The Penny Hardaway HoopFest wrapped up with as much excitement as any fan could ask for. Southwind took Jabari Parker and Simeon to the buzzer, but fell a JaJuan Johnson 3-pointer short of knocking off Chicago’s finest. The nation’s #1 team (Findlay Prep) cruised to victory, while the nation’s #1 junior (Jahlil Okafor) also walked away with a win after facing constant double teams. The Lawson brothers, Dedric and KJ, showed why they’re two of Memphis’ next wave of stars by combining for 54 points. To top it off, big men John Egbunu and Austin Nichols had a battle for the ages (Article coming later) that showed why both may be a little underrated.
Here’s a look at some of the players who had outstanding performances on day three:
Jabari Parker, 6’8, SF, Simeon (IL),2013- We said it last week and we”ll say it again: Jabari Parker is back. He’s not quite 100%, but whatever he is makes him better than 99.9% of the high school players out there. Against Southwind, he showed his improved verticality with a pair of tip dunks and number of blocked shots. He connected on 7 of his 11 shots and made them drop from all over the floor. The future Blue Devil hit deep jumpers, took little guys from the block, and hit jumpers in between there. Although he’s still not back to full form, it’s great to see one of the nation’s finest back on the hardwood getting there.
Christian Wood, 6’10, SF/PF, Findlay Prep (NV), 2013- A player who many never were able to see the full potential of, Christian Wood has been on an absolute tear since Brandon Ashley and Anthony Bennett bounced to the college ranks. He had a great NBA Camp and LeBron James Skills Academy, and has carried that success over to this season at Findlay Prep. Against Melrose, Wood took home MVP honors by showing everyone that he can kill you both inside and out. The lanky forward hit a number of deep threes, was incredibly fluid roaming defensively, and was a straight pogo stick dunking everything in the paint. Wood will be staying in Vegas to play his college ball at UNLV, where he will have the opportunity to be their next NBA prospect.
Sebastian Saiz, 6’9, PF/C, Sunrise Christian (KS), 2014- The oustanding weekend for this Spaniard continued with another victory and MVP performance to go along with it. He posted 28 points and a tournament record 24 rebounds in Sunrise’s W over Memphis Ridgeway, scoring his points via a flurry of finishes at the rim and jump hooks. We only got to see him step out once, but it definitely looks there could be some potential for him as a trail big at Ole Miss.
Jahlil Okafor, 6’11, C, Whitney Young (IL),2014- After putting on a downright dominant performance last weekend at the Cancer Research Classic, Jahlil Okafor was back at it again, with Leron Black and White Station being the victims this time around. Facing a double team just about every time he touched the rock, his opportunities were limited yet he still showed a few moves that you simply cannot teach. Okafor had a blinding baseline spin for a 275 pound player, then followed that with a sequence involving a dunk, block, and then dunk where he filled the lane as a trailer all on consecutive plays. While the debate will continue to live on as to who the top player in 2014 is, Okafor has me sold that the spot is his to lose.
Dedric Lawson, 6’8, SF/PF, Memphis Hamilton (TN), 2016- The most heralded freshman in Memphis lived up to hype, pouring in 27 points in Hamilton’s loss to Arlington Country Day. With the size of a power forward and game of a small forward, it’s rare that you see any 15 year old hoisting up NBA three pointers the way that Dedric does. He blends his ability to play on the perimeter with a solid inside presence, both as a rebounder and a shot-blocker. We walked into Memphis not knowing what to think, and walked away thinking Dedric has to be a top 25 player in the class of 2016.