IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not about to tell you itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s entirely possible to make decisive empirical conclusions based on watching someone, particularly a high schooler, play exactly one game. With that disclaimer, I think it is possible to frame an idea of what a playerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s strengths and weaknesses are. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s one of my favorite pastimes at high school tourneys: trying to figure out what a player is going to be like on the next level.
I caught most of the games on Sunday and all of them on Monday, and here are some thoughts on some of the significant players I saw last weekend at Hoophall.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll never forget this: Back in 2002, my first year home from college, I had this running route I liked that took me through six towns in North Jersey. That winter, on one of those runs, I passed a mid-60Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s gentleman in a St. AnthonyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s varsity jacket, and I stopped to talk to him.
The man told me that though he hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t attended St. AnthonyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, he had become a fan of their style of play over the years. He described how it was crisper and more precise than anyone elseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s. He said he tried to make it to as many games as he could, and I vowed to him IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d check it out sometime.
At that time, basically all I knew about St. AnthonyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s was Bobby Hurley had gone there, and his dad coached there. And I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know a thing about Bob other than he was BobbyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s father.
Obviously, I had a lot to learn.
From the first time I went to the Primetime Shootout — a young up-and-comer named LeBron James scored 52 points in Trenton — I was hooked. The tournament has always lured some of the best teams in the country, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a great opportunity to get a handle on players you end up seeing at major college programs or in the pros.
(The tournament has hosted A-listers like Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony in the past. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve personally seen Luol Deng, Nolan Smith, Ty Lawson, Trevor Ariza and Sebastian Telfair.)
The Mega Group did a great job as usual organizing the Shootout, attracting not only a cadre of top teams, but a host of notables at courtside: The infamous World Wide Wes, Kentucky czar John Calipari, Murder Inc producer Irv Gotti, and former NBA players Ron Harper and NJ prep legend Dajuan Wagner.
I was joined on Saturday and Sunday by Terry Rains, a contributor to SportsAngle and Blue Devil Nation. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll have some video interviews in the next day or so, but for now, here are some of our thoughts, starting with Saturday: