Tolton Catholic (Mo.) 2017 G/F Michael Porter Jr. (Photo: Tom Reifsnyder)
The fifth-annual Mary Kline Classic hit the court at West Orange HS on Saturday evening, bringing in a few dozen of the nation’s top prep ballplayers to showcase their talents and help raise money for the National Brain Tumor Society and brain tumor research at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Here are the standouts from the two games of the charity all-star event, which raised over $43,000 this year, bringing its five-year total to north of $135,000:
Prince Ali (2015/Sagemont School, Fl.)--UCLA
The future Bruin hasn’t had much playing time up in the Northeast, but he certainly made a good impression on those in the stands who were getting their first look at the 6-foot-3 guard. He’s got the ability to score from all three levels, with nice rise and form on his jumper and the willingness to pull up in the mid-range on the fast break and sink shots with ease. He’s got a very quick first step and high-end top speed, and the handles to get around defenders on the fast break and finish at the rim. His 23 points earned him team MVP honors in the senior game.
Bruce Brown (2016/Vermont Academy, Vt.)
The strong 6-foot-4 combo guard seemed to be on the receiving end of almost every fast-break opportunity his team had, scoring 24 points highlighted by a variety of powerful finishes. He can score the ball with both hands on either side of the basket and racks up a good deal of assists when he’s running the show. Brown excelled at finishing through traffic, absorbing contact well to get the ball through the hoop in a variety of ways; that ability should translate very well at the next level.
Mamadou Diarra (2016/Woodstock Academy, Conn.)--Connecticut
No player in either the underclassman or seniors game played with a higher motor than this 6-foot-7 power forward, who certainly defines his position with his style of play. Diarra is a powerful finisher, dunking everything he can get his hands on, and is also an elite rim-protector at the other end of the floor, blocking several shots with excellent leaping ability and timing. The future UConn forward makes up for what he lacks in size with his strength and his motor, and it’s hard to see him not having an impact right away when he gets to Storrs next fall.
Curtis Jones (2016/Huntington Prep, W.Va.)
The MVP for the losing side in the underclassman game, Jones dropped 30 points, including four 3-pointers, for Team Inspiration. A silky smooth, 6-4 combo guard, Jones was equally comfortable playing on the ball or off it, though he seemed to do the majority of his damage playing off the wing. He’s still got to get stronger as he gets ready for college, but he’s got a great first step and very good size for a high-major point guard, which is why schools like Georgetown, Maryland, Indiana and more have all offered.
Derrick Jones (2015/Archbishop Carroll, Pa.)--UNLV
Spurred on by his title in the slam dunk contest, this high-flying 6-6 wing put on a show in his final event before he heads off to Las Vegas for college later this summer. His nine slams in the upperclassman game were a fitting send-off for the best high school dunker in the country, who might even be the best amongst all non-NBA players, but he also hit three 3-pointers and a long two-point jumper without many misses from beyond the arc, showing the progress he’s made on his jump shot. As this incredible athlete continues to become a basketball player, his ceiling only continues to rise.
Chris Lykes (2017/Gonzaga HS, D.C.)
What Lykes lacks for in height he makes up for in talent. The 5-foot-7 point guard finished the night with 18 points in the underclassmen game, while recording a number of assists. He’s got good ball skills and has a good-looking jump shot, and it was no surprise that he took home the MVP award for his team. Though he was the shortest player on the court, Lykes was weaving his way through opposing defenses and throwing no-look passes, and he was exceptional on the fast break. Lykes has a couple of Power Five schools interested in him, so be on the lookout for a lot from him in the future.
Unique McLean (2016/Macduffie School, Mass.)
Playing in his second Mary Kline Classic, McLean was eager to show off his out-of-the-gym athleticism early on, as several teammates were trying to throw him half-court alley-oops right from the get-go. Once things settled down a bit he really got going, dropping 28 points, including two 3-pointers in the second half. The left-handed, 6-foot-3 guard is still working on his jump shot, which is a little slow to develop, but he still finds plenty of ways to be productive thanks to strong on-ball defense and running the floor on the fast break.
Michael Porter Jr. (2017/Tolton Catholic, Mo.)
Lots to like about this 6-foot-9 wing forward, who’s already attracting offers from the nation’s blue blood programs--and with good reason. He’s got the ball skills and passing ability of a point guard but the size of a power forward, with a fluid, mobile frame and a very high basketball IQ. He’s got a nice-looking jump shot but isn’t afraid to attack the basket, and he made a number of difficult shots within 15 feet as he showed the ability to score from all three levels. The No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2017 (according to ESPN) will have his pick of schools by the time he makes his decision.
Breein Tyree (2016/St. Joseph’s-Metuchen, N.J.)
Tyree is about as smooth as they come at the lead guard spot. The explosive 6-foot-2 floor general makes the game look just a little bit too easy, whether he’s weaving through defenders to the hoop or stroking a pull-up jumper from deep. The St. Joe’s-Metuchen product had quite a busy day for himself, scoring 16 points in the underclassmen game and finishing second in the dunk contest behind Jones.