Drummond faces veteran test
St. Thomas More School hosted its annual Founders Tournament this weekend, welcoming three other top prep school programs in Bridgton Academy, Maine Central Institute and Champlain St. Lambert from Canada.
Champlain St. Lambert was the big story on the opening night of play; it scored an upset over Bridgton Academy in the second round. Champlain came out to a strong start in Saturday's final, but it was eventually worn down by the depth and talent of St. Thomas More as the Chancellors captured their tournament's championship.
2012, Middletown, Conn./St. Thomas More School
Drummond, who's the No. 2 ranked player for the Class of 2012, struggled out of the gate on Friday night in his matchup against an older and more experienced player in MCI's Levan Shengelia. Shengelia is an extremely physical, and equally crafty, center who did his best to bait Drummond into silly fouls. Drummond took that bait early on but smartened up in the second and had a tremendous defensive impact down the stretch of regulation. It's an important lesson for Drummond to learn because he's likely to see this strategy for years to come because of his talent and notoriety. Physically, Drummond has become much stronger in the past four months, and he finally looks to have regained all of his athleticism after being sidelined with a stress fracture through November. His physical tools are endless with staggering size, length, speed, lateral quickness, bounce and agility. His defensive instincts are off the charts as well with great timing, quick leaping ability and good use of both hands blocking shots. Offensively, his biggest impact is running the floor and finishing around the basket, but he has a developing jump hook and the touch to develop into a good midrange shooter.
Tyshawn Bell (6-7, 225) PF
Postgrad, Camden, Del./Maine Central Institute
Bell's game has become much more efficient since the beginning of the season. He's letting the game come to him more now, not forcing dribble penetration and utilizing an impressive inside-out skill set. Consequently, he's much less turnover prone and shooting a higher percentage from the floor. He shot the ball very consistently from the 3-point line this weekend, knocking down several open looks with his feet set and even spotting up once in transition. He also looked to post his man on several occasions, and although he lacks polish and a go-to move on the block, he was successful simply by initiating contact and powering up. Bell gave a diligent effort on the glass and capably defended inside out as well.
Alex Harris (6-1, 170) PG
Richmond, Calif./Bridgton Academy (Maine)
Harris is a long, athletic guard with an impressive floor game. While he has the burst to get to the rim at virtually anytime, he plays the game with great poise and makes good decisions running the team. He is a high-percentage player who takes what the defense offers while showing the playmaking ability to create late in the shot clock. He sees the floor, gets the team into its sets, passes off the dribble, quickly reverses the ball to open shooters and makes open shots with good range. Defensively, he can be a playmaker in full-court situations and a stopper in the half court. The only real knock on Harris is that while he doesn't have any glaring deficiencies in his game, he lacks an overwhelming weapon as well.
Player to watch
Yann Charles (6-4, 210) SF
2010, Longueuiel, Quebec, Canada/Champlain St. Lambert A power swingman, Charles has a college-ready body with muscle mass and definition. He is every bit of 6-4 and perhaps even a little bigger in shoes. He scores inside and out, taking equal-sized or smaller defenders to the low block with good results, making the open 3 consistently and even creating his own shot some off the dribble. While he won't blow by anyone, he utilizes his jab to get his defender off-balance, attacks the rim hard, plays off two feet in the lane and needs very little space to get off his midrange jumper due to his high release. Defensively, he was very effective in the backline of Champlain's 2-3, both containing penetration on the wing and also defending the post on weakside rotations.
Tre Bowman (6-4, 185) SG
2010, York, Pa./St. Thomas More School (Conn.)
Of all the talented players on St. Thomas More's roster, it was Bowman who emerged as the team's most productive player on Friday night. He's extremely versatile and able to impact the game in a variety of ways. He's a good, not great, shooter from behind the arc and an undervalued slasher who attacks close-outs and has the strength and athleticism to drive and finish through contact. He's equally multifaceted in the open floor not just running lanes and finishing but also showing the handle to lead the break on occasion. Bowman handles it well enough to play the point in a pinch but projects as a 2 at the next level where his size and strength will be assets. He's also a highly efficient defender both on and off the ball.
• The quality of play was very high throughout the weekend as all four teams were exceptionally well coached and disciplined on both ends of the court.
• It is becoming more and more evident that Dominique Langston(Bridgeport, Conn./St. Thomas More) committing to Quinnipiac was a huge steal for head coach Tom Moore. Langston is a talented offensive player with a good skill set and showed great fight late in Friday night's win over MCI when head coach Jere Quinn elected to utilize a five guard set, leaving Langston to defend Levan Shengelia on the block who had a six-inch and 60-pound advantage.
• Adam Chmielewski (Montreal, Canada/Champlain St. Lambert) is a pure point guard with a terrific handle and great feel for the game. He's almost never rattled by pressure and despite not being an explosive athlete finds ways to get into the lane and create.
Adam Finkelstein is a freelance contributor for Scouts Inc.