The City of Palms tournament has lived up to its reputation as arguably the top HS hoops gathering in America.
Athlete Institute – Oh Canada
Prior to tip off, the City of Palms tournament played “Oh Canada” and brought out the Red & White flag as a gesture to A.I.
This squad packed the stands in game one, as they suit up the most intriguing prospect in the tournament in Thon Maker.
In a low scoring, grind it out game, the Canadian contingent were able to come out with a victory over Potter’s House 46-43.
The featured match up was 7’1 Maker VS 6’10, 280-pound Udoka Azubuike. Maker finished with 9 points (2/11 FG), 8 rebounds, 3 assists and a game-high 5 blocks. Azubuike, 9 points (4/7 FG), 2 rebounds, 2 blocks.
All eyes were on the big fish, but it was unheralded Brendan McCartie that came in off the bench for A.I and helped shift momentum. McCartie is a 2018 shooting guard that finished with 8 points on 3/6 from the field.
“He’s been coming along throughout the season, Brendan really helped us today,” Maker told NPH in the post game.
The win pins A.I against Hamilton Heights, who are powered by three Canadian prospects…
Canadian Trio Powering Hamilton Heights
Shai Alexander. Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Therren Shelton-Schmidt–three 2017 prospects I came to see.
Shai, a Hamilton, Ontario product is already committed to Florida and controlled the game against a very talented Westtown squad. Alexander registered 14 points, 4 rebounds and 8 assists and had the attention of multiple high major coaches “Is he already off the board?” Yup, Florida. “Shoot.”
Florida commit Shai Alexander VS Notre Dame commit Nicola Djogo.
Shelton-Szmidt, who owns one of the best shooting strokes in the 2017 class, finished with 15 points.
Alexander-Walker started slow, but ended with 12 points, including a clutch step-back jumper in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.
Rowan Barrett Jr Shines on Big Stage…Again
In a match up that featured the #1-ranked team in the country (Montverde) against #2 (Chino Hills) Rowan Barrett Jr shined on the big stage…again.
Final Stat Line? 31 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals. 13 of 17 FG. Played ALL 32 minutes, and lead Montverde in points & rebounds.
Defensively, RJ was assigned to of the best prospects in America, five-star recruit and UCLA commit Lonzo Ball.
RJ took over in the fourth quarter. He was fouled at the three-point line with two seconds left, a chance to tie the game and send it into overtime. The first two free throws went down straight, the third bounced out.
The kid walked off the court in deep frustration, following a special performance–the sign of an ultimate competitor. RJ will remember this moment, and use it to propel his career.
I spoke with several respected media members, including Reggie Rankin of ESPN, who told me he sees RJ as a Top-3 2019 prospect in America.
Not to be forgotten, Simi Shittu finished as the second leading scorer for Montverde with 13 points.
Can’t Miss American Prospects
Here are two American prospects that blew me away after watching them for the first time.
7’0 Mohammed Bamba
20 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks (8/9 FG)
What the stats don’t show you is his leadership, activity level and communication, he uplifted his teammates which I find rare in young big men. He blocked shots with two hands, rebounded with one, making several head scratching plays. NBA prospect.
He has the green light from his coach, and Ball does not shy away from taking advantage. The most dynamic player I’ve seen all year, he has the ability to pull from deep, attack the rim or get in the lane to make plays for himself and teammates. A triple threat player…very unpredictable. Committed to UCLA along with two of his brothers on the squad, one which is in grade 9.