Ft. Myers, Fla. – Bishop Verot High School has put on one of the best if not the best high school basketball tournaments in the country for the past 22 years. Next winter, the tournament will move to a brand new and bigger arena at the local Florida SouthWestern College.
As the games came to a close on Wednesday night so many great memories came flashing before my eyes, including a 2011 3-point champion victory from my friend Garrison Free (Ft. Myers High), Ben Simmons’ dominance with Montverde for two straight years (2013, 14), Lou Williams’ dunk contest and 3-point championship win in 2005. So many great games were played and endless moments took place as we watched these boys turn into men in front of an always raucous crowd.
Wednesday’s night final served as a nice glimpse into the future with the Ball brothers of Chino Hills (Calif.) putting it all together one last time in this tournament against a feisty Patrick School (N.J.) group that was playing without its top inside player, junior center Nick Richards (concussion). Chino outlasted Patrick School 66-60 in overtime as many fans left with the game slightly out of reach in the fourth quarter before a furious comeback late by the Celtics.
Senior Lonzo Ball, the oldest of the three Ball brothers (LiAngelo – junior, LaMelo – freshman) didn’t shoot the ball particularly well on the night as he had five points on 2-of-9 shooting from the field and 1-of-5 from 3-point land in the first half of play before finishing with a team-high 20-points.
Lonzo Ball hit a clutch 3-pointer with over one minute left in the overtime period after making just 1-of-11 previously. He had 11 assists, eight rebounds and two blocks in the game. He earned the MVP award with 28.3 points in four games played.
For LiAngelo, he had just 11 points on Wednesday with only with 3-pointer after adding 42 points with five threes the night before against High Point Christian. The 5’10” freshman LaMelo Ball recorded 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
Lonzo and LiAngelo just simply don’t come off the court, in the first game of the tournament on Thursday night in a 91-90 victory over Thomas Jefferson (N.Y.), the elder brothers along with LaMelo didn’t come off the court as Lonzo had two blocks on the final possession. Chino Hills took down Montverde (Fla.) 83-82 as Lonzo and LiAngelo played the entire game. They did the same against High Point on Tuesday and once again in 36 minutes of action on Wednesday. LaMelo came off the court in parts of the last couple of games, but for a freshman he sure played a lot and put together solid performances.
Senior Elijah Scott excelled the past two games for Chino, generating 15 points and nine rebounds as he didn’t come off the court at all. Although not committed yet, he has a bright future at the next level as a solid defender and big dunker. Freshman center Oneyka Okongwu is a very good blocker and rebounder as he had nine points, seven boards and four blocks on Wednesday. I’m excited to see how much he can improve as he matures and adds more muscle.
For Patrick School, Nick Richards sat out, but that didn’t stop guards Bryce Aiken and Jamir Harris from stealing the show with 15 points apiece. Aiken, a senior and Harvard commit had four fouls late, but played a nice game on both ends of the ball. Harris, a junior has a confident sense in his game as he hit 3-of-6 threes and helped rally his team back to force an extra quarter. Also, senior center and Rhode Island signee Cyril Langevine played a nice game with 14 points along with six rebounds on 7-of-12 shooting.
Final note from the game: Watching former Rutgers coach and interim Patrick School head coach was pure entertainment. He put together a solid gameplan and even though he’s loud and over the top he knows basketball very well and deserves a second chance.
Bam Adebayo and his High Point Christian squad matched up with No. 2 prospect in the country and Duke commit Jayson Tatum’s Chaminade (Mo.) team in the third place game.
Adebayo shot just 2-of-8 from the floor with seven points as Chaminade slowed him down in the paint for most of the night as Iowa commit Tyler Cook played him tough. Adebayo, a Kentucky commit and the No. 6 ranked senior (ESPN) has big things ahead despite a weak performance. I’m a big fan of his post moves and if he can start hitting some more outside shots, he’ll be well on his way to a solid NBA career.
Michael Hueitt Jr. led High Point with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 from 3-point land. A streaky shooter, Hueitt isn’t afraid to take a contested shot and when he’s on he can shoot with the best of them.
For Chaminade, who finished fourth overall in the tourney with the loss, Tatum had 26 points, six rebounds and three assists. He only made 2-of-7 from 3-point range. I think he is a tremendous talent and one of the best pure shooters in the country, but at 6’9″ he’s going to have to be more physical moving to the next level. He was at times the last two days.
His counterpart, Tyler Cook had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Cook is strong and physical and can knock down tough shots. I’m a big fan of his game and I think Cook and Adebayo play similar styles down low. Cook could ultimately pan out as the better all-around player since he can shoot jumpers with ease.
Montverde Academy (Fla.) beat Westerville South (Ohio) to take the fifth place crown, 81-52.
Although Montverde doesn’t have one particular star or multiple studs like in the past ala Ben Simmons or De’Angelo Russell, head coach Kevin Boyle has a deep rotation of players to work with.
Freshman RJ Barrett who doesn’t play anything like a freshman had 12 points, five rebounds and three assists on 4-of-7 shooting from the field. He is going to be a legitimate player.
Ohio State commit and senior forward Micah Potter had his biggest game of the tourney with 18 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. Sophomore Silvio DeSousa led Montverde with 20 points on a highly impressive 10-of-11 shooting from the field. Ranked as the No. 2 player in the 2018 class (ESPN), DeSousa saved his best for last on Wednesday.
As for Westerville South, junior center Kaleb Wesson, a 6’9″, 302-pound Ohio state commit led his group with 15 points and five rebounds. His older brother Andre had 12 points while senior Ennis Thomas also had 12.
Year in and year out I’ve attended the City of Palms Classic as either a fan or media member and this year was perhaps one of the deepest tournaments of all time. All the players listed below on the All-Tournament team have big futures ahead of them.
Bam Adebayo, Tyler Cook, Lonzo Ball, Shamorie “Slic” Ponds, RJ Barrett, Thon Maker and Austin Wiley were my favorite performers of the tourney. Jayson Tatum is going to excel at Duke, but I think to be a successful starter in the NBA he’s going to have to be more physical inside.
Next year should be a good one at a brand new venue. Don’t miss out attending that next winter with the City of Palms staff always finding the best talent in the country to be showcased over a 6-day span.
The City of Palms Classic All-Tournament team
MVP: Lonzo Ball, Chino Hills (Calif.)
LiAngelo Ball, Chino Hills (Calif.)
LaMelo Ball, Chino Hills (Calif.)
Bryce Aiken, Elizabeth (N.J.) Patrick School
Jamir Harris, Elizabeth (N.J.) Patrick School
Cyril Langevine, Elizabeth (N.J.) Patrick School
Rowan “R.J.” Barrett, Montverde Academy (Fla.)
Jayson Tatum, St. Louis (Mo.) Chaminade
Tony Bradley, Bartow (Fla.)
Edrice “Bam” Adebayo, High Point (N.C.) Christian
Michael Porter Jr., Columbia (Mo.) Father Tolton
Thon Maker, Orangewood (Ontario, Canada) Athlete Institute
Shamorie “Slic” Ponds Brooklyn (N.Y.) Thomas Jefferson
Payton Pritchard, West Linn (Ore.)
Austin Wiley, Hoover (Ala.) Spain Park
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
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