Prime cuts: Talking big-time dunks and ‘Nova with Tyrone Johnson

All Tyrone, all the time

One of our favorite players at the Primetime Shootout this past weekend was Montrose Christian point guard Tyrone Johnson, who was sensational in outclassing Findlay Prep’s Myck Kabongo in a Montrose rout.

Johnson, playing at home after transferring from Plainfield High School last year, played brilliantly on Saturday, tallying 25 points and eight assists as Montrose surprised everyone by bouncing back from an upset loss to Linden on Friday night with a 63-37 takedown of Findlay.

He was superb in general, but the lasting memory for everyone in attendance was Johnson’s ridiculous dunk in traffic over Findlay Prep’s Amir Garrett, sending the crowd at Kean University to its feet with a raucous celebration.

Terry Rains of Blue Devil Nation and I caught up with Johnson following the game and talked to him about his dunk, his matchup with Kabongo, how he prepares for games and what he’s working on before heading to Villanova next year.

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Prime cuts: Getting to know fresh-to-death PG Makai Mason


One of my favorite things about high school basketball is discovering and subsequently following a talented player before he blows up. It’s almost like investing in a stock before it skyrockets in value, or going to see an underground rapper before he gets a deal.

Watching him against St. Anthony’s on Saturday, I became more and more impressed with Hotchkiss freshman point guard Makai Mason. Mason is a good shooter with nice handle, every pass he threw was a bounce pass, and he didn’t appear daunted in the least in facing off with the No. 2 team in the nation. I honestly had to keep checking the program and asking people around me, “Are we sure this kid’s a freshman?”

Hotchkiss ended up losing a tightly contested game, 74-63, but Mason ended up with 12 points, 2 assists, 3 steals and 2 three-pointers. As he gets older and his body gets stronger, I expect to hear very big things about him — he’s already very impressive and still has three years of high school to go.

Terry Rains of Blue Devil Nation and I caught up with Makai on Saturday and discussed what college and pro point guards he identifies with, his lofty expectations for his own game, and whether he’s considering any schools at such an early stage.

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Prime cuts: St. Pat’s sophomore Colbert gives us his report

Super soph I went to a good half-dozen St. Patrick games last season, primarily to watch Kyrie Irving and secondarily to see Michael Gilchrist. I ended up becoming a fan of the program in general, and besides the two players I mentioned, I grew to really like freshman Austin Colbert.

In particular, I watched him against Trenton Catholic in a game Gilchrist missed with an injury, and Colbert was a force off the bench, scoring 11 points as St. Pat’s didn’t miss a beat. After that game, I talked to Austin for a few minutes and found him to be very gracious with a terrific temperament. (He even put up with me asking him if I could see his St. Pat’s Jordans.)

Colbert hasn’t put up big numbers this season as a sophomore, but it doesn’t mean he’s slipping at all — he’s still a top 10 sophomore in America on most lists — it’s more that he fits a role within the regimented system of the absolutely loaded No. 1 team in the country. We were, however, disappointed not to see very much of Austin against St. Thomas More on Sunday, mostly sitting in favor of freshman Dakari Johnson, who had the requisite size to bang with No. 1 Junior Andre Drummond. Austin’s time will come.

Terry Rains of Blue Devil Nation and I caught up with Austin on Saturday night and talked about what colleges are on his list, his experiences in St. Patrick’s game vs. Winter Park and Austin Rivers, playing with Michael Gilchrist, and what his goals are for the rest of the year.

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Look closer: A pictorial nod to our favorite Primetime Shootout moments

Note: We took a lot of photos at the 2010 Primetime Shootout, which turned out to be a terrific event with two indisputably classic games. Here are some of our favorites that weren’t used in the articles I wrote about it:

Kyrie Irving 

Kyrie Irving, warming up for the second half against Oak Hill on Friday night.

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All that jazz: Myles Davis hits high note in Prep’s upset of Oak Hill

In the spotlight After watching national prep school powerhouse Oak Hill edge star-studded St. Patrick on Friday night by one point, I figured I had seen the premier game of the Primetime Shootout.

As it turned out, I was in for a real surprise on Saturday – as was Oak Hill, which learned two lessons: Never take anything for granted, and never draw blood from St. Peter’s Prep star guard Myles Davis.

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Second billing not in the itinerary for Oak Hill star Smith

The many faces of Roscoe Smith While watching Roscoe Smith’s athleticism and talent help tilt the scales in favor of Oak Hill in their showdown against St. Patrick on Friday night, it was clear to me that what he brings to the table could definitely have helped Duke’s team next year.

And I recalled that at one point, Smith wanted very much to go to Duke, and that the feeling was somewhat mutual, though he wasn’t their first target – that would be Harrison Barnes, the nation’s top recruit who famously and publicly picked North Carolina.

So with Barnes rocking baby blue, why didn’t Roscoe end up taking the spot earmarked for his contemporary at Duke, opting instead to commit to the University of Connecticut?

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