Tec's Top Guys: City of Palms Seniors
FORT MYERS, FL—The City of Palms Classic is one of the best high school events on an annual basis. It boasts one of the most talented fields on the calendar, and this year was packed to the brim with talent. No different than any other year.
I was in town for the tournament’s opening weekend, and I was privy to outstanding performance after outstanding performance. With all of the action I was able to see, I compiled a list of some of the top guys I was able to see, and I’ve divided them up by class.
The UConn-committed Stephon Castle had one of the better overall statistical weekends of anyone at the City of Palms. Leading Newton (GA) HS to a 3-1 weekend, Castle left his mark on winning in a variety of ways.
When watching Castle at City of Palms, his passing has to be talked about first and foremost. It was the area he excelled in the most over the weekend. He led the tournament in assists with 6.8 per game. Castle played like he was consciously looking to get his guys the ball before he was looking to score. At 6-foot-6, he can see over defenses and spray the ball all over the court. When he did look to get to the rim score, he showed that he could dominate a game.
Reed Sheppard: Kentucky has a lot to look forward to in Reed Sheppard. He’s more than just a legacy player or bit of nostalgia for older Wildcat fans. This guy can go, and he put on one of the more memorable performances of the tournament—for me at least—in his first game of the weekend.
The five-star guard led North Laurel (KY) HS with 28 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists to get their time in Fort Myers going. He did it all on offense with his methodical attack. Sheppard plays with pace and poise. That’s where his game will shine most, but his defensive savvy shouldn’t go undersold. He was the leader of the tournament in steals, and in the top five in points, rebounds and assists too. Sheppard flat out knows how to hoop.
A point guard who can balance passing and asserting himself as a scorer is ideal for any team. The primary handler should be the best playmaker, and that’s what Isaiah Collier is.
Known for his passing, Collier averaged over 6 assists per game for Wheeler (GA) HS at the City of Palms. Where he was most impressive was his ability to make his way to the rim with speed and strength. One of the best stats of the weekend came in one of Wheeler’s games when Collier drew 11 fouls. He puts so much pressure on the rim that he’s naturally going to spend a lot of his time at the free-throw line. When Wheeler needs a bucket, letting Collier attack is a pretty great option.
Two Kentucky Wildcats on this list. It’s another haul of a class for Calipari over in Lexington. Nothing new there. Justin Edwards looked like a guy who won’t be spending much time in college before heading off to the NBA while he was at the City of Palms.
As always, Edwards showed flashes of how great he can be with his versatility. If he’s needed to score, he showed he can do that with a 27-point game early in the week. Edwards was also an impactful, switchable defender who generated steals and blocked shots. Then, he also showed he can leave his mark on the glass with a double-digit rebounding effort. He finds ways to help his team win.
Duke coaches Jon Scheyer and Amile Jefferson made appearances in Fort Myers for City of Palms. One of the main reasons why was to see future Blue Devil Jared McCain. He didn’t disappoint either.
The Centennial (CA) HS guard is known for being a smooth scorer, and he spent much of his week showcasing that. He was the second-leading scorer at the City of Palms with 22.8 points per game. He has the potential to be a multi-year guy who develops into one of the most popular figures in college basketball during his time in Durham.
Held right in Florida Gulf Coast University's backyard, some Fort Myers magic was going around because it was a future Eagle who was the best player of the weekend. Imhotep Charter (PA) guard Rahmir Barno led his squad over some of the country’s best teams on their way to winning it all.
The FGCU commit made a clear and convincing case for the tournament’s MVP award, and he rightfully won it. He was fantastic all weekend. With two top-50-caliber players alongside him, coaches were most afraid of Barno at the end of the day. Lightning quick, Barno can blow by opponents and get into the paint and score or distribute. He averaged 15.5 points and 3.5 assists per game. Barno uses a tight handle to navigate through tight spots, and he’s a crafty, tough finisher at the rim.