SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Oregon bound five-star Bol Bol highlighted Sunday action at the HoopHall Classic as a mix of prep and traditional high school teams hit the floor in a 14 hour marathon. Here are the takeaways from an entertaining event.
1. BOL BOL STATES HIS CASE
Oregon head coach Dana Altman tried his best to remain his usual stoic self, but a couple of times I caught him smiling from ear to ear while watching his future player Bol Bol in a dominant 31-point performance for Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep.
Because of his size and pedigree, Bol is a crowd favorite the second he walks into the gym and on Sunday he delivered in big-time fashion. When he's on like he was Sunday, Bol does things that no other player can think about doing because of his combination of skill, talent and absurdly long arms. There were stepback jumpers, alley-oop finishes and several "shaking my head" moments during a night where he went 14-for-17 from the field.
Bol has always been a big-time talent and since arriving at Findlay he's been putting it all together on a pretty consistent basis. He's been so good that I can't help but wonder if he deserves more talk when discussing who is the best player in the 2018 class. For the last month or so we've all been focusing primarily on current No.'s 1 and No. 2 R.J. Barrett and Cameron Reddish while No. 3 Zion Williamson will certainly have his say as he works back into shape and we get a chance to see him more. But, when Bol plays like he did on Sunday it's difficult to not entertain him as a legitimate contender for the No. 1 spot.
2. MARYLAND BOUND FIVE-STAR JALEN SMITH'S GAME HAS EXPANDED
Hold up, I know some of you are saying "Hey EBoss, he's a five-star prospect. He better produce soon." I get that, but those who have watched the 6-foot-9 power forward have always understood that there could be a learning curve due to his lack of strength -- particularly in his lower body.
Affectionately known as "Sticks", Smith has made some huge strides since I last saw him in July and he could make a nice splash if he continues on his current trajectory. He's gotten stronger up top, he's a natural shot blocker and he's got a really nice understanding of how to play the game.
He was good for 27 points, nine rebounds and three blocks during a win for Baltimore (Md.) St. Joseph on Sunday and as he banged home a couple of threes on top of his interior work I couldn't help but think back to how current Indiana Pacer and former Texas standout Myles Turner looked as a high school senior. Smith isn't quite as big as Turner but other than that his game is eerily similar and I don't know that something similar to the 10 points and 6.5 boards Turner put up as a freshman is out of the question for Smith during his first season in College Park.
As an aside, another future Terp also had a big day on Sunday. Guard Eric Ayala went for 26 points, eight rebounds and a pair of assists in IMG Academy's win over Vermont Academy. He's strong, tough and crafty off the dribble.
3. FIVE-STAR SCOTTIE LEWIS SHOWS WHAT HE'S MADE OF
I'll cut right to it. Five-star junior Scottie Lewis did not play very well when I saw him a few weeks ago at the City of Palms. He didn't have his usual energy and didn't play up to his top 10 ranking. Though his Tinton Falls (N.J.) Ranney squad got handled pretty well on Sunday by Jalen Smith's Baltimore (Md.) Mt. Saint Joseph's team, Lewis was spectacular. On both ends of the floor.
A big-time athlete who is a playmaking greyhound in transition, Lewis was all over the place in any situation during a 27-point point effort. He shot with confidence and though the boxscore only credited him with four rebounds, a steal and two blocks he showed elite defensive ability. His quickness, instincts and how hard he plays allow him to make plays that regular high schoolers -- and even really good ones -- simply can't make on the defensive end and he's capable of guarding multiple positions. Pound for pound, he's got as much potential as anybody in the country in any class on that end of the floor.
4. DEMATHA'S SOPHOMORE DUO COULD BE BIG TIME
By the time five-star big man Hunter Dickinson and upper echelon four-star shooting guard Earl Timberlake are done at Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha in the spring of 2020, I'm betting that opponents in the Washington D.C. area are going to be sick of dealing with them. I sure as heck wouldn't want to have to coach or play against them.
A throwback in the mold of maybe a Brad Miller, Dickinson isn't going to wow anybody with his athleticism. But, he's big, he's strong, he has a mean streak and he can play on the low block or soften defenses with his jump shooting. It's that mean streak that I love most about his game and he's very productive as evidenced by the 21 points and seven rebounds he put up in under 18 minutes while often going head to head with five-star senior big man Moses Brown of Archbishop Molloy.
Also blessed with a bit of a mean streak, Timberlake reminds me some of a young Wayne Selden. He's physically strong, can take on and finish through contact, creates pretty well off the dribble and has the tools to be a sneaky good jump shooter. I also feel like he's a guy with a chance to be elite defensively because he can check multiple positions. He finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists of his own. Timberlake listed offers from Penn State, Kansas State, Virginia Tech, Georgetown, Rhode Island, Providence and Wake Forest. He's been on campus at Georgetown, Maryland, Penn State and Virginia Tech.
DeMatha also got a strong performance out of 2019's No. 75 ranked player Justin Moore. The tough 6-foot-3 combo guard was good for 21 points and was feeling it with his jump shot.
5. SUNDAY SCOUTING NOTES AND NEWS
To close out the Starting Five, I'll go with some relatively rapid fire scouting takes from Sunday's action.
.... If I'm evaluating Anfernee Simons -- who was profiled more in depth here -- as a straight to the NBA prospect, I would put him as a potential second -rounder at this point. If I'm an NBA team watching him, I'm looking at him as a guy similar to where Monta Ellis and Louis Williams were coming out of high school. He can play the point some, but his bread and butter is playing off the ball as a scorer right now.
.... As usual, Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Prep is loaded with talent and have four players that we rank nationally. Power forward Derek Culver was actually a top 100 player in 2017 before taking a detour to Wolfeboro on his way to West Virginia and he looks like he's straight off the Bob Huggins big man assembly line. He's a little wild at times but is a big, strong and athletic kid who likes to mix it up a bit. Culver should be a great fit in Morgantown. With his length, athleticism and ability in the open floor, 6-foot-6 wing Isaiah Mucius has the tools to play at a level much higher than his No. 94 national ranking when he gets to Wake Forest. It's just a matter of accepting the challenge to play with toughness on a nightly basis and to add the strength he'll need to make an impact in the ACC.
.... I'll have much more coming on Moses Brown, but the five-star seven-footer said that his decision is coming soon. Florida State, Maryland and UCLA have gotten visits while Kentucky (John Calipari watched) and Duke have been hanging around but haven't offered. Playing without his five-star point guard Cole Anthony, Brown was missed in positions to score by teammates several times but I liked that he kept plugging away and never got a bad attitude during Archbishop Molloy's loss to DeMatha. He also managed to find ways to be productive and had what I thought was a nice showing going for 21 points, six rebounds and a pair of blocks.
.... Lost in the Bol Bol show was the fact that a pair of native Texans had nice nights for Findlay Prep. Headed to Texas Tech, three-star wing Kyler Edwards has a nice blend of playmaking and scoring and should fit nicely with freshman standouts Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith in Lubbock. A tough and athletic big man, Reggie Chaney simply plays hard on both ends of the floor and runs tirelessly from rim to rim. His game seems to be a natural fit for Mike Anderson's pressing style at Arkansas.
.... A native of Indiana, Jermaine Couisnard is a well-put-together guard from Indiana who has emerged as a high major target playing for Montverde (Fla.) Academy's prep team. He's a natural scorer with good size and athleticism and has drawn offers from UMass, South Carolina and Illinois in recent weeks.
.... Vermont Academy was just a little bit too short on experience to take out IMG, but they made a game of it thanks to junior shooting guard Tyler Bertram and sophomore combo guard Symir Torrence. A high energy and sharp shooting two guard, Bertram had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hands during an impressive 31-point outing. He's emerging as a major Northeastern mid major target for good reason. A crafty scorer, Torrence is already a tough customer off the dribble who makes just enough jumpers to keep defenders honest. George Washington, Tulane and UMass are among Torrence's early offers.