The North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association state tournament had a successful stay in Charlotte this season; great crowds, great facilities (Charlotte Latin, Providence Day, Charlotte Country Day), and even better basketball! Here is a brief recap, starting with the 2A's.
The 2A division was wide open going in and the tournament proved that to be correct, as the top seeds were upset early and often. The biggest upsets of the entire NCISAA tournament were # 11 seed Spartanburg Day over # 3 seed Gaston Day and # 7 seed First Assembly over # 2 seed (state title favorite) Westchester Country Day. First Assembly made it all the way to the championship game, where they would eventually lose to big man Sam Johnson (Winston-Salem) and Asheville Christian. Asheville Christian got it done with a balanced attack; they didn't even have a single player on the all tournament team. Congratulations to Asheville.
Moving on to the 3A tournament... The 3A tournament went more as expected, state title front runners, Christ School proved too much to handle and took home another state title. In the championship two McDonalds All Americans and two Duke Commits squared off, Ryan Kelly and his Ravens of Ravenscroft didn't quite have enough in the tank to defeat Mason Plumlee and his Greenies. Some players of note...
Madison Jones - Jones is a freshman point guard for Ravenscroft, who looks like he has a very bright future. He is on the smallish side now, about 5'10" 145lbs, but he can handle the ball, has nice vision, and can knock down open jumpers. He handled the ball a lot in the championship day and did an admirable job against tough defenders on the big stage.
Luke Davis - A junior point guard for the Ravenscroft is another player that should be commended, as he will make a very nice low major point guard. Davis can shoot from deep, find open teammates, run an offense effectively, and has a tight handle.
Ryan Kelly - After having a slow first half on the offensive end (he did rebound and block shots), he turned it on in the second half and led a surge, giving the Ravens the lead at one point, before giving it up for good. Kelly is a skilled player and very intelligent. He fits the Duke mold.
Mason Plumlee - He had a solid game for Christ School, but his best days are in front of him. At 6'11" and a frame to hold 260lbs, with his skill set and athleticism, if it ever fully comes together I see NBA All Star appearances in his future.
Lakeem Jackson - Another Christ School star, will be one to look for in college. He is a bit of a tweener (SF/2 guard) and it will be interesting to see how he adapts at the high major level. He is big, strong, athletic slasher and should carve out a niche at South Carolina eventually.
The 1A tournament proved to be the most exciting, with the championship game being an absolute thriller. United Faith Christian Academy pulled off the stunning upset with a 30 foot buzzer beater over defending champs Word of God. Player notes:
Luke Cothron - Flora MacDonald's 6'9" combo forward did not have his best game in their second round loss to United Faith, he uncharacteristically missed several foul shots and did not finish around the hoop. This does not change the fact that Cothron is a high major lock!
Brian Richardson - Greenfields 6'5" wing guard is very versatile player. He does a lot on the court and should be very attractive to mid and high major program as he enters his senior yr next season. He did not shoot the ball well against united Faith (0-6 from three), but still managed to find ways to score.
Jeremy Jeffers - Greenfields other 6'5" junior wing forward also showed a versatile game. He is a good athlete, can shoot from 3, and take the ball strong to the hoop. Low to mid major programs should take notice.
Damontre Harris - Trinity Christian 6'10" junior big is one to watch. He has a legit shot at playing high major basketball. He is long, active, athletic, and showed signs of an offensive game; mid range jumpers, some post moves. Harris battled Word of God in their defeat all night long and made a serious impact underneath while he was in. Harris needs to add muscle and weight.
CJ Leslie - Leslie may be one of if not the most talented prep players in America. At 6'9", his ball handling, athleticism, shooting, and length is a very dangerous package. If he ever learns to go hard every night, he automatically becomes one of the 3 best players in his junior class. Leslie put on a show in the championship with his shot blocking prowess.
John Wall - Wall had the key mistake that lead to the United Faith victory in the championship. In a tie game a just seconds remaining, Wall dribbled off his foot, out of bounds against no pressure to leave 2.7 seconds for United Faith� As it turns out, about .1 seconds too long. But those in attendance got a good taste of what Wall is all about� simply the best prospect in the country. 6'4", strong, lighting fast and quick, great rebounder and shot blocker, with great handle (never mind the dribble off the foot) and passer. Wall needs to tighten parts of his game up and really needs to focus on his shooting.
Dezmine Wells - He is making serious strides in his game, especially his handle, he is a very well built, athletic, 6'4" sophomore wing. If he learns how to shoot, high major will be likely destination.
Ilija Ivankovic - United Faiths back up big had a nice tournament. A powerful 6'10" senior center, he has the ability to play D1 ball.
Ian Miller - Miller put on a show throughout the tourney. Miller is strong, explosive, and a dynamic scorer. He can score by taking it to the hoop, absorb contact, get to the line, pull up jumper, long range bombs, etc... Miller who hit the game winner in the championship proved a few things during the tournament; he is a big game player, he can score on anyone, and Florida State got a steal. On the negative side, Miller at 6'2" needs to really concentrate on his ball handling, it was very suspect at times, as well as improve his all around point guard skills.
Peter Jurkin - COMING OUT PARTY! Jurkin the 7'1" freshman center for United Faith may end up being the top big man in the country when he is a senior; he has that kind of upside! He played a fantastic final 2 games, controlling his area, rebounding, blocking shots, and finishing underneath. Jurkin's athleticism and coordination for his age and size is extremely impressive. I don't want to build him up anymore than I already have, given his youth, but if he adds weight/muscle... LOOK OUT!