Before we get to Thanksgiving we had to hit the court for 2 days of big time basketball. Guys might’ve been looking ahead to Thursday, but they had lots on their plate here at the OTR Thanksgiving Classic at Fallbrook Church… including the gumbo and chili in the hospitality room courtesy of Mama Sloan.
Let’s get right to it..
THE LEGACY WAY vs THE PROLIFIC PREP STARS
This matchup was certainly a duel. Filled with hoopers, athleticism, and toughness. At the start we were a little worried Prolific would be too much for Legacy as they came out with 3 straight buckets. However, Legacy found their footing with the help of Masyn Howell and his paint touches and finishing or finding teammates. Playing national basketball a lot of times is about the size/athleticism; and Legacy always goes neutral with their opponents because of the heart and grit of Dionjahe Thomas & Jaret Valencia on the boards and low post defense. Prolific would lead at halftime 29-22, behind Tre White’s strong play in transition. The 3rd quarter is where things got interesting. Legacy made a smart adjustment putting Valencia on Tre White to force White to make plays vs length. At that point Legacy erupted with stringing together stops; Fred Payne got in on the action with some off-handed floaters; and Dionjahe Thomas was relentless attacking the rim. In the 4th Legacy would tighten the game, and finally even take a lead with about 4 minutes remaining. With no Diorr Johnson, Tre White would assume more of the primary ballhandling responsibilities, especially in crunch time. He excelled at playing out of the pick and roll and making the correct read with either a penetration pass or finish. MJ Rice helped with his strong drives, specifically through baseline attacks. A couple of exchanges and free throws put Prolific back on top. In the end, the last few possessions of the game came to down to execution and free throws. Legacy would have the last possession down 3 and a chance to execute their set, but unfortunately couldn’t get the shot to drop. Prolific won the electric matchup 59-55.
’23 Masyn Howell gave Legacy whatever they needed. Howell always plays tough defense. This game he finished at the rim against length. His pick and roll patience and timing was clicking as he would get into the paint drawing defenders in and finding the correct kick out option. And most impressively he rebounded! This do-it-all energy got Legacy going early, and got himself into a rhythm. Made some shots off the bounce as well. Really showed a complete game and a tenacity to compete.
’22 Dionjahe Thomas has been a saving grace all season. He has matched up vs plenty of nationally ranked big men and athletes, and has MORE than held his own. The Louisiana native definitely embodies that Louisiana ferocity. Motor is always on 1000. Offensive rebounding and positioning himself to get putback dunks and lob dunks is his calling card. This game he was a viable option in the low post and mid post with his faceup game and ability to attack through the contact.
You can certainly see the development in ’22 Tre White (USC commit). Always been a household name, but the best thing to see was his maturity in his body control and countering the defense. Whether it be off the catch in triple threat where he played off the jab well and got space. Or as a decision maker in the ball screen, he would beat the coverage, burn the edge, and make an on-time on-target read for a teammate to score or a score for himself. He was lethal in transition as he ran the floor and had a couple dunks. Truly played a complete game as he held a lot of responsibility to score and distribute.
Which Academy would prevail?
To kick off the day on Wednesday was Spring Creek Academy out of Dallas, and Good Vision Academy. Spring Creek definitely traveled well with their fans, so it made for a very loud and upbeat game 1 of the day! Both teams were very vocal and communicative throughout the entire game, especially on the defensive side- which was very pleasing to hear. They coupled that with great energy and hustle. Good Vision jumped out a little quick giving a little pressure and trying to speed Spring Creek up. Spring Creek adjusted appropriately. Joey Ramirez kept Spring Creek afloat in the first half with his ability to get past the first level of defense and make a play. Kevin Giles and Charles Yao of Good Vision would do the same being pests on defense and pushing the tempo. This game would naturally be a back and forth bout, until midway through the 4th quarter. An absurd change of momentum by Spring Creek opened the floodgates. Good Vision got really sloppy, no execution or shot making, which turned into transition and major defensive lapses. Spring Creek would play great in the pick and roll, Nico Romanelli had several assists, one for a nice dunk. Transition they would run hard, and get open looks, where Ramirez would find open space. And rebounds became an issue- Spring Creek outrebounded Good Vision 36-16. Spring Creek finished with the win 66-45.
’22 CG Joey Ramirez had himself a day. The strong build guard is very efficient, plays hard, and moves with purpose on the floor. When moving at top speed, he’s hard to bump off his line so he gets to the paint and can finish through contact. Athletic enough to come through the lane and dunk you if you’re late on rotations. Made open threes. Really was in a groove and it showed. Super solid performance. He finished with 25p on 11/17 shooting and 3/6 from three.
‘22 PG Nicolo Romanelli has been a leading force for Spring Creek for years now. Very high IQ player who’s not scared of the bump. Plays with a bit of spunk and attitude. He gets his team into their actions, orchestrates the court, and is the vocal leader on the floor. A true PG he wants to make all the winning plays that his team needs to get the victory. An impressive stat line of 10p on 4/6FG, 9 assists 0 turnovers!, and 6 rebounds. That’s real impact. Not scared to get into the lane and mix it up. And Nico always brings the energy. He was excited and yelling the whole 4th quarter while his team was on their finishing run.
Kevin Giles has a great motor and plays the game really hard. Fast twitch and a long wingspan at 6’5 allows him to really be an open target in the halfcourt. As well as being an option running the lanes in transition. Has very good hands, he tips a lot of 50/50 balls to himself; and gets tons of deflections. He finished the game with 13p 4rebs.
Grace Christian’s studs vs PSAT’s prospects
On paper you would think that PSAT may have had the obvious advantage. They have more depth, more bench play, more size. Grace Christian was low-numbered, and may not have the same amount of prospects- but the ones they do have definitely came to play. PSAT came out with a sluggish start in the 1st quarter. This kind of set the tone for the remainder of the game. Grace Christian took full advantage. ’22 Daniel Sanchez was on one, with a nasty dunk in the first half. Michai Seals was also strapped up from the 3pt line knocking down 3 threes. Xavier Owens was doing a good job controlling the tempo and keeping his team level headed. PSAT may have had a slow start, but 2nd quarter something lit a fire in ’23 Johnathan Ogunfuye because he was deadeye going 6/6. Grace Christian would continue to lead through the second half all the way until middle of the 4th quarter. PSAT eventually got all things clicking. Shot making from Ogunfuye and ’23 Dylan Glover, and offensive rebounding from ’25 Alejandro Aviles. Grace Christian Academy went cold from the field and got stagnant in their offense and couldn’t hold on til the end. PSAT comes out with the victory 71-64.
’22 6’7 F Daniel Sanchez had it on his mind. Early on in preseason at our OTR shootout he was playing well and apparently he hasn’t stopped. Daniel is the ultimate pick and pop weapon. He has great feel not only in his offensive skillset, but an outstanding feel in knowing when to attack, when to pass, how to get into his post ups, how to stretch and the shoot the 3. His IQ and understanding of the game is very high. His crazy dunk in the first half really solidified his athleticism. He seemed to have liked his matchup from the perimeter this game, as he put the ball on the ground a little more and really got to his spots to score. Lefty’s always generally have that smooth game and swag to themselves. Sanchez has ALL of that. He finished with 15p, 9 rebs, 3 asts.
’23 Johnathan Ogunfuye had an impressive game. Efficient is an understatement. In 25 minutes, Johnathan had 25p on 10/11 shooting, 4/4 from 3pt. He continues to get better every outing. So far he has been very consistent this season. He has patience in his jab and faceup game. He understands if the defender is not close enough or has his hand down then that is a shot. His wingspan helps him when attacking the basket because he can finish over the top of defenders or get space that most cant. At 6’7 I love how he gets out wide and really sprints the wings at changes of possession- hence why he gets a lot of lob dunks. He’s starting to open a lot of eyes. Transferring to PSAT seems to be paying great dividends for him and his development.
Whole lotta scrap in Shaun Dumas Academy & Booker T
These 2 teams were more scrappy than Scooby doo’s nephew. A lot of guards who are feisty, fast, and want to speed you up and play uptempo. We’ve seen Shaun Dumas Academy play and they definitely want the game to fast so their athletes can get to work. First half was evenly matched. Booker T’s ’24 Chris McDermott held down the fort going a perfect 5/5 from the field and 11p in the first half. Shaun Dumas had balanced scoring all across the board that had them up at halftime, 33-27. As the game went on Booker T could never just get themselves within striking distance. John Kelly & Kyran Ratliff did a lot of damage just doing their job of rebounding, playing in the open space and getting dump downs, attacking the rim and finishing. 4th quarter Shaun Dumas turned up the full court pressure, and in the end it was too much for Booker T Washington. Lack of rebounding, missing free throws, and turnovers were the tale of the tape in the 4th. Shaun Dumas came away with the win 78-56.
•SHAUN DUMAS ACADEMY:
Kyran Ratliff is a 6’9 kid who has great hands and great instincts. We’ve talked about him here before, and he was being his usual self in this one. He gets to open space and makes himself a target so that his teammates can have an available pass to him. If he has any room, you better watch your head because he’s coming to slam it down. On the defensive side, those same instincts, plus big hands long arms, allow him to snag boards and alter lots of shots. He finished with 12p 4/6 FG, 4 rebs.
6’6 John Kelly also did a fantastic job of playing within himself and not doing anything uncharacteristic. He shot and made open shots, ran the floor, rebounded, handled pressure, defended. Really played the right way and was efficient as well. Long and athletic. 6/12 from the field, 2/4 from 3pt. He ended with 14p 4rebs.
•BOOKER T WASHINGTON:
’23 6’6 Kenneth Lewis tried his best to keep his team in it. Kenneth is a long athlete who can really get out and run and be a nightmare in transition. His halfcourt offensive game is coming along, as he has to be able to score in various ways for Booker T to stay in games. When his shooting is on he can really fill up the box score. Serious lob threat when he’s cutting and slashing. Crashes the boards hard on offense and defense. 25p on 45% shooting from the field and the 3pt line, coupled with 6 rebs.
’24 6’7 Chris McDermott was really active in this one. Rebounding, especially on the offensive end, is something he does very well. He has long arms, and uses them to always tip the ball on rebounds to himself. He uses his wingspan the same way on the defensive end to challenge every shot. Chris actually is a smart post player as he can read double teams and make the proper pass out. He is starting to play more in the midpost and looking to try to score via his faceup game. Can definitely knock down the 15-18 foot shot with consistency. He was a tough guard for Shaun Dumas as he racked up several trips to the free throw line. He went 5/5 first half and ended 5/6 going for 13p and 10 rebs. A walking double double in his sleep.
The Prep’s out of Dallas
Big Tyme Sports Prep faced off against Dallas Premier Prep. A tough matchup for Dallas Premier, as they just lacked the true size and athleticism to go against Big Tyme. They are a reflection of their coach though because they battled and fought no matter what was on the score; they did a good job of making Big Tyme turn the ball over. At times they would make a run and get the game to 10 but never seemed to be able to get over that hump. Big Tyme just outran and pressured full court and made it difficult for Dallas Premier to get any consistent good looks at the basket.
Really liked the way 6’6 Jarrell Love played in this one. He looked like a potential legitimate 2 guard. Great shot selection. He utilized his speed and athleticism by streaking the floor in transition. A couple of explosive dunks. He also showed just his knack for finding his way into open space either via the jab game, or simple effective dribble moves to get around guys. He has length, athleticism, good form on his shot, and runs, competes, and plays hard. He very well deserves to be on somebody’s college campus no question.
Even in the tough matchup, I liked the way 6’3 PG Jona Anderson competed. He got pressured all game, and handled it well. His change of direction was very smooth. Majority of the game he would get his defenders on his hip, then go behind-the-back and would always shake free. He pushed the tempo and tried to get as many paint touches as he could. Being sped up, and defense draped around him, you can tell he had a rough shooting day, but he had a good understanding of space and when to pull up for the jumper. The lefty had good elevation on his jumpshot.
Sharks in the water vs Universal
In the last match of the night Shadow Creek looked really sharp as they took on Universal Academy. The scores at intermissions don’t do the game justice. Universal actually played a fairly solid game stat wise. However, I think Shadow Creek was just really on point and really efficient. The 1st quarter Shadow Creek was pretty hot and jumped to a 10pt lead. Shawn Jones and Cam Amboree would lead the way for the entire first half. The two both went 6/6 from 3pt land, and only missed a total of 2 shots amongst them both. The 2nd we saw Universal get a little more active, as Braedan Jordan and Marlon Linton got some baskets to go. Universal just couldn’t seem to get many stops. Universal was 51% from the field and 72% from the 3pt line. Shadow Creek was 63% from the field and 63% from the 3pt line. Shadow Creek just played faster, more focused, and more production from their stars and that’s what got them the win 67-49.
Texas State commit Shawn Jones’ speed, length, and playmaking were all on point. From the jump, he was flying around and causing havoc. Plays the passing lanes better than anyone, and once he gets in transition you can go ahead and count the bucket. He had 4 steals. He was definitely in a groove and rhythm on the offensive side. When he makes his first three pointer it’s usually trouble. He made good passes out of traps and doubles. Found the open man on time. He was knocking down shots going 4/5 from 3pt, and finishing around the rim ending 7/12 from the field. 21p 5rebs 4stls, a great shooting night, and a W for Shawn Jones.
Oral Roberts commit Cam Amboree also showed up ready to play. He was just as efficient! Knows how to find his shots, plays on the ball or off the ball well, high understanding for the game. All of these things were on display. He’s been called baby Curry for all his life, but in this one he definitely he embodied what that really looks like. Cam was 4/5 from the 3pt, 6/9 from the field, and 8/8 from the free throw line. An almost spotless shooting performance. It’s hard to guard a player who can really beat you 1v1, take advantage of you in the pick and roll, but then also pass the ball sprint relocate and shoot with accuracy. The biggest thing people don’t realize about this, is that the way he plays kind of demoralizes defenses and gets them frustrated in trying to keep up defending him with his pace, and various ways to get free. Cam finished with 24p on a hell of a shooting night.
Braedan Jordan was the bright spot for the team. He shot the ball well from deep. He just continued to play and find the open pockets that he could against Shadow Creek’s pressure. Jordan is a good athlete, plays smart, and plays hard. Knows how to keep it simple and be effective with his play. He had a nice game going for 16p on 6/11 shooting 4/6 from 3pt land.
*all photos courtesy of Gabriela Alvarez, Instagram @bygabrielaamry