CLEVELAND, Ohio – For the nearly 100 players selected, the King City Classic followed instruction provided at the LeBron James Skills Academy in the two days preceding and also opened the doors to the college coaches there to evaluate them.
Class of 2011 standout Austin Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.), Michael Gilchrist (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick), Marquis Teague (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) and Rakeem Christmas (Philadelphia, Pa./Northeast Catholic ) continued to show that they are special talents and three of the best regardless of class.
Top rising seniors Harrison Barnes (Ames, Iowa) and Josh Selby (Baltimore, Md./Lake Clifton) teamed up to lead their squad to the No. 1 seed but were bounced in the first round by the eventual tournament winners.
Jared Sullinger (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) and Kendall Marshall (Arlington, Va./Bishop O’Connell) have racked up tournament titles along the circuit this spring and most recently led each of their camp teams to the final game at the NBA Players Association event. They found themselves falling short here.
In the end, it was the team led by Rivers and Will Barton (Wolfeboro, N.H./Brewster Academy) knocking off Phil Pressey (Dallas, Texas/Episcopal), DeShaun Thomas (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers) and company for the tournament championship.
Starting with the King City Classic winners from the rising senior class…
CLASS OF 2010
Will Barton (6-6 WF/Wolfeboro, N.H./Brewster Academy)
– Barton took turns defending Quincy Miller (2011/Winston Salem, N.C./Quality Education Academy) and Cameron Clark (Sherman, Texas) and aside from running the floor in transition for a ton of finishes, he went to work on the other end for a big final game. Barton stripped Miller clean and took it coast-to-coast to end a quarter, then against Clark he limited his shots and hunted rebounds. In the semis, the tourney winners chipped away after being down 10 most of the game and Barton had a string of hoops in transition to shrink the gap that led to the lead change. Committed to Memphis.
Gerard Coleman (6-5 WF/Tilton, N.H.) – The piece that put the winners (95-77) over the top, he contributied in a big way as the team won without CJ Leslie (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) who missed the last day. Coleman was extra aggressive going to the basket and looking for his shot from deep. He made a statement early when he followed his own 3-point miss and scored the put-back on one possession. It was an open-court game and he thrived with his speed in transition, but he was also strong around the hoop with some using of his length on contested reverse lay-ups. Committed to Providence.
Andre Stringer (5-10 PG/Jackson, Miss./Forest Hill) – Led fast breaks and knocked down a pair of open 3-pointers in the finals, but really gave a lift in the semis. He got into a short battle with same-sized Juwan Staten (Dayton, Ohio/Thurgood Marshall) but it was the free throws down the stretch to fend off a late rally that clinched things.
Inside, Markus Kennedy (Philadelphia, Pa./Living Faith Christian) won his matchup with Kevin Johnson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra) and James Bell (Orlando, Fla./Montverde) was big on the boards for the champs. Both committed to Villanova.
Phil Pressey (5-10 PG/Dallas, Texas/Episcopal) - Won the battle of the pass-first point guards vs. Kendall Marshall (Arlington, Va./Bishop O’Connell) in their opening round playoff game. Most often the beneficiary was Dwight Powell (6-9 PF/Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy) whether it was off Pressey’s drives or in the pick and roll. Marshall was big down the stretch, taking control of his team and both getting them baskets and getting himself to the line. But it was Pressey's squad who gutted it out and began its run to the final, 117-113.
DeShaun Thomas (6-8 CF/Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers) – Didn’t get established in the finals as it was really a transition game but rebounded aggressively and converted inside when he did get his touches. Down the stretch he did his best to fuel a comeback as Coleman and Barton bounced off him when he powered through for buckets. Thinking of players individually here and both having committed so long ago, don’t forget how much of a problem it will be when Thomas and the next guy below team up in college. That’s two top 10 talents in the frontcourt. Committed to Ohio State.
Cameron Clark (6-6 WF/Sherman, Texas) vs. Roscoe Smith (Mouth of Wilson, Va./Oak Hill Academy) -This got interesting with two of the top wings in the country going at each other. Clark started with an open elbow jumper and followed it up the next time down with his athleticism. He flashed his freak body control when he took a pass coming down the lane and finished with a hanging Jordan-esque palmed lay-up. Smith would take the challenge and size him up for a wing jumper over him.
After some teammates got involved for the next few possessions, they were back at it. This time they were creating separation for dueling 3-pointers over each other – Clark’s from the corner and Smith’s from the wing. Clark’s team would begin to pull away some before the half. He’d face Smith up again and stick another short jumper over him. Smith would grab an offensive rebound and follow it with a step-back baseline jumper, then another jumper the next time down over 6-9 rising junior Quincy Miller (Winston Salem, N.C./Quality Education Academy).
Smith would have less success against Miller on both ends when the two matched up on a few occasions. But the Clark-Smith matchup continued through the second half. Clark continued to shoot a high percentage and knocked down an open three-pointer along with some finishes on the break. Smith had a pair of Euro-Step finishes in transition and used his trademark tenacity to block two shots on one possession then lead the break for an assist. Even with the hot hand, his touches started to shrink but he did have a bad lapse. Otherwise, it was two efficient, competitive, and signature efforts in a highlighted matchup that both delivered on.
Reggie Bullock (6-7 WF/Kinston, N.C) – Teaming with Sullinger and Marquis Teague, Bullock played a complete game that helped lead to early routs. He was aggressive defensively blocking a drive by Okaro White and then jumping the passing lane for a steal a few possessions later. His shot was also falling, knocking down a 3-pointer from the wing on a kickout by Teague and running the floor for several fast break finishes. It was an expected but still commendable effort by someone of his caliber. Committed to North Carolina.
Jared Sullinger (6-9 PF/Columbus, Ohio/Northland) – Sullinger and Rakeem Christmas have a firm grip as the top inside players for 2010 and 2011 but they didn’t matchup when their teams met. Instead, it was Dominique Ferguson (Chatham, Va./Hargrave Military Academy) and Okaro White (Clearwater, Fla.) who took turns checking Sullinger with neither having much luck. Sullinger punched shots by drivers, dominated Ferguson around the hoop, stripped him on a post up and then picked his crossover clean on the perimeter. White had a better start coming up with back-to-back blocks on Sullinger but would be completely outrebounded in the second half in what led to many second-chance points for Sullinger. Needless to say neither of the two lean forwards tried to post him up. As is most games, the big kid from Ohio was on the winning side. Committed to Ohio State.
Perry Jones (6-10 PF/Duncanville, Texas) – Jones was the senior post-man we wanted to see Sullinger go up against and he really flashed his ability here in the opening minutes by blocking three consecutive post-ups on the right block. On offense he went bananas going coast-to-coast for a finish with an around-the-back dribble in the process. He even mixed in a long jumper where he toed the three-point line. It was a major first half for him but the game would get away from he and his team in the second half, as it would in their consolation bracket game that was guard-dominated.
Tony Mitchell (6-7 PF/Miami, Fla./Center of Life) – After making a mark days prior at LeBron, Mitchell brought it again in the above-mentioned game that featured Sullinger-Jones. He was a pinball on the boards, bouncing around the paint for repeated offensive rebounds and converting one on a body-to-body finish against 6-10 rising junior Malcolm Gilbert (Smyrna, Del./New Church). He finished when filling the wing lane in transition along with popping a long jumper.Not to mention he measured out well with a long 86-inch wingspan. Without a doubt he elevated himself the most of the group of rising seniors here that weren’t already considered in the top tier of the class. He had just opened his recruitment up prior to the event and is sure to be a priority target from here on out.
Dion Waiters (6-3 CG/Burlington, N.J./Life Center) vs. Doron Lamb (6-4 SG/Mouth of Wilson, Va./Oak Hill Academy) – In a game heavy on backcourt talent, Waiters scored on a runner with a bump from Lamb that sent him to the line for the and-one. Lamb would return the favor to Waiters during their matchup by also scoring off a bump and heading to the line for the extra. He’d follow it up with a pull-up jumper off a hesitation dribble. Waiters would answer knocking down a 3-pointer when the defense left him with plenty of time to on a screen-roll, but by now they were playing catch up. In an earlier game, Waiters popped jumpers in the pick and roll and took smaller rising sophomore guard L.J. Rose (Houston, Texas/Second Baptist). He spent the week playing on a nagging ankle that’s kept him out of games this spring.
J.T. Terrell (6-1 CG/Burlington, N.C./Cummings)
– Traded 3-pointers with Ray McCallum (Beverly Hills, Mich./Detroit Country Day) from the jump but Terrell got on one of his streaks and had two more jumpers to his credit in no time. On a glance over at the other court during opening day, he was in the middle of one of his shooting runs that had his team off the bench going wild. Committed to Wake Forest.
Josh Selby (6-2 CG/Baltimore, Md./Lake Clifton) – The best in the high-caliber backcourt game with the above few players. He started to assert himself against the defense of Gary Franklin (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei). Selby zipped one through the lane to Harrison Barnes (Ames, Iowa) who would finish inside with a tough adjustment at the rim. Barnes came back with a follow-up dunk and Selby kept the pressure on with drive-and-dishes to Adonis Thomas (Memphis, Tenn./Melrose) and Lamb. He went at the defense until the final buzzer and punctuated it with a fast break alley-oop finish on a pass from Barnes.
Harrison Barnes (6-8 CF/Ames, Iowa) – Hard to imagine a top five player being lost in the shuffle, but he still let you know he was there with his aggressiveness during the guard-dominated game. More than once he ripped down rebounds, power dribbled inside and rose up for the follow dunk like he was shot out a cannon.Leading successful fast breaks was another feather in the cap for ever-efficient Barnes.
C.J. Leslie (6-8 CF/Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) – Leslie showed the most flashes of bright spots for the tournament champs in what would eventually be a surprising blowout loss during a seeding game against the above few players. There, he was active on the glass battling Tobi Oyediji for rebounds in a good matchup. He actually missed the final day of the tournament that saw the team make the run to the championship win.
Tobias Harris (6-9 PF/Long Island, N.Y./Half Hollow Hills West) – Leading their team past the eventual champions, Harris made plays in scrimmages at LeBron the days prior and kept it up here. He snuck up on everyone when he ran the floor for a follow jam, popped an open 3-pointer off a ball reversal, and fought inside for live balls with Leslie. It was an eye-opening few days for Harris, and it was no fluke when we glanced over to the other court on the final day and saw him giving Roscoe Smith problems as well.
Kyrie Irving (6-2 CG/Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick) – Irving hit a stride where he finished at the rim going left, hit Jason Morris (Lakeville,Conn./Hotchkiss) on a backdoor cut and later finished a give-and-go with Kyle Wiltjer. He admirably ran the offense moreso than looking to get his.
Tobi Oyediji (6-7 PF/Houston, Texas/Bellaire) – Oyediji punched one of Rivers’ drives to the basket then sank a hook shot going away from a double-team as he continued his success with the advanced post moves he’s displayed in the spring. Committed to Texas A&M.
CLASS OF 2011
Austin Rivers (6-3 SG/Winter Park, Fla.)
– Rivers hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in the semis and took the smaller Marquis Teague (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) to the rack more than once. The squads made their last substitutions at the five minute mark with the score 72-64 and Rivers was vocal to the new five to keep the lead, which they did and advanced to the final. In a blowout loss during the round of games to determine seeding, Rivers hit a trio of 3-pointers and got to the free throw line off his aggressive drives. He showed his promise in a big way during the week. Committed to Florida.
Rakeem Christmas (6-9 PF/Philadelphia, Pa./Northeast Catholic) – Although he didn’t get Sullinger, Christmas was big time out the gate with a pair of blocks, one on the perimeter when he jumped a screener and blocked the shooter and the other when he chased down C.J. Fair (Baltimore, Md./City College) on a fast break. He even grabbed an offensive rebound off a free throw miss. He lived up to what he’s been building for a reputation this spring.
Marquis Teague (6-1 PG/Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) –Teague was beyond good both distributing and knocking down shots. He was poised along the baseline leading to assists for cutters, reset the offense when it was out of sync, scored and dished in transition, knocked down jumpers in the pick and roll, and couldn’t be kept out of the lane with his stop-and-go game. Getting stops was an issue in the semifinals for his team but otherwise an impressive performance that left him looking the best at the position regardless of class.
Michael Gilchrist (6-7 WF/Elizabeth, N.J.) – With Tobias Harris leading one unit and he the other, they sparked a blowout over the eventual champions. Most impressive was Gilchrist’s defense that kept Austin Rivers in front of him and prevented him from getting a shot off when the two were matched up. On offense, it was just a typical handful of versatile plays – faking an injury on a baseline inbounds play that saw him beat his man for a dunk, a 3-pointer, and an offensive rebound with the put-back through contact. Nothing short of what he’s brought all spring.
Kyle Wiltjer (6-8 PF/Portland, Ore./Jesuit) – Established himself early with two post-ups on a player three-inches shorter, one going with a left-handed hook and the other getting him to a bite on a turn-around shot fake.
Mike Gbinije (6-5 SG/Chester, Pa./Benedictine) – Not hard to recognize the guy that hits the three jumpers he takes in a shootout.
Others Who Impressed: Brad Beal (6-3 SG/St. Louis, Mo./Chaminade), Quddus Bello (6-3 SG/High Point, N.C./Westchester), Trevor Cooney (6-2 SG/Wilmington, Del./Sanford), Myck Kabongo (6-2 PG/Newark, N.J./St. Benedict), Quincy Miller (6-9 WF/Winston Salem, N.C./Quality Education Academy), Johnny O’Bryant (6-8 PF/Cleveland, Miss./Eastside) and Achraf Yacoubou (6-3 SG/Long Island, N.Y./Lutheran).
CLASS OF 2012
Justin Anderson (6-5 WF/Rockville, Md./Montrose Christian) – The young guy with big personality and all-world bounce flashed his lift when he took a high screen-roll and cradled it from just inside the elbow with one long stride for a jam on Alex Kirk. Defensively, he was energetic on the boards and hunting shot blocks.
L.J. Rose (6-2 PG/Houston, Tex./Second Baptist) – Backed up Teague and made three perfect reads in his first run of minutes on the floor in their second seeding round game. He drove the baseline and kicked to an open Fair (Baltimore, Md./City College) in the corner for a 3-pointer.
Only two others from the 2012 class were invited - DaJuan Coleman (6-8 PF/Syracuse, N.Y./Jamesville-Dewitt) and Perry Ellis (6-7 PF/Wichita, Kan./East).