What we learned at the City of Palms Classic high school basketball tournament that ended Tuesday in Fort Myers, Fla.:
LET’S PLAY COMPARE THE PRO
These elite players at the tournament have a game that reminds me of a current, future or former NBA player.
Ben Simmons = Grant Hill
Like Hill, Simmons has a nice combination of athleticism and finesse and a high basketball IQ. Simmons from Montverde (Fla.) Academy is also as well-rounded as Milwaukee Bucks rookie Jabari Parker but more athletic.
Kobi Simmons = John Wall
Simmons, a junior point guard from St. Francis (Alpharetta, Ga.) is a big guard who is particularly quick with the ball and has a willingness to drive to the basket. He reminds me a lot of Washington Wizards guard John Wall at the same age.
Jaylen Brown = Stanley Johnson
Brown, a 6-7 senior for Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.), is a powerful wing with a determination to win. He instantly reminds me of Stanley Johnson, who is averaging 14.7 points and 6.3 rebounds as a freshman at Arizona. Brown is a little skinnier than Johnson, but no less willing to mix it up. Johnson was a better defender, but Brown is getting there.
BUT DID YOU KNOW THAT …
Tell someone who follows high school basketball that Ben Simmons is a good player and they will respond, “Everybody knows that.” These players at the City of Palms will be great additions to some college team and everybody doesn’t know about them, at least yet.
Kaiser Gates, St. Francis, Alpharetta, Ga.: At 6-7, he has a great inside-outside game. In a semifinal Monday, he had 17 points, with 10 rebounds, three blocks and two three-pointers. On Tuesday, he had 22 points in his team’s 77-60 defeat of Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) in the fifth-place game.
Michael Buckland, Wesleyan Christian, High Point, N.C.: The 6-4 junior shooting guard is willing to take the big shot and has a good all-around game, including on defense. Had 17 points, four assists and three rebounds in semifinal loss to Wheeler.
Corey Manigault, Paul VI, Fairfax, Va.: The 6-8, 230-pound junior has a big upside. He played well throughout the tournament, averaging 12.3 points and 8.3 rebounds, including a 21-point, 14-rebound effort in a defeat of Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.).
MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER
St. Francis (Alpharetta, Ga.) was on everyone’s radar early but fell out of most rankings after a double-digit loss to Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) earlier this season. They went 3-1 at the tournament, finishing fifth, and gave Montverde a 62-59 scare. The combination of Kobi Simmons and Malik Beasley in the backcourt will cause problems for most opponents.