Bendel’s Best: Chick-Fil-A Classic Part Three
6’6 ’19 Wheza Panzo (Hamilton Heights)
Hamilton Heights is an absolutely loaded team that is led by a trio of stars in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky commit), Therren Shelton-Szmidt (Middle Tennessee commit), and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Virginia Tech commit), but those are certainly not the only college-level players on the team. Remember Wheza Panzo, as he is going to be the next guy up for the nationally ranked squad. His game is unique; he has the physical presence to play around the basket and the guard skills to hold his own on the perimeter. As of today, Panzo doesn’t have a set position, but there’s no doubting that he can play. His strong body allows him to control the glass on both sides of the ball; he is quite athletic and uses his leaping ability to punish smaller defenders. On defense, Panzo shows a high IQ and discipline, able to hold his ground across three positions very well. His recruitment will skyrocket over the next year or two once college coaches realize they need a guy like Panzo on their roster. This won’t be the last time we can see him, as he will be on display in Wilmington for the Phenom Joe Miller showcase, December 27-30.
6’7 ’18 Zion Williamson (Spartanburg Day School)
Next, we will look at a player that has arguably been the most dominant high school force since the great LeBron James. Williamson’s game has been well documented, and for good reason, as he has been averaging nearly forty points per game this season. Blessed with NBA-level athleticism, he is able to rise and throw down emphatic dunks over any defender, no matter how big or strong they are. Right now, he does nearly everything for Spartanburg Day, whether it be scoring, controlling the glass, protecting the rim or even handling the ball, he does it all. It’s amazing how sharp his perimeter skills are, especially for a player labeled as more of a big man; he’s a great ball handler, and not just because of his size. Many would think that a player of his level would be overly selfish, but it’s just the opposite with Williamson, as he looks to involve his teammates regularly, so much that many people would argue that he needs to be more selfish at times. Williamson has already solidified where he stands among the high school elites, regardless of class, and will have his choice of any school in the country come decision time.
6’3 ’19 Chase Hunter (Westlake)
Westlake is home to a load of quality players, both commits and non-commits, but everyone should begin taking note of young guard Chase Hunter. Much of the spotlight falls on Auburn commit Chuma Okeke, but Hunter is quietly the glue-guy that holds them together. He’s a combo guard that can play either [guard] position, but he truly is an advanced player for his age level. Hunter schools often and on three levels, especially from three-point land, but still plays within the offense and never feels the need to force shots. He handles the ball quite well and can be the secondary ball handler whenever necessary, as his high IQ and decision making allow him to pose a serious threat with the ball. Though he is a quality shooter, Hunter has no issues taking the ball inside and finishing strong at the cup. Currently he holds offers from Mississippi State and Auburn, but his recruitment is almost guaranteed to rise, as he continues to become a bigger part of this Westlake team.
6’7 ’17 Jordan Tucker (Wheeler)
There were dozens of lights-out shooters on display at the Chick-Fil-A Classic, but it would be difficult to find one better than Jordan Tucker. He’s an elite scorer with phenomenal length and a game tailor-made for college basketball. It is fairly obvious that Tucker is a three-level scorer, but he is just deadly with the ball in his hands. There are few players that can even hope to contain Tucker, as his quick-release shot is way faster than most defenders anticipate, combine that with incredible length and he’s almost impossible to guard. He’s really aggressive on the offensive end and should utilize his complete skillset more often to punish opponents inside. For a player that many would consider a “shooter,” he is able to do things on the basketball floor that others simply can’t. Aside from the shooting, Tucker is a high IQ player that understands the game incredibly well; his feel for teammates is refreshing, as he has gotten much better at decision making and getting others involved. The options are limitless when it comes to Tucker’s recruitment, as he holds offers from Arizona, UConn, Duke, Indiana, Louisville, Maryland, Syracuse and USC (Southern California).