SG) had a fine game nonetheless. Though he shot 6-18 from the field, he scored 18 points and handed out ten assists, while also grabbing seven rebounds. He has a good body and very good ball skills that were on display often. When Ellison was less of a factor in the second half, Carter came up big.
Maker ended the game with 23 points and 11 rebounds, but he didn’t impact the game quite as much as those numbers might imply. He turned it on late, including in the final minutes when he guarded the player inbounding the ball frequently and used his length to force turnovers that led to easy baskets. While he is good, on this day he was overshadowed by a pair of guards on the opposing squad.
Ellison and Carter are two of the better unsigned players as we move into the latter part of January. Sunday made it clear that they won’t remain unsigned due to a lack of college interest, however.
This just in: Curtis Jones can shoot
If you’re one of those who believes shooting is a lost art in basketball, watching Curtis Jones (6’4″ Jr. SG, Huntington (WV) St. Joseph Prep) may be refreshing, especially on Sunday.
The junior put on a clinic, going 7-10 from long range en route to a game-high 27 points. He added five rebounds and scored a couple of times on drives, but there’s no question that shooting is what he does best. He gets open, gets the ball and shoots. It was one after another in the first half, and he didn’t stop in the second half, although by then they had built a good lead en route to a convincing win. While he has a reputation as a gunner at times, he took good shots on Sunday and the results followed, including the toughest shot he took, a leaner from deep with the shot clock running down.
Jones can be overshadowed a bit by the likes of big man Thomas Bryant (6’10” Sr. PF-C), so he’s often a complementary piece. Bryant had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, going 5-7 from the field, so he had a nice and efficient game. This time, he was the one not standing out but playing good basketball.
Huntington St. Joseph Prep is loaded with talent as is usually the case. Jones has plenty of good teammates like Bryant to play off of. On Sunday he did that very well.
In losing effort, Mann shows what he can do
Tilton controlled much of their loss to Northfield Mount Hermon, and correspondingly led for much of the game. In the latter part of the second half, however, Northfield Mount Hermon made a run to take the lead, and they never relinquished it from there. It obscured a fine game from Terance Mann (6’5″ Sr. SF, Lowell (MA) Tilton), who was a big reason they controlled a lot of the game.
The Florida State-bound wing scored 21 points on 8-12 shooting, including 3-4 on three-pointers. He had four rebounds and four assists, showing his wide array of skills. In addition, he showed his athleticism, something that it may be easy to forget considering he’s played a lot of slow-down basketball. His travel team, BABC, played more of a slow-down game than usual in recent years, in addition to his high school ball. From that, it’s easy to forget how athletic he is, which was noticeable early in his career.
Mann has grown nicely with his skill set and is now the leader of this Tilton team. They are a more experienced group, but he’s the one who has been there all along and grown with them. He’s well-rounded and an excellent student as well as a good young man. On Sunday, he showed what he can on the hardwood and almost helped his team pull off a nice win.