Rising Stars in US High School: Aussies impressive start to 2014
Our Australian prospects overseas continue to impress well into 2014. Many of our brightest young stars are doing special things for their respective schools over in the US, and the start to the New Year has delivered a plethora of high quality tournaments, with a number of Australia’s young stars impressing.
Ben SIMMONS (2015) | Montverde Academy (18-1)
Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions
Quarter Final: defeated Village Christian 96-46 13 pts | 10 reb | 4 stl | 2 blk
Grand Final: defeated White Station 73-60 16 pts | 11 reb | 5 ast | 3 stl
Spalding Hoophall Classic
Hall of Fame Showcase Game: lost to Curie 69-73 14 pts | 10 reb
Montverde entered the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions as the favorites after having gone 16-0 to begin the season. As expected they came out firing and earned a blowout win over Village Christian behind the solid play of Ben Simmons (LSU commit) and his teammate D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State commit). Simmons was however then diagnosed with a hip infection that required fluid to be drained from it, keeping him out of Montverde’s semi-final game against Christ the King. Despite missing Simmons, Montverde powered through to the Grand Final to take on also unbeaten White Station. Simmons was back in the lineup for the Championship game, and not a moment too soon. The highly anticipated match-up drew a crowd of 10,066 to the JQH Arena on the Missouri State University Campus and they would not leave disappointed. Doing a bit of everything in collecting 16 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals, Simmons managed to lead Montverde to victory and in doing so cementing his status as one of the best players in the country.
After only a day’s rest Montverde were back in action, this time in Springfield Massachusetts for the Spalding Hoophall Classic. In a highly-anticipated game featuring two of the best teams in the country, Montverde suffered their first loss of the season in going down to Curie. The game was a tale of swinging momentum and made for a great spectacle, however Curie came out on top behind some brilliant play by big man Cliff Alexander. Simmons still managed to impress, compiling his third straight double-double behind 14 points and 10 rebounds. Montverde will be looking forward to a much-needed break before getting right back into it in hosting the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament in a weeks' time.
Jonah BOLDEN (2014) | Brewster Academy (14-0)
Spalding Hoophall Classic
Hall of Fame Challenge Game: defeated Wilbraham & Monson 91-73 9 pts | 12 reb | 5 blk
Jonah Bolden has been extremely impressive in his first couple of games for Brewster Academy. The former Findlay Prep Pilot completed his transfer and immediately began playing for the storied Brewster program. As an international student who’s relatively new to the US basketball scene, some mystery still surrounded Bolden’s talents entering the Spalding Hoophall Classic. Any such mystery was put to rest, with scouts and coaches alike all extremely impressed with the UCLA commitment's game. The athletic 6’9 wing with a great shooting touch also has tremendous defensive potential, leading many to believe he could make a solid career as a ‘3 and D’ wing player.
Brewster Academy cruised to a 91-73 win over Wilbraham and Monson, with Bolden seemingly grabbing every rebound in sight. He was also given the unenviable task of guarding UNLV signee Goodluck Okonoboh and managed to do an admirable job on the ESPN 100 #21 player. Brewster and Bolden had the last laugh, coming away with a hard-earned win. UCLA Coach Steve Alford was also in the crowd for this game, taking another look at Bolden who will be joining the Bruins for the 2014/15 college season.
Thon MAKER (2016) | Carlisle (20-7)
Mustang Madness Tournament
Lost to Sunrise Christian Academy 65-66 10 pts
HSOT Invite MLK Day Event
Defeated Northwood 86-48 23 pts | 9 reb Tournament MVP
A lot of excitement surrounded Carlisle’s game against Sunrise Christian Academy as rumors circulated around the stadium that members of the University of Kentucky’s (UK) coaching staff would be attending the game to watch 7'1" Sydney center Maker. At half-time, UK Head Coach John Calipari entered the building along with assistant coaches Orlando Antigua and Kenny Payne. However Maker experienced foul trouble for most of the game and subsequently his ability to impress the UK coaching staff to the best of his ability was hindered. He did however manage to contribute 10 points and make some solid defensive plays, yet Sunrise Christian Academy proved to be too much, hitting some big shots late in the game including the go-ahead three-pointer to seal a 1-point win for the Bel Aire school.
Another key game on Carlisle’s calendar was their contest against Northwood at the HSOT Invite MLK Day Event. Maker had no trouble dominating this game, able to make his way to the basket at will. He finished with an impressive 23 point s and 9 rebounds and was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) for his efforts. Duke assistant coach Nate James was in the crowd for this match-up to check out the Aussie center. Although there is a lot of hype surrounding Maker, particularly the idea of big programs like Duke and Kentucky scouting him so early, he has yet to receive an offer from either school.
Keanu PINDER (2014) | Sunrise Christian Academy (12-5)
Mustang Madness Tournament
Defeated Carlisle 66-65 0 pts
Flyin' to the Hoop Showcase
Lost to Thurgood Marshall 48-58 0 pts | 5 reb
The Mustang Madness tournament had two of the best Aussie prospects going up against each other. Keanu Pinder was matched up against Thon Maker for a good portion of the game and did a terrific job on him. Maker was restricted to limited minutes in being frustrated into foul trouble, and Sunrise Christian Academy managed a sneaky win thanks to some late game heroics.
The Nebraska commit also had a good run at the Flyin' to the Hoop Showcase in Dayton, Ohio. Sunrise Christian Academy took on Thurgood Marshall in their only game of the tournament. The game was close with Thurgood Marshall leading 22-19 at the main break. A solid defensive effort from Thurgood contributed to a poor shooting stretch in the 2nd half for Sunrise Christian Academy and resulted in a Pinder's team falling short 48-58. Pinder managed to pull down 5 rebounds in limited minutes.
Emmanuel MALOU (2014) | ABCD Prep
Defeated Quakerdale Prep 25 pts | 9 reb | 4 ass | 3 blk
Lost to Sunrise 42-73 23 pts
Emmanuel Malou has broken out on to the High School basketball scene, time and time again coming up with huge numbers for ABCD Prep. Malou is a 6'9" forward out of Melbourne, and exhibits supreme athleticism with an ability to step out and knock down shots from outside.
Malou put up some great numbers in ABCD Prep’s win over Quakerdale Prep, one of many solid performances he’s put on recently. This brilliant stretch of games has led to USC offering Malou a scholarship for the 2014/15 season. Malou will add this offer to others he has already received from Hawaii, Oakland, Mississippi State and Iowa State. His coach says there’s a 90% chance that he signs with Iowa State, currently his hometown college.
The start of the New Year has seen our Aussie Prospects in the states put on some great performances and garner the attention of big names in the recruiting world. An annual event that we’ll be on watch for the is the Nike Hoop Summit, where the best US High School players battle it out against the World Team; a squad that consists of the best international high school players outside of the US. Jonah Bolden and Ben Simmons would be great candidates for a place in the World Team, with Bolden being the ESPN 100 #70 player and Ben Simmons at #4 on the ESPN 2015 list. It seems as though an exciting year is ahead in regards to our Aussie Prospects that are abroad!