TOURNAMENT Of CHAMPIONS:TOP 10

THE BASKETBALL MOVEMENT’S TOP 10

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Rechon Black, 6’7, G/F, 2018, Montverde

Kid can flat ball and showed up all three nights. He combines height and length with an impressive offensive arsenal. He can shoot it and score at all three levels. Originally from Charlotte, N.C., Black recently committed early to the North Carolina Tarheels.

Remy Martin, 6’1, PG, 2017, Sierra Canyon

An elite passer and ball handler, Martin combines speed and quickness with an exciting brand of basketball. He put together several highlight-type passes and plays and brought the crowd to their feet on several occasions throughout the tournament. He went for 11 points, 5 rebounds and seven assists in game 1 against Republic

Cody Riley,  6’9, PF, 2017, Sierra Canyon

Riley is a force in the paint, he’s a massive kid with strength and power, but also some finesse in his game. He can certainly get things done in the paint, but also has a nice face-up game with the ability to shoot from the mid-range. Riley chose UCLA after narrowing his list to three schools, including Kansas and USC.

Ikey Obiagu, 7-0, C, 2017, Greenforest

A 7’0 2017 Florida State signee, Obiagu is among the nation’s most highly sought after shot blockers and showed why throughout the Tournament of Champions, blocking 10 shots in game 1, and following with seven more in game 2.

Jared Ridder, 6’8, SF, 2017, Kickapoo The Xavier signee showed off his outside shooting touch, scoring 19 points in the opening game against Montverde, then went for 11 in the consolation side on Friday, and 18 points and a game high nine boards in the consolation finale against Republic. Ridder is an athletic 6’8 wing. Lamine Diane, 6’6, F, 2017,  Findley Prep He has a funky game that is hard to describe but just finds a way to get it done. A long, athletic 6’7 forward, Diane can handle the ball, especially in transition and gets a ton of garbage buckets by just always finding a way to be at the right place at the right time. He needs to straighten out his perimeter jumper but he could be an impact player at the next level regardless. He finished with 22 points and nine rebounds in the third-place game against Montverde on Saturday.

Jared Ridder, 6’8, SF, 2017, Kickapoo

The Xavier signee showed off his outside shooting touch, scoring 19 points in the opening game against Montverde, then went for 11 in the consolation side on Friday, and 18 points and a game high nine boards in the consolation finale against Republic. Ridder is an athletic 6’8 wing.

Lamine Diane, 6’6, F, 2017,  Findley Prep

He has a funky game that is hard to describe but just finds a way to get it done. A long, athletic 6’7 forward, Diane can handle the ball, especially in transition and gets a ton of garbage buckets by just always finding a way to be at the right place at the right time. He needs to straighten out his perimeter jumper but he could be an impact player at the next level regardless. He finished with 22 points and nine rebounds in the third-place game against Montverde on Saturday.

Marvin Bagley, 6’11, F, 2018, Sierra Canyon (MVP)

The top ranked player in 2018 showed off an elite game throughout the tournament, playing high above the rim, grabbing rebounds, handling the ball and showing the ability to dominate the paint as well as play on the perimeter. He had 15 and seven against Republic in a game 1 win, then went for 28 and 14 points in a semifinal win over Findlay Prep on Friday.

RJ Barrett, 6’7, G, 2019, Montverde

He’s the No. 1 ranked player nationally in the Class of 2019. A long, rangy guard, Barrett showed off a diverse skill set and has the ability to impact the game in a variety of ways. He is perhaps at his best sizing up a defender and driving all the way to the hoop, but can also rebound and defend. He finished with a game-high 28 points and 13 rebounds in the third-place game against Findlay Prep on Saturday.

Alex Lomax, 6’1, G, 2018, Memphis East

A 6’1 2018 guard, Lomox hit one of the biggest shots in tournament history in a semifinal game on Friday, knocking down a game-winning 3 at the buzzer to knock off Montverde, 59-56. He finished with a game-high 19 points in that contest.

Chandler Lawson, 6’8, F, 2019, Memphis East

A long, rangy 6’8 forward, Lawson is a top 20 player in the Class of 2019 and showed he is capable of dominating in the paint or on the wing. He was one of the tournament’s leading rebounders, going for 13 in a win over Montverde in the semifinals. Lawson is the younger brother of  University of Memphis’ Keelon, Jr. and Dedric Lawson.

PJ Washington, 6’7, F, 2017, Findlay Prep

A big, strong forward that can handle the ball and score inside and outside. He had a stellar first game, scoring 19 points and hauling in nine rebounds, then largely went missing in game 2, finishing with four points in a loss to x. Washington rebounded with a solid performance in the third-place contest on Saturday against Montverde, scoring 26 points and hauling in 11 boards.

 

 

TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS: JOSH ANDERSON TALKS ABOUT W. KENTUCKY’S BEST RECRUITING CLASS IN SCHOOL HISTORY

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Josh Anderson showcased why he is a major part of what is widely considered the best recruiting class in Western Kentucky history as his Madison Prep squad competed at the 2017 Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.

A 6’4, 175-pound 2017 wing player, Madison Prep Anderson is considered a four star recruit by most publications. He brings the ability to score and play above the rim.

He and7’0 2017 big man Mitchell Robinson form what very well could be the best recruiting class in school history. Robinson is a five star recruit who is already projected as an NBA lottery pick in the 2018 draft by NBADraft.net.

“I was really comfortable when I went to Western Kentucky,” he said. “I really enjoyed the coaches and the campus. The recruiting class they had was another huge reason. When I found out that Mitchell Robinson committed from Chalmette, La., that was pretty big.”

Anderson played throughout the offseason for Louisiana Elite and raised his profile immensely on the grassroots circuit. He has helped Madison Prep start the 2016-17 season 16-2.

“During the AAU season I was trying to get better on both sides of the ball. I really wanted to improve my on ball defense and getting my jumper up with Louisiana Elite.”

Anderson chose Western Kentucky over Arkansas, Baylor, Flordai, LSU, North Carolina State and numerous others.

His Madison Prep squad competed against Greenforest, Ga., for fifth-place on Saturday after losing to Findlay Prep in the first round on Thursday and posting a win over local team Republic on Friday.

“It’s big to play in a tournament like this because you get to go up against other big time programs and players,” Anderson said. “You get to see where you are at as a team and an individual.”

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TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS: MEMPHIS EAST 2018 ALEX LOMAX HITS BIG SHOT

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Memphis East guard Alex Lomax’s game is all heart and on Friday, he showed out with one of the biggest shots in Tournament of Champions’ history, knocking down a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat national ranked Montverde in a semifinal game.

A 5’11, 190-pound 2018 guard, Lomax answered a bucket by five star 2019 Montverde guard RJ Barrett with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the game and give Memphis East a 59-56 win.

Lomax has a host of Division I offers and says he brings passion and energy to the court.

“I am a dog first, I don’t bow to anyone, I really don’t care if you’re a top player or even if you’re not a top player,” Lomax said. “I feel like it’s my life on the line and I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to survive. That is what my coaching staff has taught me and how I was raised up.

“Offensively, I am going to make sure my teammates are happy because in basketball if you’re teammates are happy on offense, they’re going to be extra excited on defense. I always put others above myself and make plays. At the end of the game, I just try to put myself in the best situation. If I have to I to take the last shot I will, and if I have to pass it to the next person I will. I try to put others first and recognize the situation.”

Lomax said playing for former NBA legend Penny Hardaway at Memphis East has been a special experience as Memphis East has had an opportunity to travel the country and play in a host of high profile events.

“Memphis East high school is a regular, neighborhood high school,” Lomax said. “That’s not not what it is to coach Penny. To him, Memphis East is Memphis University, it’s a high school, but basically a college. He is showing us that inner city kids, we don’t have to go to prep school. We can stay right in the city and play basketball and have the right mindset and be prepared for college.

“He prepared us for the season and we can’t do anything but just thank him.”

Lomax competed for Team Penny has helped prepare him for the Tournament of Champions and a tough schedule. He competed on the 17U circuit as an underclassmen.

“Playing against top guards in the country like Trae Young and Quade Green, that just motivated me,” he said. “Playing against guys that are better than me motivated me to get better and get to where they are and get better than they are.

“If I can play with those guys, I can play with anybody.”

He currently holds offers from Memphis, Ole Miss, Florida, Seton Hall, LSU, UMass, Temple and California, and has drawn interest from Arkansas and Tulsa.

TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS: MEET RJ BARRETT, THE NATION’S NO. 1 PLAYER IN THE 2019 CLASS

SPRINGFIELD — The nation’s premier players in the Class of 2019 showed off an impressive arsenal of skills at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions held at Missouri State in Springfield

RJ Barrett, a long, athletic 6’7 point guard that can rebound, pass, handle the ball and create plays, Barrett has already created a significant recruiting buzz drawing a host of high major offers.

A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Barrett spent the offseason competing for UPlay in the Nike 16U EYBL and says the experience helped make him a better player.

“I was trying to work on my shooting and a little bit of everything,” he said.

Barrett said competing in the Tournament of Champions in front of some of the largest crowds any high school event will draw was a good experience. Montverde knocked off local favorite Kickapoo in the first round and advanced to face Memphis East in a semifinal contest. Memphis East is among the nation’s top ranked high school programs and have already split a pair of games this season against Montverde.

“It was a good atmosphere especially with us playing a team from Missouri,” Barrett said. “Just great to play against such great competition in a great tournament against good teams.”

Barrett said he lets his dad and coaches handle his recruiting, but has offers from Baylor, Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, UCLA, USC and Missouri where the TofC is being played. On Thursday, Kentucky head coach John Calipari was in attendance to watch Barrett after watching Kentucky signee PJ Washington compete in the previous contest.

Barrett says he enjoys watching some of the NBAs best players and tries to implement elements of their game into his own.

“In the NBA I like to watch LeBron James and James Harden because they are both great leaders and can score the basketball so that’s who I try to get my game like.”

Montverde features a slew of high level players with several players already committed to high major college programs. Barrett says the team has high expectations for the remainder of the season.

“We have a lot of potential,” he said. “We are close on and off the court and most importantly we play a lot of great defense so that gives us a great chance to win a lot of games.”

TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS: XAVIER RECRUIT JARED RIDDER, LOCAL SQUAD HANGS TOUGH AT T OF C

SPRINGFIELD — One of southwest Missouri’s premier prospects in recent years showed off his shooting ability and all-around game at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions as Xavier recruit Jared Ridder helped his Kickapoo Chiefs hang tough early with Montverde in the opening round on Thursday and play within four points (56-52) of Greenforest, Ga. on Friday.

A long 6’8 wing player, Ridder committed to Xavier in June and officially signed during the early signing period in November. He helped the Chiefs advance all the way to the Class 5 state championship game a year ago, and to a No. 5 ranking this season.

Known for his ability to light up the scoreboard from 3-point range, Ridder improved his game over the summer, helping MoKan Elite capture a Peach Jam title. He has since taken his game to new heights this fall, averaging nearly 25 points per game.

Kickapoo (10-4) will next take on Republic (10-4), two of the better teams in southwest Missouri.

“Republic is a really good defensive team so we just have to come out and be patient and take good shots,” he said.

Ridder said the experience of playing some of the best competition at the Tournament of Champions will only serve to make them better in the long run. Last season, the Chiefs took seventh at the T of C, beating Bolivar after falling to talented Sierra Canyon and Christ the King squads.

“It is one of the best tournaments in the nation so it’s an honor to be in it,” Ridder said. “It has a great atmosphere and there’s a lot of media here so we can have our team get some exposure.”

Ridder said the Chiefs came out with a different mindset on Friday, and the squad hung tough with Greenforest (12-4) throughout before falling by four points.

“We came out with a lot more energy tonight,” Ridder said. “Last night we didn’t seem too excited to play so tonight we came out and were more focused and had a better mindset.”

Kickapoo 2017 guard Cam Davis led the way for the Chiefs on Friday, going for 22 points and three assists.

“Cam is a great player and a better person. I have been around him my whole life playing basketball with him,” Ridder said. “He brings a lot of energy and is the leader of our team. He sets everyone up and is a true point guard.”

TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS: BIG MAN CODY RILEY TALKS ABOUT UCLA COMMITMENT, TOFC ATMOSPHERE

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. —Sierra Canyon big man Cody Riley says few environments will prepare himself and his teammates for the college atmosphere like the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.

This is the second straight year Riley and Sierra Canyon has competed at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions. Last year he was apart of a team that fell on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the championship game against Oak Hill in front of a packed house. The T of C is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier high school tournaments with an atmosphere that is tough to match.

“It’s getting us prepared for next year and playing in the Pac 12, especially the way UCLA is doing,” Riley said. “We are all going to big D1s and I feel it’s a great look forward to the future for us.”

A UCLA recruit, the 6’9 Riley is bruising forward that can dominate the paint, but skilled enough to step away from the basket and make plays. He is one of three Sierra Canyon players who have already signed to play at the next level along with point guard Remy Martin (Arizona State) and Adam Seiko (San Diego State), while 2018 Marvin Bagley is the nation’s top ranked recruit in his class.

He says he tries to watch a host of players at the next level and take different elements from their games.

“I like (Carmelo Anthony) in the mid post and how he uses his body, how Andre Drummond rebounds the ball,” Riley said. “I’ve never watched anyone specifically, but I try to look at what a lot of guys do really well and use that in my game.”

Riley says competing on the AAU circuit has helped his game and said he spent much of the offseason working on his mid range and mid-post game in attempt to stretch his game away from the basket a little more.

“Most definitely facing up and getting to the basket and my free throws,” Riley said. “I know today I don’t shoot it well, but I also worked on my free throws and throughout the season I have shot it pretty well.”

Riley said he is looking forward to competing against the top teams and players as Sierra Canyon has put together a nationally recognized schedule.

“I always want to challenge myself against the best of the best,” he said. “My team is also like that … it’s just natural for us because we’re all competitors and want to do that.”

Riley narrowed a long list of offers to Kansas, USC and UCLA and said from there it was a tough decision.

“It just came down to my relationship that I had with Steve Alford and I trusted them and I trust that they will put me in the best position possible to allow me to do what I want to do in the future,” Riley said.

TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS: IKEY OBIAGU BRINGS BLOCK CITY TO T OF C

SPRINGFIELD — One of the nation’s premier shot blockers, Greenforest, Ga. 7’0 2017 Ikey Obiagu is a game changer at the defensive end and showcased those abilities at the 2017 Bass Pro Tournament of Champions this weekend.

Through the first two games, Obiagu had swatted 17 shots and appeared well on his way to setting a new tournament record for blocks, which was set in 1993 by St. Raymond’s Damon Bonaparte. He blocked 10 shots in the opening round against and added 10 points on five dunks.

He followed with seven blocks against Kickapoo in a consolation round win on Friday and led both teams with 11 rebounds and chipped in six points, on a pair of dunks. He says his game is still raw and his offensive game is a work in progress.

“Mostly my game is to block shots and rebound and that is what keeps me on the floor, and the other parts of my game I am still working on,” Obiagu said.

Obiagu says injuries throughout the summer taught him a lesson in life as he struggled to stay on the court.

“I just had to pick myself up,” he said. “I fell like I am more confident in my offense although I still have a lot of work to do. I am taking everything one step at a time but I see improve from last season to this season.”

He committed to Florida State on Nov. 28 and said at the time the competition in the ACC was a big factor. He is one of five commitments for the Seminoles in the 2017 class and the first ESPN 100 commitment for the Seminoles this class. He joins four-star forwards Raiquan Gray and Wyatt Wilkes, four-star wing Anthony Polite and three-star shooting guard Bryan Trimble Jr.

“The thing that stood out the most for me was coach (Leonard) Hamilton because me and him have been really close,” Obiagu said. “He has been the one that has been recruiting me the longest and I trust him and I know they do a really good job with their bigs.

“They have a really good team coming back next year. It’s not really far from my home and I have been to their campus more than any other. I just feel like I am comfortable there.”

For now, however, Obiagu and his teammates are focused on taking the consolation trophy at the Tournament of Champions and says he is grateful for the opportunity to play in the event.

“It is really great and I know not everybody has this opportunity,” he said. “I am really grateful, as it the whole team, to be in this type of high-level tournament because every day you are playing a great team.

“Every day you are competing at the highest level.”

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TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS: ROB YANDERS, PENNY HARDAWAY TOGETHER AT T OF C

SPRINGFIELD — Rob Yanders, the founder of the Basketball Movement and Yanders Law, says his goals mirror those of NBA legend Penny Hardaway, who he met following Hardaway’s Memphis East game on Thursday night at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.

Hardaway was a player before his time, a 6’7 point guard who teamed with Shaquille O’Neal on the Orlando Magic and was also part of a world renown marketing campaign by Nike that became known simply as “Little Penny.”

Hardway is a native of Memphis and played his college basketball at

Now 45, Hardaway has returned to his roots in Memphis, coaching one of the nation’s elite grassroots teams, Team Penny, and has taken over at Memphis East High School, coaching a squad that has played a national schedule and knocked off some of the nation’s best.

Yanders says he and Hardaway may come from different places, but are trying to accomplish some of the same things.

“We’re both former pros trying to give back and do something special for kids and raise the level of the game,” he said.

Memphis East is slated to play Montverde (Fla.) on Friday in a semifinal game for the third time this season. The two teams split the first two games. But those are just a handful of nationally ranked teams and players.

“The schedule has been unbelievable,” Hardaway said. “We have given our guys an opportunity to go out there and showcase their talent on a national level. It has definitely prepared us for our district and state tournament run.”

Hardaway said coaching at the high school level has been an entirely different experience as he deals with parents and young kids.

“It’s been challenging coaching at the high school level because you have to deal with the parents and the different mood swings of the kids,” he said. “And they don’t really respect what you have done in the past if you aren’t Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson. They just know I played a long long time ago so they don’t remember that.”

Penny has coached his son Jayden Hardaway this season after the 6’4 2017 guard moved from Miami, Fla. to Memphis in the offseason.

“It has been an amazing pleasure because I have been wanting him to come to Memphis for awhile because I want him to get used to the toughness of the city,” Penny Hardaway said. “I want him to get the opportunity to play at the next level in the basketball world because the south Miami conference he was in previously isn’t as tough as what we are playing this year. I’m glad his mother allowed to come this season.

“It just isn’t as physical. Memphis guys play a tough schedule and play against great guards every night and that’s what we wanted.”

The younger Hardaway went for 11 points and connected on three 3-pointers, going 3 for 4 from behind the arc in 20 minutes.

“It is really special,” Jayden Hardaway saidof his move to Memphis East. “It is a once in a lifetime chance and getting to go through this process of getting to learn and be coached by my dad especially. He is the best coach I have ever played for and I feel blessed to be able to play for him.”

Hardaway doesn’t currently hold any offers but has drawn interest from Memphis, Ole Miss and local schools.