Rolling off two consecutive victories in which King James never trailed, the 16u Shooting Stars head into Saturday's 6 p.m. matchup vs. Peoria Irish as confident as ever.
After taking care of business in the Shooting Stars' 10:30 a.m. matchup vs. Wisconsin Playground Elite, 70-65, King James played its reserves the majority of the time in a 74-25 win over Windy City Magic at 2:15 p.m. With the first round matchup vs. Peoria a little more than an hour away, let's take a look at the some of the top performers from King James.
Xavier Simpson (5'11 PG / Lima Central Catholic / 2016):
Through King James' first two games, Simpson played his best basketball since the Ohio state tournament, posting averages of 13 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals. Simpson has helped King James create and sustain the pace of each game the Shooting Stars have played in, and saved his best performance for an intriguing matchup vs. Playground Elite point guard Juwan McCloud earlier on Saturday. Going for 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, Simpson held the advantage vs. McCloud, despite the opposing guard's 25-point performance, all of which coming in the second half. With highly-touted point guard Jashaun Agosto and Seattle Rotary on the opposite end of King James' bracket, a matchup between the two undersized, but highly-talented guards will be one of the weekend's best.
Ibi Watson (6'5 SF / Athens / 2016):
Similar to Simpson, Watson has also been playing his best basketball at exactly the right time. Through King James' first two games, Watson had posted averages of 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Proving to be arguably King James' top shooter, Watson has showcased a versatile offensive skill-set being able to score in both the halfcourt and full-court. Watson's level of athleticism has also improved since the fall, as the 6'5 forward has been able to rise up for rebounds and powerful slams. King James' sixth man, Watson will be a key factor down the stretch as the Shooting Stars will need balanced scoring to overcome a talented field at the Bill Hensley Memorial Run-n-Slam.
Rico Stafford (6'6 SF / Lima Senior / 2016):
After missing the first two games of action this weekend, Stafford had an excellent opening performance in the win vs. Windy City Magic, scoring a game-high 19 points, including a pair of powerful dunks in the open floor. A star on the Lima Senior track team, Stafford missed Friday's game due to a track meet, which makes sense as Stafford continually blew past the Windy City defense for score after score. A long and athletic combo-forward, Stafford has shown greater finishing ability around the basket, attacking with either hand. While his jump-shooting is still coming along, Stafford will be used later on in the tournament for his defensive stopping and rebounding ability, two categories King James has been superior to its opponents in so far in the tournament.
Derek Funderburk (6'9 PF / Lakewood St. Edward / 2016): 8.5 PPG, 8 RPG, 2 BPG
Anthony Christian (6'4 SG / Akron Archbishop Hoban / 2016): 6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 2 SPG
Henry Baddley (6'6 SF / Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary / 2016): 9 PPG, 4 RPG
DJ Hoskins (5'10 PG / Dayton Thurgood Marshall / 2016): 7 PPG, 3 RPG, 2 APG, 2.5 SPG
Tre' Cobbs (6' PG / Lima Central Catholic / 2016): 10 PPG, 5 APG, 4 SPG (1 game)