HAMILTON, ON–The countdown to AAAA OFSAA continues and is just two days away. In the meantime, there’s no better way to keep myself sane than to be in the gym at the Nike Hoops Classic (Presented by Mentality Barbers) in Hamilton. A collection of Hamilton’s top talent formed ULA (United Leadership Academy) against the studs of Athlete Institute before La Lumiere of La Porte, Indiana took the court against OFSAA contender Sir Allan MacNab.
ULA put together a solid first half and went into halftime with a 26-22 lead. A scoring spurt from uncommitted 2014 prospect and Burlington, Ontario product Filip Vujadinovic gave ULA hope for a short part of the second half. AI would go on to win it 55-38. Vujadinovic finished with a game high 15 points and six rebounds. He is a big target for most of the OUA coaches who would love for him to suit up for their university. The Serbian lefty awaits patiently to keep options open and see if any of his NCAA interest will turn into an offer.
Athlete institute came into quarters three and four looking like a completely different team. Strong second half defensive efforts from Athlete Institute slowed down ULA guards from getting off in transition, and then it was Murray time, Jamal Murray that is. Having watched him play in over 30 games; including Jordan Brand Classic International game where he earned MVP, he has yet to disappoint. Murray shows up every game and is able to make adjustments to however a team decides to defend him. Well balanced scoring for AI would mean a team high 11 points for Murray, followed by 10 from Jelani Mofford and eight from new comer Selvedin Planincic.
Head Coach of AI, Larry Blunt showed a lot of confidence in his newest post player Planicic as he inserted him for big minutes where he was productive on the glass. Our scouting team first saw Planicic at an NPH Showcase in Montreal, where he was extremely raw offensively and not as mobile as the player that we’re seeing today. He is excited to get on with his development by getting more explosive and putting together a strong mid range game.
The story of this game wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Josiah Riley. Since leaving anothe OFSAA contender in D’Youville for Athlete Institute, he has added a fair amount of muscle to what used to be a very thin frame. He’s looking tougher, more confident and fitting in well with Murray at he point.
Some other top notch guards who had their way against MacNab were Jalen Coleman and Munis Tutu of La Lumiere. Coleman was the money man with a tournament high 21 points in their first game and Tutu the assist man with 7 of them. JC’s ability to create of the dribble and his speed was as an issue for MacNab defenders.
La Lumiere’s offense is a very fluid one with almost flawless rotations, enabling many options to get open, just a part of the reason Coleman was able to hit five threes in this contest. The other part of it Tutu’s vision and pin point passing, getting the ball right on target for his teammates to score.
He could star in a State Farm commercial to sub in for Chris Paul…”The Power of the Assist.”
La Lumiere Head Coach, Alan Huss looks to add another top ranked Canadian to his roster next year and has Nolan Norain at the top of his list.
“I wish we had him for this year. He could have played for us right away.”
Norain will climb the 2016 ranks following OFSAA Championships. His ascent is attributed to the power and physicality that he’s added to his game this year.
Follow along today as I make my way back to Hamilton for three more games.
1:00 – Cardinal Newman vs Holy Trinity
2:30 – Athlete Institute vs Clarkson
4:00 – La Lumiere vs United Leadership Academy