Fort Myers, FL– Traditionally, The City of Palms Classic is one the best high school tournaments in the country. This year’s batch of 28 teams was no exception. This six-day tournament held at Suncoast Credit Union Arena, featured eight of the top 12 players (ESPN rated) in the 2017 class as well as several other prominent underclassmen. Day one of the tournament had a lot of excitement in the building with Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Texas coach Shaka Smart watching the action. Their eyes were focused on highly touted senior Kevin Knox of Tampa Catholic (FL). Knox showed his array of moves by scoring 30 points and adding 12 rebounds in a 77-72 win over East St. Louis. At 6-9 Knox showed why he is a matchup problem with his beautiful high arching jump shot to go along with his long but quick first step to the hoop.
The second day of the tournament featured several high school gems. Senior M.J. Walker of Jonesboro High (GA) stood above the rest. Against Mae Jemison (AL), Walker scored a tournament high of 41 points to lead his team to a down to the wire 59-57 victory. Walker showed a little bit of everything. He shot 7-of-13 from beyond the arc as well as finishing strong at the hoop. During the tournament, Walker averaged 30 points a game earning him All- Tournament honors.
Before the City of Palms classic started, everyone had their calendars set for Day 3 to watch Hillcrest Prep (AZ) play against Westtown School (PA). This matchup featured the top two high school centers in Arizona signee DeAndre Ayton and Mo Bamba. Although the stats were a little underwhelming for both players. The fans were enamored all game at both big men going at each other. Ayton scored 13 points and had 13 rebounds while Bamba finished with six points and five rebounds helping Westtown win 53-42. Later that night kicked off the 3-point contest followed by the dunk contest.
Throughout the week, several big men showed why they are elite in their respective graduation class. Sophomore center Charles Bassey (No. 2 ranked sophomore) of St Anthony Catholic High (TX) scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against Putnam Science Acadamy. Then He went toe to toe with DeAndre Ayton and holding his own, scoring 10 points to go along with six rebounds. Senior Kentucky signee Nick Richards of Patrick School (NJ) impressed the crowd with several earth shattering dunks and blocked shots, drawing comparisons with former Kentucky player Willie Cauley-Stein.
The backcourt play of the teams in this tournament had a lot to do with how far each team went. A focal point to IMG’s 3rd place finish was in large part to (ESPN 5th ranked) Trevon Duval. At 6-2, Duval was a hard man to keep in front of throughout the tournament. Wowing the crowd on several occasions with ankle breaking crossovers along with above the rim finishes, Duval has Russell Westbrook like athleticism and will be fun to watch in college. Top sophomore in the country R.J. Barrett of Montverde (FL) helped lead his team to the championship game with a 30 point, nine- rebound showing in the semifinals. The lefty wing has a great knack of finishing in the paint. He used the opponents physical defense to his advantage by going to the line to shoot 18 free throws versus IMG. Barrett topped the tournament off by scoring 15 points in the championship victory over Memphis East (TN).
The 3-point contest was won by local standout senior Brandon Kostyk of Mariner High (FL). while the dunk contest was won by IMG (FL) junior Emmitt Williams.
Final Scores: 1st Place: Montverde Academy (63) Memphis East (54), 3rd place: IMG (70) Patrick School (63), 5th place: Hudson Catholic (44) Neumann Goretti (36), Consolation: Brentwood Academy (58) Norcross (56)
All-Tournament Team – MVP: R.J. Barrett (Montverde Academy). Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (Neumann Goretti), Trevon Duval (IMG Academy), Daruis Garland (Brentwood Academy), Luka Garza (Maret), Rayshaun Hammonds (Norcross), Jamir Harris (Patrick School), Alex Lomax (Memphis East), T.J. Moss (Memphis East), John Petty (Mae Jemison), Jahvon Quinerly (Hudson Catholic), Cam Reddish (Westtown), Nick Richards (Patrick School), Collin Sexton (Pebblebrook), M.J. Walker (Jonesboro) and Emmitt Williams (IMG Academy).
This article was written by Preston Guiot, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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