NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The final day of the National Prep Showcase turned into a prospect party. Top 20 junior and rising forward Chris McCullough (New York, N.Y./Brewster) looks like an impact recruit for Syracuse. In addition to McCullough, we watched the maturation of center Goodluck Okonoboh (Boston, Mass./Wilbraham & Monson) and the introduction of wing Marial Shayok (Ottawa, Can./Blair Academy).
Brewster was an upset victim on Saturday but their interior duo of McCullough and Kyle Washington (Champlain, Minn./Brewster) asserted themselves Sunday morning. Washington was honest about his performance on Saturday. “I stunk,” he said during warm-ups. Once the game tipped on Sunday, Washington patrolled the paint, challenged a bunch of shots and handled his business when given the chance to finish. His length and tenacity on the glass was also outstanding.
McCullough is special. As a freshman, he dominated the 15-and-under AAU scene. The following year he was good, but didn’t seem as motivated as he was during that rookie campaign. If Sunday’s game is an indication, McCullough intends on returning to his roots. Because he’s 6-9, super long, extra agile and bouncy, there aren’t many guys that can guard him. He wants to catch it facing the basket, take one dribble and go up strong. Rebounding and shot blocking are his strengths. Great players and prospects bring this level of intensity, and he’s got the natural ability to become a special player. The ball is in his court.
Goodluck carrying himself like a player
For the longest time center Goodluck Okonoboh played travel basketball alongside Nerlens Noel. Just like Noel is not Anthony Davis, Okonoboh isn’t Noel. Having said that, some of Noel’s shot blocking seems to have rubbed off on Okonoboh. He had a monster opening game with nine blocks on Sunday including seven in the first half. Consistently regarded as a prospect but rarely referenced as a productive player, Okonoboh’s game has grown.
There are subtle differences in his game this year. For starters, he’s talking on the floor and taking a leadership approach. In the past, he was church mouse quiet on and off the floor. Second, he’s got swagger. There’s a real presence about him that wasn’t always there, especially on defense. Believing in yourself is a powerful asset and Goodluck is buying into his game. The kid is quite the athlete, blessed with the ability to change ends with speed and finish with explosiveness. Like his buddy Noel, Okonoboh isn’t polished on offense but he’s a game-changer defensively. Schools are hanging in there to see if he changes from 2014 to 2013 but our intel says he’s going to remain a junior.
Selden’s ship sunk by Kiski, Richardson
If he wasn’t the biggest surprise here, Kiski guard Rashad Richardson (Lafayette, Ind./Kiski) was certainly in the conversation after spurring his club to wins over Brewster and Tilton. To celebrate, on Monday he’ll sign a national letter of intent with IPFW. The Mastodons have themselves a left-handed volume scorer with plenty of range. There was speculation that Richardson might not sign and take a spin around the block. Not so says the senior. “They were there with me when no one else was. I’m going to stay loyal to them,” he said. Truth is, Richardson’s in the ballpark in terms of picking a school where he can max out his game. Thumbs up for a solid choice and the added dose of loyalty and humility.
On the flipside, Wayne Selden (Boston, Mass./Tilton) pumped in 33 points but needed nearly 30 shots to do it. His squad fell behind by 22 at one point. However, there was no quit in this kid, diving on the floor in the final minute. Selden, who spent two hours on the gun on Saturday couldn’t connect long-range. He is a very good passer, dependable ballhandler and unifying player. Tilton -- and Brewster for that matter -- probably didn’t think about losing to Kiski; both did.
Big man Tory Miller (Lee’s Summit, Mo./New Hampton) reclassified this year into the 2014 group. He’s quick to point out that he’s got senior grades and is good to go academically. This was a basketball decision. “It’s another year for me to maximize my potential,” Miller said. Pre-reclassification, Nebraska, Colorado State, TCU and Minnesota were on him. Since then, he’s heard from California, Virginia and LSU. We asked him who would be the school that could call and get him to pledge on the spot? “UCLA, Kansas or Kentucky,” Miller replied.