5 Things We Learned Saturday at the Spalding Hoophall Classic

5 Things We Learned Saturday at the Spalding Hoophall Classic


5 Things We Learned Saturday at the Spalding Hoophall Classic


Here are five things we learned Saturday at the Spalding Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass.  

1. Jahlil Okafar is very difficult to stop one-on-one. The Whitney Young (Chicago) junior center is strong enough and knows how to use his size (6-11, 280 pounds) to get position. If you don't deny the entry pass to him, it's over. Long Beach Poly's Jordan Bell, who gives up three inches and 55 pounds, did as much as he could, but Okafor still scored 26 points on 13-of-17 shooting to lead the No. 3-ranked Dolphins to a 85-52 defeat of No. 9 Long Beach Poly.

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"He's an outstanding post player in a day when most people in the post like to face the basket and do other things," says Whitney Young coach Tyrone Slaughter. "He takes great pride and pleasure in playing with his back to the basket. When we need a basket we know we can throw the ball to him and expect to get something."

2. Chester, Pa., has one speed: all-out. The Clippers defeated Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) 63-55 but put the win in peril because they didn't slow the pace once they built a lead. Arizona signee Rondae Jefferson led Chester with 20 points, nine rebounds and six steals.

MORE: Chester the biggest surprise of the first half

"We want to slow down but it's hard for us," Jefferson said. "We like to keep the intensity high. We want to get players in foul trouble, so we push the ball. Sometimes we're not thinking and we just go."

With the Clippers getting in early foul trouble, coach Larry Yarbray switched the team to a zone in the second quarter, but that didn't slow their pace much.

"I don't know what the heck was going on, but I know they got my blood pressure up," Yarbray said. "We want to play fast, but you have to be able to slow it down. The only thing I can ask them is to play hard and hustle and get back on defense and good things happen."

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3. Paul White plays a pretty good Robin to Okafor's Batman. White had 20 points, with four three-pointers and pulled down seven rebounds. A junior, he said he's getting interest from Marquette, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Illinois. He said he's been offered by Indiana, but hasn't heard directly from the Hoosiers.

"It's kind of weird. I've had multiple people like my AAU coach, tell me they've offered me, but I've never really heard from them," White said.

4. Lincoln is a pretty good replacement team. Lincoln (Brooklyn), none of the best teams in New York City, filled in admirably on short notice, defeating Capital Prep (Hartford, Conn.) 95-68. The Railsplitters made the trip from Coney Island on short notice after St. Joseph's (Pittsfield, Mass.) pulled out because the flu bug hit the school hard. Shaquille McFarlan had 16 points in only 10 minutes of play to lead Lincoln.

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5. Victor Law is the best player you've probably not heard of.

Law, a junior forward from St. Rita (Chicago), showed versatility and a high motor. He finished with 17 points and 19 rebounds with three assists and three steals in a 71-50 defeat of Lake Clifton (Baltimore). An athletic 6-7 junior, he is drawing interest from a wide range of colleges.

"I'm really starting to get offers, but I'm trying first to focus on this high school season," said Law, who said he's had offers from Harvard, DePaul Providence and Virginia Tech.

"He's had interest from Harvard to Kansas," said St. Rita's coach Gary DeCesare, who spent seven years as an assistant at DePaul University. "He's a great student, a 4.0 student. His versatility is really incredible. He's rebounding the ball, he's making shots and he's playing defense. He's been really performing at a high level for us. … In college, I think he would be a great wing forward. If you would ask me his weakness, I would say ballhandling, but he's been really conscious of working on that every day."


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