Knight shines in Dayton
KETTERING, Ohio -- President and founder Eric Horstman did a terrific job assembling a great field of teams and players for the eighth annual Flyin' to the Hoop Invitational that was played at the beautiful 3,650 seat Trent Arena. This three-day, 18-game showcase was held on the MLK weekend with six games per day. Horstman matched local, state and national teams that included multiple Division I players on every roster.
Top performances on Day 1 included Georgia State signee PG DeVonta White (Roswell, Ga./ Centennial) who played a great floor game while scoring 28 points, grabbing 6 rebounds, handing out 6 assist, 4 steals and no turnovers. PG Brandon Knight (Coral Springs, FL. /Pine Crest), the nation's No. 4 player, did not shoot well in Game 1, going 9-of-28. Knight, however, made them when his team needed them, scoring 28 points -- including 11-of-13 from the free-throw line in a 64-61 win over Princeton (Cincinnati). Knight also added 6 assist and 8 rebounds while no other teammate managed double figures.
In Game 2 on the second day of the event, Knight shot 14-of-29 including 6 3s and scored 39 points against Dayton Jefferson (Ohio) in a 68-61 win. Knight finished the weekend with 72 points in two games, and secured two wins almost single handedly for Pine Crest. Other Day 2 highlights included a terrific showing from PF/ C Gorgui Sy Dieng (Senegal, Huntington Prep). The 6-foot-10 senior displayed the ability to rebound everything in his area and score with excellent touch. In the featured game of the night, local power Dayton Dunbar crushed nationally ranked Chicago Whitney Young 98-76. Dunbar led by as many as 35 points.
On the final day of competition a great effort was put on display by future Villanova Wildcat SF James Bell who led Montverde Academy (Fla.) over Huber Heights Wayne (Ohio) 53-43. Bell was aggressive and got off to a 3-for-3 start from behind the arc. He finished with 22 points including a rim-rattling dunk to seal the deal late in the game.
Brandon Knight, PG/SG (6-2, 185)
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Pine Crest
Brandon is a scoring combo guard. He is being recruited by everyone as a point guard, but the thing he does best is score. He is a streaky shooter with range to 22 feet. When he gets hot, Knight can run off a bunch in a row. He is good off the dribble -- mostly with his right hand -- and is also effective catching and shooting. He is more of a volume scorer though -- meaning he needs a lot of shots in order to get his points. He is an extreme competitor and is a player who wants to take (and generally makes) the last shot. He can dribble drive into the lane and hit floaters and pull ups. He has the entire arsenal offensively. He can be a very good defender when needed. He has solid length and is an above-average athlete. Again, his competitiveness can come into play here. He is a good rebounder for his position and can push the ball once he secures the rebound.
Gorgui Sy Dieng (6-9, 220) C/PF
Huntington, W.Va./Huntington Prep
Sy Dieng is an athletic and raw post player. He is long, athletic and plays hard in spurts. He is from Dakar, Senegal, and can speak five languages. He is a solid athlete and is not as raw offensively as most African imports. He has some rudimentary post moves and can face and score from 15 feet. He is a good shot-blocker and is effective guarding the paint. Dieng is a good rebounder and uses his length and athletic ability to be a force in the paint. He is one of the better unsigned post players in the country and will find his recruiting very crowded come the spring. Gorgui can be an impact player in the right situation and will at least be a solid contributor for a high-major program.
Geron Johnson SG/PG (6-2, 185)
2010, Dayton, Ohio/Dunbar
Johnson is a skilled combination guard. He played with great energy and effort. Johnson set the tone right from the start against Chicago Whitney Young. He excited the crowd with his above-the-rim finishes in transition and slashes along the baseline in the half court where he loves to fake the spin move before attacking the rim. He rebounded and went coast to coast where he can finish through contact with ease. What makes Johnson special is his ballhandling and passing. He has outstanding court vision and can deliver the ball with either hand in the open court or in a tight spot when he draws a second defender. Johnson is fearless and competes on both ends of the floor. He can defend both guard positions with his ability to pressure the ball with great lateral foot speed and quick hands. He also is an excellent anticipator in the passing lanes. Johnson has great basketball instincts period. I think Johnson is more of a shooting guard than a point at this stage of his game because of his ability to score quickly and the comfort of running the lane and attacking from the wing. He must continue to add strength and not take as many chances with the ball, but he can dominate a game because of his ability to make plays with the ball in his hands.
Anthony Johnson, SG (6-4, 175)
2010, Chicago/ Whitney Young, signed with Purdue
Johnson was the only bright spot for Whitney Young against Dayton Dunbar. He competed and made some nice scoring moves off the dribble and also knocked down a couple open 3s. Johnson attacked the pressure defense and converted on a few nice-looking floaters in the lane. He elevated while displaying excellent touch and body control in order to avoid the charge. He ran the floor and did a great job taking advantage of his opportunities without forcing shots. He handled the ball pretty well in the open court and made decent decisions. Johnson can defend both guard positions and worked to stay in front of the ball while applying excellent ball pressure. Johnson played with great energy, urgency and toughness, which will serve him well next season at Purdue. Johnson must add strength and work to be a consistent high-level performer.
James Bell, SG/SF (6-4 210)
Montverde, Fla./Montverde Academy, committed to Villanova
Bell is a strong and athletic wing. He is a good shooter with range to 22 feet. He is at his best with his feet set and squared to the basket. He has really improved that aspect of his game over the past couple of years. He is less effective when shooting on the move. He is a big-time vertical athlete who will dunk on an unsuspecting foe. Bell is an effective slasher to the basket, and he can finish well above the rim once he gets there. He is an excellent rebounder for his position due to his strong body and athletic ability. Defensively, he is solid, but he can struggle sometimes in space. James was injured last spring and still suffers some effects from that leg injury. He has signed with Villanova and should continue their tradition of super strong guard play.
DeVonta White, PG (6-0, 160)
2010, Roswell, Ga./ Centennial, signed with Georgia State
White is a lead guard who can make open shots almost anywhere on the floor. In transition, he keeps the pressure on the defense because he can dribble pull-up from behind the arc. He can knock down midrange pull-ups with one or two rhythm dribbles. He also can come off screens or floaters in the lane. White is always in attack mode and ready to pull the trigger. What makes White special is his ability to make open shots on a consistent basis. He has a nice stroke with excellent follow through and good elevation. White has good strength for his size. He is a good, not great, athlete with matching speed and quickness. White can get his teammates a shot when he draws a second defender. He has a good handle and makes excellent decisions with the ball. White also provides good effort on the defensive end of the floor. He has excellent anticipation, quick hands and does a great job reading the passer and running through passing lanes. This young guard was very impressive and should be a good player for coach Rod Barnes.
• This event featured some talented players. A couple of touted prospects at this event were productive but still left you wanting more. PF/C Luke Cothron (Hunstville, Ala./Flora MacDonald Academy), a 6-9 senior, has to be one of the more talented players in the country; he had more than 20 points in both his game in Dayton. The issue is he does not play hard at all and took several plays off. That can not continue at the next level. In order to be an elite prospect he must learn to play hard.
• Adreian Payne (Dayton/Jefferson Township) is another super talented inside player. He drifted and played a little too much on the perimeter. But he did play hard in spurts and affected more than just the point total for his team.
• Future Dayton Flyer Ralph Hill (Westerville Ohio./Westerville North) is a combination forward who displayed the ability to hit the open three and mid range jumper off the catch. At 6-6, Hill is a smooth and skilled forward who dropped 28 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. He will excel in Dayton's offensive system -- especially in pick-and-pop situations in which he is a threat to knock down open shots when set or drive to the basket. Hill is a potential match up problem when at the power forward position.
• Junior wing Markus Crider (Huber Heights, Ohio/Wayne) is starting to come out of his shell. The skilled wing led his team with 16 points in its upset attempt versus Montverde. He was productive and showed the talent we have all known he has.
John Stovall contributed to this report.
Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton.