There were a lot of quality players that took part in the two-day Wally Keller Classic event. Here is just a sampling of the many that stood out.
Latrell Davis, Naples First Baptist Academy: In an event with a lot of talented players, the 6’3 senior may have been the best. He dropped 33 points on a top five regardless of class Sagemont squad in a close five point loss, often putting on the Superman cape in the process. Whether dropping shots in from behind the arc (3-6), scoring on drives, and/or getting to the foul line (7-11), Davis found a way to get the ball in the basket. Strong and physically tough, he has a rugged playing style that should translate well to the next level. Davis makes opponent work when on defense, is a grab-and-go rebounder, and seeks out teammates for good shots.
D.J. Wimbley, Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy: The 6’7 sophomore more than picked up the slack created by teammate Alex Lloyd’s unavailability on Saturday. He was lethal in his ability to get to and score at the basket, whether running the floor in transition or attacking a set defense in the half-court. Wimbley showed excellent body control and proved he can score creatively with either hand. Though he shot just 1-3 from beyond the arc, that part of his game is improving and will no doubt be more of a weapon in the future. Wimbley actively rebounds at both ends and can be disruptive in the passing lanes on defense.
Braylon Jackson, Oldsmar Christian: It was good to see the 6’5 senior back on the floor as he had been out a few games due to injury. Not surprisingly, he picked up where he left off as the lefty scored from all three levels. A crafty finisher off the bounce, Jackson is also a tough cover coming off ball-screens as he can rise up and knock down the mid-range shot if the defense plays him too soft to protect against the drive. Admittedly Jackson didn’t have his best shooting game from the other side of the three-point line, put he has proved in the past that he can knock the shot down if not respected by the defense. On the defensive end of the floor, he covers a lot of ground quickly and moves his feet well when defending the ball.
Jaylen Robinson, Jacksonville Providence: The 6’6 junior may be a tad undersized to play on the interior at the next level, but he is highly productive inside the three-point arc. Athletic and bouncy, Robinson gets off the floor quickly to finish over defenders at the basket. He is adept at finishing through contact and makes his free throws at a high rate. Robinson will attempt the occasional perimeter shot on either side of the arc but that aspect of his game is still a work in progress. He is alert to come over from the weak side to swat shots and rebounds out of his area at both ends of the floor.
Danielus Kasparas, Weston Sagemont: The 6’8 senior is strong and a workhorse down low. He understands positioning, footwork, and how to create space to get shots off inside. Once Kasparas has the defender on his hip or backside, it is either a bucket, free throws, or both. He was a surprising 1-2 from beyond the arc. The shot looked good and if he can stretch the floor like that on a consistent basis, his stock goes up. Though not gifted athletically, Kasparass in rough, rugged, and doesn’t shy away from physical play. He controls his rebounding area and looks to challenge the shots of opponents entering the lane.
Marc Angueki, Orlando Christian Prep: Whether you want to apply the monicker of “secret sauce”, “secret weapon”, or “secret ingredient” to the 6’6 senior as the key to OCP’s run to another state title, all would be accurate. Angueki is not going to get many (if any) designed plays for him so when he does get the opportunities like he did on Saturday, he makes the most of them, usually scoring with jump hooks in the lane. Angueki pursues rebounds with a vengeance, especially on the offensive end. What was most impressive was his defensive versatility as on Saturday he was charged with defending uber-junior Karter Knox of Tampa Catholic and was able to slow him down a bit. Angueki also impressed with his ability to get the ball to shooters and cutters out of the post.
Jamie Phillips. Winter Haven: The 6’5 junior seemingly plays his best against the best competition. In a tight game against a very good Springfield, IL Sacred Heart-Griffin team, Phillips became focused on getting buckets, whether for himself or teammates, leading the Blue Devils to a tough win. While he may not have “the” basketball body, he knows how to use it to create space for shots, get by defenders, and draw fouls. Phillips excels at initiating the break after grabbing a defensive rebound, often finding teammates ahead of the defense for easy buckets. Whether running the offense from the perimeter or directing traffic in the post, he gets the ball to teammates for good shots. Phillips may not be the quickest of on-ball defenders but he anticipates well and gets a lot of tips and deflections throughout the course of a game.
Zack Hawkinson, Springfield (IL) Sacred Heart-Griffin: We were a bit dumbfounded when the 6’5 senior told us he only had some D-II offers at this point. Not saying every Big Ten team should be on him, but certainly at lot of Missouri Valley and other D-I mid-level schools in the Midwest should at least be taking an interest. With 20 points (3-4 from deep) and 11 rebounds (5 on the offensive end, four of those yielding points), Hawkinson more than held his own against Winter Haven. Toughness personified and with relentless energy, Hawkinson simply outworks and therefore outproduces most opponents. He has the length, athleticism, and desire to be a versatile defender.
Dallas Lambert, Port Charlotte: A 6’3 freshman, we came away not only impressed with his production but intrigued by his potential. He came off the bench with confidence, scored well on some quick drives to the rim and later showed his perimeter shooting touch with a mid-range pull-up after a steal and then a three off the catch. Sure, there were a few turnovers issues but none that won’t be resolved as he improves over the next couple of years. Lambert has the wingspan and lateral quickness to make an impact as a defender.
Sam Duckworth, St. Petersburg HS: The 6’1 senior plays with great effort and confidence. He is quick to the basket with the ball and generally makes good pass vs. shot decisions on the move. Duckworth shot the ball well from beyond the arc on Saturday and proved to be a surprisingly good rebounder for his size. He has quick and active hands and feet on the defensive end of the floor.