The 2nd Annual Caribbean Tip-Off Classic took place in The Bahamas this past weekend and it was one hell of a way to kickoff the ’19-’20 Prep School season. At the end of the weekend, the NetScouts duo of Dave Maron and Carl Berman put together an All-Tournament Team that I agreed with wholeheartedly. As much as I would’ve loved to argue, they really nailed it and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
These 10 players were obvious standouts throughout the weekend, which explains the extensive footage of almost every one of them. Here’s a quick breakdown of how they earned their spot on the 2019 All-Caribbean Tip-Off Classic Team….
MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER
The Haitian pitbull –who was born in Canada- is currently building one of the strongest resumes in all of international amateur hoops. The dynamic 6’6” playmaker took home the 3-Point Shooting and All-Star Game MVP trophies at Basketball Without Borders in September but it’s seemed to make him even hungrier.
Mathurin plays with real aggression and true passion but also owns one of the strongest all-around skillsets in the 2020 class. He owns simple shot mechanics that stay true when he extends well beyond the arch, violent athleticism that allows him to finish well above the rim and the toughness to go directly at a rim-protector’s chest when he’s attacking in the lane.
The entire package was on display in The Bahamas this weekend and Mathurin even turned it up a notch against Putnam Science, exploding for 35-points in a tough 77-72 loss to one of the best prep teams in the country. His scoring prowess is probably going to earn him a paycheck but he’s also got a great nose for the ball, is a crafty passer and owns the innate ability to freeze defenders with his eyes.
Mathurin averaged an efficient 29 points per game while leading the NBA Latin America Academy to a 2-1 record.
If anyone is getting tired of seeing or hearing Diarra’s name associated with The Hustle…too bad, kick rocks! When somebody stops him for a weekend, they’ll get the credit they deserve. But don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.
Now that his college decision is out of the way, Diarra can fully focus on preparing himself for the next level and doing whatever it takes to come out on the winning end every time he takes the floor. That's great news for Tom Espinosa's Putnam Science program and Buzz Williams’ Texas A&M Aggies but bad news for the rest of Prep School Basketball.
Diarra averaged 15.3 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists & 3 steals while leading PSA to a 3-0 weekend with wins over Ridley College Prep, BC Christian Prep and the NBA Academy-Latin America.
Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, 6’7” Wing, Orangeville Prep 2020
Moncrieffe put up one of the Caribbean Tip-Off Classic’s best individual performances in the tournament’s opening game, exploding for 29 Pts/15 Reb/4 Ast/3 Stl/2 Blk in a win over ISA. If those numbers weren’t impressive enough, Moncrieffe was able to do all of his scoring damage while shooting 13-21 from the field.
While that type of efficiency is undoubtedly sexy, it may not even be the most exciting part of Moncrieffe’s game. His ability to create off the bounce and find open teammates is what keeps defenders honest, at bay and unable to collapse for a double team while he’s on his way to the rack. Meanwhile, Moncrieffe’s size-&-athleticism on the wing make him a true mismatch nightmare and a constant threat to dive-&-sky for rebounds on the offensive end.
The NC State staff was in the gym for him over the weekend but it’s easy to picture Moncrieffe playing in any of the nation’s top conferences next year. He’ll certainly have a long list of suitors to choose from.
During the inaugural Caribbean Tip-Off Classic last year, it was Jaden Bediako who made a huge statement and parlayed it into a strong senior season at Ridley College Prep before heading to Santa Clara to start his college career.
This year, it was Jaden’s not-so-little brother who had a message to send and it was heard loud-&-clear throughout the Loyola Hall gym. It sounded something like this:
“I'M ONE OF THE BEST BIG MEN IN THE NATION!”
It’s hard to disagree with that statement after watching the bouncy 6’11” big man use his relatively raw tools to consistently finish above the rim, corral rebounds in-&-outside of his area and block shots from multiple spots within 18-feet of the rim. The fact that Bediako is still in the infancy stage of his prospect development is what makes him one of the most enticing long-term prospects in the country.
His elite potential yielded elite production when he squared off against his former coaches and teammates from Ridley on Sunday. Bediako exploded for 26 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks in ISA’s 83-73 win.
Bediako currently holds offers from programs in the SEC, ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12 and PAC-12. That list will only continue to expand.
The second half of the NBA Academy’s 1-2 punch has the ability to score at all three levels and owns one of the sweetest pull-up jumpers you’ll find in prep hoops.
Prosper also comes equipped with a mature mentality that allows him to pick his spots and attack defenders when-&-where they least expect it. While Mathurin’s production comes from lightning quick moves and explosive plays, Prosper does his damage throughout the game and with a dependable flow like thunder within a storm.
The Clemson-commit will be prepared to make an impact in the ACC, thanks to a deep and diverse skillset that mixes old school mid-range polish with the type of effortless long-distance stroke that today's game requires.
Gray gave Putnam exactly what it needed over the course of their three wins in The Bahamas but there’s still so much more potential for the big man to unleash.
When he’s at his best, Gray flies down the floor and finishes in transition before the opposing big man can even cross halfcourt. At his best, Gray beats his defender to a spot in the post and seals him into a helpless position before looking the entry pass into his hands and hammering home a two-hand dunk. At his best, Gray will provide elite help defense, act as a true rim-protector and haul in rebounds by the dozen.
Even though Gray was only at his best in spurts during the 2019 Caribbean Tip-Off Classic, he still averaged 10.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks during Putnam Science’s 3-0 weekend. Florida State, LSU, St. John’s, Seton Hall and a handful of other high-major programs are in the mix for his services next year.
Bryson Childress, 5’10” Point Guard, Hargrave 2020
Childress stepped up when Hargrave needed him most over the weekend, leading the way in wins over BC Christian and TRC Academy.
He handled his lead guard responsibilities with confidence, the same way he stepped into his stroke whenever he got an open look from beyond the arch. And Childress’ stroke is as true as it gets. The North Carolina-native will just have to make sure his mechanics remain the same as he extends his range well beyond the arch, in order to punish defenders who go under high ball screens at the college level.
For the rest of ’19-’20, HC Lee Martin will confidently put him on the floor and go to war against anyone on his schedule. I would too!
As a junior in ’18-’19, Ervin was almost a 50/40/90 guy for NMH. He finished the season averaging 8.8 Pts/3.1 Reb/3.1 Ast while shooting 49% FG/39% 3pt/88% FT. So when Ervin takes a huge leap statistically in ’19-‘20, it should come as no surprise considering the phenomenal foundation he’s already laid for his senior season.
Yet, Darius Ervin still has his doubters. I’ve got a feeling that they’re all gonna get buried in that foundation before the ’19-’20 season is all said and done.
Ervin averaged around 18 Pts/6 Ast/3 Stl during NMH’s three exhibition games. And it’s just the beginning for the veteran floor general.
Majambu Mbikay, 6’7” Wing, TRC Academy 2022
The youngest member of the 2019 All-Tourney team played with a youthful exuberance all weekend but finished above the rim like a grown man whenever the opportunity presented itself.
The beautiful thing about Mbikay’s game is his ability to put up efficient numbers without using a high rate of his team’s offensive possessions. Whether it was the 27 points he scored against Freeport Select or the 13 points he scored in a close win over Northfield-Mt Hermon, every one of his buckets seemed to energize his squad.
Mbikay will see his recruitment pick up throughout the season as long as he remains such an unselfish, high-energy competitor for a talented TRC Academy team.
The Nassau-native made the most of his homecoming, lighting up his opponents from beyond the arch and playing with a ton of energy on both ends of the floor.
Dames isn’t your typical sniper who only stays engaged when he’s on the offensive. He was up for the task of defending the opposing point guard and routinely wreaked havoc by getting into passing lanes when he was off the ball. He used his superb length to his advantage by creating turnovers and finishing in transition.
As a knock-down shooter who also owns the ability to be a primary ball-handler for extended stretches, Dames should see his stock rise at some point in the near future. The fact that he was good for 20+ points per game over the course of the weekend doesn’t hurt either.