{{ timeAgo('2019-12-29 09:45:43 -0600') }} basketball Edit

Beach Ball Classic: Andre Curbelo goes big, P.J. Hall, D.J. Steward, more

Andre Curbelo
Andre Curbelo (Moving Pictures)

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Illinois bound Andre Curbelo ended Saturday action in style at the Beach Ball Classic. He was just one of many high profile players turning in big time performance at one of the nation's top Holiday season tournaments. Eric Bossi has his takeaways.

TOP 50 ILLINOIS BOUND PG ANDRE CURBELO GOES OFF

Illinois fans are going to love them some Andre Curbelo. Of course, so will his future coach Brad Underwood.

The top 50 floor general ended the quarterfinal round in style on Saturday as he scored 25 points, dished out nine assists and grabbed 19 rebounds. That's right, a six-foot'ish point guard grabbed 19 rebounds. It's just not something you see very often on any level of high school basketball.

A master of the mid range pull-up who has every floater and runner in the book in his arsenal, it's just as much about what Curbelo does for those around him as it is the numbers you see in a boxscore. He leads, he has infectious energy, he gets his teammates to play harder. Those are things you can't teach and they are things that are going to be really welcomed next year.

The Illini got a really good one.

HALL SHOULD BE A MAJOR DIFFERENCE MAKER FOR CLEMSON

Clemson bound senior P.J. Hall of Roebuck (S.C.) Dorman has steadily moved up the 2020 rankings and currently ranks No. 63. His climb may not be over if his play on Saturday is any indication of what to expect.

In fact, I don’t just think Hall will help the Tigers when he arrives next season. I actually feel he’d be among their best -- if not the best -- players if he was on campus now. Hall is that complete and that talented.

In the ACC he’s likely to be used for stretches as a mismatch five man but he can play either there or at the four. He is athletic, he is tough and he has a very high level of skill with his back to and facing the basket. Post ups, mid-range jump shots and even the ability to make shots from beyond three make him an awfully tough matchup.

Brad Brownell needs this guy in a bad way, and he needs him to be as good as advertised.

DUKE BOUND STEWARD MAKES HIS MCDONALD’S CASE

Duke bound D.J. Steward is going to be heavily in the mix for postseason honors like the McDonald’s All-American Game. Games like the one he had on Saturday where he went for 32 points, five rebounds and three assists against a very good Dorman team and Hall. It wasn’t just that he went for 32 either, it was how he did it.

Seeing several defenders coming at him at almost all times, Steward used his speed and quickness to get himself free for one look after another. When he wasn’t burying threes from deep (he made 5 of 11) he was relentless attacking the rim and had some really tough finishes in the teeth of an active defense.

McDonald’s game or not – and personally, he’s got a vote from me as of today – Steward is exactly the kind of guy Duke needs. They’ve lacked shooters for the past few years and adding one who can also create off the dribble and who should be in school for at least a few years is a good deal in Durham.

HARDY AND ODOM HAVE MONSTER GAMES, MORE NOTES

…. There can’t be many players in the country who are more pure scorers than Jaden Hardy. The top ranked guard in the class of 2021, Hardy missed his first eight shots as Henderson (Nev.) Coronado dug a big hole against Alpharetta (Ga.) Saint Francis. Once he got going, though, wow. Hardy hit 11 of his last 18 shots (including nine three pointers) to finish with 41 points in a comeback effort that fell just short. Hardy isn’t a one trick pony either as he grabbed nine rebounds and dished out five assists. Until somebody comes and takes it from him, he’ll remain the top guard in 2021 and in my eyes is knocking on the door of the top five in his class.

…. Big East members Xavier and Butler are going to be very happy with Rivals150 guard Dwon Odom and Myles Tate. Ranked No. 50 nationally and headed to play for Travis Steele, Odom is an absolute tank of an athlete who has gotten himself into prime physical condition and found the perfect blend between scoring and playmaking. There’s still some room for him to improve as a jump shooter but he’s well on his way to a productive college career and put on an absolute show against Hardy and Coronado. Odom finished 30 points and 10 assists while making 12-16 from the field.

Ranked at the tail end of the 150 at No. 148, Tate exudes toughness and his rainbow jumper goes in just enough to keep defenders on their heels and he’s got speed and ball hawking instincts on the defensive end.

…. Give unsigned senior guard Tyler Beard credit. The product of Chicago (Ill.) Whitney Young is the first to admit that he didn’t play well enough last spring and summer and he’s dedicated himself to doing better as a senior. Alongside D.J. Steward, Beard was outstanding on Saturday afternoon going for 21 points. He’s strong, tough and can play as either a point or combo guard. He did take an official visit to Purdue last summer but listed Florida Atlantic and Virginia Tech as the two schools most involved at the moment.

…. He’s not the biggest interior player and might not even be quite as tall as his listed 6-foot-6, but man oh man is Dorman power forward Justin Amadi one heck of an athlete. Pound for pound, he’s as explosive as any athlete I’ve seen in the senior class and he has a motor and toughness to match. He was all over the rim and had a big 14 point and 11 rebound effort. Presbyterian, South Carolina State and South Carolina Upstate have offered while others like North Texas, Holy Cross, Coastal Carolina, Elon, Charleston Southern, Winthrop and Youngstown State have been looking to get involved.

.... Two other committed players putting together fine showings were Ohio State bound power forward Zed Key of Long Island Lutheran and Rhode Island bound combo guard Ish Leggett of St. John's. Key actually came off the bench Saturday and it took him a little bit to get going but his post production was key in the second half as LUHI opened up a big lead in their win over Millenium out of Arizona. He finished with 18. As for Leggett, he looks capable of playing the one or the two and he's steady on both ends of the floor. He gets to the rim, makes contested shots and is a good leader for an overall pretty young team. Leggett finished with 22 points, five rebounds and a pair of assists.

…. There is still a long time between now and Kwame Evans graduation in the spring of 2023 and he’s not yet putting up much in terms of stats for Baltimore (Md.) Poly. But make no mistake, he is a big time prospect. Standing every bit of 6-foot-8 the smooth lefty wields an impressive looking jump shot, runs like a deer in transition, can handle the ball for a young wing and moves very well laterally. I’m sure we’re going to be monitoring his development very closely and the ceiling for growth as a player is pretty high. Auburn, DePaul, George Washington (where his father scored over 1,400 points in college) and Virginia Tech have already offered. Duke, Florida, Memphis, Michigan, San Diego State and others have inquired.

.... More ready to impact a high school game as freshmen -- at least they were on Saturday -- were 6-foot-6 post Amani Hansberry of Washington (D.C.) St. John's and 5-foot-8 point guard Angelo Kambala of Coronado. Hansberry is a strong and tough dude who loves physical contact and has strong hands. To see him get a double double and be a go to guy in the lane of a competitive game this early in his career speaks well to his future. He finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds. As for Kambala, he could have easily passed for a seventh grader with his baby face and lack of physical development, but his game is mature. He looks like an absolutely lights out shooter who has some feel for the game. He hit four big threes and gave Coronado a spark before Jaden Hardy caught fire.