SHAWNEE, Kan.- When the hardware was handed out at the KC Classic on Sunday afternoon, Spiece Mo-Kan Elite was feeling good. The host squad hoisted two championship trophies after knocking out the Galveston Hornets 81-61 to take the 17 and under crown and knocking off Kingdom Hoops 58-52 in the 15 and under finals. In the 16 and unders, Mo-Kan made it all the way to the semifinals where they were knocked out by eventual champion Martin Brothers who took out Oklahoma Elite 57-56 thanks to a tough pull-up jumper from Mike Gesell with just nine seconds left.
Paige turns it up
It was gritty combo guard Mike Gesell who provided the winning bucket for Martin Brothers in the 16 and under division. While Gesell made big shots all weekend long and near seven footer Adam Woodbury ate up space in the lane, in the end it was point guard Marcus Paige who made all the difference in the world.
In a youtube generation filled with guys that are looking to flex for cameras or bump their gums to the crowd, Paige and his no-nonsense, just get the job done style of play is totally refreshing. A skilled, quick and poised floor general, the skinny southpaw is in total control of the games at all times.
That doesn't mean the six footer won't make some mistakes, because he will. That's what young point guards do. The key for Paige is that he learns from them and there's really not any point where he's not leading his team. His style is to lay back, get others involved and then pounce when his team needs him offensively. A confident jump shooter with three point range, he got to the rim for tough buckets and proved to be a little more explosive than previously thought. With his play in Kansas City over the weekend and at other venues this spring, he's clearly solidified his status as one of the premier point guards in the class of 2012.
Paige already holds offers from Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota, Illinois and Northern Iowa. Meanwhile, Wisconsin, Kansas (where he's headed for elite camp), Virginia and others are keeping tabs.
More Sunday notables
Nino Williams, SF, Mo-Kan Elite- Friday night we led with Williams and we could have easily done so again thanks to his play on Sunday. Playing four games on little rest after celebrating his graduation from Leavenworth High with his classmates on Saturday night, the 6-foot-5 small forward was a flat out beast on Sunday. It isn't just that he carried the load offensively for his squad, it's how he did it. Williams specializes in scoring tough baskets when his team needs them the most and plays with an edge his teammates can feed off of.
Matt Bohannon, SG/PG, Martin Brothers- Both of his older brothers play division on ball -- Jason at Wisconsin and Zach at Air Force -- so it's not a surprise that the senior to be can play. A good jump shooter who is alert in his play on both ends, he's a likely mid major target who can play off the ball as a scorer or slide over and play as a backup point guard. He's aware of everything that is going on around him and doesn't make many mistakes.
Chris Coleman, C, The Life- If he keeps up his play from Kansas City all summer long, the 6-foot-10 Coleman can really make some things happen for himself. He's still a bit top-heavy, but he runs the court surprisingly well, has strong hands and can get man's game buckets on the interior.
Mike Evans, SF, Galveston Hornets- A total unknown to us headed into Sunday's play, Evans made lots of plays. A powerful and relatively athletic 6-foot-5 wing, he spent a lot of time getting things done around the hoop for his mostly undersized team. Has a non-stop motor and can make some jumpers. A dual sport star, he's getting attention from Texas Tech, Auburn, Houston, Wichita State and Northern Arizona on the court while Tulane (offer), Texas A&M, TCU, Kansas State, Utah, New Mexico State and Houston are charting the Galveston (Tex.) Ball standout on the football field.
Willie Cauley, C, Mo-Kan Elite 16's- Standing every bit of 6-foot-10 with long arms, Cauley is a slender shot rejector who can really run the floor and rebound when so inclined. He's got a basketball body that will easily carry more weight and is developing as a scorer with some touch. Already a high major prospect, he's got a chance to be a pretty high level one if he can ratchet the motor up a bit, develop his footwork and continue to improve his body.
Ishmael Wainright, SF, KC 76er's 16's/15's- After sitting for much of the weekend, Wainright was inserted into the lineup in two different age groups on Sunday afternoon and made his presence felt. An imposing physical specimen with long arms and gigantic hands, he's got the frame of a college veteran. A member of the class of 2013, he's capable of dominating both the 16 and 15U age groups physically and did some of that. However, he also showed the ability to attack off the bounce, knocked down some deep jumpers and pass the ball at a high level.
Peter Jok, SF/SG, Kingdom Hoops 15's- Some young players get by on physical gifts and while he's got plenty of those, Jok doesn't fit into that category. A scoring wing with good size, he can put the ball in the hoop at all three levels. If his team needs him to, he can bring the ball up the court and initiate the offense himself of just drive all the way to the cup where he can finish with dunks. He shoots the three and already has a very well developed mid-post game. A skinny kid, he is a little bit rigid in his movement so loosening up a little will only increase the high major prospect's profile.
Skinny power forward David Kravish finished off an excellent weekend for Mo-Kan on Sunday. The mobile big is going to get watched very closely during July and is going to win over admirers because of his speed in the open floor, soft hands and quickness around the rim. Playing through pain is a fact of life when it comes to sports. Also a fact of life is that some guys can do it while others can't. Mo-Kan wing Tyler Rambo looks to be a guy who can handle it. Due to other obligations, we were unable to attend Saturday's games at the KC Classic but word is exciting 2012 point guard Nino Jackson of Athlete's First shook off a rough opening night and put on a show attacking the basket. He's got elite quickness, explosive hops and long arms which make him a very dangerous defender on top of what he can do offensively. But, Jackson and Athlete's First fell victim to KC Premiere in the round of 16 preventing us from getting another look at them. Sticking with KC Premiere, Patriot and Ivy League programs may want to monitor power forward Curtis Okafor. He's a bit undersized at 6-foot-4, but he's got long arms, is explosive off the floor and plays tough. Nobody was bigger for the Mo-Kan Elite 15 and under group on Sunday than tough combo guard Austin Rudder from Nixa (Mo.)High. Checking in at 6-foot-1, he's equally comfortable attacking off of the dribble or hitting jumpers from deep. He will score through contact, stays under control and looks to have lots of confidence in his ability.
The Life is actually Humble (Tex.) Christian Life's prep team getting some run in on the grassroots circuit. Their 6-foot-3 two guard Isaiah Jones is a bubble mid to high major recruit because he excels at putting the ball in the hoop. He's got a strong frame, but isn't super athletic and makes up for it with crafty scoring. He can knock home deep jumpers, loses defenders away from the ball and has just enough quickness with his first step to create separation off the bounce when he really needs to. Liked what we saw out of JaQuis Mitchell of the Houston Hoops-Taylor. A skinny 6-foot-3 shooting guard, he demonstrated a good looking jumper and some quickness off the bounce. A senior to be, low to mid majors should take a look. A teammate of Mike Evans with the Galveston Hornets and at Ball high school, combo forward Terran Petteway is a division one prospect as well. At 6-foot-5, he's a wiry strong guy who really gets on the glass and is very dangerous attacking off the dribble along either baseline. Kingdom Hoops 16's star guard Wesley Staten and Oklahoma Elite 16's star wing Jake Bullard knocked heads something fierce and it took nearly 30 stitches to sew them back up. Two weeks ago in Minneapolis, Staten's teammate on Kingdom Hoops, Scott Bruxvoort, chipped up two of his teeth badly before getting his face split open on a nasty fall after a dunk attempt. Sunday, the 6-foot-5 tough man finished job getting those chipped teeth knocked all the way out. He's as tough a kid as we've seen in a long time.