Recapping Tuesday Night in College Basketball

Photo via @VisionsByJeff

A lot happened last night for a Tuesday night in December. We had the Jimmy V Classic, which always features great basketball and a greater cause. We had two Top 10 teams fall, and two more teams in the Top 15 suffer losses. Let’s quickly recap what you may have missed last night.

Villanova Pounded Gonzaga

Villanova punished Gonzaga on a night where Jalen Brunson struggled and Donte DiVincenzo was in foul trouble. Granted, Jonathan Williams only played 18 minutes for the Zags, but this game was all Wildcats. Mikael Bridges was sensational, going off for a career high 28 points. Bridges was 5-9 from three point land and came up with big buckets every time Villanova needed one. The win showed both how short Jay Wright’s bench is, but also Nova’s ability to stay in games without a true point guard for stretches.

Tyus Battle Leads Cuse in Rivalry Game

The second game of the Jimmy V Classic featured an old Big East rivalry, as UConn and Syracuse met once again. In front of a terrific MSG crowd, it was the New Jersey product, Tyus Battle, who led ‘Cuse to a win. Battle had 22 and fellow Hoop Group alum Matt Moyer had a career high 18. The unexpected outburst from Moyer was huge, as Frank Howard struggled again for Syracuse. On the other end, the Huskies continue to struggle to pick up a resume building win. Jalen Adams led the way with 22 of his own, but it was not enough.

Arizona Picked up a MUCH Needed Victory

Sean Miller’s seat has been on fire since the Battle 4 Atlantis. Not literally, his job is safe, but Arizona’s struggles have been put under a big microscope this year. The Cats quieted some of that talk last night with a win over #7 Texas A&M. Positively speaking, Arizona had four players score 13 points, and none of them were Allonzo Trier. DeAndre Ayton recorded another double-double, and a bonehead play that almost gave A&M a chance to tie it in the final seconds. With Rawle Alkins cleared for full contact, this could be the win that turns Arizona around.

Notre Dame Upset

In what was by far the upset of the night, the #9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish fell to Ball State in South Bend. Tayler Persons led Ball State with 24 points, none bigger than the 3 he hit with 1.7 seconds remaining. The Cardinals led by as much as 9 in the second half, surrendered that lead, and held on thanks to Persons’s heroics. The Irish will look to rebound this weekend against Delaware before an in-state battle with Indiana.

West Virginia is Streaking

It was defense vs defense as West Virginia picked up a big non-conference win against the #15 ranked Virginia Cavaliers. After giving up 88 points in a blowout loss on the first night of the season, Bob Huggins’s team has held teams to just 63 points per game and 37% shooting. None of these teams have as potent of an offense as Texas A&M , but it’s clear defense is still the key in West Virginia. In addition, Jevon Carter has been extraordinary. Last night was no different, as he recorded 23 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists.

Shaka Smart Returns to VCU Victorious

In what was an emotional game in front of a raucous crowd, Shaka Smart returned to Richmond and was victorious against his former team. The Longhorns look like they have a serious three headed attack with Andrew Jones, Dylan Osetkowski and Mo Bamba. This looked like Bamba’s most complete game, recording a double-double (13 points and 13 rebounds) and tallying 4 blocks. His defense has been a constant all season, averaging over 3 blocks a game, but his offense appears to be coming around now as well. Oh, and then he also did this…

Big Ten Takes Another Hit

The Big Ten’s struggle as a conference has been mentioned on multiple occasions so far. The early take on the conference has been that it has three definite tournament teams in Michigan State, Minnesota and Purdue, and question marks everywhere else. Well one of those teams suffered a bad loss last night, as Minnesota lost on the road to Nebraska. Jordan Murphy was held in check for the Gophers, finishing with 10 points on just 4-12 shooting. Meanwhile, Glynn Watson Jr. went off for the Cornhuskers, recording a game high 29 in the win. The Big Ten looks clearly to be Michigan State, and then everyone else.

Khalif Battle: GSB’s Back Court Can Lead to Special Season

Junior guard Khalif Battle has made a name for himself in the past year. The Gill St. Bernard’s prospect shined at the Hoop Group Fall High School Showcase. Battle liked what he saw out of his team at the event.

“I love taking the court with my team, they are an exciting group of guys to play alongside,” Battle said. “We all share the ball well and it’s just the beginning for us. We are still growing as a team and I’m looking forward to the season.”

Talented class of 2019 guard Paul Mulcahy joins Battle in the backcourt. With players like Mulcahy he thinks Gill St. Bernard’s can go far this year.

“I think Paul deserves more attention and is underrated,” he said. “With me and him in the backcourt it’s going to be a special year especially with Alex SchachnePeter Sorber and the other guys. I think we have everything to be successful this year.”

Multiple college programs have been into his high school to watch him workout.

“Wake Forest, Temple, UConn, Miami, Virginia, Villanova, Butler, Rutgers, Seton Hall have been in to see me,” said Battle. “Indiana and Oregon will be in soon to see me.”

His older brother Tyus Battle is a sophomore guard at Syracuse University. Khalif received an offer from the Orange in July and they have made him a priority ever since. Tyus has let his brother know about the intriguing aspects to his school.

“Tyus loves it there, they have great fans and a great coaching staff,” he said. “He has learned a lot from one of the best in Jim Boeheim. He’s been around forever and has coached the best of the best. I love what they have to offer and they are looking at me as a prospect that they want to recruit not just Tyus’ little brother.”

Like most players at top-notch programs in New Jersey, Battle has one goal in mind.

“My goal is the same as the rest of my teammates, win the TOC,” Battle said. “We are talented and capable of taking it this year.”

Syracuse commit Tyus Battle is looking forward to the Tip-Off Showcase


One of the top players in the state of New Jersey will compete in the Hoop Group Tip-Off Showcase and that is Syracuse commit Tyus Battle. The class of 2016 shooting guard from St. Joseph’s Metuchen will team up with Ole Miss commit Breein Tyree, his brother Khalif Battle and many more great pieces. The five star guard is ready for a big year for himself and his team.

“My goal for the season is to win a county championship, a state title and a TOC,” he said. “I also hope to play every game and compete for 32 minutes each game. If I do that I will be fine.”

Battle has been finding different ways to take his game to the next level such as putting on muscle.

“I put on 10 pounds of muscle lifting a lot and became a lot stronger,” Battle said. “I believe my jump shot is a weapon now also. I worked a lot on my patience from being injured for quite some time. I think I am better than I was before and as I play more I should be trending up.”

The senior guard has a favorite player and a favorite player to watch.

“My favorite player is Kobe Bryant but my favorite player to watch is Steph Curry,” he said. “I met him and he is a great guy and I love everything about his game.”

He believes that the team has a lot of potential, but they need to make sure that they are constantly improving.

“The goals for a successful season are to keep improving and have fun as a team,” he told “We want to win but we have a lot of work to do.”

The Tip-Off Showcase is one of his favorite events of the season and he can’t wait to take on Ramapo this Sunday.

“We can’t wait for the Tip-Off Showcase,” said the Syracuse commit. “It’s one of the best events of the season and I personally have it marked on my calendar, hopefully we can do well.”

40 Hoop Group Alumni Named to ESPN Top 100

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Erlier this week, ESPN released their top 100 players in the class of 2016. Of these 100 prospects, an incredible 40% of them, have attended a Hoop Group event in their life. Whether it was a camp, tournament or Top 100, this list continues to prove how many elite players come to the Hoop Group every year. Let’s breakdown some takeaways from the list:

9 Have Already Committed to Division 1 Schools

A young Omari Spellman breaks onto the scene at Future All-American Camp in 2015

A young Omari Spellman breaks onto the scene at Future All-American Camp in 2015. Spellman is now committed to play at the University of Villanova

Not uncommon for most players of this stature, nine of our alum have verbally committed to a Division 1 school prior to the start of their senior year. We would like to recognize and congratulate these players.

  • Omari Spellman – Villanova
  • Tyus Battle – Michigan
  • Justin Jackson – UNLV
  • Derek Funderburk – Ohio State
  • Matthew Moyer – Syracuse
  • Ty Jerome – Virginia
  • Temple Gibbs – Notre Dame
  • J.J. Caldwell – Texas A&M
  • Mamadou Diarra – Connecticut

4 Alumni have Trained in the Poconos

A lot of hard work and training goes into making a list of this nature. Four of our alums have put in the work at Hoop Group Skills Camp in the mountains of Stroudsburg, PA. This includes a pair of New Jersey players in Tyus Battle (Gill St. Bernard) and Taurean Thompson (St. Anthony’s), Connecticut’s Mustapha Heron (Sacred Heart School) and Curtis Jones, who attends Huntington Prep in West Virginia.


32 Have Competed in Team Tournaments

The Hoop Group Team Tournaments division prides itself on providing a high level of competition at all its events; this list helps support that claim. Just a few weeks ago we saw Dennis Smith (Trinity Christian), Miles Bridges (Huntington Prep), Mamadou Diarra (Woodstock Academy) and Edrice Adebayo (Northside HS) dominate at the Southern Jam Fest. A number of guys have displayed their talents out in Pitt over the years as well (Kwe Parker, Derek Funderburk and Xavier Simpson are a few).

But it’s more than just AAU. A number of players have competed with their high school teams during our in season showcases. Notre Dame commit Temple Gibbs (who plays on Seton Hall Prep), Tony Carr (Roman Catholic) and Bryce Aiken (Patrick School) all are included on that list.

Hoop Group Tournaments bring in top talent.

18 Alumni Have Attended Elite Camp

Whether it was early in their careers attending Future All-American Camp, playing with their high school team at Team Camp, or attending various Elite Sessions, 18 of the Top 100 players in the Class of 2016 have attended Hoop Group Elite Camp. Headlining the list at 16 is Villanova commit Omari Spellman (MacDuffie School). Spellman was just one of eight players to attend Future All-American Camp. Other FAA attendees include Rawle Alkins (Christ the King), Justin Jackson (Findlay Prep), Sedee Keita (22 Feet Academy) and Lamar Stevens (Haverford School).

Then there was Markelle Fultz (DeMatha Catholic), Kevin Heurter (Shenendehowa Central) and Tyus Battle (Gill St. Bernard), who we saw just last summer when they traveled with their high school teams to Reading to compete in Team Camp. And Kassoum Yakwe (Our Savior New American) who was an all-star at Elite Session 1 last year.

See the full list

While we’ve mentioned a lot of players on the list, we have not hit all 40. Check out the entire list of #HGAlum in the Class of 2016, and where they rank, right here!

PlayerPositionESPN Ranking
Josh JacksonSF#3
Dennis SmithPG#4
Miles BridgesSF#7
Edrice AdebayoPF#8
Terrance FergusonSG#14
Omari SpellmanPF#16
Dewan HuellPF#18
Markelle FultzSG#21
Rawle AlkinsSF#22
Mustapha HeronSG#26
Tyus BattleSG#27
Justin JacksonSF#29
Maverick RowanSF#30
Seventh WoodsSG#32
Juwan DurhamPF#33
Jaylen FisherPG#41
Derek FunderburkPF#44
Javin DeLaurierPF#49
Matthew MoyerSF#51
Tony CarrPG#52
Curtis JonesSG#65
Ty JeromePG#66
Shamorie PondsSG#67
Koby McEwanPG#71
Temple GibbsSG#72
Kevin HuerterSG#73
Lamar StevensSF#74
Sedee KeitaPF#83
Wenyen GabrielPF#84
Xavier SimpsonPG#87
Bryce AikenPG#88
Kwe ParkerSG#90
Taurean ThompsonC#91
Jayce JohnsonC #92
Miles PowellSG#93
Cameron LardPF#94
Quentin GoodinPG#95
J.J. CaldwellPG#96
Mamadou Diarrac#98
Kassoum YakwePF#100

9 Takeaways from the Fall High School Showcase

Hoop Group wrapped up its Fall tournaments and showcases with the Fall High School Showcase on October 25th and 26th. A perfect way for teams to get a tune up prior to the beginning of their season, Hoop Group Headquarters saw some serious talent in the building for this showcase. It was a weekend where the phrase “next level talent” was used a lot, Twitter was kept busy with the hashtag #HGShowcase and video cameras were put to good use. Here are some takeaways of the Fall High School Showcase:

-Several seniors proved why they have already signed LOIs
There were a few players playing in the Fall High School Showcase who already committed to Division 1 schools next year. Leading the group was Roselle Catholic’s Chris Silva. The 6-8 South Carolina commit was a walking highlight reel, throwing down thunderous dunk after dunk. He led Roselle Catholic in scoring in all four of their games, crashing the boards and putting his head down and getting to the rim. We  also saw Trey Lowe (Ewing High School ’15). In Ewing’s two games on Sunday, Trey scored 22 points and followed that with a 16 point, 10 rebound effort against Silva and Roselle. Temple is getting a great scorer in Lowe. Towson commit Alex Thomas (Coastal Academy ’15) dominated on the glass and showed an ability to knock down the top of the key three, and Roman Catholic’s Trevaughn Wilkerson (committed to Hartford) and Gemil Holbrook (Rider) showcased strong jump shots.

Chris Silva made a living at the line at the Fall High School Showcase. He could not be stopped.

Chris Silva made a living at the line at the Fall High School Showcase. He could not be stopped.

-There are still plenty of unsigned and talented recruits
We saw a number of seniors who remain unsigned and will be great additions to college programs once their decisions are made. Of these players were Coastal Academy’s Tyler Kohl and Isaac Vann. Both players were scoring machines. They both displayed the ability to get in the paint and score at the rim, but could also hurt teams from the outside. With several offers in hand already, it will be interesting to see where the two land. Point guard Lamar Kimble was another player who played well and is yet to make his decision. With his list cut to Creighton, Drexel and UMASS, Kimble was a terrific floor general for Neumann-Goretti. He also has a knack for scoring 16 and 22 points in Neumann’s two games. Speaking of great floor generals, expect junior Bryce Aiken to have a tremendous year for the Patrick School. Aiken is a very tough, hard nosed player. He is quick and can get up and down the floor in a hurry. It’ll be great to see his stock rise this season. Lastly, Gill St. Bernard post Jonas Stakeliunas will be a nice compliment to Tyus Battle this year. He already holds offers from Holy Cross, Marist, Siena and FDU.

-The talent level amongst underclassmen was through the roof
One thing is for certain, the talent level in New Jersey and Pennsylvania will remain high for a few years. Start in Pennsylvania where you have guys like Quade Green and D’Andre Vilmar representing the Class of 2017. Green lit it up from the outside, confirming what we saw at Future All-American Camp; he can play. Vilmar has a high motor and is great on the defensive side of the ball. His hustle and athleticism helps make plays for Roman.

A new face in New Jersey will be Nick Richards, who recently transferred to the Patrick School from St. Mary’s in Long Island. Richards is 6-10 and an elite shot blocker. He owned the paint defensively, wowing the crowd with several ferocious blocks. Other young NJ hoopers that impressed included freshman Jared Kimbrough from Neptune High School. Jared is long and athletic and it’s easy to see how high his ceiling is. He did a great job holding his own against Chris Silva and the other bigs of Roselle Catholic. Not an easy task for any player, especially a freshman, Jared has a lot of potential.

-Speaking of Roselle’s size…
Roselle Catholic has size that can cause problems. Some say size wins games in basketball. Roselle Catholic has a lot of size. Will that translate to a successful 2014-15 season? Only time will tell, but one thing is for certain: beating them inside will not be easy. Aside from Chris Silva, the Lions feature Pierre Sarr (6-6 and recently committed to Monmouth), Ganlandou Cisse (6-9 with offers from Towson, Norfolk State, Canisius and Quinnipiac), and hightly touted freshman Nazreon Reid (6-7). The front court for Roselle is loaded with size and talent and will be a nightmare for teams to match up against.

-Philly can ball..
There were a number of Philadelphia teams in the building for the Fall High School Showcase. Based on the preview we saw, the city of brotherly love will be loaded with talent this year and in the future. Roman Catholic, Neumann-Goretti and Imhotep Charter all came from the Philadelphia area and all posses players who are already committed or will commit to Division 1 programs. We saw shooters, slashers, defenders, all type of players. Whatever typer of player you’re looking for, you can find it in Philadelphia.

Neumann-Goretti should have a strong 2014-15 season.

Neumann-Goretti should have a strong 2014-15 season.

-… and the rest of PA isn’t bad either
As great as it is, the talent in Pennsylvania is not limited to the Philadelphia area. Start with Westtown High School, who has has a great supply of talent in the classes of 2016 and 2017. It starts with floor general Jair Bolden, whose stock continues to raise every time he plays. Offers keep coming in (La Salle being most recent) and don’t be surprised when the major conferences come knocking. The class of ’17 features newcomers Najja Hunter and Mohamed Bamba. The development and growth of these players will be fun to watch. Bobby Casey and Scranton Prep also had a strong showing, playing two very good NJ teams in Coastal Academy and St. Anthony’s. Casey led Prep with 26 and 22 in the two games. He also made 10 threes combined in those two games.

-Kevin and Thomas Huerter are a deadly combo for Shenendehowa
One of the most fun teams to watch, Shenendehowa plays the game in a very fundamentally sound fashion. The Stallions are led by brothers Kevin and Thomas Huerter, who had great weekends against teams such as Roman Catholic, Roselle Catholic, Southern Regional and Manasquan. Kevin was one of the best shooters of the weekend, setting the nets on fire with three ball after three ball, including seven in one game Saturday night. Brother Thomas was impressive as well, scoring double digits in all games, including 20 over Roman Catholic. At Elite Team Camp this summer, both players had some interest and offers from some Division 1 schools. They are looking increase that as they enter the 2014-15 season.

-NJ private schools will be as exciting as ever
St. Anthony’s, Patrick School, Gill St. Bernard’s, Roselle Catholic. All four teams have next level talent, all four should have successful seasons and all four were in the same building last Sunday. St. Anthony’s will feature Wichita State commit Markis McDuffie as well as Top 150 player Jagan Mosely. Big men Taurean Thompson and Mohamed Bendary (committed to NJIT) continue to grow under Coach Hurley as well. We already mentioned Aiken and Richards for the Patrick School. They will be joined by Jamir Harris (2017) and Marcus McClary (2016), both of whom were in the building for the showcase.

 Gill St. Bernard’s will be led by’s #14 ranked player in the Class of 2016 Tyus Battle. Battle is a a premier talent and it is easy to see why every school in the country wants him. In addition to Battle, GSB has strong forwards in Stakeliunas and Julias Stoma (2016) and are loaded with shooters on the perimeter. Complimenting Roselle’s bigs are Matt Bullock, who can shoot the lights out, and Asante Gist at the guard position. And let’s not forget about Isiah Briscoe, who is ready for a tremendous senior campaign as he decides between Kentucky, St. John’s and UCONN.

-The high school season needs to start NOW
A preseason high school showcase as talented as this one only raises the level of anticipation for the actual season, and with added anticipation, comes an added desire for the season to begin. The High School Showcase Series will continue when the season starts, the first being the Reading Tip-Off Showcase on December 12th at Albright College. Good luck to all players and teams as they prepare for their season!

Be on the look out for mixtapes from the Fall High School Showcase coming soon!

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James Albano – @JN_Albano