Thursday was the first day of the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals, which will crown a National Champion by the tournament’s end. With four games taking place on the opening day there were a number of players that stood out among the rest. We compiled a list of who those players were.
Jaylen Brown: Brown was one of the tournament’s five McDonald’s All-Americans that had to play in the prestigious All-Star Game on Wednesday night in Chicago and then fly to New York City for Thursday’s games. If Brown was tired he did not show it. He continued his momentum from a brilliant week in Chicago during the McDonald’s practices. Brown shot the ball from deep, handled full court and also attacked the basket. On top of that he guarded all five positions at different points throughout the game, even jumping center. Brown’s number for the afternoon were 29 points and 15 rebounds, with his only break coming when he was forced to the sideline to readjust a contact.
Thomas Bryant: Bryant, another of the tournament’s McDonald’s All-Americans matched Brown’s numbers and arguably had a better individual performance. In a win over Brown’s Wheeler squad, Bryant finished with 27 points, 19 rebounds and 4 blocks. Those numbers should drive home the point of just how dominant Bryant was in the game. However, the 6’10 230lb Bryant did not just score from inside the paint. He went two for two from the three-point line and three out of four from the free throw line. He also managed to finish the game with no turnovers.
Curtis Jones: Had Bryant not have had the monster game he did, then everyone would have been talking about Jones. He finished with 23 points on 50% shooting in the game, but it was his timely threes and penetration into the lane that made the difference. Without Jones running the show Huntington prep would not have knocked off the higher seeded Wheeler.
Dwayne Bacon: Simply put, Dwayne Bacon is a grown man. Like Brown and Bryant, he traveled cross-country on only two hours sleep to compete in the tournament. And like Brown and Bryant, he showed no effects of jet lag. Standing at 6’6 209lbs, Bacon punished smaller guards that tried to defend him. Bacon is much more than a bully though. He showed an array of midrange jumpers as well as the ability to step out behind the three-point line. He finished with 21 points and 5 rebounds in a win over the crowd favorite Wings Academy of the Bronx, New York.
Jessie Govan: The Georgetown signee did to Oak Hill what he had been doing to the PSAL all season – dominate. Govan finished the night with 20 points and 9 rebounds despite being matched up against Oak Hill’s front line with three players above 6’9. Govan displayed a nice turnaround jumper from the post as well as the mobility to get catch a lob in transition.
McDonald’s All-American Ben Simmons and Noah Dickerson led two-time defending champion Montverde to a win by combining for 34 points and 17 rebounds. Desure Buie of Wings Academy scored 22 points in a losing effort including hitting two triples and going six for seven from the line. Oak Hill’s Joe Hampton displayed good versatility hitting three threes and also going to the block for two buckets on his way to 13 points. Lastly, hoop fans should keep an eye on Oak Hill’s Khadim Sy. He finished with 8 points and 5 boards but showed flashes of his talent.
The Dick’s Sporting Goods High Schools Nationals continue tomorrow, Friday April 3rd at 3:00 pm when Montverde takes on Findlay Prep. That game will be immediately followed by Oak Hill versus Huntington prep, with both winners moving on to the championship game in Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon.
x Paul Johnson
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