SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — These six players flew under the radar at the Spalding Hoophall Classic, but they won’t stay unnoticed:
Talen Horton-Tucker, Simeon (Chicago)
Horton-Tucker, going up perhaps the best high school defender in the country in Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) guard R.J. Barrett, helped Simeon come oh-so-close to knocking off the No. 1 team.
Horton-Tucker, a 6-5 guard and an Iowa State signee, had 26 points and 10 rebounds and tied the game at 60 with a late three-pointer, only to see the Wolverines fall 62-60 to Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.).
“He definitely made some tough shots,” Barrett said. “We just tried to keep him from getting to the basket. There’s nothing you can do when he’s shooting the ball like that.”
Horton-Tucker is ranked as the No. 111 player in the 2018 class according to 247Sports.com, but he has been steadily rising. At one point, some recruiting services had him only as a two-star recruit.
“I don’t really pay much attention to rankings,” Horton-Tucker said. “I just want to show that I’m one of the best in the country too. As you can see, I keep moving up. If we win the city and the state, folks will see that.”
Tyler Bertram, Vermont Academy (Rockingham, Vt.)
No underclassman did more to elevate his profile this weekend than Bertram, a junior point guard.
With Vermont’s Vanderbilt signee star Simisola Shittu out, Bertram has been thrust into the spotlight for Vermont. Going against Anfernee Simons of the prep team for IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), Bertram clawed Vermont back into the game with a late comeback, dishing out assists and burying highly contested threes.
He was tenacious on both ends and fought through an imposing IMG perimeter defense to find his shot with a level of commitment unmatched at this tournament.
When his three to send it to overtime banked out, IMG narrowly escaped with a win. But for a player with a few offers from small schools, he changed the narrative on his career.
Robin Perry, Oak Ridge (Orlando)
Perry, a 6-2 senior guard with no offers, had 27 points, including 23 in the second half, to lead the Pioneers past Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) on Saturday.
He has something that every college team needs — the ability to knock down the three.
“Robin has been great for us all year,” Oak Ridge coach Steven Reece said. “He’s averaging 19 points for us, he’s rebounding and a great team player. I’m watching college basketball and I’m seeing guys who can’t make layups, so I don’t know what he has to do to get an offer. I just tell him he has to play hard and everything will fall into place.”
Dariq Whitehead, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
Whitehead brought the crowd to its feet with an impressive dunk off the break. What makes it even more impressive is the 6-4 guard is 13 and only in the eighth grade.
He’s the younger brother of Detroit Lions linebacker Tahir Whithead.
“He just turned 13 this summer,” Montverde coach Kevin Boyle said. “We could have him for the next four years. He’s a terrific player. He’ll have a good chance to start as a freshman. I was happy he came this year because our guards are so mature, good role models for an eighth grader to learn from.”
Luther Muhammad, Hudson Catholic (Jersey City)
It’s hard to understand why the point guard is barely cracking the top 100 rankings.
The Ohio State signee was tasked with guarding Kentucky signee Immanuel Quickley and wrapped him up in a cozy blanket of defense to protect him from the bitter Massachusetts cold.
Muhammad is a ball hawk, picking off passes at half court and diving through passing lanes in the half court to get Hudson out in transition. He was a relentless scorer attacking the rim and flashed the ability to create well in the paint.
He may be a sleeper at this level, but should make a big impact at Ohio State.
Terrance Williams, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)
There were a few 2020 class players who showed they could already affect the game, but nobody played such a dominant role on their team quite like stretch four Williams did.
He is one of the top-ranked players in his class and was the first 2020 player to really jump out at the Hoophall Classic.
Williams has an ideal modern stretch big game, who still has room to grow as his frame fills out and his perimeter skills continue to improve.
He showed the ability to finish with both hands and shoot from deep en route to 26 points in just 27 minutes.
Williams should be one of the elite players at the event over the next few years.