Saturday at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions is one of those grind-it-out kind of days where teams are vying for seeding in bracket play and then bracket play begins late in the day. So, needless to say, there is a lot to take in over the course of fourteen hours of basketball. Here are some of the things that I saw today:
Kalu Ezikpe Steals The Show
One of the more popular prospects in Georgia and across the southeast this sring has been Discovery (GA) & AC Georgia big man Kalu Ezikpe (pictured), who has received twelve mid major and low major offers in roughly the last month. At 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, Ezikpe has the physical tools to be a dominant performer, and Saturday evening at Gibbons he was just that. He established his dominance in the paint, shooting his go-to hook shot over his left shoulder. He was also taking one dribble jumpers in the lane and hitting the offensive glass for finishes en route to a twenty-nine-point performance. He was extremely efficient and had his best performance of the spring, which says a lot with the spring he’s had.
South Carolina Standouts
The Palmetto State was well represented on this Gibbons Saturday. In the 17U Division, the Upward Stars York County gave AC Georgia everything they wanted and more. 2018 York Prep (SC) wing Jaron Williams was fantastic all game scoring thirty-one points. The 6-foot-6 strong bodied matchup problem scored the ball from all three levels and plays with an enthusiasm that is fun to watch. He has multiple LM & Division II offers and will likely add to that list in the coming conths.
In the 16U Division, Team South Carolina went toe-to-toe with Team Knight and the guy that I left the most impressed with from the game was Blythewood (SC) 2019 guard Tre Jackson. Jackson has a great feel for the game and loads of burst and quickness. He got the job done scoring in transition as well as distributing. The Upward Stars also have an impressive 16U bunch, and point guard Mikey Dukes was the leader of the group today. He is a tough floor general and is the guy that makes them go. They will continue bracket play on Sunday, and their group is a very dangerous one.
Quick Hitters from the Notes
- The best matchup that I saw on the day was Louisville Magic point guard Andrew Taylor and PSB Select point guard Josiah Jeffers. They went shot for shot down the stretch, with Taylor getting the edge in the win, scoring 24 points to advance.
- Mandarius Dickerson provided a great storyline for Heat Check 17U in a win over Game Elite 2019. After going down with cramps in his leg, he came back to hit a three to send the game into overtime and eventually helped to get the win.
- Game Elite 2019 point guard Ashton Hagans has taken his game to another level. He plays with such savvy and creativity every time onto the floor and is very fun to watch. He makes excellent reads in ball screens and accomplishes all the subtleties that come with being a point guard.
- QCAA 2018 guard David Kasanganay had a great performance against the Georgia Stars in the 17U division. He hit five threes and has a number of nice moves to the basket. Long and skilled guard is definitely a sleeper in NC’s 2018 class.
- Georgia Bulls guard Kalen Williams showed out on Saturday morning. He was impossible to stay in front of and got to the rim. He also hit shots from three at a consistent rate. One of the better scoring efforts of the day.
- Every time I looked over at the Stackhouse Elite 16U court, Jamir Chaplin was making some kind of play getting to the rim. As he gets healthier and healthier, look for his stock to rise big time as he is a very difficult cover and a very productive player.
- Team Knight wing Berrick Jeanlouis is one of my favorite players in the 17U field. His makes high level athletic plays look easy and always plays with his foot on the gas. He has developed his skill set a ton since I last saw him and still has a very high ceiling. He could be a mid major priority guy come the fall.
- I hate to show favortisim, but Team Knight guard Rowdens Albert is one of my favorite players in the field. He rocks old school thick rimmed glasses that are taped down the middle. But don’t be fooled by his appearance, he can play. Tough guard provides a spark off the bench for Team Knight.
- Looking ahead to Sunday, there are a couple of early matchups that catch my eye:
- 17U Orange: Team South Carolina vs. Atlanta All Stars features a ton of tough-nosed, hard-playing guards and will be a lot of fun.
- 17U Black: AC Georgia vs. Team Knight. Can Kalu Ezikpe put together another great performance? Or will Caleb Catto, Berrick Jeanlouis and company be able to overcome him?
- 16U: Team Knight vs. Georgia Stars: This game will feature upwards of 18 Division I prospects. Talent everywhere