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STOCK RISERS, SHOW-STEALERS & 2022 STUDS SHINE @ 2019 BASKETBULL HOOPS FEST

By THE HUSTLE, 01/01/20, 12:00AM EST

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Springfield’s South End Community Center played host to the 2019 BasketBull HoopsFest prior to the holiday break, which featured some of North America’s top prep programs and over 100 future-D1 players packed into a 5-day/34-game schedule.

Here are my takeaways from the event…

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PLENTY OF GREAT 2020 TALENT STILL AVAILABLE

Femi Odukale, 6’5” PG/Wing, Springfield-Commonwealth – Two more games, two more ridiculous stat lines and two more wins for SCA. After a 21-point, 10-rebound, 5-assist gem vs Bill Crothers, it seemed like Odukale struggled to get going throughout most of SCA’s 76-57 win over TRC in Sunday’s HoopsFest finale. And he still finished with 11 Pts/12 Reb/7 Stl/6 Ast/2 Blk while only attempting 7 shots. Odukale’s size, athleticism and understanding of how to create/manipulate angles as a playmaker are all truly unique for a Point Guard in today’s game.

PRODUCTION: Avg’d 16 Pts/11 Reb/5 Ast/4 Stl/2 Blk while shooting 50% FG in two wins

BOTTOM LINE: Odukale is a Top-100 Prospect in 2020 and should see his recruitment explode once he’s officially NCAA qualified, something that is on the verge of happening.

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Chad Baker, 6’7” Wing, SPIRE – If you were in Springfield last week and overheard, “Who the hell is that dude?!?” it was probably someone asking about Baker. After being named the Central New Jersey Player of the Year at Colonia HS last season, Baker decided to head to SPIRE in order to get his grades and game right for the D1 level. The grades are in the process of being handled but his game was intriguing as anyone in attendance. Big, explosive, unselfish, versatile, efficient and consistent. Not to mention, you’ve gotta have some confidence in your hoops future to be a 6’7” lefty in the Dominican Republic and refuse to get pulled onto a pitcher’s mound at some point.

PRODUCTION: Avg’d 23 Pts/8 Reb/5 Ast/3.7 Stl/1.3 Blk in 3 games vs Northfield-Mt Hermon, Orangeville and Bill Crothers

BOTTOM LINE: Once he qualifies, Baker should become a priority for D1 programs looking for a versatile wing with a high-ceiling.

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Jahmyl Telfort, 6’7” Wing, New Hampton – Another versatile athlete who doesn’t need to take up a ton of possessions in order to make a huge impact. Telfort led NHS to two wins and backed up a strong showing against Link Year with a sensational 24-point, 8-rebound, 4-assist, 2-block performance in a 77-74 win over Vanier.

PRODUCTION: Avg’d 19.5 Pts/7 Reb/3.5 Ast/2 Stl/1.5 Blk while shooting 53% FG from the floor, going 2-4 from 3 and 7-8 from the stripe

BOTTOM LINE: Tough, versatile, skilled wings = WINS at every level of ball. Wins are valuable. Telfort is a tough, versatile, skilled wing. Draw your own conclusion...

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David N’Guessan, 6’9” Wing, Mt Zion Prep – The high-motor/high-ceiling wing recently received a Virginia Tech offer and for good reason. N’Guessan owns ideal size on the perimeter to go along with a developing length/strength combo that should allow him to be an elite defender at the very least. His skillset is coming along as planned and he’s right on track to become Rodrick Harrison’s latest steal.

PRODUCTION: Avg’d 8 Pts/8.5 Reb/2 Blk/2 Ast vs Woodstock and Sunrise Christian

BOTTOM LINE: N’Guessan is clearly at the intersection where his vast potential is starting to yield production and that will only continue as the season wears on. You’ve gotta have some foresight in order to project him long term but it’s not hard to see N’Guessan’s raw tools and how good he can be down the road.

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Jay Rodgers, 6’3” Point Guard, Winchendon – The shifty lefty has been sensational every time I’ve caught him this season and that continued in Springfield. Rodgers gets to his spots and doesn’t take garbage shots but he also defends and brings a gritty intensity to Winchendon that has helpd set the tone for them all season. He’s got simple shot mechanics and isn’t afraid to take big shots. What else can you ask for in a Point Guard?

PRODUCTION: 33 Pts/5 Ast/5 Reb vs Master’s while drilling seven 3’s

BOTTOM LINE: Rodgers is going to make a D1 program extremely happy next season and is starting to see his recruitment pick up already.

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Djahi Binet, 6’6” Wing, Thetford – It seemed like this dude put his head on the rim about a dozen times each game last weekend. When he wasn’t catching lobs or taking advantage of mismatches in the post, Binet was showing off a solid mid-range game and a decent stroke that keeps defenders honest out to the 3pt line. Once Binet gets his man to lean one way, it’s a wrap! He’s simply too big, too strong and too explosive to be stopped at the rack when he’s got a clear path.

PRODUCTION: Avg’d 17.3 Pts/7 Reb/2 Stl vs. Woodstock, Lee and St. Thomas More while shooting 55.5% (20-36 FG/3-7 3pt) from the field

BOTTOM LINE: Binet doesn’t hesitate to go into the post and use his bounce to get buckets. That doesn’t make him “undersized” by any means. It makes him intelligent and productive. If your instincts lead you to ask “But what is he?” you might as well just keep it movin! Binet is an athlete and a ballplayer. Put him in positions to succeed and he will.

OTHER AVAILABLE 2020 PROSPECTS: Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe, Orangeville; Ronnie DeGray III, Woodstock; Shemar Rathan-Mayes, Orangeville; Aaron Gray, Commonwealth; Isaiah Richards, Commonwealth; Sam Towns, Winchendon

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2022’s GET REAL COMFORTABLE REAL QUICK

It’s not easy for sophomores –whether they’re reclassed or not- to make a consistent impact at the prep level but a handful of 2022 prospects are doing exactly that early in the season.

Alex Karaban, 6’8” Wing, New Hampton – Leaner, quicker and stronger than ever before, Karaban is producing in every way imaginable for first year coach Andrew Gale. He’s finishing above the rim, rebounding at a high rate and is becoming a better defender than I could’ve imagine. Karaban understands the importance of versatility on that end of the floor and gets the job done when he applies himself, sits and flips his hips. He averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds in two New Hampton wins in Springfield.

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Kyle Filipowski, 7’ Big, Wilbraham & Monson – Even after showing glimpses at the 2019 NEPSAC College Showcase this summer, my expectations for the big fella were relatively low as he adjusted to prep ball. But W&M teammate John Adams told me early-&-often this fall that Filipowski’s skillset was developing rapidly and he was going to be a force once the season started. Adams was absolutely right! Filipowski averaged 18 Pts/9 Reb/3 Ast/3 Stl in two wins in Springfield while shooting 55.5% from the field (15-27 FG) and getting buckets in a variety of ways. Filipowski is far from a finished product. He’s still learning how to pick his spots offensively and there are times when he speeds himself up or makes things more difficult than they needs to be. But when those are the two biggest issues with a young 7-footer, it means there’s a lot to be excited about down the road.

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Bube Momah, 6’8” Wingspan Big Man, Phillips-Andover – The Farmington HS transfer has grown into his body and become a much more fluid athlete over the last 6 months. He’s playing with more conviction, finishing around the rack and showing off an improved stroke. Momah averaged 19.5 Pts/6.5 Reb/2 Blk/2 Stl in wins over Suffield and St Luke’s.

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Chisom Okpara, 6’8” Wing, Vermont – When Okpara initiates the break as a grab-&-go rebounder, gets downhill with momentum and finishes at the rack before opposing defenders have any idea what just hit them, it’s hard not to think of Simi Shittu doing the exact same thing in a VA uniform just a few years ago. Okpara showcased his whole repertoire prior to the holiday break and averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds while shooting 66.7% FG (14-21 FG) and drilling 3 of 4 from beyond the arch. He picked up an offer from UMass after his 14-point, 7-rebound, 4-assist, 2-block effort in a win over Vanier on Sunday.

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OTHER STRONG 2022 PERFORMERS: Avery Brown, Northfield-Mt Hermon; Isaiah Earl, Lee; Matt Filipowski, Wilbraham & Monson


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