The 10: Halloween edition
In the latest edition of the Just a Minute podcast, we talked about some of the scariest players in high school hoops now and then. I've been thinking about this topic all week as we prepare for the night of cavities and door-knocking. Here is this week's 10 things.
1. The scariest backcourt: Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon, Mean Streets
Derrick Rose put fear into opposing guards more than any other guard I’ve covered. His speed and end-to-end domination were unlike anything else I’d ever seen. The Chicago schoolboy was a legend in an era without social media. His legend was only captured in stories on national platforms like the one I wrote for and conversations in hoop circles.
There aren’t too many clips out there of Rose in high school. He was about five years too soon before the rise of the mixtape mafia.
Perhaps the legend carried only by conversation made him who he was. Rose wasn’t a big self-hype guy. He never has been. But you better believe he ripped the hearts out of opposing guards.
Now you pair him with Eric Gordon and you have one of the nastiest 1-2 punches that I’ve ever seen in person at the grassroots level.
Gordon, also a rather self-contained superstar, was an underclassman on one of the best travel teams of all time. He played with the likes of Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Josh McRoberts, Daquan Cook and others on the Spiece All-Stars. When that cavalry graduated, Gordon was a free agent.
In swooped Nike and they paired him with Rose.
Together, you had speed from Rose and you had power from Gordon. Both were alpha males and both knew how to be a Robin to a Batman. Together, they played so well off of each other.
When I talked to Rose and Gordon at the Peach Jam back in 2006, they had some fun things to say.
"He's real unselfish," Gordon said after his first game playing alongside Rose at the Peach Jam. "I think he's too unselfish. He's a real good ball player. You don't see too many guys quite like him." What's it like for a team to face Rose and Gordon? "Scary for the other team," Rose says, "because we are both really quick and he's way stronger than me. On the fast break nobody can stop us."
2. The scariest team: SoCal All-Stars
I went back and forth on this one because I have seen so many good ones. But to essentially go undefeated in a travel season is unheard of.
Oregonian Kevin Love anchored the team. Sure, you may know him as a part of the 2015 Cleveland Cavaliers championship team with LeBron.
Make no mistake about it, Love is one of the best big men we’ve ever seen in prep basketball. If anyone tells you otherwise, put them in your “can’t trust ‘em category”.
He is still the best rebounder I’ve ever seen in person at the prep level and will probably be the best outlet passer I’ll ever see.
When he was on the floor for SCA, they never lost. Try that on for size. They never lost. And they played all of the elite teams.
Love had help from Compton’s Brandon Jennings, who was an unstoppable force with the ball in his hands. His ball handling, his quickness and his flair for the dramatic were unmatched. I’d argue he was one of the five best guards I’ve seen in high school hoops. He was electric.
The team also boasted larger-than-life prep players Renardo Sidney and Taylor King. Chase Budinger and Daniel Hackett also rounded out the roster.
I’d put this team up against any team over the last 30 years in travel basketball.
3. Oh, he took his soul moment
Cade Cunningham had some amazing moments as a prep star but none may have been bigger than what he did against Cole Anthony on national television.
At the time, both guards were at the very top of the 2019 high school class. Cunningham, then the PG for the mighty Montverde, was the No. 12 player overall in his class. The narrative for him being No. 1 changed after this game.
Cunningham scored 26 points on 12-17 shooting from the floor, dished out nine assists and collected seven rebounds. He also played a big role in Cole Anthony’s 2-14 shooting from the floor. Cunningham’s performance was one of the best single-game performances of the high school season.
“I think I really showcased my ability against really good players,” Cunningham said after the game.
Indeed he was. Offensively, he was great. He hit perimeter shots with ease, got the rim with little pushback and was a playmaker for his teammates. But it was his defense that should draw the most praise. Cunningham was excellent when paired against McDonald’s All-American Cole Anthony.
Cunningham’s performance in this game and on national television was one of the most convincing games I’ve ever seen. He dominated his match-up with the much-hyped Anthony.
4. The nastiest thing I've seen at HoopSeen
You have to start and end with Zion, right? The manchild from Spartanburg competes on a different level. I'd argue his launching point was this play we saw from him at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions.
5. Remember how I wrote Arkansas was about to be a recruiting powerhouse? The Hogs have two studs, I mean STUDS, on the roster now with freshmen Anthony Black and Nick Smith. Well, the Razorbacks are in good shape with Baye Fall. The 6-foot-10 forward from the Denver area is about to make his college decision public. An all-energy guy with an all-energy team is pretty scary to think about.
6. The same goes for Texas. I think the Longhorns are about to land Ron Holland, one of the premier prospects in the class of 2023. We are already seeing coach Chris Beard load up on long and athletic players who can pose problems on the defensive end of the floor. Just watch how Dillion Mitchell develops. I think he's a top 5 five, potentially, after his short stop in Austin. I think Mitchell can develop into an elite forward defender. The same can be said for Holland, who may be a bit more skilled at the same age.
7. What's going on with Cody Williams? The Arizona wing could come down to LSU and Colorado - if he makes a decision in the early signing period. Like a good ghoul in the dark, Williams could just up and surprise everyone with his decision.
8. It's funny just how scary underrated and under-discussed Andrej Stojakovic is. The five-star wing looks like he's a strong UCLA lean and could be the next pro to come out of Westwood. I don't know why he's not discussed more. Maybe it's his low-profile. Maybe it is because he is tucked away in Sacramento. Whatever the case, he's scary good and will be one of the best pro-level prospects in college next fall.
9. Will Sebastian Mack be a league leader in scoring? You want to know what scary is? The number of points the Vegas guard can log in a single game. He's down to Florida State and Oklahoma with UNLV, UCLA and Sacramento State hanging around. Can he lead the ACC and/or SEC in scoring? Good chance...if he gets the type of volume he's used to getting. If not, you better believe he could if he transfers out and finds a new home in college after stop #1.
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