Monday, October 29, 2007

Eddie Griffith Challenge

The Eddie Griffith Challenge was held last Saturday at Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia. Although the event started late, and in the later games the floor was slick, it was a good event. Jimmy Salmon use to run the event in conjunction with Eddie Griffith, but this year he ran it in tribute of Eddie. The tribute to Eddie was well deserved, and very classy. Well done, Jimmy.

In the sophomore game NJ, quite simply, dominated both ends of the floor. I must say that there was a fair amount of sloppy play (many turnovers by both squads).

For NJ -
  • Steve Rennard shot the lights out and played great defense. Steve seemed to be in the right place at the right time, which is the sign of a great player. He needs to continue to work on his ball handling but he shoots it better than a lot of high major D1 guards right now.
  • Isiah Epps and Frantz Massenat were the left-handed point guard experts, playing with their heads up at all times, threading pin-point passes to their teammates for easy buckets. Both lefties should work on their jump shots - Frantz hitting the three ball, and Isiah shooting the mid-ranger off the dribble. Frant is calm, cool and collected on the floor, and I got the feeling that the NJ players loved playing with both Frantz and Isiah, because they give the ball up when people are open.
  • Fuquan Edwin had a nose for the ball, hitting the offensive glass for easy buckets on a consistent basis. He is long and athletic, and he plays a carefree game, never getting down. His jump shot is awkward . . . he slingshots it. That needs to improve.
  • Kevin Boyle played the guard position with poise, entering the ball in the post to big Derrick Williams and relocating on the perimeter - he also dove on the floor and showed typical New Jersey toughness. Although I know he can shoot the ball, he did not shoot that well. However, this kid is definitely a D1 point guard with his heady, tough play - not to mention the fact that he plays big minutes with St. Pats against the best comp in the country.
  • Dondrew Whitmore was, by far, the quickest player with the ball on the floor, hitting a Big East-like step back three pointer in a Philly defenders face. Dondre may only be 5'9", but he is not afraid to play with or against anyone, anytime.
  • Jayon James bullied his way to the cup on a regular basis, and hit the boards. He must improve his choices on the offensive end - he had many turnovers and took questionable shots. He has huge upside, but needs the right instruction. The kid is a potential monster.
  • Derrick Williams is a beast, plain and simple. He is way too big and strong for anyone in his class to bang with him down low. What I love the most about him is he is a big time competitor, and has great footwork. In the event he does not grow more, he needs to develop a face-up game.
  • Trevor Clemmings is a man child. He has not grown upward much over the past couple of years, but he is stronger and thicker than ever. TJ is all over the floor, with endless energy - hitting the glass, diving on the floor, pushing the rock. He must develop a face-up game, because I do not think he is going to be much taller.
  • Kyrie Irvin was solid, shooting the ball well (catch and shoot) in the 3rd and 4th quarters. He has good ball handling skills, and is aggressive on the offensive end. Kyrie needs to improve on the defensive end.

For PA -

  • Rakeem Brookins kept his cool, even when his team was down. This kid has ice in his veins, which I love about a point guard. He and Whitmore went head-to-head (Whitmore is a little smaller, but definitely quicker) on a couple of occasions, and Brookins won a couple of those battles. Rakeem can shoot the rock, plain and simple.
  • Tony Chenault looked great in the 1st quarter, and then he disappeared for awhile. No one could guard him; he is too strong and determined. The knock on him was his jump shot, but his mid-range jumper was falling. However, he does not have a three ball, and for him to be an elite player in the class of 2010 he MUST develop the long range shot. He loves the game, and is a gym rat. I am sure he will get it done.
  • Travis Robertson, Daniel Stewart, and Cameron Ayers - they struggled getting into the flow of the game. Normally Travis is burying mid-rangers and getting to the cup, Daniel is ultra-active on the boards and dunking the ball, and Cameron is burying jumper after jumper. However, not tonight. These all-star games sometimes help, and they sometimes don't. Travis, Daniel and Cameron will bounce back.
  • Zahir Allen was full of energy. He slashed his way to the cup a couple of times and converted. Zahir also seemed interested in playing defense, although he got tired pretty quickly. My question on this young man is his position - what is he? He is listed at 6'3" but I question that. What I do not question is his intensity and will to win.
  • Henry Gaskins is a warrior, plain and simple. I have watched him develop over the last 4 years. He handles the rock incredibly well, can nail the runner in the lane, and works tirelessly on the defensive end. A point guard in the truest sense of the position. His size may impact him, and he needs to be able to nail the three ball on a regular basis, but do not cross this kid. More time than not he is on the winning end of things.

It was fun to watch the sophomores play; they are still young and have a long way to go. But it is clear that as a whole this class is moving in the right direction. Only time will tell, my friends. I am calling it a night. Peace.