Most of the high school basketball squads were back on the court over the weekend, with many playing in holiday tournaments. Class of 2014 signee D'Angelo Russell saw his his first action of the year, after sitting out the last couple months recovering from surgery to repair a torn meniscus. In his season debut on Friday, the 6-4 lefty put up 17 points in a 98-39 Montverde Academy victory over South Atlanta (GA) in the opening round of the Wild Wing Hoop Classic, held in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Soon after the game, the five star guard had the following to say on what it is like to be back on the court with his teammates to recruiting analyst Jack LeGwin:
"It feels great to be able to play with my team again. This has been an obstacle that I've had to overcome not being on the court for the past couple months."
See what else Russell had to say to LeGwin, here on ZagsBlog.
D'Angelo and the Eagles took the court against St. James (MD) on Saturday. Just like on Friday, Montverde had no problem running away with with an easy win, defeating St.James by a final score of 78-46. Once again, Russell scored in double digits, finishing with 14 points in the win. The victory put the Eagles in a place they are use to being, in the running for a championship title. Tonight, Russell and teammates will take on Northside Christian (NY) for the Wild Wing Hoop Classic title.
MVP's of today: Rayjon Tucker, CJ Jackson and D'Angelo Russell.
— Jack LeGwin (@jacklegwin) December 29, 2013
On Friday Keita Bates-Diop and University High (IL) tasted the bitterness of defeat for the first time this season, losing in a close battle to Chatham Glenwood, 61-56. Even though the 6'7 Bates-Diop matched Glenwood's class of 2014 shooting guard Peyton Allen with 21 points, the Pioneers couldn't rally late to get past Allen and the Titans at the State Farm Holiday Classic in Illinois.
Bates-Diop and U-High had two games on Saturday at the Classic. In the first, Bates-Diop and the Pioneers pulled out a close one against Rock Island, 78-74. Before fouling out, Keita pitched in 13 points in the nail biter. Later in the day, they wouldn't have as much luck, losing 62-46 to Illinois signee Michael Finkee (22 pts) and Champaign Centennial. Even though he stood out all weekend long, Bates-Diop didn't have his most impressive game in the scoring department against Centennial, being held to only nine points for the game.
Top players I saw include Cliff Alexander, Keita Bates-Diop, Larry Austin, Peyton Allen--all very high on my current Mr Basketball list
— Jim Mattson (@hoijim) December 29, 2013
Jae'Sean Tate and Pickerington Central took on Massillon Jackson on Saturday at the Play 4 Cancer Shootout. Central hung around all night, but didn't have enough in the tank late to walk away with a victory. In the 96-80 Tiger loss to College of Charleston signee Evan Bailey and Jackson, Tate, like most games ,had a double-double, finishing with 33 points and 13 rebounds in front of Buckeye assistant Greg Paulus.
Our Zach Fleer was in Massillon over the weekend and had the following to say on the battle between the Tigers and Polar Bears:
"Tate was very impressive. Imposed his will in the lane. Didn't shoot overly impressive from the perimeter. Pickerington Central didn't really have another consistent scorer outside of Tate. His 33 points and 13 boards kept them in the game. Every time Pick Central made a run, Jackson answered with a big three. Paced by Evan Bailey's 23 second half points, he had 30 for the game, Tate's big performance just wasn't enough for Pickerington Central."
Keep a close eye out for a piece from Zach on not just the top performers from the weekends Play 4 Cancer Shootout but the entire state of Ohio.
Even though class of 2015 commit Mickey Mitchell is still sitting out with an injury, his classmate and future teammate, AJ Harris and his Dayton Dunbar team traveled to Tennessee to participate in the John Overton Invitational Tournament. On Friday, AJ's 25 points led the way in a 75-60 Dunbar win over Montgomery Bell Academy. AJ and the Wolverines took on Marshall County (TN) on Saturday. The leading scorer for Dunber once again, Harris chipped in 17 points, including knocking down three out of five from downtown to put Dunbar in the title game versus Lighthouse Academy.
Sunday night, Harris and Dunbar played a hard fought game but came up on the short end up the stick, losing the championship game of the John Overton Invitational to Lighthouse Academy by a final score of, 79-73.
It wasn't just a big weekend for future basketball Buckeyes but also future football players as many traveled to either Florida or Texas for All-Star events. Offensive lineman Jamarco Jones and recent linebacker commit Raekwon McMillan made their way to the sunshine state for the Under Armour All-American Game.
Ohio State commit Raekwon McMillan with an O-H for the fans https://t.co/pTS2ep77iW
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) December 28, 2013
Urban Meyer and his staff also have a couple potential future Buckeyes in Thursday afternoon's game. Current Texas commit, defensive back Tony Brown, and JuJu Smith are also in Tampa for the now annual event.
Some of the other prospects playing in the game that Buckeyes fans might remember are quarterback Brandon Harris (LSU), defensive back Quin Blanding (Virginia), defensive back Jabril Peppers (Michigan) and defensive tackle Thomas Holley (Penn State), just to name a few of the many former OSU targets.
While Jones, McMillan and those at the Under Armour game were practicing for Thursday, their Dream '14 classmates Curtis Samuel, Damon Webb, Dante Booker, Demetrius Knox, Jalyn Holmes, Johnnie Dixon and Marcelys Jones all headed to the southwest for the US Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.
Here is a picture of Webb, Knox and Jones hanging out after arriving to the Lone Star State:
Looks like we can finally put all those crazy Marcelys Jones-to-Kentucky rumors to bed as Jones told 247Sports recruiting analyst Steve Wiltfong he is headed "straight to Columbus" after the game to early enroll for the 2014 class:
Marcelys Jones' Cleveland Glenville teammates Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith are also playing in the Army game. Lattimore and Jones, two of the top defensive backs in the state of Ohio, will make their college decisions on Saturday during the game. Most believe the pair will join Jones and commit to the Buckeyes over opportunities at Alabama, Georgia Tech and plenty of others.
Defensive linemen Solomon Thomas, Malik McDowell and Derrick Nandi are a few of the other prospects Ohio State is also in the mix for participating in Saturday's game.
Keep checking back all week as both the Land-Grant Holy Land and SB Nation recruiting teams will work to bring you more news from both the Under Armour and Army All-American games.
- Class of 2015 quarterback Torrance Gibson tweeted that he attended Ohio State's Orange Bowl practice yesterday. The 6-3, four star prospect recently led his American Heritage teammates to a Florida State title. Gibson holds offers from Ohio State, Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame and a long list of others.
- The Land-Grant Holy Land recruiting team is doing a Mailbag. If you have any Ohio State football or basketball recruiting based questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them to our Twitter @LGHLRecruiting. Thanks