NEW YORK – The 14th annual Jordan Brand Classic marked the end of a hectic few weeks for the top talent across high school basketball, as the West team topped the East, 118-116. The West opened up a 15-point advantage early in the second half but the East was able scrape their way back into the game.
In a night that combined an unwavering pace with an abundance of jaw-dropping athleticism, here were the top stories:
Cheick Diallo adds another MVP to his trophy case
The Jordan Brand Classic was the cherry on top of a monster month for Diallo. The 6-foot-9 power forward from Centereach, N.Y., was named MVP of the East squad, pouring in 26 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Diallo once again put his full offensive arsenal on display, showing a great touch around the bucket, as well as the ability to get out in transition.
The latest piece of hardware will have a spot next to the McDonald’s MVP Diallo won earlier in the month, also accompanied by a win at the Nike Hoop Summit. Diallo was one of three remaining undeclared players in the Jordan game and is scheduled for an in-home visit with Chris Mullin and St. John’s on Saturday, who is competing with Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa State and Pittsburgh for the coveted big man’s signature.
Welcome to the Isaiah Briscoe Show
With about five minutes remaining in the game, Briscoe, a New York product who went to high school in New Jersey, banged a three that was like a shot of adrenaline to the Brooklyn crowd. From then on, each time the ball found its way into Briscoe’s hands – which it did basically every possession – the walls of the Barclays Center were hit with an ear-splitting roar.
“That’s New York basketball,” Briscoe said when asked about the atmosphere. “Everywhere you go, every gym you play in, that’s New York basketball. They want to see people go at it. They want to see people compete.”
Briscoe, who is headed to Kentucky next season, repeatedly put himself in isolation situations, as he and LSU commit Antonio Blakeney traded one-on-one punches for several consecutive possessions. After shaking Blakeney with a particularly silky spin move and touching it off the glass, fans were fully invested in the Briscoe pageantry. Ultimately the one-man wrecking crew fell short, but Briscoe finished with 22 points after a sub-par first half and won over the crowd with a gladiator-like effort.
“I’m no stranger to a big crowd,” Briscoe said. “I feed off all of that, as you can see.”
The exodus of Wildcats out of the Bluegrass and toward the bright lights of the NBA has left Kentucky rather thin on the perimeter. Briscoe will be counted on to provide an immediate impact and it will be interesting to see how he meshes alongside point guard Tyler Ulis. Either way, it should be a nice problem to have for coach John Calipari.
Allonzo Trier gets buckets, basically whenever he wants
Trier collected MVP honors for the West squad, dropping in 28 points on 8-10 shooting. The 6-foot-4 guard from Henderson, Nev., shoved himself behind the wheel for Kevin Boyle’s team in the second half, willing his way into the paint and either converting at the rim or earning a trip to the charity stripe. With his quickness and athleticism, Trier is a migraine-inducing offensive weapon that is near impossible to guard one-on-one.
Setting up camp in Tucson, Ariz., next season, Trier will need to help patch up the offensive holes left behind by a slew of departed Wildcats. With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley gone, and Stanley Johnson potentially joining them, Trier could easily become the focal point of Sean Miller’s offense.
Brewster Academy sweeps Regional MVPs
Quickly finding the mold of a traditional all-star game, the Jordan Brand Classic Regional game turned into a 40-mintute track meet that was played almost exclusively above the rim. Brewster Academy teammates Donovan Mitchell and Jalen Adams took center stage, reeling in MVPs for their respective teams.
“A lot of people don’t know Brewster Academy, so we were just talking about going out and putting Brewster on the map in a bigger way,” Mitchell said. “We just said to ourselves that we were going to go out and impact the game in different ways.”
The Louisville-bound Mitchell put together enough footage for his own Jordan Brand dunk highlight reel plus bonus features. The 6-foot-2 guard led all scorers with 30 points and nearly brought the house down in the first half after capping off a spin move with a thundering dunk.
Adams, an electric point guard who is committed to Kevin Ollie and UConn, put on a show of his own, scoring 27 points for the winning squad.