Bol Bol-Moses Brown: A reboot at Bishop Gorman

LAS VEGAS – A potential head-up matchup of the most two heavily touted 7-footers in high school basketball – delayed by three days – could take place, after all, Saturday afternoon at Bishop Gorman High.

New York-based New Heights and the Big Red – made up of players from the Santa Ana, CA, Mater Dei program – are set to play, on Court 3, at 12:40 p.m. in a first-round game of the Fab 48 17-Under Invitational playoff bracket.

It’s a rematch of a Fab 48 Challenge game – in essence, one of 15 “showcase” games (glorified exhibitions, I’d suggest) Wednesday night at Bishop Gorman, with the New Yorkers cruising, 62-43.

But the big matchup – or matchup of bigs, if you will –  didn’t take place, as 7-foot-3 Bol Bol remained in Southern California because of summer school commitments at Mater Dei.

Seven-one Moses Brown (Queens Archbishop Molloy) was well short of overwhelming Wednesday – with seven points and maybe as many rebounders – but that kind of performance wasn’t needed on a night when teammate Precious Achiuwa (6-9/Newark, NJ, Saint Benedict’s) was in the handful of the most impressive players during those showcase games.

Bol Bol was in Las Vegas Friday night in time for Big Red’s final pool-play game and had some spectacular moments while scoring 29 points in front of a gathering that included the likes of head coaches Sean Miller of Arizona and Steve Alford of UCLA.

The Big Red was never really competitive as C2 Elite (by way of Lima in Ohio) sliced and diced its defense via an array of jump shots and – despite the presence of Bol Bol – layups and dunks during its 80-64 victory.

Six-five Caleb McConnell (Dayton Dunbar) showed why he’s one of the better point guards in the Midwest with 10 points and as many assists late Friday night, with many of those scoring hookups via 6-6 Justin Ahrens (Versailles High; he rescinded a commitment to Ohio State last month after Thad Matta was fired as the school’s head coach).

The left-handed Ahrens scored a game-high 25 points, 18 of those coming by way of 3-pointers.

With the promise of a Bol Bol-Moses Brown confrontation – and in this era of extreme social media and video coverage of grassroots hoops (uh, Big Ballers anyone?), a sizeable turnover of coaches and fans-alike are expected to maneuver their way for choice seating for the game.

So, yeah, if you want to be there in the flesh and not just rely on your laptop, iPad or smart phone for highlights, show up at Bishop Gorman a bit earlier than 12:40 Saturday afternoon.

Get to Bishop Gorman by 10:20 Saturday morning, and you can sample some other noteworthy first-round team and individual matchups.

Those include (at 10:20) Nike South Beach (led by seniors-to-be in 6-4 Michael DeVoe and 6-6 Andreas Fuller) vs. Grassroots Sizzle of Minnesota (6-4 Jalen Suggs is one of the five-best 2020 prospects in the country), on Court 1; Team Final (Louis King and Cameron Reddish, potential 2018 McDonald’s All-Americans) vs. C2K Elite (the aforementioned McConnell and Ahrens), Court 2, and …

(at 11:30) Nike Team Florida (so many elite prospects, notably 6-9 Vernon Carey from 2019 and 6-7 Scott Barnes from 2020) vs. Grassroots Elite Canada, Court 1; Nike Pro Skills (Texas) vs. Los Angeles Rockfish, Court 2, and New York Renaissance (led by point guard Luther Muhammad of 2018 and 6-10, 270-pound Kofi Cockburn of 2019) vs. Northern California’s Tyler Johnson Elite (led by the Miami Heat’s brother, 2018 guard Logan Johnson).

Second-round games in the division begin on the three courts at 5:20 Saturday night, with quarterfinals, semifinals and the championship game (3 p.m.) on tap for Sunday.

Playoff action in the 16s and 15s divisions will be played at area high schools Saturday (notably Desert Oasis), semifinals and finals being played at Bishop Gorman on Sunday.

Over in the northern portion of the city, playoff action continues during the adidas Uprising, with the bulk of play set for the Cashman Center and its near-shopping mall array of courts.

The No. 1 seed in the 17-Under division is the Compton Magic Elite, which captured eight-team “Creators’ Cup” Thursday evening.

One of the teams that didn’t in the Creators’ Cup – South Carolina Supreme – has, led by Zion Williamson (the overwhelming best player in the Class of 2018 after Marvin Bagley III made his move to the Class of 2017 “official” Friday), beat down its first foes by an average margin of 21 points.

If the Compton Magic Elite and Williamson & Co. (including exceptional 2018 point guard Devon Dotson) were to win out Saturday, they would meet in a 9 o’clock semifinal Sunday morning on Court 5.

The championship game is set for 2:20 Sunday afternoon.

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Frank Burlison

Frank Burlison is a well-regarded basketball writer who was inducted into the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame in 2005. His opinions on the potential of high school and college players are widely respected and sought by college coaches and NBA scouts, personnel directors and general managers from coast to coast. Oh, yes – he can offer plenty of thoughts on movies, television and pop music. Yes, he can rank those, too. Hint: He’s a big The Godfather, Larry Sanders, The Wire and The Beatles loyalist.

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