- Adam Finkelstein
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Holiday time is always an important time of year on the recruiting front, and for a couple of different reasons. First, there are numerous holiday tournaments and events going on right now that provide college coaches with the opportunity to see numerous teams in one day under the same roof. Second, with the first semester of the college calendar coming to a close there is a slight lull in the college basketball schedule because of final exams, meaning that coaches have a little more flexibility in their schedule.
Here is a look back at some of the more notable events that have taken place in the last two weeks:
Scholar Roundball Classic -– This first time event run by Hoop Mountain and the New England Recruiting Report kicked off the holiday schedule last weekend at Babson College. Not so much a tournament as it was a showcase, the event featured many of the top academic schools in the northeast including Phillips Academy of Andover, Phillips Exeter Academy, Choate Rosemary Hall, Milton Academy, St. Mark’s, Northfield Mount Hermon, Hill School, and many others. Over 50 college coaches were in the stands throughout the weekend including 30 on Sunday. Some of the players to help their stock the most included: Demitry Coronell, Evan Cummins, Rene Castro, and Stefon Williams.
Bob Southall Tournament -– Held every year at Loomis Chaffee School in Connecticut, the Southall tournament annually attracts a wide range of on-looking college basketball coaches. The Salisbury School ultimately prevailed, defeating a tough Wilbraham & Monson team in the final. Salisbury features Quinnipiac signee Zaid Hearst in the backcourt along with junior point guard Ryan Frazier, who already owns an offer from Bucknell (head coach Dave Paulsen was in the house to watch Frazier on Wednesday night). Post-graduate swingman Jon Seltzer drew a large following from the Northeast-10 throughout the weekend, while Salisbury’s underclassmen tandem of big men has coaches from the highest levels intrigued. Six-foot-eight freshman Chris McCullough has the length, athleticism, and mobility to be a prospect for the highest level while six-foot-six sophomore Samuel Dingba only recently arrived from Cameroon and has a tremendous upside of his own.
Mercer Invitational -– The New Hampton School made the trip to Pennsylvania for the annual Mercer Invitational held by the Hill School and came away with their second consecutive championship as close to 30 college coaches from the greater Philadelphia area looked on. New Hampton defeated the Berkshire School in the open round, blew out the host Hill in the semis, and then knocked off the Landon School to take home the championships. UMass signee Jordan Laguerre continued to show why he could be an impact recruit in the Atlantic 10, earning MVP honors after averaging just under 20 points per game throughout the field. Also standing out was unsigned post-graduate Travis Souza, who is a six-foot-five swingman with a terrific skill set, high basketball I.Q., and the academic resume for the highest levels of admission standards.
Paul “Frosty” Francis Invitational -– Trinity-Pawling came from New York to defeat the host school, Kingswood-Oxford (Conn.), in a dramatic final. T-P’s Morgan Lee hit a driving lay-up with four seconds left to give his team a 64-63 win in the tournament final. Lee scored 23 points in the game and came away with MVP honors while teammates Blair Roberts and Pape Konteye were named to the All-Tournament Team. K-O was led by their backcourt tandem of Tylon Smith Jr. and Mike Deffley who both averaged well over 20 points per game. The third place game was no less dramatic as six-foot-seven big man Daryl Best Jr. scored with 12 seconds left to give Hamden Hall an 80-79 win over St. Luke’s, while Darren Payen finished with 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 blocked shots to earn All-Tournament Team recognition.
St. Andrew’s Holiday Classic -– St. Andrew’s School hosted some of the top AA prep schools in all of New England for their recent holiday showcase. Joining the Saints were powerhouse programs like Tilton, St. Mark’s, Brimmer & May, Cushing Academy, Winchendon, Marianapolis, Lawrence Academy, Vermont Academy, Boston Trinity, and others. With all participating teams playing one game on Friday and another on Saturday no official champion was crowned, but a steady stream of college coaches came out to see the action. Among the players that impressed the most were: Martin Dixon-Green, Marco Banegas, Zach Chionuma, Alex Murphy, Kaleb Tarczewski, Nerlens Noel, Wayne Selden, James Kennedy, Michael Carter-Williams, and Xavier Pollard.
St. Sebastian’s Holiday Basketball Tournament -– St. Sebastian’s put together one of their strongest fields in recent years for their 20th annual holiday basketball tournament. Milton Academy came away with the title after knocking off the Kent School in the final, 71-49, behind Boston College-bound big man Dennis Clifford, who came away with MVP honors. But it was far from a one-man show as Travis Sheldon scored a career high 23 points while Jesse Pagliuca added 21.
Huckins Rouse Invitational -– Brooks came away with the championship at this eight school tournament hosted by the Middlesex School, defeating Thayer Academy 53-45 in the championship game. Anthony Barry took home MVP honors after scoring 22 points in the final. Barry began the tournament with 17 points in an opening round victory over Nobles 57-30 and then followed that up with 16 points in a 58-37 win over King.
Adam Finkelstein is the founder and editor of the New England Recruiting Report and also covers recruiting in the northeast for ESPN's Scouts Inc. Adam has the rare distinction of having coached or scouted at the high school, NCAA, and NBA levels, having worked as a Division I assistant at the University of Hartford and spent three years under the NBA's director of scouting Marty Blake.