The Fab 48 Tip-Off Challenge lowdown

LAS VEGAS – There wasn’t anything on hand approaching the Big Ballers Frenzy that took over the Cashman Center and the adidas-fronted event way up on the northern side of town late Wednesday night.

All the Fab 48 Tip-Off Challenge, held at Bishop Gorman High down the southern region of the city from 5 to 11 p.m. or so, were 15 games featuring teams fronted by all the major sports apparel companies (Nike, Under Armour and adidas) and a whole lot of the very best high school basketball players in the country.

Yes, not a bad alternative at all if you couldn’t wedge your way into the Cashman Center amongst the masses trying to get in and already in the building for a high school/grassroots hoops show that transcends any on-court results or relative quality of play.

I plopped into a “split vision” seat in Bishop Gorman’s main gym, offering the best way to see the games going on courts 1 and 2 at the same time.

The other five games were in the smaller gym. I got the last 15 minutes or so (including overtime) of the Team Takeover (Nike-fronted/Maryland) vs. We-R-1 (Under Armour/Delaware) 16s game that ended at 11.

And that game provided the most suspense – even with only 50 or so folks in the gym.

And no one hit bigger shots anywhere in Las Vegas than did Take Takeover’s Matthew Morsell (Class of 2019/Washington, DC St. John’s College Prep), whose 3-point from the right corner sent the game into a two-minute OT and whose 3-pointer from the right wing – at the buzzer – pulled the win out, 41-40.

Without spending 90 minutes or so offering in-depth on each of the 10 games I watched in split-vision fashion, here are some observations:

*The best performances I saw Wednesday night in the main gym were turned in by (in no particular order):

Louis King (Team Final/Hudson City, NJ, Catholic), who scored 41 points in his team’s 89-86 loss in overtime to Texas Pro.

King’s more touted Team Final teammate, Cameron Reddish, didn’t’ turn in the kind of effort or performance that has led some to ranking him as one of the best prospects in the Class of 2018.

Point guard Kendric Davis (Houston Sam Houston) hooked up with Jaedon Ledee (Spring,TX, The Kincaid School) for a lob pass and layup that provided the tying and go-ahead points with 11 seconds to go in OT for Texas Pro.

Junior-to-be (making him a member of the Class of 2019) Scottie Lewis scored his team’s final six points (via a 3-point jumper and an “And 1!”, with 10 seconds remaining, in New Jersey-based Team Rio’s 72-71 win over Expressions Elite (Massachusetts-based).

There wasn’t a better long-term prospect at the event than Lewis (Tinton Falls, NJ, The Ranney School), whose flair of the aerial spectacular is only exceeded by his effort and focus at both ends of the floor.

The “showdown” before 2019 standout big men Charles Bassey (San Antonio-based Yes II Success) and Vernon Carey (Nike Team Florida) was over-shadowed by the relative ease the 65-49 victory for the Florida squad.

Bassey and Carey each had moments in which they demonstrated why they are consensus Top 5-rated in the class but it was a player from the Class of 2020 – 6-7 Scott Barnes – who came off the bench and sparked the 11-0 zip run late in the first half that put Team Florida firmly in control of the outcome.

Barnes’ multitude of skills is quite impressive and he was almost as impressive as another Class of 2020 member.

That player is 6-3 Jalen Suggs of Saint Paul, MN-based Grassroots Sizzle.

He suffered a turned right ankle early in the second half and returned for just one minute (which included a spectacular left-handed follow show) before being pulled because of the discomfort.

His team won anyway, 62-48, over Florida-based 1 Family.

Suggs, also one of the elite football quarterback prospects in his national class, should also be firmly locked into any scouting-type’s Top 5 national hoops class.

If the focus remains – or, I should say, becomes – Suggs might be the No. 1 basketball player in his class two years from now . . . if he isn’t already.

A showdown of the two best 7-footers in the Class of 2018 didn’t take place after all late Thursday night.

Bol Bol (Santa Ana, CA, Mater Dei) wasn’t in building for the Big Red (all Mater Dei players) in his game vs. 7-1 Moses Brown and New York-based New Heights.

Bol Bol is taking a summer biology course at Mater Dei and isn’t due in Las Vegas until Friday night.

Brown wasn’t exceptional (seven points and a lot of turnovers) Wednesday night but New Heights rolled anyway, 62-43, in large part because of start-to-finish impressive effort by 6-8 junior-to-be Precious Achiuwa.

OK, now on my way to the Cashman Center . . .

One Response to The Fab 48 Tip-Off Challenge lowdown
  1. bank
    August 29, 2017 | 8:15 am

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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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