I was honored to be asked to do the color commentary/analysis on Time Warner's two television broadcasts that went across Texas into 1.8 million homes. I've been on ESPN's Outside The Lines and numerous other shows but this was my first effort at live television analysis. I was a little nervous, but quickly warmed up to it.
It was a pleausure to work with broadcast professional Joe Taylor who coached me. It was a blast and I saw some great talent. I'll look forward to the next time. There's nothing like being able to see youngsters on their way up and to assist in their promotion.
In only 4 short years the Westlake Holiday Classic under the direction of Jim McKay and Austin Westlake Head Coach Tres Ellis has become one of Texas’ premiere prep basketball events with quality teams and marquee players participating year in and year out. This year the “final four” represented each of Texas’ 4 major metropolitan areas: Austin (Pflugerville Panthers), San Antonio (Alamo Heights), Houston (Strake Jesuit) and Dallas (AAA Academy).
If you were looking for nail biting, cliff hanging suspense then the 3rd place game and the Championship game were not your cup of tea as both contests were blowouts. However, it wasn’t because they were particularly bad mismatches, it was because of superior shooting and star power coming to the fore front on one team. They were still exciting in their own right because of this.
Pflugerville’s match up with Strake Jesuit was no longer in doubt after the first quarter as the Panthers behind 2014 wing 6’5″ Nosa Ebomwonyi went off behind the three point line, going 10/13. Ebomwonyi hit his first 5 three point attempts and 2 huge dunks on his way to a game high 23 points. (At right) Ebomwonyi is unsigned and is a must sign player in the spring period. A nice birthday present to himself on his special day with that huge first half and a great tournament overall! Combine that with 13 first half turnovers by Strake and the rout was on.
Ben Lammers: Georgia Tech Commit
In the Championship game, undefeated Alamo Heights ran into a buzz saw as 2015 SG King McClure (offers from Duke, Indiana, Florida etc) hit 11 of his first 12 shots and ended up with a tournament record 47 points in the final. He obliterated the previous record of 34 points set in 2012 by then Pflugerville, now Northeastern University guard T.J. Williams. McClure also tied that mark of 34 the day previous. Alamo Heights played hard behind Big Ben Lammers the 6’10″ post man who’s committed to Georgia Tech. Lammers had a great game in his own right with 20 points and double digit rebounds but there was no combatting McClure’s off the charts perimeter shooting in the first half when he put up 30 points alone.
The tournament’s Major Awards as chosen by D1 Nation were as follows:
Tournament MVP It was impossible to even consider anyone else as McClure averaged nearly 30 ppg in the 4 contests and hit every type of shot imaginable. McClure’s shot is so pure and his body control so superior that every shot looks like it’s going in. He even looks good when he misses. He’s also an excellent student. Interestingly enough when I spoke with his father after the game (who’s also AAA’s Superintendant) he told me that King hasn’t even had a cell phone since the 8th grade.
Offensive MVP McClure was King, but 2015 G Tyler Singeleton (AAA Academy) was Prince of the City as he had a 31 point effort in the semifinals and was a threat every time he took the ball. He was pure from behind the arc with his rainbow jumpers and also took care of the ball and ran AAAA’s offense for the majority of the event.
Chase Carlton: Texas A&M Commit
Defensive Co-MVP’s Ben Lammers of Alamo Heights was huge in Alamo Heights first three wins as he scored when necessary but most importantly he altered every opponent’s shot selection on the defensive end of the court. He’s an old school shot blocker a la Bill Russell who doesn’t typically swat shots into the stands. Rather he deflects them with his long fingers and more times than not grabs his own rebound and leads the break with an outlet pass.
Without question the best backcourt defender in the event was 2014 G Chase Carlton (Austin Westlake). Carlton also went off for 31 in a game but it is his constant ball pressure and in your grill defensive mentality on every single play that earned his honors along with Lammers. This should serve him well when he heads to Texas A&M in the SEC for summer school in June.
2016 Jarrett Allen
In addition to those four mentioned above, the following 8 players in alphabetical order rounded out my All Tournament Team.
Jarrett Allen Austin St. Stephen’s
The 6’9″ sophomore will be a force to be reckoned with over the nest 2 years. He’s high major lock who runs the floor gracefully for his size, has nice touch around the goal and has a shot blocking presence.
Albert Almanza Austin St. Stephens
Almanza, a senior is headed to Sam Houston State. At 6’5″ he’s got a lot of versatility in his ability to handle the ball, shoot it, rebound and also in his I.Q.
Russhard Cruickshank Cedar Hill
You’s never guess that Cruickshank is just a freshman as he had 30 points in one game. He’s got the physical tools and the demeanor to be a great player in the future.
Cameron Delaney Killeen Harker Heights
On the defensive side of the ball Delaney’s name deserves to be mention along with Lammers and Carlton as a tough nut defender. He’s also got a really reliable shot from the win and rebounds hard for an off guard. He’s headed to the University of Denver
Abrian Edwards: Texas-Pan American
Abrian Edwards Pflugerville
I’ve seen Edwards grow as a person and a player over the last couple of years. It’s his energy and ability to penetrate that really makes Pflugerville go.
Nosa Ebomwonyi Pflugerville
Ebomwonyi was Pflugerville’s primary three point threat. He averaged 17 ppg and rebounded hard as well for the undersized Panthers.
Sam Mays Houston Kinkaid
Mays could be the sleeper of the entire event. He’s a big time football recruit, but after watching him hoop I’m convinced he’s a mid major on the hardwood as well. He’s got a beautiful shot, he’s athletic and he may have been the longest armed guard in the field of 16 teams.
Max Rienenschneider Alamo Heights
Riemenschneider doesn’t have Michael Jordan’s game, but he does always have his tongue hanging out. He’s deceptively athletic, can finish above the rim and picks his spots when to explode and get to the rack. I like his energy