Last night’s Montverde Academy Purple vs. Gold scrimmage was a closely contested affair from start to finish. The Purple squad led at the half by a single point, 38-37. Neither team was able to gain an advantage in the second half until a late push by Purple gave them a five point victory, 84-79.
The main players for the Purple squad were 6’7 senior Cade Cunningham, 6’3 junior Langston Love, 6’8 senior Scottie Barnes and 6’4 senior Zeb Jackson.
The primary players for the Gold squad were 6’5 sophomore Dariq Whitehead, 6’5 senior Moses Moody, 6’0 junior Ryan Nembhard, 6’8 sophomore Caleb Houston, and 6’10 senior Day’ron Sharpe.
Cade Cunningham: 20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists – Cunningham is universally considered the #2 prospect in the country in the Class of 2020. He was highly effective without being ball-dominant. Cunningham was consistent with his perimeter jumper, going three for three on shots outside of fifteen feet. He also had a couple of nifty drives that resulted in athletic finishes above the rim.
Langston Love: 16 points, 1 rebounds, 1 assist – The junior from Texas did most of his damage in the first half, scoring twelve points. He’s an athletic finisher as well as a reliable shooter from beyond the arc. Love also dabbled a bit at the point guard spot.
Scottie Barnes: 24 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals – Everyone of Barnes’ makes came at the rim. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. While there will be some that quibble with his perimeter shooting ability or success rate at the foul line (4-7), his ability to stuff the stat sheet and find teammates for easy baskets is incredible.
Zeb Jackson: 20 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists – Jackson won the dunk contest prior to the scrimmage. That being said, most of his damage came from the perimeter. Jackson was 3-5 from outside the arc and 2-2 on mid-range jumpers off the bounce. Like Harlond Beverley last season, Jackson will be an “X-Factor” at both ends of the floor for the Eagles.
Dariq Whitehead: 24 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 assists – Similar to last season’s Purple vs. Gold game, Whitehead was impressive. He connected on his first three attempts from outside the arc and finished 5-6 from deep for the game. Whitehead also got to the rim frequently and finished in traffic.
Moses Moody: 16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists – Moody had all of two points in the first half. He came alive to open the second, scoring nine quick points. That seemed to boost his confidence and elevate his game the rest of the half. Moody became more aggressive on the offensive end and demonstrated that he can get to the basket and score with the drive.
Ryan Nembhard: 18 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists – Nembhard has re-classed up into the 2021 Class. While he doesn’t have the size of his brother, he has the same high basketball IQ and plays within himself and the team concept. He proved to be a reliable perimeter shooter and completed drives at the rim in a crowd.
Caleb Houston: 7 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists – Most of Houston’s shot attempts were three-pointers and while he’s normally reliable from there, he struggled last night, going just one for six. His rebounding numbers were good, as that is what the Eagles will need this season.
Day’ron Sharpe: 13 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block – The North Carolina signee is a load inside. With decent footwork, strength, and a soft touch, he is tough to contain if not double-teamed. Sharpe also proved capable of stepping out and knocking down mid-range shots.
Depending on which pre-season poll you put stock in, Montverde is either the #1 or #2 team in the country heading into this season. Last night’s scrimmage re-enforced that notion. With Barnes and Cunningham, the Eagles have arguably the two best playmakers in high school basketball. They worked well together and got teammates easy looks at the basket. Moody, Love, and Jackson each showed that they can score with ease anywhere on the floor. Sharpe will provide offensive balance on the interior and a rim protector on defense. The trio of Whitehead, Houston, and Nembhard will be extremely important to the success of the Eagles this coming season as contributors off the bench. The one concern is lack of depth inside. If Sharpe gets into foul trouble or, worse yet, gets injured, the Eagles have no one like him on the roster to serve as a capable back-up. That would most likely move Houston or Barnes inside and while either or both are serviceable down there, it won’t be as effective.