Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Primetime Shootout

Admittedly, I haven't been tracking the local high school basketball scene quite as intently as I have in the past, but there are a couple of players I've had my eye on … specifically the two five-star prospects Rakeem Christmas and Amile Jefferson.

Christmas is a junior at Academy of the New Church who spent his first two years of high school at North Catholic. He's ranked as the fifth best player in the class of 2011 in SLAM's Fresh 25, in which Aggrey Sam calls the 6'10 junior the nation's best defender with scary upside. I've yet to see him play, though I'm going to this weekend during the Primetime Shootout held at Villanova, where Christmas and ANC will take on a team from Connecticut, the Hotchkiss School.

Jefferson is a 6'6/6'7 sophomore at Friends' Central. He's ranked as the 8th best player in the class of 2012 in SLAM's Fresh 10, where Aggrey Sam calls him a well-rounded forward with big potential. Unfortunately, Friends' Central won't be at Nova this weekend so I'm not sure when or if I'm going to get to see him play. And that's why I'm upset I forgot that these two five-star prospects were clashing against one another yesterday.

Not that it really mattered. The game took place in Wynnewood, a good 20-30 minute ride from my house, even a little more from work — not during rush hour. And the game started at 5:30. I don't even get home from work until 5:30-5:45, so I wouldn't have really been able to make it without skipping out of work early. Which yeah, I could have done, but like I said, I forgot the game was happening. I'm starting to slip in my old age, for sure.

Taking a look at the box score, I missed quite an intense and exciting game. Friends' Central edged out ANC 51-50. However, just checking out the scoring totals and nothing else, it's not as if the two stars did anything to wow you. Jefferson scored just 2 points in the win, though I imagine he had a hand in the victory somehow, and Christmas did finish with 14 points, good for second on his team, and most likely did some damage on the boards and blocking shots, but again, I'm not entirely sure.

What I do know is that Savon Goodman, a teammate of Christmas, is a player to keep an eye on. Like I said, I haven't seen ANC play yet this season, but I have it on good authority that Goodman is a guy you really gravitate towards. My source told me that it's easy to see the potential in Christmas and he will very likely develop into an excellent player, but right now, he seems to get taken out of the game when players get physical with him. On the other hand, Goodman, just a sophomore, tends to bask in physical play and never shy away from anything. That seems to be the case yesterday, as he led all scorers with 16 points in the loss.

The 6'6", 175-lber is currently listed as just a one-star prospect on, but like I said, I know someone who's seen him play that says he's real good. I guess I'll find out a little bit myself on Saturday. But his opinion is hardly singular. In the Big Apple Basketball HS Invitational played over the Martin Luther King weekend — the tournament where Villanova commit Jayvaughn Pinkston went off and fellow Nova commit Achraf Yacoubou was named his team's MVP with 19 points and 13 rebounds in a victory — Goodman was named ANC's MVP with 32 points and 12 rebounds to lead his team to an 85-70 victory over Impact Academy from Nevada.

Another ANC player, junior Malcolm Gilbert, is a player I'll keep an eye on as well. Yesterday the 6'10", 200-lber scored 8 points, and he's listed as a four-star recruit by Boy is this team loaded.

Other noteworthy players who will play in the tournament, all with at least three-star grades on, include C.J. Aiken and Jaylen Bond of Plymouth-Whitemarsh — Aiken was named the MVP in PW's 63-54 win against St. Raymond (Bronx) at the Big Apple Invitational — and Tyrone Garland of Bartram John. Perennial powers Chester and Roman Catholic will also participate. I'm excited to catch at least a couple of games, and I'll be sure to give a nice recap.

BallHype: hype it up!

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