Over Memorial Day Weekend, a pair of annual tournaments with national fields took place as Philadelphia-based Team Final won the Tournament of Champions and California Supreme won the Nike Memorial Day Classic.
The two teams were on a collision course as the headliners at last weekend’s Rumble in the Bronx and once again it was rising junior 6-foot-7 wing forward Michael Gilchrist (Elizabeth, N.J., St. Patrick) powering Team Final, this time against the best of New York and the surrounding area along with some select teams from across the country.
Gilchrist scored 21 points and was named MVP in the championship win over the West Coast challengers. It’s hard to call it hype when he’s backing it up with a spring resume that includes reaching four tournament finals (three championship wins) - the most of any team on the club circuit right now.
And this one came without 6-3 combo guard Dion Waiters (Burlington, N.J., Life Center), the Syracuse commitment who won MVP at the Tournament of Champions but was out with an injured ankle at the Rumble.
“All the attention he’s getting is deserved,” Team Final coach Rob Brown said. “He’s really all over the court. His skill-set is coming around, he’s the hardest worker and he’s a humble kid. He takes it all in stride and it’s refreshing to see.”
He gave a list to reporters of Villanova, Memphis, Indiana, Georgetown, Kentucky, Syracuse, Louisville and Seton Hall, and he will be one of the few underclassmen this week at the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp in Virginia.
Shakiness at the University of Southern California has a pair of in-staters considering their commitments.
Six-foot-two point guard Gary Franklin (Santa Ana, Calif., Mater Dei) and 6-7 wing forward Dwayne Polee (Los Angeles, Calif., Westchester), who led the aforementioned California Supreme to its recent success, are waiting to see what happens with a new coach and potential sanctions before cementing their respective pledges to the program.
Word out the West is Franklin would have interest in Oklahoma, Baylor, Connecticut, Stanford, California and Arizona, while Polee mentioned to reporters at the Rumble in the Bronx that he has interest in Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, UNLV and Arizona.
Franklin and Polee’s teammate, 6-5 wing forward Keala King (Compton, Calif., Dominguez) is a hot name for his versatility and improving game. King mentioned Stanford, California, Arizona, Washington, Georgia Tech, Connecticut, Kentucky, Oregon and Oregon State while at the Rumble.
A number of potential top 10-caliber talents in the rising senior class are being nationally recruited and made high-profile visits recently.
Harrison Barnes, a 6-6 wing from Ames, Iowa, spent time on the UCLA and Stanford campuses.
Kyrie Irving, a 6-1 guard and teammate of Gilchrist's at St. Patrick in New Jersey, tripped to Connecticut and Texas A&M.
Six-foot-eight wing forward C.J. Leslie (Raleigh, N.C., Word of God) headed out to Arizona State.
Adreian Payne, a 6-10 center from Jefferson High School in Dayton, Ohio, played at West Virginia’s elite camp.
Other uncommitted standouts who took in recent elite camps include 6-8 power forward Tobias Harris (Long Island, N.Y., Half Hallows Hills West); 5-11 rising junior point guard Chris Jones (Memphis, Tenn., Melrose) at Tennessee; 6-7 wing forward Roscoe Smith (Baltimore, Md., Walbrook) at Maryland; 6-6 wing forward Casey Prather (Jackson, Tenn., Northside) at Memphis; 6-8 power forward Luke Cothron (Red Springs, N.C., Flora McDonald) at Texas A&M; and Weston, Fla., Sagemont teammates 6-11 center Fabricio de Melo and 6-6 small forward Rod Days at Florida State.
In the East, 6-6 shooting guard Will Barton and 6-1 point guard Antonio Barton of Lake Clifton High School in Baltimore, Md., attended Memphis’ Elite Camp and committed to the Tigers while on campus. The Barton brothers led Lake Clifton to a 28-0 record and state title. Will is expected to go the prep school route next year at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., after exhausting his high school eligibility.
Another Baltimore native in 6-8 power forward Jordan Latham of City College High confirmed his pledge to Xavier after taking some time to mull over the coaching change that recently occurred with the Musketeers.
Speaking of prep school talent, 6-6 wing forward Gerard Coleman of New Hampshire's Tilton School pledged to Providence over the weekend during a visit. Coleman joined 2009 Connecticut recruits Jamal Coombs-McDaniel and Alex Oriakhi in winning the National Prep Championship as well as the Class B New England Prep School championship this past season.
Out West, 6-1 point guard Kyle Fuller (Moreno Valley, Calif., Rancho Verde) committed to cross-country Vanderbilt. Fuller led his team to the sectional quarterfinals before falling to traditional power Mater Dei.
Down South, 6-8 power forward Tobi Oyediji (Houston, Texas, Bellaire) accepted Texas A&M’s scholarship offer while at their elite camp in College Station. Oyediji was said to have been impressive against fellow highly-regarded power forward Cothron during the camp.
Louisiana native Markel Brown, a 6-4 shooting guard from Alexandria’s Peabody Magnet, attended Oklahoma State’s elite camp and was another to pop while on campus. The first-team all-stater averaged close to 30 points last season on a young team.