The 2019 Tip-Off Classic was loaded with highly ranked talent across the board and the host of the event (HoopHustlers) made sure to showcase the top talent with intriguing matchup throughout the weekend. Listed below are just a few standouts from the weekend.
Jabari Smith Jr. |6'8 190 | SF | ATL Celtics 16U| Sandy Creek HS | C/O 2021
This was my 3rd time seeing him play this year, 1st was at the South Atlanta Fall Showcase and most recently at USA Basketball Mini Camp in Minneapolis during the Final Four. When you first see him you can't help but notice his size and length and once he gets on the court you can see how skilled he really is. He can play inside or out with the ability to knock down shots off the catch or the dribble, as well as going into the post and dropping in a nice jump hook. But I'm most impressed with his ability to create off the dribble and play at his own pace.
Peyton Daniels | 6'2 175 | PG | SE United | Tri-Cities HS | C/O 2021
This was my 5th time seeing him play this year, 1st was at the South Atlanta Fall Showcase, then at two mid-season tournaments and most recently at the Underclassmen All-American Game where he won Co-MVP. Peyton is the Epitome of a gamer, he always shows up in the big moments. He knocks down timely shots, creates off the dribble for himself and teammates is a great on-ball defender. He is a special player that we all should keep an eye on moving forward.
Ernest Ross | 6'9 190 | Wing | Game Elite (FL) | Santa Fe HS | C/O 2021
This was my 1st time seeing him play this year and he didn't disappoint. The lengthy wing/forward runs the floor like a gazel, he is quick off his feet and likes to finish above the rim. His impact was evident as he grabbed offensive rebounds, blocked shots, had monster dunks and defended on the perimeter. I look forward to seeing him progress throughout the rest of the season.
Sharife Cooper | 6'0 160 | PG | AOT | McEachern HS | C/O 2020
This was my 5th time seeing him play this year, I saw him at 2 early season events, then in the Ga State Semi-Finals and most recently at USA Basketball Mini Camp in Minneapolis during the Final Four. It is clear to me that he is the best finishing guard in the country. He gets his shot off on the biggest of bigs and the quickest of guards. I would love to see what his in the paint shooting percentages are because if he gets the ball in the lane you can count that bucket. He also has nice touch on his jumper and is a great passer as well.
I would also like to make mention of Coach Antonio Dawson of SE United. I've seen him around over the past few years but never actually watched him coach. I was so impressed with how he handled his team, he is by far one of best coaches in the country. As we all know, on the AAU circuit the coaches are known for yelling and screaming but he handled his team with respect while also challenging and provoking them to think at the same time. Instead of going on a tirade he'd ask a kid "why did you do that?" or explain to them why the decision that was made was right or wrong. His team also runs great sets and they run them all the way through until they get a good shot. Throughout the game, you could hear him saying, "keep running it, keep running it" and once they'd take and make the shot he wanted he'd simply smirk with this I told you so look. If you haven't seen him coach, I suggest make your way over and check him out.
In conclusion, I know I missed a lot of names but here are a few other notable standouts from the event. Isaiah Todd, Devion Smith, Scottie Barnes, KD Johnson, Brandon Boston, Ebenezer Dowuona, Matthew Cleveland, Corey Walker, Khalil Shaheed, Toneari Lane, Kendrick Green, Caleb Byrd, Matthew Davis and Khalyl Simmons.
I would like to thank the good folks at Hoop Hustlers for having me out and I look forward to attending more event in the future. Until next time......