Creek impressive during Hargrave-Oak Hill scrimmage
DUBLIN, Va.-- Indiana recruit Maurice Creek did a very impressive impersonation of former Hoosier star Eric Gordon, scoring 25 points, and playing shut-down defense to lead Hargrave Military Academy (Chatham, Va.) in its annual scrimmage with Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.).
Creek, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, scored 18 in the first period of the three-period scrimmage as Hargrave won 53-37. He tallied 7 points in the second period, with Hargrave prevailing 46-36. (In these scrimmages, the starters play two 20-minutes halves, that are, in effect, mini games. The scoreboard is erased after each period. Then a third running clock period is played by the backups.)
This silky-smooth Creek is an outstanding shooting guard. In compiling his 25 total points, Creek made 9 of 13 field goals, 2 of 4 3-pointers and finished 5-for-5 on free throws.
This was the 19th annual preseason scrimmage between these two perennial powers. With the opportunity to evaluate at least 20 Division I prospects, I consider this a must-see event each year; I have been fortunate enough to have attended all 19. This year's scrimmage was held at Pulaski County High School (Dublin, Va.) before a crowd of about 750.
Oak Hill Academy showed improvement from its earlier scrimmage against Patterson Prep School in Lenoir, N.C. Particularly impressive was physically dominate center Keith "Tiny" Gallon, who more than atoned for his disappointing Patterson outing. Gallon was virtually unstoppable, scoring 32 points on 11-for-13 shooting, sinking 10 of 11 free throws and overpowering inside with 16 rebounds and four blocked shots. Gallon's conditioning and effort have improved significantly, and he played like one of the nation's best low-post operatives. Reportedly, he made an official visit to Mississippi this weekend. He had previously visited Oklahoma.
Both teams were missing key players in this scrimmage. Not available for Oak Hill was starter and 2010 guard Doron Lamb, who was suspended for the game, and valuable backup center/forward 6-8 Chasen Campbell, who is still recovering from an ankle injury. Also, 6-3 G/F Bryon Allen played despite missing practices all week because of respiratory problems, and he was not up to par.
Hargrave starting point guard Danny Nieman (Concord, N.C.) was out with an injury.
Hargrave Military completed its "sweep" by taking the 15-minute, running clock third period 29-18 while primarily playing reserves. C Alex Newsome, who committed to Navy, led Hargrave with 10 points in the third, and talented forward Lee Martin added eight points. The leader for Oak Hill was Jordan Gallagher, a 6-4 shooting guard, with nine points.
• Hargrave Military coach Kevin Keatts told ESPN.com, "This scrimmage is a very positive experience for both teams. There really is no winner or loser. [Oak Hill coach] Steve Smith and I have been doing this for years to prepare our teams for the upcoming season. I was very happy with our total team effort, especially on defense and rebounding. I had planned to play Danny Nieman and Evan Gordon about 20 minutes each at point guard. However, with Nieman's injury, Ledrick Eackles did a very good job of switching from the 2-guard, and playing the point. This gives us valuable depth at this position. I know Steve [Smith] was somewhat disappointed with his team's play. But, they are going to be very good again this year."
• Smith's comments: "We still have a long way to go, but we are making progress. We really missed Doron [Lamb] and Chasen [Campbell], but we competed well against one of the nation's best prep school programs. We are still implementing our sets, and have not had time to prepare our offense against the strong full-court press defenses that we faced from both Patterson and Hargrave. But, it is still early, and I am confident that we will have a successful season." Smith said he was not pleased with the play of his point guards, and they needed to make better decision and have more poise.
• Hargrave has a very deep, talented roster with six players already committed to colleges. This group is headed by Creek (committed to Indiana) Braswell (Charlotte), Riley (Massachusetts) and 6-10 C/F DeShawn Painter (Florida). Also committed are multitalented 6-5 G/F Luke Hancock, to George Mason; and 6-9 C Alex Newsome, to Navy. Keatts said he expects at least six other Hargrave players to get Division I scholarships this year.
• A player of particular note for Hargrave was 6-2 guard Evan Gordon (Indianapolis). Gordon is the younger brother of Eric Gordon, the first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Clippers. While Evan is not comparable to his older brother, he appears to have the abilities to become a solid college player. He is strong and athletic, and plays tough defense on the ball. He has the talent to play at the point or shooting guard, but at his height (6-2), point guard could be his best college position. Gordon could commit to a college this year, or return to Hargrave for a post-graduate season. In addition to scoring 10 points, Gordon had six assists and three steals in the scrimmage.
• Deshawn Painter (Norfolk, Va.) did not light up the scoreboard (scoring eight total points). But he was impressive rebounding and blocking shots. Painter has added weight and muscle since we saw him playing last summer for the Boo Williams All-Stars. Look for him to develop his scoring skills and extend his shooting range this year at Hargrave. He could become an Al Horford-type player for Billy Donovan's Florida Gators.
• The biggest surprise was Hargrave's Ledrick Eackles (Zachary, La.), a 6-3 postgrad guard. Eackles was primarily a scorer in helping the New Orleans Jazz win the Select Division Championship in the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions last May. However, he performed well at the point guard position for Hargrave. He had five assists, four steals and defensively disrupted Oak Hill's point guards, Lamont Jones and Pe'Shon Howard. According to Keatts, Eackles is now hearing from East Carolina, Tulane, Wichita State, Southern Mississippi and others. Look for that list to expand.
• Coach Jim Larranaga got an ideal player for his George Mason program in Luke Hancock (Roanoke, Va.). The postgraduate wing is a total team player, has the skills and versatility to play multiple positions and is an effective scorer from inside or outside. He and teammate Lee Martin (Mt. Airy, N.C.) are superb role players for Hargrave. Both will be solid Division I performers.
• This trip to Pulaski County High School truly was a trip down memory lane for me. The last time I visited this school, located in the New River area of western Virginia, was in 1984. I went there to watch their program's best basketball player, point guard Michael Porter, who averaged 32 points per game during his senior season. After watching him play, I recommended Porter for the 1985 McDonald's All-American team, which he made. Porter, an incredible athlete, won the slam dunk contest and scored 11 points for the East team in the McDonald's All-American Game played in Dallas, Texas. Porter attended a junior college for two years then played at St. John's.
Bob Gibbons is the editor and publisher of the All Star Sports report and is widely regarded as the recruiting guru of college basketball.
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