The 8th annual Cancer Research Classic may have been the best in the events young history. This years event was headlined by the matchup between 2016 star wing Jayson Tatum and 2015 Villanova commit Jalen Brunson. The matchup didn’t disappoint as both players broke the tournaments previous scoring record of 32 points set by Duke star Jahlil Okafor. Brunson did it all for his previously unbeaten Stevenson (IL) squad finishing with 48 points on Friday night in the record setting performance. Jayson Tatum ended up with the last laugh though as he lead his Chaminade (MO) squad to an 88-81 win behind his 39 points and 14 rebounds.
The stars were on display at this year’s Cancer Research Classic as the event featured three players scoring 30 or more points and Miles Bridges going for a triple double for his undefeated Huntington Prep (WV) side. Along with star players performing on the big stage there were a few upsets along the way also as two Top 10 teams fell on Friday. Archbishop Carroll (PA) pulled off the upset of La Lumiere (IN) behind monster performances from Derrick Jones and Josh Sharkey and Chaminade (MO) knocked off Stevenson (IL) behind Tatum’s big night.
The best player in the event this weekend was Ben Simmons. Simmons is an incredible talent and in my opinion the next “Lebron James” of the NBA. He has developed from an athletic power forward into a wing that handles the point guard duties and has an incredible skillset that only a very special player can possess as a high school senior. Few match his athleticism and his efficiency from the field is incredible for a player as dominant as he is. In his Friday night performance he finished 11-11 from the field and 2-2 from the line with a 6 to 1 assist to turnover ratio. The number one player in the nation is headed to LSU next year and will have the chance to lead the Tigers on an incredible tournament run on the back of the future NBA superstar.
2015 PG Jalen Brunson (Stevenson): Brunson was incredible in his two games at the Cancer Research Classic. On Friday he set an event record scoring 48 points in a close loss to Chaminade (MO) and on Saturday he put up an impressive stat line of 24 points, 8 rebounds, 6 steals, and 5 assists. Brunson showed incredible poise throughout both games and was always in control of his team. Brunson is the best scoring point guard in the senior class, with a deadly step-back three and the vision and passing abilities matched by very few he is a special player who is going to thrive in Villanova’s up-tempo style of play.
2016 SF Jayson Tatum (Chaminade): Tatum led his Chaminade (MO) squad to the win over previously unbeaten Stevenson (IL) despite Brunson dropping 48 points. Tatum hit big shot after big shot and dominated the fourth quarter as he scored 18 of his 39 points in the final frame. In his dominant performance he showed his soft touch by going 13-20 from the field and going 12-12 from the charity stripe. What makes him unique is his calm demeanor and ability to sink the mid-range fade away jumper that is so hard to defend against the 6’ 9” star. His 39 points to go along with 14 rebounds helped him strengthen his case for the number one spot in the class of 2016.
2015 SF Ben Simmons (Montverde): Simmons is a superior talent with the work ethic to become a very special player in the NBA. On Friday night he put on a show going 11-11 from the field, 2-2 from three, and 2-2 from the line. He finished with 26 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds in just 19 minutes of play. On Saturday he did more of the same finishing with 28 points and 9 rebounds. Simmons reminds me of a young Lebron because of his 6’ 9” NBA sized body to go along with guard handles and vision. The aspect of his game that reminds me most of Lebron however is his efficient play on the field as he rarely turns the ball over and is a very efficient scorer. He plays with much passion and will make LSU a title contender the day he steps on campus.
2017 PG Quade Green (Neumann Goretti): Green is just a sophomore and has had a breakout year thus far which continued on Saturday with a 31 point performance that helped his Neumann Goretti side move to 7-0 on the year. His 31 points came on 12-16 shooting from the field, including going 5-6 from behind the arc and 2-2 from the line. Green is a top 50 talent in the sophomore class because he possesses good vision and passing, can get into the lane, has active hands on defense, and has the ability to knock down the three with consistency. Green’s recruiting is on the verge of blowing up as he continues to play at an elite level against tough competition and on the big stage.
2016 PF Phil Bledsoe (Wheeling Park): Bledsoe made a name for himself under the bright lights on Saturday as he kept his Wheeling Park (WV) squad in the game against a very talented Neumann Goretti (PA) team. Bledsoe showed off his mid-range game hitting free-throw line jumpers consistently and was very consistent around the rim showing soft touch on his fade away jumpers in the lane. Bledsoe went off for 29 points to go along with his event high 17 rebounds (one shy of the event record). Although Bledsoe is only 6’ 6” his efficient play makes him a perfect fit at a low-mid major school. His 10-13 shooting from the field, 9-13 from the free throw line, and scrappy play on the boards kept Wheeling Park close throughout the game.
2016 SF Miles Bridges (Huntington Prep): Bridges showed out on Saturday night for Huntington Prep (WV) against Whitney Young (IL) as he recorded the first triple double in event history. Bridges finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. Bridges is a special talent in the junior class and made his case as a potential top 10 talent in the 2016 class. The thing that makes Bridges unique is his large frame at the wing position and his ability to post big numbers across the board and not just in the scoring column. Bridges is a consistent player who puts his team in the position to win at the end of the game.
2016 PG Josh Sharkey (Archbishop Carroll): Sharkey was the difference in the win for Archbishop Carroll (PA) over national power La Lumiere (IN). He finished with 26 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals, on 7-11 from the field, and 10-14 from the free throw line. Sharkey brings a spark to his team that only he can provide; standing at just 5’ 10” Sharkey is not being heavily recruited. His recruiting will certainly take off if he continues his high level of production against top talent. Sharkey is a quick guard who isn’t scared to take it hard to the rim. He knows how to run his team from the point guard position and works hard to put his team in the position to win.
2015 SF Derrick Jones (Archbishop Carroll): Jones put on a show against La Lumiere (IN) as he often guarded their big men as he is the tallest player on his Archbishop Carroll (PA) team as Ernest Aflakpui is out due to injury. Jones came up with 13 rebounds, which was almost half of his teams 29 boards for the game. Jones came up with big rebounds and attacked the rim throughout the game finishing 11-13 from the free throw line. His spin move in the lane is deadly and his ability to contort his body while in the air gives him the opportunity to finish off plays and draw fouls when he goes hard to the rim. Jones finished with 21 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 steals in the win.
2015 PG Bryant Crawford (Gonzaga): Crawford had a big game that kept Gonzaga (DC) close in a tight game against Stevenson (IL). Crawford finished with 24 points going 10-13 from the field. Crawford had a big dunk to spark a run to end the first half for Gonzaga. Down the stretch he became complacent though scoring just 6 points in the second half and shooting just two shots in the fourth quarter. Crawford went 1-2 in the fourth quarter with just 2 points but overall had a good game with 24 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. He will be heading to Wake Forest next year where he will have a chance to compete for playing time immediately and have the opportunity to make an instant impact on the struggling ACC program against top competition.
2016 SF Mario Kegler (Arlington Country Day): Kegler played a big game for Arlington Country Day (FL) going 4-7 from three and finishing with 18 points and 4 rebounds. What makes Kegler unique is his large frame on the wing. With a college ready body as a junior and the ability to shoot the ball behind the arc Kegler has all the tools to be an elite talent at the next level. At times Kegler settles for fade away shots around the rim or deep shots when he could attack the rim and finish with his big body to make a bigger impact for his team and give himself the opportunity to convert a higher percentage shot.
2015 SG Brian Parker Jr (Villa Angela-St Joseph): Parker Jr took control of the game against Arlington Country Day (OH) down the stretch to keep Villa Angela-St Joseph (OH) unbeaten on the season. Brian Parker Jr showed his ability to finish around the rim on Friday as he got to the rim and went up strong to finish the play multiple times down the stretch. Parker Jr finished the game with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists on 6-9 FG and 6-7 from the line in the win. Parker Jr will have every chance to make an instant impact at Marist next season.
2016 SG Zach Norvell (Simeon): Norvell came up big for Simeon (IL) in their blowout win over Bishop Gorman (NV). He finished with 22 points on 5-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Norvell used the Cancer Research Classic to breakout and make a name for himself as one of the top shooters in the class of 2016. Norvell should see his recruiting blow up if he continues to shoot well and perform against top competition.
Other Top Performers:
2015 PF Thomas Bryant: 23 points & 9 rebounds
2016 PG Curtis Jones: 21 points
2015 PG Jahshire Hardnett: 19 points, 3 assists, & 3 rebounds
2015 PF Tulio Da Silva: 13 points & 10 rebounds
2015 PF Derek Pardon: 15 points & 9 rebounds
2015 PF Carlton Bragg: 16 points & 4 rebounds
2016 SF VJ King: 16 points & 7 rebounds
2017 PG Chris Lykes: 14 points
2015 SG Connor Cashaw: 20 points & 7 rebounds/ 15 points & 11 rebounds
2017 SF Justin Smith: 16 points & 5 rebounds/ 6 points & 3 rebounds
2016 PF Tyler Cook: 22 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 8-12 FG, 6-8 FT
2015 SG Jalen Coleman: 22 rebounds & 7 rebounds
2015 PG John Michael Mea: 29 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, & 3 steals, 10-13 FG
2015 PG Lamarr Kimble: 20 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists
2015 PF Ed Morrow: 18 points & 8 rebounds
Gill St Bernard’s (NJ) over Wheeling Central Catholic (WV) 72-47
Archbishop Carroll (PA) over La Lumiere (IN) 72-64
Villa Angela-St Joseph (OH) over Arlington Country Day (FL) 69-67
Chaminade (MO) over Stevenson (IL) 88-81
Montverde Academy (FL) over Whitney Young (IL) 100-79
Stevenson (IL) over Gonzaga (DC) 76-70
Neumann Goretti (PA) over Wheeling Park (WV) 93-82
Simeon (IL) over Bishop Gorman (NV) 75-45
Huntington Prep (WV) over Whitney Young (IL) 89-49
Montverde Academy (FL) over Paul VI (VA) 72-50