Highland Shootout: D.J. Steward's command performance, Pat Baldwin and more
HIGHLAND, Ill. -- The Highland Shootout featured much of the top talent from Chicago, St. Louis and all points in between but nobody's star shown brighter than Duke bound D.J. Steward who turned in an epic performance. Five-stars like Patrick Baldwin Jr. also went large during a day filled with big time outings.
STEWARD HAS EPIC OUTING
That's exactly what Duke bound shooting guard D.J. Steward's 40 point performance to lead Chicago (Ill.) Whitney Young to a come from behind victory over future ACC foe Caleb Love and St. Louis (Mo.) CBC was.
Whitney Young was starved for offense outside of Steward and three-star guard Tyler Beard for most of the night but it didn't matter because the athletic guard was everywhere and made every crucial play that needed to be made. He bombed early threes, he forced the issue in transition and he consistently got to the rim for contested finishes. It was a special performance and as clutch an outing as there has been all winter.
Headed to North Carolina, Love finished with 19 points and four assists and had some impressive moments of his own. He threw down some athletic jams in transition, got to the rim and played with more aggression than he did in a viewing the night before at St. Louis (Mo.) Chaminade.
Love figures to get plenty of chances to exact revenge on the next level and both these guys are deserving of McDonald's All-American nods, but on Saturday it was Steward who came away with the win and a truly memorable performance.
BALDWIN SECURES STATUS AS ONE OF 2021'S ELITE
Five-star junior Patrick Baldwin Jr. was pretty epic himself and only further secured his standing as one of 2021's truly elite prospects and a top three player in his class.
Playing most of the night with the Sussex (Wisc.) Hamilton offense running directly through him at the point of attack, the 6-foot-9 Baldwin had the sold out crowd on the edge of their seats all night long thanks to a high level display of skill.
For the night, Baldwin finished with 29 points and 12 rebounds and left zero question as to who the best prospect to hit the floor was. He drained deep threes, fed teammates with deft passes, controlled the glass and scored at all three levels. For good measure each and every one of his four blocks came in timely fashion.
Baldwin's father is the head coach at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and he said that he has to consider playing for him because no other coach can look out for him like his father would. He's not ready to release a list yet and he's not planning any official visits but did mention that he could try to get to Duke and Northwestern and the rest of the blue bloods like Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina among many others are involved.
MORE TAKEAWAYS FROM HIGHLAND SHOOTOUT
.... For a half, it looked like Kentucky bound Cam'Ron Fletcher may be more of an onlooker than active participant as St. Louis (Mo.) Vashon fell behind by double digits to Chicago (Ill.) Simeon. Then, he came out in the second half, turned the motor up and used his athleticism around the rim to score 22 of his 26 points as Vashon rallied for an entertaining win. When he plays with energy, he can be a game changer. While it took Fletcher some time to settle in, Southeast Missouri State signee Phillip Russell was tremendous all night long. Vashon's senior guard was making it rain from deep and finished with a game high 31 points in a win.
.... Four-star junior Ahamad Bynum and Simeon came up short against Vashon, but the DePaul verbal was quite impressive pumping in 26 points of his own. A gifted scorer who has plenty of toughness, Bynum has stretched out to 6-foot-3 or so and is a deadly shooter from deep. He drained seven threes and has a real weapon in his pull-up jumper.
.... Future Kansas State big man Davion Bradford showed that he can be a legitimate Big 12 post presence down the road. A big and strong near seven-footer who hasn't always been a big scorer, he was aggressive and tough around the rim to finish with 23 points and nine rebounds in his Mehlville (Mo.) High team's loss to St. Louis (Mo.) Trinity Christian. He made some tough catches, ran the floor hard and competed on both ends.
.... Signed with Central Michigan, Trinity Christian senior Rashad Weekly-McDaniels is one powerfully built point guard. He finished like a tank in traffic, cleaned up at the free throw line and tossed home some deep jumpers to finish with 36 points and dished out five assists for good measure. He had the crowd rocking. Headed to Creighton, seven-foot four-star big man Ryan Kalkbrenner was pretty quiet offensively and floated a lot scoring just six points. But, he is a fluid athlete with big upside as a rim protector and rebounder thanks to 10 rebounds and four blocks.
.... SIU-Edwardsville looks like they got a guy who will score a lot of points for them in slick driving poit guard Ray'Sean Taylor. Most of Taylor's 26 points in Collinsville (Ill.) High's win over St. Louis (Mo.) DeSmet came at the rim but his fifth and final assist was as important as they get when he found a teammate who drilled a buzzer beating three for an overtime win.
.... He's not yet polished and will need to add to his offense but DeSmet's junior big man Yaya Keita is looking like a high major prospect. A native of Mali, he only scored seven points but showed an elite motor and toughness while adding nine rebounds and two blocks. Iowa, Saint Louis, Southern Illinois and Missouri State have offered and many more are looking to get involved.
.... CBC sophomore wing Larry Hughes Jr. continues to progress and after going scoreless during a Friday night viewing, he was good 16 points and made four threes in the loss to Whitney Young. He's long, has good size and of course has great genes as the son of a long time NBA vet who is one of the best players to ever come out of St. Louis. SLU, where dad played, has offered.