Monday, January 03, 2005

More From the Badger Classic

Well, I'm back, after taking a day off to score points with the family for being an excellent gift-giver during the belated family Christmas celebration. Back to the action at the Badger Classic. I'm going to abbreviate my thoughts a bit, since I'm low on time, and the observations are getting fuzzier and fuzzier as the hours go by. Most of you don’t want an in depth analysis of the overtime thriller involving Madison Edgewood and Monroe, anyway. Neither did most of the people there. So here are some real quick points on the big prospects in attendance, and the rest of the day:

1) Game #2: Madison Memorial vs. Whitefish Bay Dominican: Undoubtedly, these were the two top high school teams that I have seen this year. I'll be absolutely shocked if Dominican doesn't have an easy run to the division 3 state championship (though one of the guys that I work for whose kids went/are going to Dominican noted that Oostburg is always a thorn in their side). Memorial, I suppose, may be a notch below Milwaukee King and Milwaukee Vincent, but having not seen Memorial with their starting center, and having not seen Vincent or King this year, I can't really make that statement. They’ll be playing at the Kohl Center in March, too, though.

2) Players of Note

a) Wesley Matthews, Madison Memorial: The Marquette recruit was probably the biggest name on the floor, and held his own. I was a tad disappointed, if only because the only other time that I've seen Matthews play was on television when he exploded last year against Beloit Memorial at the state tournament. He looked like one of the better athletes at the Classic, though, and showed his skills against another legitimate guard.

b) Walter "J.R." Blount, Dominican: Blount is the other legitmate guard. Though I had definitely heard of him, and was aware that he had committed to Loyola, I had never seen him play, and didn't know what he looked like. Well, he was a tad smaller than I had anticipated, but still did a nice job of keeping up with the taller Matthews as he defended him. Perhaps the most surprising moment for me with regard to Blount was seeing the box score the day after the game. Blount had somthing like 23 (or was it 25?) points, and I hadn't even noticed. If you had asked me after the game how many he had, I would have said maybe 14 or so.
Perhaps less than that. His points were quiet, but he was there all game.

c) Ben Hailey, Dominican: I had heard of Blount, but Hailey, Dominican's other guard, I had no idea about. I can't believe it, though, since he was scoring at will and keeping Dominican tight with memorial the entire game. It was one of the best offensive performances that I've seen in a high school game this year.

d) Dan Brown, Madison Memorial: Lots of hype surrounding his teammates, but Brown was the team’s leading scorer vs. Dominican, and proved with his stellar second half that Memorial is not just a 3-man team. They’ve go 4 stars.

e) Kori Vernon, Madison Memorial: Strong looking post player. Brings lots of energy to the court. Much like Blount, I didn’t notice a lot of big things from him, but later found that he had 18 points. Perhaps his most notable feature is his headband, though. Since it hangs below his hairline, I was always a bit worried that it was about to fall over his eyes. Thankfully, though, at no point did Vernon have to play blind.

f) Keaton Nankivil, Madison Memorial: The #1 sophomore college prospect in the state was injured and did not play. Seeing him up close, though, it was apparent that he’s not just some tall kid—he’s got some heft to him. I can’t wait to get a look at him in March.

g) J.P. Gavinski, Wisconsin Dells: One of the members of a stellar junior class of Wisconsin high school basketball players, Gavinski has already said that he will play for Wisconsin, which seems to have cornered the market on highly touted tall guys in the state. Gavinski looks fairly comfortable in his 6’10” frame, moved well, and scared the hell out of his Dodgeville opponents on defense. In warm-ups he appeared to be working on hook shots with both hands. He needs to get stronger, and develop a more aggressive attitude around the hoop, but he showed some things that lead you to believe that he could get better. Right now, he’s definitely a work in progress, though.

h) Other, Dodgeville, Monroe and Edgewood: Surely, there were some solid players from these teams. But was anyone really there to see Monroe play? I wasn’t, even if they played a nice overtime game against Edgewood. Sorry, I was there for the hype.

And with that, I returned home for the evening. I’m not even sure what I did, but I’m sure it wasn’t much, since I actually had to work the next day. I’m glad I was able to take off, though, since the life of a tax attorney doesn’t allow for much of that during March.


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