Skip to main content

Tark Classic: International flavor rules opening day

16, Dec 2021

Tark Classic: International flavor rules opening day

LAS VEGAS, NV - Opening day of the prep division of the Tarkanian Classic brought out quite the international flavor to the action on Wednesday at Bishop Gorman High School.


ND Okafor, NBA Latin America: The Nigerian-born, Irish raised big man is headed to Cal after time with the NBA Latin America. That’s a geographic mouthful. This around the world journey has been a long strange trip, no doubt, but Bears fans are going to appreciate the motor he comes with. Okafor had a double-double game against the big frontline of Denver Prep, featuring Baye Fall. Okafor keeps it simple and productive and sometimes that is exactly what is needed. For Mark Fox and Co., Okafor looks like a nice steal in the 2022 class and should log a good spot in the rotation for the Bears during his college career.

Baye Ndongo, Colorado Prep: I’m banging on this drum more and more - he’s a top 60 level player in the class of 2023 and he continues to impress each and every game out. Still new in America, Ndongo is a darn good basketball player and more and more people are catching on. He dominated in the paint and played above the rim on both sides of the ball on opening night.

Jaxon Kohler, Southern California Academy: It doesn’t matter when SCA plays, Kohler is going to be a problem. Whether he and his mates are in down in Deep South against the best American athletes in the country, or paired against NBA Africa Academy, the big man from American Fork, Utah is going to be a match-up problem because he just doesn’t turn the motor off. Paired against the longest frontline he’ll have to face at the prep level, it took some time for the Michigan State-bound big man to find his happy place on the floor. Ultimately, it was relentlessness that won out against the giants. This was also a litmus test for those wondering if Kohler’s game will translate to the next level. We’ve taken the stand since the beginning - yes. Yes, it will. Move on.


Dionte Johnson, The Patrick School (NJ): The class of 2022 guard caught everyone’s attention with his precision from three. He knocked down five three-pointers en route to 23 points. Of the unsigned seniors who played on opening day, you could argue Johnson made the biggest impression.

Johnson said he recently picked up an offer from Coastal Carolina after his showing at The Bash in South Carolina last week. They join Robert Morris and Quinnipiac in his recruitment. It was his perimeter touch that caught our attention.

“I feel like that is where I’ve developed the most over the summer,” Johnson said. “Next year when I’m in college, I’ll be taking those shots. So, that’s the area where I wanted to grow a lot in. I think I’m shooting beyond the arc really well and doing a great job since the summertime.”

Hard to argue with him there. Johnson should be a player to chart moving into the new year given his showing at big stages this early winter.

Keba Keita, Wasatch Academy (UT): I’ve see the boys from Mount Pleasant, UT quite a bit this season already and the big man’s output on Wednesday night may have been his best of the year. In a come-from-behind win against Central Pointe Christian, the big man from Mali played a big role in the home stretch with his play in the middle. Undeniably strong and undeniably present in the paint, Keita muscled up in the middle for at the rim finishes. He finished with 15 points and roughly a dozen rebounds. His recruitment will take on all of the options in the coloring box with schools from a levels dipping their toes into the interest level pool.


Tarris Reed and Felix Okpara, Link Academy (MO): There is a rich irony of a future Michigan man (Reed) and an Ohio State Buckeye (Okpara) working together nicely for Link in a nightcap win over Veritas Prep. Reed took advantage of a mismatch with his undeniable size down low and made easy point blank buckets. Okpara, a player we know very well on the HoopSeen platform, sent shots in a different direction all night long. That’s what he does. He’s one of the true elite shot-blockers in the class. And this 1-2 punch? Well, they’re up there with one the most imposing pairs in high school hoops nationally.

Roddy Gayle, Jr., Wasatch Academy (UT): If there has been a constant this season for WA, it has been the play of Ohio State bound Gayle. He was tough in a hard-earned win and finished with 19 points with the majority of them coming through traffic in the paint. Gayle just keeps on coming with the attack. He’ll put the pressure on defenders throughout and plays with a style that should blend well with the rough and tough brand of Big Ten basketball.


  • I continue to hold onto the opinion that Veritas Prep guard Marqui Worthy remains one of the best sleepers in the West’s 2023 class. He’s so tough, poised and strong in the backcourt. There is a never say die approach to him that I wish more players played with.
  • Bowling Green bound Willie Lightfoot is an important addition for Wasatch Academy. The program has had some instability at the PG position already this year with Pop Pop Isaacs not coming back and Koren Johnson coming and going before the schedule even got rolling. Lightfoot gives the backcourt some toughness and big game experience that should help stabilize the ship.
  • Nationally, I think Amaree Abrams of Southern California Academy is probably criminally underrated on the composite rankings. He’s currently 188 overall, about 100 spots too low in our opinion. The Texas native is a superb ball-handler and ultra quick. He’s been a problem all year long for opposing teams.
  • Baylor took a commitment from Joshua Ojianwuna and the Googles went crazy after as the hoops community tried to learn why the Bears opted not for some of the top prospects in North America for Ojianwuna. We had a chance to see him on Wednesday and the Bears have a guy who will be an absolute problem on defense in college. Keep your eyes on him. His best days are going be found on a Saturday in Waco in a couple of years and there could be two rows deep of NBA scouts there to see him.

Justin Young

Justin Young has been the editor-in-chief of since 2013. He manages the day-to-day operations on the site and in conjunction with our national and regional events. He was the national basketball editor for and a contributing editor at Yahoo! Sports. Young has been earned numerous awards for his work in sports journalism, including the Georgia Press Association Columnist of the Year. His Justin Young Basketball recruiting service has been in existence since 2002 and worked with over 300 schools from all levels. He is the director of HoopSeen Elite Preview camps and our national Preview camp series.