I’ve been looking forward to this event all week… the ‘Battle at the Rock’ showcase, presented by our service. A handful of talented teams will swing by Nation Ford High School (Fort Mill, SC) for Friday night and Saturday games. To kick things off, three games took place on Friday night, featuring several next-level prospects.
Gray Collegiate Academy – 90
Northwood Temple – 63
Porter Gaud – 60
York Prep Academy – 52
IMG Academy – 104
United Faith Christian Academy – 54
Some Team Notes
- Gray Collegiate Academy uses their energy well in playing hard-nosed defense, running the floor, and crashing the offensive glass. Early in the game, they jumped out on a big lead against Northwood Temple that they would not relinquish. Their guards have good awareness and instincts that resulted in them picking off many steals for easy layups. I liked how well they moved the ball and especially took note of the several lob passes completed. Very talented and well-coached team.
- Porter Gaud pushes the ball really well in transition to find cutting teammates for open looks. When the fast break opportunity does not present itself, they have players who move without the ball well at all times in the half-court. Their guards also do a great job in finishing with floaters once in the lane. In all, the squad appeared as one of the better ball-sharing teams during the night. That unselfishness should take them a long way moving forward.
- Northwood Temple has several talented guys who can make plays but will excel better if they work on finding more of a structure within their offense. I think they have enough athletic tools to beat teams with more drive-and-kick or pick-and-roll scenarios. Their two main scoring guards, Josh Nickelberry and Jahmari Taylor, draw a lot of attention from defenses and may find themselves winded from trying to produce the majority of the offense. Using other weapons will keep defenses more honest.
- IMG Academy arrived as the most athletic team in the gym with a roster of guys who either already have or most likely will commit to a Dvision I program. They had the gym in a frenzy immediately after taking the court. On both ends, the squad created havoc with their size, length, instincts, and IQ. When they seize momentum, I don’t see many teams who would be able to contain them. Too many tools to handle.
Night One Standouts
- Josiah James ’19 – Porter Gaud: Tennessee has a special one arriving next season in James. The lefty five-star prospect has a college body already, standing at an imposing 6’7″ and able to play various positions on the floor. His court vision results in him playing most effective as a primary ball-handler, as he continued to find his teammates around the perimeter and in the short corner. When he looked to score, James showed high efficiency on his shot, especially from the mid-range area. He simply makes the game look easier than most have the ability to do so. Earned MVP honors in Game 2 with a near-triple double effort: 13 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists in his team’s victory.
- Jalil Robinson ’19 – Gray Collegiate Academy: The MVP of Game 1 put on an absolute show right after tip-off in his impact on both sides of the floor. Robinson’s activity serves as a big reason for his impact, as he plays with a chip on his shoulder to make his opponent uncomfortable handling the rock. The 6’5″ combo guard can score in several ways: pull-up jumpers, attacking the rim, and following his own (or others’) misses with put-backs. His length and wingspan should make him a mismatch against several other opposing guards he comes across. Ended the night with a team-high 23 points, eight rebounds, and three assists in 24 minutes.
- Josh Nickelberry ’19 – Northwood Temple: The Louisville signee did what he always does best: light up the scoreboard. The 6’5″ four-star prospect used his balance well to stop on the dime for jumpers and drew a number of fouls in the second quarter. His team struggled quite a bit scoring against Gray Collegiate’s stifling defense but Nickelberry stood out as one of the lone bright spots on the team’s off night; he had spurts where he just went completely off on an offensive outpouring. For those trying to guard, you really can’t give him any bit of space or he’ll make you pay. The Co-MVP of Game 2 finished with a game-high 32 points (five three-pointers).
- Nicky Schwartz ’19 – Porter Gaud: After more of a quiet first half, the senior wing/forward turned up his motor to complete many finishes at the rim and act as one of the main anchors of the Cyclones’ outstanding team defense. He used his body control really well to score around the rim and showed plenty of hustle in his effort around the offensive glass. His stellar second half resulted in him finishing with a team-high 16 points.
- James Robinson-Earl ’19 – IMG Academy: I really like how the Villanova signee takes advantage of any mismatch opportunities he comes across. Robinson-Earl has a strong build that makes him a powerful converter at the rim, as well as a tough one to score over. Defensively, he showed some of the best versatility in Game 3 by taking on a role to guard multiple positions. In addition, he showed some of the most assertiveness on the glass out of his teammates.