Sunday, November 21, 2010
National Prep Showcase: Day 2 Notes
By Adam Finkelstein
The big news on day two of the National Prep Showcase didn’t actually happen on the court. Instead, it was word that Notre Dame Prep’s Khem Birch, the second ranked junior in the nation, was foregoing his post-graduate year and had in fact signed a National Letter of Intent with Pittsburgh earlier this week.
Birch’s mother, Wendy Sparks, confirmed to ESPN that both she and Birch had signed the letter of intent on Wednesday, the last day of the early signing period.
“He’s a Panther,” Sparks said. “Khem is ecstatic and we are all so happy.”
Birch was literally on the floor, leading his Notre Dame Prep team to a hard fought victory over Westwind Prep from Arizona but had the opportunity to talk about his decision following the game.
“As the year went by my coaches told me I might have a chance to go to 2011 and I thought that was a good idea because it will help me to get better in college instead of staying in high school,” Birch said.
“I just felt really comfortable with all of the coaches and players at Pittsburgh and I wanted to get there as quickly as possible because I knew it would help me to become a better player.”
The move is significant on a number of different fronts as Birch’s reclassification takes him from the second ranked junior in the country to the ninth ranked senior according to the ESPNU rankings. His addition to Pittsburgh’s 2011 class propels them into the top fifteen in the country. Another consequence of the decision is that the state of Massachusetts has another candidate for this year’s McDonald’s All-American game as Birch should seemingly be a strong candidate.
On the court, the action was non-stop as a total of eight games were played throughout the day featuring some of the top post-graduate teams in the country.
Top 3 Performances
1. Andre Drummond, St. Thomas More Coming off a disappointing 8 point 4 rebound effort on day one of the showcase, Drummond came out and made a statement on day two turning in 22 points, 16 rebounds, and 6 blocks. What was most impressive though was how much better he can still get once he learns to maximize his tools. His physical tool set is virtually unparalleled with incredible length, athleticism, and mobility. He runs the court like a deer and plays above the rim with effortless agility. Once he learns to polish his skill set with his back to the basket, both establishing position prior to the catch and then operating with the ball, his upside is virtually unlimited.
2. Kaleb Tarczewski & Alex Murphy, St. Mark’s The junior tandem was phenomenal on Saturday night leading St. Mark’s to a big win over a much more experienced Lee Academy squad. Tarczewski dominated the paint, establishing position in front of the rim, finishing at a high rate, and being a defensive intimidator. Murphy stood out by proving his prowess on the glass, which is ironic since his rebounding is often considered to be among his most noticeable deficiencies. Not only did Murphy pull down a game high 17 rebounds but he did it while playing with the ball in his hands from the point for a significant portion of the game.
3. Jordan Laguerre, New Hampton UMass bound guard Jordan Laguerre led his New Hampton team against arguably the nation’s best team in Hargrave Military Academy from Virginia. Laguerre put up 23 points on 10-18 shooting from the floor while adding six rebounds from the backcourt. The New Hampshire native has a tremendously quick first step and took advantage of New Hampton’s court spacing in order to attack the rim. Laguerre made good decisions while in first gear, varying his speeds, and finding his teammates when the defense rotated.