COLUMBIA, S.C. – From mind-boggling high-risers to three-ball launching long bombers to paint-patrolling workhorses the Chick-fil-A Classic is stocked full of elite talent.
As hard as it was, we managed to zero-in on the top five players to watch in this year’s tournament which starts Friday and runs through Dec. 23.
1. Dennis Smith Jr., Trinity Christian School (Fayetteville, N.C.), 2016, PG
Why you’ll want to watch him: Good luck finding a more explosive point guard in any class anywhere in the country. Smith is quick and fast, quite the combo, and has athleticism that is good for more than three “wow” plays over the course of a game. No player at the Chick-fil-A Classic has created more highlights than Smith.
2. Brandon Ingram, Kinston (Kinston, N.C.), 2015, SF
Why you’ll want to watch him: Ingram, the reigning Under Armour Elite 24 3-point champion, has the rare ability to fill it up from NBA range efficiently and, more importantly, create his own shot when the defense pushes up. At 6-foot-8, Ingram is a capable ball handler who uses his 7-3 wingspan to create separation and finish in the lane.
3. Cheick Diallo., Our Savior New American (Centereach, NY), 2015, F
Why you’ll want to watch him: Diallo has a motor that makes it nearly impossible for him to be outworked in the paint and he runs the floor as fast as the guards leading the break. He times rebounds perfectly, swats shots in abundance and seemingly tries to tear the rim off on dunks.
4. Perry Dozier Jr., Spring Valley (Columbia, S.C.), 2015, PG
College: South Carolina
Why you’ll want to watch him: Dozier is great in the open court and is masterful at using his 6-foot-6 frame to shoot over the top of smaller guards. Dozier has a high basketball IQ, gets into the lane at will and uses his athleticism to finish with authority at the rim.
5. Seventh Woods, Hammond (Columbia, S.C.), 2016, SG
Why you’ll want to watch him: Everyone knows Woods from his highlight vids and from his appearances on Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays, but Woods is a gifted scorer who’s skill-set is swiftly catching up to his athleticism. That said, saying Woods’ above the rim game is exceptional is an extreme understatement. He’s must-see TV indeed.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY