Now that the droves of holiday tournaments are almost all in the books we decided to dish on the takeaways from the hoops season thus far.
Here’s what we learned.
MONTVERDE ISN’T INVINCIBLE
That’s right folks, the Mighty Montverde (Montverde, Fla.) Eagles, the No. 1 team in the USA Today HSS Super 25 and back-to-back national champs, are made up of actual human basketball players who are susceptible to losses.
Thank Jaylen Brown, ranked No. 2 overall in the ESPN 100, and No. 10 Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) for the grand epiphany.
The Eagles bounced back by winning the Les Schwab Invitational this week, but got another formidable test from Central Catholic (Portland, Ore.), escaping with a 58-57 win in the semifinals.
Yes, Montverde can be beat, but, make no mistake about it, the opposing team will have to be clicking on all cylinders to pull it off.
WESLEYAN CHRISTIAN IS RESILIENT
The No. 2 Trojans also fell victim to Wheeler, but bounced back with an impressive title run at the High School OT Holiday Invitational this week.
Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.) knocked off a talented Word of God Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.) squad and an Orangeville Prep (Ontario, Canada) team that is as talented as any team in the U.S. with Thon Maker, a consensus top five junior; his sophomore brother Matur; and junior point guard Jamal Murray.
Wesleyan Christian players said they learned a valuable lesson from their loss to Wheeler and it shows.
Also, Trojans star Harry Giles III, ranked No. 3 overall in the ESPN 60, seems to be making up for lost time after sitting out last season with a knee injury. Giles is flourishing in his new role as a point forward; at 6-foot-10, it’s almost unfair the way he breaks the press by himself and finishes with posterizing dunks.
CHRIS CLEMONS IS THE BEST GUARD YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF
The Millbrook (Raleigh, N.C.) guard completely dominated the competition at the High School OT Holiday Invitational to the tune of 35 points per game. His 106 points in three games ranked fourth all-time in tournament history. He did all of this under heavy duress, including double and triple teams and full-time face guarding. One of his biggest games (37 points) came against Kinston (Kinston, N.C.) and its probable McDonald’s All-American wing Brandon Ingram.
Clemons is signed to Campbell. To say they got a steal would be the understatement of the season.
MATER DEI MAY NEED TO STEER CLEAR OF THE CITY OF PALMS CLASSIC
Mater Dei’s (Santa Ana, Calif.) legendary coach Gary McKnight recently celebrated his 1,000th win and he’s got two City of Palms Classic titles under his belt, but of his 87 career losses, eight have come in the gym in Fort Myers, Fla.
This year the No. 6 Monarchs lost their last two; one to No. 2 Wesleyan Christian and the other to Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.).
Could it be time to step away from the prestigious tournament?
Not for a competitor like McKnight.
By the way, they then went to the MaxPreps Holiday Classic and lost to Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.) in the semifinals.
DICK’S NATIONALS IS ON EVERY TEAM’S MIND
Without fail, at every tournament over the holiday season, a handful of coaches and players made mention of what their resume could potentially look like come April.
Everyone wants one of the coveted eight spots in this year’s DICK’S Sporting Goods National High School Tournament in New York City.
With the conference season just about the crank up, teams would be wise to focus on what they can control.
April is a LONG time from now.
ELITE SENIORS AREN’T CLOSE TO DECIDING
We’ll get an announcement from five-star Oak Ridge (Orlando, Fla.) shooting guard Antonio Blakeney on Friday at 4:30 p.m. EST (ESPNU), but don’t expect other elite seniors to follow suit.
Unless something unexpected happens, top 10 players such as Wheeler’s Jaylen Brown, Callaway’s (Jackson, Miss.) Malik Newman, Kinston’s Brandon Ingram, Bishop O’Dowd’s (Oakland, Calif.) Ivan Rabb, etc., will more than likely be trying on the cap of their college team at an assembly when the weather is much warmer.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY