We took in all the Platinum Division first round games Thursday at the 2013 Tarkanian Classic and come up with a list of our top 10 performers. Check back late Friday for a recap of the Platinum Division quarterfinals, semifinals and a recap of the top games in the Prep Division.
1. Cheick Diallo (Our Savior New American, Centerreach, N.Y.) 6-9 PF 2015
Our vote for the best Thursday performance at the Tarkanian Classic was the one turned in by one of the best juniors in the country. Diallo had a breakout performance at last year’s event and was even better on Thursday night. He helped lift Our Savior New American to a 69-58 upset Prep Division victory over Prime Prep (Ft. Worth, Texas), which came into the event ranked No 8 in the Student Sports FAB 50. His presence around the basket changed the dynamic of the game on both ends. He blocked two shots and altered countless others and his relentless rebounding (14 to be exact) led to high percentage shots for both himself and his teammates. Diallo, ranked the No. 2 junior prospect in the country by the Hoop Scoop, finished with 20 points. Among the top juniors in the country, no one player has really asserted himself to earn the mantle as the consensus top player, but if Diallo keeps performing in the manner in which he did against Prime Prep, he’ll certainly be in the conversation. Teammate Kobie Eubanks, a talented 6-foot-5 senior, also had a big outing against Prime Prep with 19 points, including three 3-pointers.
2. Frank Jackson (Lone Peak, Highland, Utah) 6-1 G 2016
The most impressive guard we saw on Thursday was this dynamic sophomore who makes scoring look effortless. Jackson, already committed to BYU, has a great change of pace to his offensive game with the ability to explode off the dribble or beat defenders with crafty moves. In a 70-54 Platinum Division victory over Modesto Christian (Modesto, Calif.), Jackson was scoring around the basket and making good passes. He finished with 23 points and showed why he’s one of the best 2016 prospects in the country.
3. Chase Foster (Valor Christian, Highlands Ranch, Col.) 6-5 SF 2014
In a hard-fought first round Platinum Division game against Poly (Long Beach, Calif.), Foster made the biggest play of the game. He took highly-regarded defender Chris Sullivan off the dribble going right and kissed a driving lay-up off the glass just before the final buzzer went off to give his team a 67-65 victory. Sullivan had just tied the game at 65-65 on a tough, contested layup with 14 seconds remaining. Fisher finished with a game-high 24 points while Sullivan had 22. Foster, headed for the University of San Francisco, is a deceptive athlete, has a strong body and base, and really knows how to play the game. With the win, Valor Christian will face host and No. 2 seed Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) in a Friday morning quarterfinal matchup.
4. Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif.) 6-7 SF 2014
Realistically, Johnson’s performance could have been No. 1 on this list, but when you might be the best overall player in the country, you get graded on a slightly difference scale. In Mater Dei’s tough 72-58 victory over Clark (Las Vegas), Johnson played to the crowd a bit and was jawing as well, but in the end he made the plays necessary for his team to win. Johnson made 10-of-15 field goal attempts, including 4-of-7 3-pointers, to finish with 43 points. Johnson, one of the leading Mr. Basketball USA candidates, also had 11 rebounds and three steals. His points, especially his 3-point goals, were timely and usually came when Durango was threatening.
5. Maleke Haynes (El Camino Real, Woodland Hills, Calif.) 5-10 G 2014
This unsigned senior guard had 20 points to lead El Camino Real to a 58-55 first round Platinum Division victory over Bountiful (Utah). With approximately four seconds left, Haynes nailed a straightaway 3-pointer to give El Camino a much needed win. It was Haynes’ only 3-pointer of the game. El Camino started out ranked in the West Region, but lost two early games at the Westchester Tip-Off Classic. Senior guard Kelton Conway, another unsigned senior known for his on-the-ball defense, added 17 points.
6. T.J Haws (Lone Peak, Highland, Utah) 6-4 G 2014
One of the best shooters in the class, Haws helped Lone Peak record a 70-54 victory over Modesto Christian by scoring a game-high 32 points. His ability to catch-and-shoot or stop on a dime for a jumper is impressive. A BYU commit, Haws has a mature disposition to his game and always plays under control. We thought Lone Peak’s matchup with Modesto Christian was the most intriguing of the first round and think its quarterfinal tussle with FAB 50-ranked Redondo Union will be dynamite as well. In fact, it wouldn’t be much of an upset if Lone Peak were to win despite dropping out of the FAB 50 in the latest rankings shuffle.
7. T.J. Leaf (Foothills Christian, El Cajon, Calif.) 6-9 F 2016
We cheated a bit because Foothills Christian actually played Chaparral (Las Vegas) in the Gold Division, but Leaf’s has been so sensational at the event we decided to include his performance. Foothills Christian rolled to a 70-47 victory behind Leaf’s 31 points. This was a follow up to his 25-point performance against Mater Dei on Wednesday. Leaf can’t beat teams around the basket with his instincts and length and is also an above average athlete while facing up and operating on the perimeter. For a 2016 prospect, he’s just got a unique blend of athleticism, size and basketball skill that not a lot of players in the class possess. Leaf should move up in the next player rankings shuffle because he’s much too low on most recruiting network’s lists.
8. Ivan Rabb (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland, Calif.) 6-10 PF 2015
One of the top juniors in the country, Rabb went to work as the nationally-ranked Dragons easily dispatched Durango (Las Vegas) in its Platinum Division opener, 78-34. Rabb nearly outscored Durango by himself, finishing with 28 points. Rabb was just too agile and big for anyone on Durango’s roster to handle. He made some quick baseline moves and usually completed his move before any defender could react, including one emphatic dunk where he spun to his left on the left baseline and finished on the right side of the rim with one hand. O’Dowd takes on El Camino Real (Woodland Hills, Calif.) in its quarterfinal and the points shouldn’t come so effortlessly as they did on Thursday.
9. Raheem Liggins (Constitution, Philadelphia) 6-5 PF 2014
In Constitution’s 58-45 victor over Pinnacle (Phoenix, Ariz.), Liggins went to work. Constitution defended well and got a lot of good looks. This physical lefty and undersized post scored a team-high 20 points. As you would expect, he did most of his damage around the rim, as he made eight two-point goals. Constitution will play top seed Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) in a Friday quarterfinal contest.
10. Colby Jackson (Clark, Las Vegas) 5-9 G 2015
We wanted to highlight the performance of this sharp-shooter even though his team lost its opening round game in the Platinum division. Clark stayed competitive against Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), ranked No. 6 in the Student Sports FAB 50, for over a half because of Jackson’s long-range marksmanship. He made 5-of-7 3-pointers and finished with 21 points and three steals. Mater Dei won 72-58.