LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo.- Sunday was title belt day at the Kansas City Classic. As it turned out, host team MoKan Elite wasn't the most hospitable group to visiting teams as they swept the 15-, 16- and 17-and-under divisions to win three titles. In the 17-and-under division, four-star Semi Ojeleye helped to spearhead a solid top-to-bottom effort from MoKan Elite.
Ojeleye is solid, has unofficial visit set
During play in Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League, 6-foot-6 junior Semi Ojeleye has carried the bulk of the offensive load for MoKan Elite. Headed into next weekend's Oakland EYBL, the final qualifying session for the Peach Jam, MoKan is 6-8 and positioned in the thick of things within Group B to earn a Peach Jam birth.
Unlike earlier in the spring when MoKan relied heavily on Ojeleye, they had a very balanced team effort going at the Kansas City Classic. As a result, they took care of business, going 7-0 in wining a 17-and-under title while everybody gained confidence and playing time headed into next weekend.
Though he didn't score like he had during previous spring stops, Ojeleye was still very impressive during his minutes. As he's shown all spring, Ojeleye has worked hard to become a better jump shooter, and his powerful 225-pound frame now allows him to punish similarly sized defenders physically and finish over bigger guys.
Ranked No. 37 nationally, the product of Ottawa (Kan.) High is a reliable inside/out scorer who is explosive around the rim and working to become more of a threat off the dribble.
For the second weekend in a row, class of 2014 small forward Chris Kendrix of MoKan Elite's 16-and-under squad impressed. The 6-foot-5 wing is a fluid athlete who slashes to the bucket for above-the-rim finishes in transition or halfcourt, and he attacks rebounds with both hands above the rim. While he's a good one-on-one scorer, he will become even better as he trusts his jump shot. Kendrix also shows a very good feel for passing the ball and should see interest in his game pick up considerably this summer.
Kendrix wasn't alone in impressing for the MoKan 16-and-under group. They also got a huge lift from 6-foot-2 shooting guard Noah Knight. More of a slasher than a jump shooter, the Olathe (Kan.) South sophomore uses his strong shoulders and like of physical contact to bully defenders on drives to the hoop and work his way to the free throw line with regularity. More of a long-term stock, beanpole thin combo forward Kelliean Williams from Waynesboro (Mo.) High is very intriguing. Every bit of 6-foot-7, Williams can really run the floor, has good quickness, and he's got a pretty stroke that is already accurate to beyond the 3-point line. His ball skills are pretty good as well, and as he adds strength and confidence, the explosion and consistency will come along making him a very good prospect.
The Colorado Hawks made a nice run in the 16-and-under division on Sunday and were particularly good during an upset win over Team Texas in the quarterfinals. While they had a balanced effort, lefty combo guard Jeremiah Paige was able to make a strong impression. Listing him at 6-foot-3 on his team's roster is a bit of a reach, but he's a quick ball-handler who can fill it up from deep. A product of Aurora (Colo.) Rangeview, Paige can run the show or play off the ball to maximize his scoring. In-state, Colorado and Colorado State have already been monitoring him closely and he's working hard to prove that more heavily touted in-state classmates Dominique Collier and Joshua Perkins aren't the only 2014 guards in Colorado with high major potential.
Going down an age level, we couldn't help but take one more look at the Colorado Hawks 15U big man DeRon Davis. The 6-foot-8 8th grader was again impressive with his length, rebounding and ability to step out and shoot (he even drilled a three on the fastbreak) but what happens to his team when he goes off the floor speaks more to his potential. While on the floor, he was commanding double and triple teams which left things wide open for his teammates (mostly made up of fellow 8th graders) allowing them to compete with more physically mature teams. However, when he came off the floor with foul trouble, his team fell apart against MoKan Elite's man defense and quickly fell down 20 points after being right in the thick of things.
The K.C. Spurs Elite duo of skilled power forward Kyle Wolf and shooting guard Scott Edwards should attract division one looks. At 6-foot-6, Wolf isn't afraid to bang, is a pretty good athlete and is a threat to step out and shoot jumpers all the way to the three point line. A 6-foot-4 shooting guard, Edwards doesn't have a lot of wiggle off the dribble but he is a good North/South athlete who plays with some physicality and will catch lobs off of set plays. While he can finish above the rim when his steps are right, it's the Overland Park (Kan.) Blue Valley North wing's jump shot that will get him recruited. Not only does he have deep range, but Edwards does an outstanding job of preparing himself to shoot. Because he's so good at setting his feet and catching in a position to get his shot off, Edwards has a crisp, clean and compact release that allows him to let jumpers fly in a hurry.
A bit under-manned with only six players, the Milwaukee Rebels needed an energy boost and they got one from sophomore combo forward David Burrell. At 6-foot-6, Burrell has an ideal basketball frame with good shoulders and long arms. He pairs that body with springy athleticism and a non-stop motor. He patrols the baseline for offensive rebounds, runs the floor for transition slams and doesn't mind mixing it up in the paint against bigger, stronger players. The Rebels fell in a high scoring affair to MoKan Elite during a 17-and-under quarterfinal, but it wasn't due to lack of effort from Burrell.
Finally, junior small forward Marvin Clark used last year's K.C. Classic to put himself on the map. This year, the 6-foot-6 wing from Blue Springs (Mo.) High used the event to get his groove back. Playing extended minutes for MoKan's 17's on Sunday, Clark was all over the glass and came up with several big finishes in transition. A pretty good spot-up shooter and a guy who can finish through contact, Clark has the ability to give MoKan a tremendous boost during EYBL play if he continues to pay with the confidence he did throughout the weekend.
Missouri State fans already know plenty about 2013 commitment Austin Ruder. The Nixa (Mo.) High product is a big-time wing shooter, and he got it rolling Saturday afternoon. The 6-foot-2 shooting guard works hard off the ball to put himself in position to catch the ball with a clean look, and his superior shot preparation and quick release allow him to maximize those looks that he does get.