Thanksgiving Hoopfest: Which programs are feeling good?
DALLAS -- Over the weekend, the Thanksgiving Hoopfest featured no shortage of big time players at Duncanville (Texas) High and the American Airlines Center. Eric Bossi looks at the six programs that should be feeling the best about the weekend's festivities.
Hamilton covets tough, versatile and athletic players that are capable of playing physical defense. Barnes continues to check all of those boxes as a playmaking forward who defends multiple positions.
Barnes hasn't ever exactly been skinny, but the work he's doing in the weight room since his transfer to Montverde (Fla.) Academy will help him to make an immediate impact. Folks in Tallahassee should be really excited about winning out for him.
Everybody knows that Kansas has faced some obstacles on the recruiting trail over the last few recruiting cycles, so winning out for a player like five-star shooting guard Bryce Thompson was hugely important for Bill Self and the Jayhawks.
What's so good about Thompson is that he continues to get stronger, more confident off the dribble and play a skill based game and he is most likely going to be around for at least a few years. He'll bring outside shooting and can help as an additional ball handler an playmaker.
The Jayhawks should also feel good about momentum they are gaining in the state of Texas. High level sophomores like Bryce Griggs and Arterio Morris both mentioned the Jayhawks among programs they are already high on.
Scanning Kentucky's current roster, there really isn't anybody like B.J. Boston and he's the type of player who they could really use this year because of his size and ability to stretch defenses out.
He's still quite thin, but is getting a little stronger and has definitely added to his ability to create for himself off the bounce. At times, he still bails out smaller defenders by settling for the deep jumper when he could use his size off the dribble, but with some gentle (or not so gentle) prodding from John Calipari and added strength, we should see more of it down the road.
At Sierra Canyon, Boston is going to have a chance to be in the national spotlight all winter long, which means Wildcats fans should have plenty of opportunity to get full game looks at him rather than relying on mixtapes.
Two of the three five-star prospects in North Carolina's No. 3 ranked 2020 recruiting class took the floor at the Thanksgiving Hoopfest for a pair of games and both Day'Ron Sharpe and Caleb Love were mighty impressive.
Sharpe, well, he's just a total monster. He's physical, he's tough, he has improving range facing the hoop and good footwork around the basket. He never takes plays off, has legitimately great hands and is a true one-and-done candidate. He's the best homegrown big man prospect to commit to the Heels in some time.
You could maybe consider Love a little bit of a "late bloomer" because he's not always been considered a five-star prospect and has methodically worked his way up the rankings while transitioning from two to point guard. But, the most important thing here is that he continues to improve. He's gotten so much more explosive over the last year that he's able to play with a new level of confidence.
Love is still more comfortable as a scoring lead guard, but he's plenty capable as a passer and defends well. He's a more than suitable replacement for Cole Anthony and is a sneaky one-and-done candidate himself at the rate he's getting better.
One of the big winners of the early signing period, Oklahoma State had future Cowboys Cade Cunningham and Rondel Walker take the court at the Hoopfest and Mike Boynton has the team off to a 7-0 start.
Cunningham is an awesome prospect and potentially the top player in the class. He's going to make a major impact in Stillwater, but he's most likely going to be gone after one season. However, his impact could be felt for years to come on the recruiting trail. It seemed like every high level underclass kid from the Dallas area mentioned that they had a strong relationship with Cunningham and that they are really taking notice of what the Cowboys are building and how much emphasis they are placing on recruiting the state of Texas. If Cunningham does what is expected, it will benefit Boynton and his staff in their pursuit of future recruits from the Lone Star State.
Walker didn't have the greatest shooting outings in either of his two games at the Hoopfest and he's got a lot, almost too much, responsibility to be best scorer, best ball handler, best passer and best defender for his Putnam City West squad. But, he's not likely going to have to play huge minutes as a freshman and should be able to ease into things. What should have OSU fans excited is that he appears to have grown some more (looking a legit 6-foot-3) and that while he's got a lean build, he's got a great frame to add to and doesn't let anybody push him around.
Texas Tech is also buzzing more and more inside of the state they want to recruit the most. Basically every Texas kid we spoke to brought up Texas Tech and they are all looking at the program in a new light over the last few years. The run to the National Championship game and development of Texas kids like Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith into first-rounders has enhanced the Red Raiders standing with local prospects.
Clearly, it's not just local prospects who are noticing, either, because Nimari Burnett says that much of the reason he picked Tech is because of how much Chris Beard and his staff have accomplished over the past few years. Burnett didn't go off in either of his games for Prolific Prep, but he did show that he's a smooth scorer, more athletic than you think and he is capable of playing with other star players without floating in and out of the game.
A former teammate of current star freshman Jahmi'us Ramsey, Micah Peavy is a big and athletic wing who has a non-stop motor. His jumper remains a work in progress and he actually struggled offensively during his two Hoopfest games. But his motor, his defensive potential and rebounding will get him on the floor while he works the kinks out with his shooting. He's got a lot of similarities to a guy like Andre Roberson who found a nice role for himself in the NBA.