SPRINGFIELD, Mass. –
Sunday's most highly anticipated matchup at the Spalding Hoophall Classic was a showdown between prep school powers Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.)
and Tilton School (N.H.)
with a juicy subplot that pitted the nation's top senior big man against the nation's top junior big man.
The battle in the post featured Michigan-bound Mitch McGary
of Brewster, a 6-foot-10, 255-pound senior, and Nerlens Noel
, a 6-10, 215-pound junior from Tilton.
While McGary's Bobcats won a thrilling, highlight-packed game 57-53, Noel thoroughly dominated the head-to-head competition. The Everett, Mass., native tallied 22 points, eight rebounds and seven blocked shots. He was largely responsible for McGary's dismal showing, which included just two points on 1 of 8 shooting.
"Not good enough to get the win," a somber Noel said Sunday following the game, clearly stung by the loss. "I got a lot of respect for Mitch McGary. He's a great player. I think I played pretty good against him. It's a great feeling but it's not good enough."
Noel used the big stage and national television audience at the Spalding Hoophall Classic to establish himself as perhaps the top post prospect in the United States – regardless of class. He is currently ranked No. 3 in the MaxPreps Class of 2013 Top 100
Offensively, he did much of his damage operating from the high post and wing.
"I definitely enjoy it," Noel said of taking his game away from the low block. "I think it would be a really good spot for me in the future. Just using my basketball mind to distribute the ball to the low post and make plays."
As productive as he is on offense, it's his play on the defensive end that is most inspiring at this point. Noel's shot-blocking ability is drawing comparisons to some of the game's great erasers, including Alonzo Mourning.
John Calipari of Kentucky was among the coaches at Springfield College to check on him Sunday. Not surprisingly, he listed Kentucky along with Syracuse and Connecticut as programs that stand out on his 10-team list at this point.
"It's going smooth, not too fast," Noel said of the recruiting process. "I've been building better relationships with a lot of the coaches."New experiences for Steven Adams
Right behind the Brewster-Tilton, McGary-Noel clash in terms of anticipation Sunday was the opportunity to put eyes on New Zealand import Steven Adams
of Notre Dame Prep (Fitchburg, Mass.)
Listed at 7-0, Adams took a blow to the forehead that sidelined him for much of the first half and contributed greatly to his pedestrian final numbers (five points, four rebounds). Playing in front of a big crowd in a major national event was a new experience for the Pittsburgh signee.
"Nothing I was used to," Adams said. "It was pretty scary."
Adams is not a polished product in terms of answering questions from the media, but did his best to entertain the throng of curious reporters, giving this account of his experience visiting Pittsburgh;
"It was cool," Adams said. "Have you been there? Steak and cheese is pretty good."
If nothing else, Adams displayed remarkable athleticism for a big man Sunday but the nuances of the game at this level are still a work in progress. He has only been playing organized basketball for about four years.
"I started playing when I was 8 or 9," Adams said. "Then I moved to Wellington (capital city of New Zealand) and started taking it seriously when I was 13 or 14."Amile Jefferson getting close
While he isn't quite ready to set a date for his announcement, Amile Jefferson
of Friends' Central (Wynnewoode, Pa.)
is getting close to making a decision on his college future.
"It's getting close," the 6-8 senior said. "I'm still looking at Ohio State, NC State, Kentucky and Duke. I'm really ready to get this over with."
Duke has made a strong push of late and Jefferson – rated No. 12 in the MaxPreps Class of 2012 Top 100
– is giving the Blue Devils a long look.
"Duke was always a school I was looking at and had interest in," Jefferson said. "With a program like that you're always going to take a close look because you know they are going to compete for national championships and (the opportunity) to play with some of the top players."
Jefferson posted 14 points (6 of 14 shooting) and five rebounds in a 67-57 loss to St. Mark's (Southborough, Mass.)
, a squad featuring Arizona-bound 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski
and Michigan-bound wing Nik Stauskas
.Jaylen Brantley returns to Springfield
Springfield native Jaylen Brantley
of Wilbraham & Monson Academy (Wilbraham, Mass.)
didn't have the homecoming he would have liked Sunday as his team went down to St. Thomas More (Oakdale, Conn.)
"This is a great tournament," the 5-10 marksman said. "I've played in it for three years now. A lot of my family and friends are here. I played bad, but..."But
the long list of college suitors will likely overlook his struggles. One of the top 3-point shooters in the country, Brantley is the No. 95 prospect in the MaxPreps Class of 2013 Top 100.
Cincinnati, Florida, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Louisville, Missouri, Rhode Island, Richmond, Syracuse, Virginia and Virginia Tech are among the schools to offer but Brantley claims no leaders in what appears to be a wide-open race for his services.Sunday standouts and recruiting updates
Eric Green Jr., St. Mark's:
Holy Cross is getting an athletic marvel in Green, who finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and a pair of blocked shots in a St. Mark's win over Friends' Central. The versatile 6-3 senior electrified the crowd with a couple big dunks and even spent some time defending Friends' Central star Jefferson.Kaleb Tarczewski, St. Mark's:
After going scoreless and without a rebound for the first 10 minutes of the game, the Arizona signee recorded a quiet 22 points against Friends' Central. Aaron Thomas, Brewster:
With McGary's efforts negated by Noel, Brewster needed help elsewhere and Thomas provided it. The 6-4 shooting guard – headed to Florida State next season – was a perfect 4 of 4 from beyond the arc and came up with a key steal in the final seconds to seal a big win for the Bobcats. Thomas finished with a game-high 23 points. Around the gym
* In addition to Kentucky's Calipari, head coaches in attendance Sunday included Mick Cronin (Cincinnati), Jim Calhoun (Connecticut), Steve Lavin (St. John's), Ed Cooley (Providence) and Mark Gottfried (North Carolina State).
* Connecticut star freshman Andre Drummond was on hand to see St. Thomas More – his former school – beat up on Wilbraham & Monson Academy. Interestingly, Drummond was planning to transfer from St. Thomas More to Wilbraham & Monson Academy this year until opting to fast-track his enrollment at UConn.
* Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.)
eighth-grader Devonte Green is the younger brother of former North Carolina standout and current San Antonio Spur Danny Green. Devonte had a nice showing in the Pioneers' win over Mount St. Joseph (Baltimore)
on Sunday, scoring 16 points. No reports on his dancing ability, however.