When a field is as loaded with talent as the NIBC Sunshine Classic at Montverde Academy this past weekend, there are destined to be standout players. Below are just a few of the notable performers.
Chris Johnson, Montverde Academy: A 6’4 senior committed to Kansas University, Johnson only played fifteen minutes against IMG but got a lot done in a short amount of time. He finished with six points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals. A high-level athlete that can play either guard spot, Johnson has reliable range past the arc and is a terror taking the ball to the basket, whether in transition or on drives in half-court sets.
Cooper Flagg, Montverde Academy: The hype is REAL! The 6’8 sophomore has an incredible feel for the game and plays like he has something to prove. Flagg already has a solid frame that will fill out, get stronger, and become even more athletic. He is skilled in all phases of the game and stuffs a stat sheet. While the efficiency might not have been as high as one would like (just 5-15 from the floor and 1-4 from three), a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds to go along with three steals, four assists and five blocks more than makes up for it. Flagg has been mentioned as a contender as Best Prospect in all of high school basketball regardless of class, along with Cameron Boozer of Miami Christopher Columbus. While many would like see the two players match up at the Montverde Academy Invitational in January, the real thrill would be to see them team up on a USA Basketball stage.
Bryson Tucker, Bradenton IMG Academy: It was a tough game for everybody on IMG vs. Montverde and the 6’7 junior was not immune. While scoring just eight points on 4-16 shooting from the field and grabbing four rebounds isn’t a great line, Tucker still showed flashes as to why he is arguably a top ten player in the Class of 2024. He looks to be highly effective as a slasher and driver to the rim with good athleticism and the ability to finish through contact in a crowd. Tucker is very athletic and shows potential as a versatile defender. It wouldn’t surprise if Tucker “goes off” the next time we see him play.
Amier Ali, Bradenton IMG Academy: The 6’8 junior played at Montverde as a sophomore and he seemed to be the only IMG player unphased by the fired-up Montverde crowd. Ali came off the bench to lead the Ascenders in scoring with twelve points and also grabbed five rebounds. At times, he found himself running the offense as a back-up point guard as he has good ball-skills and court vision for a player his size. Long and athletic, Ali has filled out some since last year but will need to continue to down protein shakes and hit the weightroom. His versatility is his strength as he can play all but the post on the floor. Ali struggled with his perimeter shot but the form is there. It is only a matter of time and repetition for it to become a significant weapon in his offensive arsenal.
V.J. Edgecombe, Long Island Lutheran: We’ve seen him at some of our events in the past and he played well. However, he made a quantum leap in competition, going from a couple of small private schools in South Florida to NIBC newcomer Long Island Lutheran and Edgecombe has really blossomed! A smooth but explosive athlete, he had some “oooohh” and “aahhh” moments on the break and when attacking the basket against a set defense. Edgecombe has great body control in the air and scores well in a crowd. Based on his 3-8 from behind the arc and his 5-6 from the free throw line, his perimeter shot has vastly improved and he does a good job of mixing that with his drives to keep the defense off balance. His double-double of 28 points and 12 rebounds, to go along with four steals, suggests Edgecombe’s recruiting profile is about to head upwards on a steep trajectory.
Coen Carr, Columbia South Carolina Legacy Early College: The 6’7 senior looked every bit like a future star for Michigan State. He has the strong frame and athleticism that has become synonymous with players that have made great impact in Tom Izzo’s program over the years. Carr finishes violently and with a vengeance around the basket, dominates the glass at both ends of the floor and plays super-hard every possession. He excels on the break and is quick to get the ball up the floor once he secures the rebound. We admittedly didn’t see much in the way of a perimeter shot from Carr in the game, but that isn’t a concern at this time.