The annual IPSAC/Midwest Challenge was held Friday and Saturday at John Marshall High School in Indianapolis. There were 16 games over the two days, and we were there for 15 of them. Many great players took part in the event, but here are the top eleven performances that stood out to us.
James Blackmon Jr., 6-3 SG Fort Wayne Luers 2014, the Indiana University verbal commit got off to a slow start Saturday. He was just 1-7 from the field in the first quarter. That changed drastically in the second period. He went on a spree and scored 17 points in the quarter, and he did not stop after that. He went on to get 39 points and 12 rebounds while also doing a large share of the ball-handling for Luers. He is averaging over 30 points per game on the young season. Blackmon looked explosive off the floor on a transition dunk, showing no signs of his ACL tear from last season.
Deonte Burton, 6-5 SG Milwaukee Vincent 2013, was a man among boys. Burton is 6-5 and built like an NFL tight end, but also quick and explosive off the floor. He likely had the highlight dunk of the event when he “posterized” an Attucks defender on a fast break. Burton handled the ball well and is very quick with his crossover. He should be very good at Marquette.
Stanley Duncan, 6-4 SG Evansville Harrison 2015, had 25 points against Detroit Constortium. He made some great cuts to the basket and his brothers Ernie and Everett made great passes numerous times to find him. Stanley and his twin, Everett, have received the reputation of “just” being great shooters. That is not the case though. They both are excellent off the ball and are intelligent players overall. Everett and Stanley need to get stronger, but they are definitely more than catch and shoot players.
Deshawn Munson, 6-4 SG East St. Louis 2013, was a one-man show for East St. Louis. The talented, senior guard did a little bit of everything. He brought the ball up the floor. He rebounded at a high level, and he was the main scoring option. Munson is very athletic, and was able to get to the basket whenever he wanted against Pike. His outside shooting form leaves a lot to be desired. It seemed to be better off the dribble than off the catch though. Munson was just 1-5 from the line on his way to a game-high 31 points.
Nick Davidson, 6-4 PG Andrean 2013, is always under control and does a great job of picking spots. He has a knack for getting fouled. He shot 9 free-throws Saturday and that is probably below his season average. Davidson is a good outside shooter, but looks to penetrate first and foremost. He sees the floor extremely well. Davidson and Ernie Duncan (2014 Evansville Harrison) break down the defense with the pass in a similar way. They use pass fakes and anticipate player movement very well. Davidson might not put up huge numbers at Valpo, but he will be a solid player for them.
Alvin Ellis, 6-3 SG Chicago De La Salle 2013, smooth shooter and scorer basically sums up Ellis. He is a great outside shooter. He can shoot off the dribble or off the catch equally well. If defenders close-out too aggressively, he will attack the basket. Ellis also rebounded well for a guard Saturday against Trader’s Point. He’s not an elite athlete like a Deonte Burton, but seems to know the game along with angles to make up for his athleticism. Ellis will play for Minnesota next season.
Davon Dillard, 6-4 SF Bowman Academy 2015, had 17 points against a defensive-minded Brownsburg team. Dillard is a great athlete and built like a college player already. He only hit one shot outside of the lane Friday night. His shooting will have to become much more consistent for him to be a high-major prospect.
Justin Parker, 6-4 SF Indianapolis Northwest 2014, first time seeing Parker to my knowledge, and he played a great game. He had 11 points (3 3s and a dunk) in about two minutes of game action towards the end of the first half against Andrean. Parker finished with a team-high 20 points in the loss.
Damien Jefferson, 6-4 SF East Chicago Central 2016, first look at the freshman, and I walked away very impressed. He’s got long arms and is very bouncy for a freshman. He played with great energy Saturday against Broad Ripple. Jefferson’s outside shot also looked good. He’s on the thin side right now (as are most freshmen), but it looks like he might grow a little bit more. He’s got a chance to be special.
Joe Fagan, 6-3 SG Indianapolis Chatard 2013, ended up leaving the game early against Fort Wayne Luers with a shoulder injury, but he was great before the injury. He had 12 points and 7 rebounds in basically a half of basketball. He actually injured the shoulder twice. He returned after suffering the injury in the first half then was injured again in the third quarter. Fagan showed a lot of toughness coming back after the first injury. He’s a good student and is being under-recruited right now.
Caleb Oetjen, 6-0 SG Horizon Christian 2013, had 24 points in the first half against Gary Roosevelt. Now, Gary Roosevelt is very down, but it is still 24 points in a half. Oetjen was 4-6 from 3 in the half along with 8-10 from the line.