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Slam Dunk to the Beach team capsules Part 2

December 26, 2017

The 2017 Slam Dunk to the Beach tournament is set to tip off Wednesday, Dec. 27, at Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes. This year’s tourney features a truly national lineup, as organizers inked top-notch teams from Vermont to California. Nine states and the District of Columbia are represented in this year’s field, which boasts two of MaxPreps’ top 25 teams nationally, seven of ESPN’s top 100 seniors, two juniors ranked among ESPN’s top 40, and the 15th-rated sophomore in America. This is Part 2 of capsules of my take on the 2017 field. If you want to check out the rundown on the first 10 teams, pick up a copy of the Friday, Dec. 22 edition or go to www.capegazette.com/node/148193.

Howard (Del.) Wildcats

Location: Wilmington, Del.

Coach: Rahsaan Matthews

Last year: 11-10, #8,912 MaxPreps ranking

Standouts: 6-2 Sr G LaMar Woody, 6-5 Sr F Shawn Bowman, 5-9 Sr G Fahmee Flowers

NBA Alumni: A.J. English

The Skinny: Woody, one of Delaware’s elite scoring guards, poured in 20 points per night and hit 33 three-pointers a year ago. Bowman battles hard on the boards, while Flowers is a streaky shooter who can go off at a moment’s notice. The Wildcats return nearly everyone of note from last year’s squad.

Immaculate Conception (N.J.) Lions

Location: Montclair, N.J.

Coach: Jimmy Salmon

Last year: 14-14, Non-Public B sectional quarterfinalist, #1,385 MaxPreps ranking

Standouts: 6-3 Sr G Jalen Carey (signed with Syracuse; ESPN #34 senior), 6-10 So F Elijah Hutchins-Everett (considering Miami, Syracuse, Seton Hall), 6-7 Jr F Justin Winston (considering Connecticut, Seton Hall, Minnesota), 6-2 So G Raejon Figures (considering Cincinnati, La Salle)

NBA Alumni: None

The Skinny: The Lions start four legitimate high-major prospects, but Carey is the headliner here. The Syracuse signee can play either guard position and ranks among the most aggressive penetrators in his class. Hutchins-Everett is a throwback big who hits the glass and displays good footwork in the post, while Winston is a high-flying highlight waiting to happen.

John Carroll (Md.) Patriots

Location: Bel Air, Md.

Coach: John Zito

Last year: 21-13, #702 MaxPreps ranking

Standouts: 6-4 Sr G Immanuel Quickley (signed with Kentucky; ESPN #12 senior), 6-4 Sr G Montez Mathis (signed with Rutgers; ESPN #93 senior), 6-7 Jr F Yavuz Gultekin, 6-6 So F Cam Byers

NBA Alumni: None

The Skinny: Quickley and Mathis form the Slam’s most exciting backcourt duo. The former is a pass-first point guard with long arms and a high basketball IQ, the latter a broad-shouldered wing who’s all but unstoppable in transition. Gultekin, a lefty from Turkey, can stretch the floor from deep or use his sneaky-good athleticism to get to the hoop. Byers is a grown man in the middle who gobbles up rebounds.  

#20 (MaxPreps) Roselle Catholic (N.J.) Lions

Location: Roselle, N.J.

Coach: Dave Boff

Last year: 17-11, Non-Public B semifinalist, #284 MaxPreps ranking

Standouts: 6-9 Sr F Nazreon Reid (signed with LSU; ESPN #18 senior), 6-6 Jr F Kahlil Whitney (considering Oregon, Syracuse, Seton Hall; ESPN #38 junior), 7-1 Sr C Majur Majak (considering Seton Hall, San Diego St., Washington), 6-8 Sr F Alanzo Frink (considering James Madison, Massachusetts), 6-1 Jr G Joshua Pierre-Louis (considering Massachusetts, Saint Joseph’s), 6-3 Sr G Ithiel Horton (signed with Delaware) 

NBA Alumni: None

The Skinny: Roselle, a mainstay in the national rankings for years, has produced dozens of high-major talents, but Reid is likely to become the first Lion to play NBA ball. A younger version of Anthony Davis, Reid handles like a guard, hits the three, and rocks the rim on the break. Whitney, meanwhile, is an off-the-charts athlete who will dunk on anyone in his path. Frink, a back-to-the-basket big with good ball skills, starred for the Dominican Republic’s under-17 team in international tournaments this summer.  

Saint James (Md.) Saints

Location: Hagerstown, Md.

Coach: Dan Prete

Last year: 12-14, #2,209 MaxPreps ranking

Standouts: 6-8 Sr F Bryce Golden (signed with Pittsburgh), 6-5 Sr F Amir Harris (considering Rhode Island, Temple), 6-9 Sr F Dima Zdor, 6-1 Jr G Callum Baker

NBA Alumni: None

The Skinny: Golden’s combination of size and skill will translate well to college hoops’ top conference. There are no gaping holes in the bulky four-man’s game, as he shoots, rebounds, and distributes capably. A born winner with sound fundamentals, Golden is sure to be a fan favorite. Harris is an elite defender who crashes the glass and blocks shots from the wing, while Zdor has a silky stroke from long range.

Sidwell Friends (D.C.) Quakers

Location: Washington, D.C.

Coach: Eric Singletary

Last year: 23-6, Mid-Atlantic Conference champion, #430 MaxPreps ranking

Standouts: 6-8 Sr F Saddiq Bey (signed with North Carolina St.), 6-0 Jr G Jason Gibson, 6-6 Jr F Walter Rouse

NBA Alumni: Josh Hart

The Skinny: Bey, a late bloomer who grew 10 inches during high school, has developed into a prototypical “three-and-D” wing with good ball-handling skills. Singletary describes his star’s game as “very, very loud.” Gibson serves as the Quakers’ top three-point threat and makes all the right passes. Rouse, at 260 pounds, casts a considerable shadow over the paint.   

Smyrna (Del.) Eagles

Location: Smyrna, Del.

Coach: Andrew Mears

Last year: 23-2, state champion, #495 MaxPreps ranking

Standouts: 6-2 Sr G Caleb Matthews, 6-5 Jr F Jaymeir Garnett, 5-8 Sr G Greg Bloodsworth 

NBA Alumni: None

The Skinny: On a high after they captured the school’s first state title last year, the Eagles have the talent and experience to pursue a repeat. Matthews, a first-team all-state pick in 2016-17, is one of the best pure shooters ever to play in Delaware, while the jet-quick Bloodsworth can find the net from anywhere. Keep an eye on the explosive, energetic Garnett under the boards.

St. John’s College (D.C.) Cadets

Location: Washington, D.C.

Coach: Patrick Behan

Last year: 25-10, DC city semifinalist, #207 MaxPreps ranking

Standouts: 6-0 Sr G Tre Wood (signed with Massachusetts), 6-2 Jr G Casey Morsell (considering Georgetown, Florida, Virginia), 6-8 Sr F Qwanzi Samuels Jr. (considering Saint Joseph’s, Mount St. Mary’s), 6-0 Jr G Devon Dunn (considering Bucknell), 5-11 So G Ishmael Leggett, 5-8 So G Delonnie Hunt

NBA Alumni: Jack George, Bobby Lewis, Collis Jones, Chris Wright

The Skinny: Wood uses his exceptional quickness to shred defenses and pick the pockets of those unlucky enough to match up with him. While Wood has gotten most of the press for the Cadets to this point, Morsell likely has the higher ceiling. The two-guard can score from anywhere and flicks up a picture-perfect jumper, two skills that have ACC and Big East coaches salivating. Samuels can get to the hoop or drain the 20-footer, while Dunn and Hunt are knock-down three-point shooters.   

Vermont Academy (Vt.) Wildcats

Location: Saxtons River, Vt.

Coach: Alex Popp

Last year: 19-11, New England Prep 2A semifinalist

Standouts: 6-10 Sr F Simi Shittu (signed with Vanderbilt; ESPN #6 senior), 6-3 So G Symir Torrence (considering Cincinnati, Massachusetts), 6-3 Sr G Seb Skoko (considering Massachusetts, Brown), 6-4 Jr G Tyler Bertram (considering Saint Joseph’s, St. Bonaventure), 6-5 Sr G Thornton Scott (signed with William & Mary), 6-6 Sr F Alec Spence (signed with Rice), 6-9 Sr F Daniel Schreier (signed with Manhattan), 6-8 Sr F Seth Buchanan, 6-3 Sr G Jon Lyons  

NBA Alumni: None

The Skinny: Every year, Slam Dunk attracts at least one school whose reserves are bound for Division One basketball. Add Vermont Academy to that list, as no less than nine Wildcats have drawn D1 interest. Shittu is surely the main attraction. The Canadian is a long, fluid athlete who often plays as a point-forward but can also bang under the boards. Can you say “match-up nightmare”? Torrence, a point guard with good range, averaged 22 points, seven boards, and six assists last year in New York.      

Westtown (Pa.) Moose

Location: West Chester, Pa.

Coach: Seth Berger

Last year: 30-3, independent state champion, #372 MaxPreps ranking

Standouts: 6-8 Sr F Cam Reddish (signed with Duke; ESPN #3 senior), 6-8 Sr F Jake Forrester (signed with Indiana), 6-0 Jr G Jalen Gaffney (considering St. John’s, Xavier, Wake Forest), 6-7 So F Noah Collier (considering Saint Joseph’s, Temple)

NBA Alumni: Georgios Papagiannis

The Skinny: The Moose return to the Slam for a fourth consecutive year, and Berger’s boys are as talented as they’ve ever been. Although Mo Bamba has moved on to Texas, the Moose bring back the nation’s smoothest scorer and a surefire NBA lottery pick in Reddish. The kid makes everything – 25-foot bombs, off-balance fadeaways, twisting fast-break finishes, you name it – look easy. Forrester’s bounce, energy, and exquisite ‘fro made him a fan favorite last year. Gaffney, meanwhile, excels in transition and passes with flair. Will Westtown find a way to top last year’s 70-68 thriller over Gray Collegiate? Let’s hope so. 

*All rankings and college choices as of Dec. 19.

Slam Dunk Schedule

Wednesday, Dec. 27

Smyrna (Del.) vs. Howard (Del.), noon

Eleanor Roosevelt (Md.) vs. Bishop Loughlin (N.Y.), 1:30 p.m.

Caravel (Del.) vs. Saint James (Md.), 3 p.m.

Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) vs. Bishop McNamara (Md.), 5 p.m.

Roselle Catholic (N.J.) vs. Gray Collegiate (S.C.), 6:30 p.m.

Vermont Academy (Vt.) vs. Sidwell Friends (D.C.), 8 p.m. 

Thursday, Dec. 28

Gonzaga College (D.C.) vs. Harvard-Westlake (Calif.), 11 a.m.

Saint James (Md.) vs. Immaculate Conception (N.J.), 12:30 p.m.

Smyrna (Del.) vs. Roselle Catholic (N.J.), 2 p.m.

St. John’s College (D.C.) vs. John Carroll (Md.), 4 p.m.

Westtown (Pa.) vs. Dillard (Fla.), 5:30 p.m.

Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) vs. Cape Henlopen (Del.), 7 p.m.

Gray Collegiate (S.C.) vs. Vermont Academy (Vt.), 8:30 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 29

Dillard (Fla.) vs. Harvard-Westlake (Calif.), noon

Immaculate Conception (N.J.) vs. Archbishop Wood (Pa.), 1:30 p.m.

Bishop McNamara (Md.) vs. Howard (Del.), 3 p.m.

Bishop Loughlin (N.Y.) vs. Gonzaga College (D.C.), 5 p.m.

Sidwell Friends (D.C.) vs. Westtown (Pa.), 6:30 p.m.

Caravel (Del.) vs. Cape Henlopen (Del.), 8 p.m.

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