SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Simi Shittu is only a sophomore, but he’s already used to Montverde Academy coach Kevin Boyle’s wrath when the Eagles settle for bad shots, as they were Monday in the first half at the Hoophall Classic.
“He didn’t yell as much as you think he would,” said Shittu. “We didn’t go that hard in the first half, but he knew once we did, we would roll.”
Shittu scored 18 of his team-high 24 points after halftime to go with 10 rebounds to lead No. 3 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) to an 81-67 defeat of No. 7 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.).
“We were 1-for-10 from the three at halftime,” Boyle said. “We had a size advantage and didn’t utilize it. We weren’t executing our offense. I thought we settled, took a couple of quick shots.”
Shittu made sure that didn’t happen by giving the Eagles a quick lift to start the second half. They trailed 27-24 at the half, but after he followed a turnaround jumper in the lane with a alley-oop dunk, the Eagles never trailed again.
Shittu is from Burlington in Ontario, Canada, but plenty of U.S. colleges are taking notice of the 6-8 forward. He said he has offers from Illinois, Baylor, Kansas State, New Mexico, and Oregon. Kentucky, Notre Dame, Wake Forest and Clemson have also shown interest, he added.
“He has a nose for the ball,” Boyle said. “He just scraps and finds balls. He’s the guy at the end of the two-on-one that finds the spot to finish. He’s pretty good, when he gets a rebound, of pushing it and getting to the basket. He knows how to push it and not run somebody over.”
Another key player in the game for Montverde (18-1) was center Micah Potter, who has signed with Ohio State. He had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
“His father’s a pastor,” Boyle said. “He’s a real good kid. He’s very humble. He’s helpful to the team. … He’s a good passing big guy and an excellent long-range three-point shooter.”
The difference would have been bigger if not for Cody Riley, who had 25 points and 15 rebounds for the Trailblazers (13-3), who were coming off a tough-last minute loss on Saturday to No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) at the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions in Springfield, Mo.
Next week, Sierra Canyon coach Ty Nichols said the team hopes to get elite sophomore 6-11 center Marvin Bagley eligible. Shittu acknowledged he could make a big difference.
“All they had was Cody Riley right now,” Shittu said. “Marvin Bagley will come later in the season. We had me, Bruno (Fernando), E.J. (Montgomery), all of whom are bigger than everyone they had on the floor, so they couldn’t guard us because we’re all 6-8 or taller.”