We evaluated the first day of the UA Holiday Classic in San Diego and the second day of the Maxpreps Holiday Classic in Rancho Mirage, Calif. and report on the top performers from both events, including North Carolina-bound Theo Pinson and a West Coast pair headed to Michigan.
Related Photo Galleries From UA Holiday Classic: Westtown vs. Newark Memorial | More From UA Holiday Classic | St. Augustine vs Chino Hills | Bishop O’Dowd vs O’Dea | Cantwell Sacred Heart vs Corona Centennial | Cantwell Sacred Heart vs Newark Memorial | Bishop O’Dowd vs Sierra Canyon | Corona Centennial vs Westtown
UA Holiday Classic
Theo Pinson (Wesleyan Christian Academy, High Point, N.C.) 6-6 W 2014
This high-energy wing led WCA to a 62-57 victory over a pesky Mayfair (Lakewood, Calif.) that was very aggressive defensively on the perimeter. The game didn’t have much flow, but Pinson exerted himself at the end to help his team pull away. This North Carolina recruit finished with 35 points, including a breakaway tomahawk two-handed dunk to seal the win. Obviously Pinson gets noticed for his athleticism, but he also showed patience with the ball in his hands, didn’t force many bad shots and worked hard on the boards.
Max Hazzard (Loyola, Los Angeles) 6-0 PG 2015
The grandson of former UCLA great Walt Hazzard and younger brother of Arizona guard Jacob Hazzard, Max has been the talk of the UA Holiday Classic’s National Division so far. He gained plenty of experience last year when Arizona commit Parker Jackson-Cartwright battled injuries, but with both healthy Loyola arguably has the best point guard tandem on the West Coast. Jackson-Cartwright is physically stronger this year, taking defenders off the dribble and finishing, and that has opened up Hazzard’s’ game on the outside. In Loyola’s 88-54 rout of Sheldon (Sacramento, Calif.) in the first round, Hazzard nailed six 3-pointers en route to 24 points. In a 76-61 quarterfinal victory over The Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.), the fast-rising junior continued his hot shooting and finished with 32 points.
Jared Nickens (Westtown, Pa.) 6-6 SG 2014
Greek import Georgios Papagiannis, a 7-foot-1 junior, came in with the big reputation, but it was actually this Maryland commit that was most impressive in Westtown’s 68-61 triple overtime victor over Newark Memorial (Newark, Calif.). He finished with a game high 20 points and displayed a nice combination of athleticism and shooting ability. Nickens moves well coming off screens and is more comfortable in a catch-and-shoot situation than putting it on the deck. Papagiannis is a solid college prospect, but it’s unfair to label him a can’t-miss prospect at this time.
Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills, Calif.) 6-4 PG 2016
The top sophomore point guard on the West Coast, Ball was a catalyst in the Huskies’ 66-55 victory over previously unbeaten St. Augustine (San Diego, Calif.) in the National Division first round. He distributed at his usual high level and continues to be the most instinctual player to come down the pike in quite some time. Ball finished with 16 points and had a bushel of rebounds and assists, many of the spectacular variety. His younger brother, 2017 wing LiAngelo Ball, is also starting to assert himself as a high school player and has improved his shot mechanics and selection, even though his 3-pointer still has a side spin. When he’s on the court, Chino Hills is a tougher team and the brothers feed off each other. Lonzo is a franchise type recruit, but still needs to work on bringing those same instincts to the defensive end.
Paris Austin (Bishop O’Dowd) 5-10 PG 2015
His highly-regarded 2015 teammate Ivan Rabb had 13 points and double-digits rebounds in a pedestrian 68-52 over O’Dea (Seattle), but the expectation level for him already is so high that many on press row deemed it an adequate performance. There was nothing adequate about Austin’s performance as he netted 21 points. Austin handles the ball the majority of the time teaming with 2014 Juwan Anderson in the backcourt, but both can run the team with Austin as he more offensive-oriented player. If Loyola’s Max Hazzard and Parker Jackson-Cartwright are not the state’s best PG duo, Austin and Anderson are. Austin’s has some offers and Anderson’s recruitment has picked up in recent weeks. He told us he’s been hearing from San Francisco, Boise State, Northern Arizona and Purdue. A potential Loyola-O’Dowd semifinal was snuffed away when unbeaten Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) upset O’Dowd in a Friday quarterfinal.
Quarterfinal Scores: Loyola (Los Angeles) 76, The Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.) 61 ; Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) 70, Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.) 65 ; Centennial (Corona, Calif.) 71, Westtown (Pa.) 53 ; Chino Hills (Calif.) 64, Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.) 44
Semifinal Matchups: Loyola (Los Angeles) vs. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 7 pm ; Centennial (Corona, Calif.) vs. Chino Hills (Calif.) 8:35 pm
Maxpreps Holiday Classic
D.J. Wilson (Capital Christian, Sacramento, Calif.) 6-8 F 2014
Headed to Michigan, Wilson has grown a few inches over the last 18 months and possesses some tremendous ball and perimeter skills for a player with his size and length. Wilson is a nightmare matchup in that he can step outside or drive and finish off the glass, even from poor angles. Wilson is also a good rebounder who go after the ball, but misses some because he still needs to work on his physical strength. Capital Christian came away with a 48-42 quarterfinal victory over Student Sports FAB 50 No. 7 Etiwanda (Calif.) in a game that was marred by an apparent shoulder separation of USC recruit Jordan McLaughlin early in the contest. He did not return. Wilson finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots to lead his team in a grind-it-out game. Earlier in the game, D.J. Wilson was impressive with 23 points in the Cougars’ 62-49 victory over a scrappy Beverly Hills (Calif.) team.
Elijah Stewart (Westchester, Los Angeles) 6-4 SG 2014
Looks like Max Good and his LMU staff found a real gem in Stewart, who is a good athlete, really can get after it with energy on the defensive end, and is an improved outside shooter. He caught fire in the Comets’ 66-58 victory over St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) that has the intensity and feel of a semifinal or championship game. Stewart made 9-of-12 2-point field goal attempts, 4-of-5 3-point field goals and finished with 37 points. He also led Westchester with eight rebounds, as it truly was a team effort around the glass and on the defensive end. Veteran coach Ed Azzam, who won the 802nd game of his career against St. Edward (one short of the L.A. City Section record set by retired Willie West of L.A. Crenshaw according to Cal-Hi Sports), doesn’t have as deep a unit as last season but seems to have found a go-to offensive threat.
Justin Coleman (Wenonah, Birmingham, Ala.) 5-10 PG 2014
When first evaluating Coleman, he doesn’t look all that overwhelming, but he’s the type of kid that grows on you the more you watch. Coleman can sprint with the ball, stop on a dime for a pull-up or pass, and plays better when the stakes are higher. He can also attack left or right with equal fervor and is a good square shooter. Late in the game, Wenonah relaxed a bit, but when Poly’s Kam Murrell heated up, Coleman nearly matched him shot for shot. He finished with 36 points, making 5-of-10 3-pointers, and also 11-of-13 free throws. Coleman, ranked No. 86 in the class of 2014 by the Hoop Scoop, will stay home and play in the SEC at Alabama.
Kameron Murrell (Poly, Long Beach, Calif.) 6-2 CG 2014
Put on the best single performance at either tournament we witnessed in two days, as the Jackrabbits came back from 14 down at the end of the third period to record a dramatic 90-89 double overtime victory over FAB 50-ranked Wenonah (Birmingham, Ala.). Murrell, an unsigned prospect, had 25 points in the fourth and the two overtimes, hitting big shot after big shot in a game full of them. Murrell finished with 37 points, making 5-of 13 two-point attempts and 7-of-11 3-pointers. Also a good defender, Murrell is learning where to attack and when to pull up and is playing with an extreme amount of confidence. His outside shooting and intermediate game is there and he’s a solid ball-handler.
Kameron Chatman (Columbia Christian, Portland, Ore.) 6-8 W 2014
The Knights took on a disciplined De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) in the opening round of the open division on Thursday night and this Michigan recruit came up big. With 3.1 seconds left in overtime, Chatman hit a 3-pointer to give his team a 53-51 victory over the Spartans. Chatman finished with 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting. Chatman, a Michigan recruit who sat out his junior season at Poly (Long Beach, Calif.), reminds us of former Maryland standout Walt Williams because of his ball-handling ability and feel for the game at his size. On Friday night, he had a 12-point, 10-rebound performance in a 68-48 quarterfinal loss to (Jackson, Mill Creek, Wash.). Chatman didn’t have a huge impact on the game’s out come, as consistency and conditioning are two areas of the game he can improve. We must mention the 31-point performance of 5-10 2014 point guard Dan Kingma of Jackson. He hit seven 3-pointers in the 20-point win.
Quarterfinal Scores: Westchester (Los Angeles) 66 , St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) 58 ; Capital Christian (Sacramento, Calif.) 48, Etiwanda (Calif.) 42 ; Jackson (Mill Creek, Wash.) 68, Columbia Christian (Portland, Ore.) 48 ; Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) 90, Wenonah (Birmingham, Ala.) 89 (2OT)
Semifinal Matchups: Westchester (Los Angeles) vs. Capital Christian (Sacramento, Calif.) 6pm ; Jackson (Mill Creek, Wash.) vs. Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) 7:30 pm