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Basketball Recruiting

NIBC St. James Invitational: What to watch for?

January 7, 2021

COVID-19 has halted a lot of the major events that we usually get during the high school season. Around this time last year, teams were preparing to play in the always popular Hoop Hall Classic. This year, things will be quite different as several top-tier programs will head to Springfield, Virginia.

The St. James Invitational will take place starting tomorrow and will last ten days. The tournament includes La Lumiere (IN), Montverde Academy (FL), Legacy Early (SC), Sunrise Christian Academy (KS), Bishop Walsh (MD), Hamilton Heights (TN), Oak Hill (VA), Wasatch Academy (UT), IMG Academy (FL), Houston High (TN), Paul VI (VA), ISchool of Lewisville (TX), AZ Compass (AZ), St. Frances (MD).

Westtown School (PA) will also be featured in this event but will be known as the club team, PA Stars.

This event is featuring several premier players. A handful of five-stars and potential McDonald’s All-Americans are also playing in this event. has written up some of the headlines you should keep an eye out for in this event.

Midseason Test for Montverde?

On Day two, Montverde Academy, the always national powerhouse, will faceoff against one of the best teams in America this season in Sunrise Christian Academy. I believe this is going to be one of the best matchups you’ll be able to watch this high school season but I also believe that this game is truly up for grabs.

Sunrise Christian Academy just added Michigan State signee Jaden Akins to the fold and in talking with his backcourt partner and Tennessee signee Kennedy Chandler, the team seems to be well prepared and has been training very hard leading up to this event.

Montverde has had tons of success this season and they’ve got another absolutely loaded roster this year but how will they match up with Sunrise’s front line of Kendall Brown, Kennedy Chandler, Gradey Dick, Jaden Akins, Willie Lightfoot, and others?

My two players to keep an eye on in this game for Montverde is Jalen Duren and Dariq Whitehead. Two of the top-rated prospects in the 2022 class, both have filled major roles as they continue their junior year competing against the best talent in America.

Trevor Keels return to action

This event will be the first game action of the 2020-21 season for Paul VI (VA). That roster is one that has competed on a national level for the past few years and recently just had a five-star recruit head to Duke in Jeremy Roach. Now, they once again are loaded with talent but let’s talk about their five-star unsigned senior, Trevor Keels.

I had reported on my premium board months back that Keels has been absolutely grinding this offseason and has made major leaps in his development. He told that his measurements include 6-foot-5 and weighing 211-pounds. Keels added that he feels much more explosive and that is very big as far as his offensive prowess goes.

As for his recruitment, Duke, Villanova, and Virginia remain the three finalists in the running to land his talent. Along with that premium post, I have already submitted my prediction on Keels which was in favor of one of the ACC programs in the mix, but, he isn’t set on any type of commitment timeline and a favorite isn’t emerging at the moment.

All eyes on Michigan signees

Yes, we have seen the success that Juwan Howard has lead Michigan to this season. The emerging freshman Hunter Dickinson has starred for the Wolverines and they will have several more prized recruits entering the Big Ten next fall. 

Included in that class are Montverde Academy’s Caleb Houstan and IMG Academy’s Moussa Diabate. In addition, Wolverines target Jett Howard plays alongside Diabate, and he is also the son of head coach Juwan Howard – brother Jace is a freshman. Both Diabate and Houstan have been vital parts of their respective teams and they will both be put to the test over the next ten days.

Legacy Early’s dynamic duo

First and foremost, Jacobi White is going to be a steal for South Carolina and Frank Martin. You think about the impact Sindarius Thornwell had when he played at SCAR, I think White will fill that similar role and will be one of those early impact freshmen we are talking about in a year.

Then alongside White, you’ve got five-star senior Bryce McGowens. The highest-rated signee in Nebraska program-history. He’s a smooth prospect who I’ve covered for the last five years. This season he’s brought a completely new dynamic to his game. He looks so much more well-rounded offensively and has been a joy to watch this season.

Note: White and McGowens have combined for 50+ points multiple times this season.

Wasatch’s new big three

Okay, I’m glad that I’m ending this post on a very exciting note. Obviously, Wasatch Academy has one of 2021’s diamonds in the rough in Nolan Hickman, five-star junior Richard Isaacs Jr, and recently they added the talent of Ohio State commit and Top-60 junior Roddy Gayle Jr. For some very odd reason I’m (very) excited to see this trio step on the floor together.

Hickman is a basketball junkie's dream and he is such a joy to watch on both ends of the floor. Silky smooth offensive skill set and his playmaking ability are second-to-none and I think he would’ve been a great floor general even for the Wildcats this season. He plays with grit and grind and reminds me of a seasoned vet.

Robbie Armbrester who is headed to Houston next fall is also a player to watch for Wasatch. Skilled small forward who is a problem on both ends. Can score on multiple levels and will give you elite toughness every time he steps on the floor.

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