The fifth annual Lighthouse Classic tipped off on Friday at Corinth High School, with some of the top high school programs in the country converging in north Mississippi.
Here are the storylines from Friday’s action, led by an unlikely sophomore that stole the show in the final game of the day…
NIMARI BURNETT EMERGES FOR PROLIFIC PREP
Amongst a long, formidable frontline for Prolific Prep, it was 2020 point guard Nimari Burnett that stole the show on Friday evening for the star-studded squad.
Burnett, a 6-foot-3 point guard, made his presence known early in the first half, as he knocked down four three-pointers and a number of assists to put his teammates in good scoring situations. The sophomore didn’t play like an underclassmen on Friday – instead, he played cool, calm, and collected and was patient with the ball in his hands.
A native of Chicago, Burnett and his family made the move to the West Coast last year. DePaul, Illinois, Cal State Fullerton and Pacific have extended early offers to the sophomore floor general, but with a 4.0 GPA and an advanced feel for the game, a host of high-major schools will soon offer the talented top 100 point guard.
MADISON PREP & OLIVE BRANCH SET THE TONE EARLY
The most entertaining game of the Lighthouse Classic’s Friday tilt featured one of Mississippi’s top programs, Olive Branch, and Louisiana’s Madison Prep. Madison Prep ultimately won the track meet 76-66, but it was much closer throughout the game. An upbeat game filled with highlights and big plays, the Chargers were able to pull away in the second half and leave the event with a victory.
I really liked what I saw from 2018 Baton Rouge (LA) Madison Prep forward Kobe Julien during the summer with Louisiana Elite. With that being said, I also liked the pickup for Louisiana-Lafayette when he committed to the Sun Belt squad last month. The 6-foot-6 forward had an outstanding showing against Olive Branch, as he shot an efficient 8-of-12 from the floor and scored 22 points to lead the Chargers. A small-ball 4 man, Julien is really good operating and scoring around the rim. He has improved his athleticism and should be a valuable piece for UL-Lafayette in the future.
Despite the loss, 2019 Olive Branch (MS) forward D.J. Jeffries showed improvement and a high motor, something that he has lacked at times in the past. With Kentucky head coach John Calipari looking on, Jeffries scored 22 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. The junior was all over the floor and made a living above the rim. Jeffries also hit several perimeter shots, including two three-pointers. His career still has a ways to go, but the five-star prospect showed positive improvement with his performance.
SUNRISE CHRISTIAN ROLLS PAST ASPIRE ACADEMY
Sunrise Christian Academy (KS) used a complete team effort to roll to a convincing 69-41 victory over Aspire Academy (KY). 2019 do-it-all forward Malik Hall led the Buffaloes with 17 points, as he scored at will off the dribble. However, the biggest takeaway from Sunrise’s victory was the transformation of Blake Hinson and the production of Khaleem Bennett.
Hinson, a mismatch 4 man, transferred to Sunrise Christian at the beginning of August. Since enrolling at the prep school, the 6-foot-7 forward has transformed his body and looks like a completely different player. Hinson has slimmed down and is much more effective with his play. He also has taken a step with his passing ability, as he led Sunrise with six assists.
Hinson has entertained some new schools in his recruitment since making the move to prep school, but Ole Miss watched closely during the afternoon. The Rebels have been a constant in his recruitment since his emergence in the summer.
At 6-foot-4, Bennett looks like a mid-major plus type prospect. However, the Canadian product signed with Central Arkansas last week, giving the program a potential stud to come in and compete for playing time as a freshman. The lefty lived in the lane, slashing through the Aspire defense and making plays at the rim throughout the game on Friday. It’s still early, but it isn’t crazy to say that Bennett could be a game-changing player for Central Arkansas going forward.
2019 Hazel Green (AL) point guard Kira Lewis, Jr. had an impressive showing against Columbus (MS). Lewis made his mark with his passing ability, making several full-court passes in transition to streaking teammates for easy lay-ins. Known as a shooter, he showcased another dimension to his game that makes him an attractable option for high-major programs. Mississippi State was in attendance to see him play.
Hazel Green sharpshooter Grant Perry had a solid game, scoring 14 points and hitting four three-pointers. The senior is being recruited by a handful of Division II and Division III programs.
He’s just a sophomore, but 2020 Forest Hill (MS) guard Keondre Montgomery is one to watch in the future. The 6-foot-5 guard is still developing and has some things to work on, but he showed some flashes on Friday.
2018 Houlka (MS) guard Madarius Hobson scored 32 points in a loss to Middleton (TN) in the morning session. Hobson is one of the most efficient scorers in the state of Mississippi and he had things on full display. His travel teammate, Tylandrius Parks, scored 28 points in the victory for Middleton. Delta State and Union have offered scholarships.