Top Performers from @TheStJames NIBC Invitational: Part III
Make no mistake about it, the talent at The St. James NIBC Invitational was as good as we are going to get in the patchwork season of 2020-2021 prep hoops. Even with such a wild schedule of events, this platform brought together some of the best teams we have in scholastic basketball. The stars, to no one’s surprise, shined.
Let’s take a deeper look at our Top Overall Performers. Here is Part II.
The big man in the middle plays like an old school big man in the middle. He likes to be in the paint and plays a bit of a throwback game. He goes up high for rebounds, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
Iwuchukwu is vocal and engaged and does a nice job of directing his defense. I thought LaLu ran the best defensive attack in this elite level bubble. Iwuchukwu was the anchor of it, posting 1.4 blocked shots a game. That stacked him among the best in the field in the category.
On a rare occasion we saw him shoot a three-pointer. He converted a couple of times. For the most part, however, his offense is basic. The value, naturally, is effort and size. You could argue that his upside is as high of any player we saw at The St. James Invitational.
Make no mistake about, Paul VI would like to go back and probably do things a little differently. The Virginia powerhouse had an 0-2 weekend in the event, something the national powerhouse isn’t used to doing. But they certainly didn’t go down without a fight. Keels had something to do with that. He put in 25 points a game in the two-game showing at the event.
Duke, Villanova and Virginia in the race for the five-star power wing and seeing him again reminded us why such programs are in it to win it with the strong-bodied prospect. He’s going to put pressure on a defender with constant attacking and always holding onto the threat that he can step out and knock down a three-point shot. He connected on seven of 22 triples and also got to the line nearly 20 times in two games.
Defensively, he has the capability to be a stopper because of his strength. You can switch him onto several different positions.
While the outcome certainly wasn’t what Keels and Paul VI would have wanted, we saw why Keels has been and will continue to be threat on both sides of the ball.
Power and production. That is what the North Carolina native brought to the table for this Oak Hill Academy group at the the event. Rice is built like a budding football superstar and he used his brute strength to power through defenders for “ya, that makes sense” kind of plays and buckets that made ESPN’s top plays.
Rice found a way. When his team needed a bucket, he took the rock and put it through cylinder. There is a niche for a player like Rice in the next couple of levels of basketball. Take a look at a guy like Jae Crowder. He brings a toughness to the table that teams want at the pro level. Rice has a similar quality. He’s good for a big three when it is needed. And he’ll also challenge some ego of a defender when attacking.
Rice played like a young man who wants the big moment and the big stage. There were instances where he delivered on that. Really nice week for him.
For two games, you could have made an argument that the future Maryland Terp was the most productive big man who stopped on the floor at the Court House at The St. James. Reese was absolute money in the paint.
The Baltimore big man scored at all three levels, scoring tough shots against frisky defenders, he knocked down elbow jumpers and even stretched the floor out to the three-point line. Reese had it rolling on the offensive end of the floor.
As a rebounder, he jumped quick to the ball as soon as it came off the rim and corralled the leather for second chance opportunities or fast break buckets for his talented and competitive St. Frances team.
We’ve inserted Reese into our top 100 - he was absent because we haven’t had a chance to see him person until last weekend. Reese now checks in at No. 75 overall in the class of 2021. Welcome to the list, Mr. Reese.