The John Wall Invitational at Broughton High School last week featured some of the top players and teams around the country. It also elicited a number of “oooo’s and ahhhh’s,” and taught us a few things about some of the top prospects and local teams.
Here are five takeaways from the John Wall Invitational:
Carson McCorkle is still young
There will be growing pains for Broughton’s Carson McCorkle. After all he’s only a 14-year-old freshman.
Never miss a local story.
But he did show flashes of potential.
The Broughton guard was one of the Holiday Invitational’s best-known prospects, with offers already from N.C. State, Georgia Tech and Iowa.
With the pressure of his entire team and another rising star, Cox Mill’s Wendell Moore, lined up across from him, McCorkle struggled. In a blowout loss, he shot 2-for-16 from the field. One of those field goals was an alley-oop dunk, not a play many anticipated from the lanky 6-foot-2, 170-pound young gun with moppy brown hair.
Despite an improvement from McCorkle in the Capitals’ second game, Broughton still lost.
Being the tournament’s host school, going winless wasn’t an attractive option. Trailing Southern Durham by 18 in the third quarter, it appeared that would happen.
But McCorkle led his team to a come-from-behind victory, finishing with 20 points and giving his school the win, 54-51.
“I think the more I played in the tourney, I got more into and used to it,” McCorkle said. “My confidence grew and (I) began to get more comfortable with it.”
Jairus Hamilton is an emerging star
Jairus Hamilton came into the John Wall Invitational largely unheard of.
But after a game-winning layup for Cannon School (Concord) and a dunk some are dubbing the “dunk of the year,” he is better known now.
Hamilton is a 6-8, 230-pound forward who can guard almost any position. He’s currently ranked No. 41 in the class of 2018, according to 247sports.com, and is being recruited by UNC, N.C. State and Duke, among others. UNC is said to be pushing the hardest.
“He’s a beast,” DeAndre Ayton, the country’s No. 1 prospect, said shaking his head. “And a junior? Stuff like that you just have to watch out for.”
When John Wall – tournament sponsor – was asked which players stood out most while he was there, Hamilton was one of them. He said he had never seen him play or heard of him before last week.
“That kid from Cannon was good,” Wall said.
Donte Tatum was better than most thought
There was a plethora of scouts in attendance, but not many were there to see Cary’s Donte Tatum.
When Tatum saw he was going to play some of the top prospects in the nation in Cashius McNeilly (No. 1, 2020 point guard), Kevin Knox (top-10, 2017), Vernon Carey Jr. and Balsa Koprivica (both top-10, 2019), he didn’t back down.
“When I found out who we were playing I was like ‘It’s barbecue chicken,’ which means I was about to eat,” Tatum said. “I don’t care if you’re a national player or not, I feel like I can compete with you. Going into this tournament I was going hard.”
Tatum was responsible for nearly everything. At 6-1, 184-pounds, he did the tip off and was the primary ball-handler.
Tatum shined. He averaged 20.6 points per game, 4 assists, 7 rebounds and 3 steals. Tatum, who already had offers from Campbell, Western Carolina, Maryland Eastern Shore, South Carolina State, Belmont and Fayetteville State, picked up six more after Cary’s first outing in the tournament alone.
This was the first time in his high school career that Tatum has played point guard. He said he played point guard and worked on his ball handling over the summer in AAU to prepare himself for this season.
“If he were 6-4/6-5, he would be garnering just as much attention as those other players,” Cary coach Allan Gustafson Jr. said.
Kevin Knox II will be good for any school
Kevin Knox II, the country’s No. 7 prospect in the class of 2018, showed why he’s one of the most coveted prospects in the class of 2017.
The 6-8, 205-pound wing player for Tampa Catholic, averaged 29 points per game, 12.1 rebounds and hit a game-winning buzzer beater in a win over Cary in his team’s first game of the tournament.
Knox can hit the outside shot, and jump out of the gym. Many of his points came from crashing the boards and getting put-back dunks.
He struggled in the championship game early against the nation’s No. 1 prospect, Ayton, and Hillcrest Prep after getting into foul trouble. He finished the first half with only 1 point. Knox bounced back with 21 second-half points, but his team lost.
He won the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Knox’s final list includes Duke, UNC, Florida State and Kentucky.
Heritage is no joke
Heritage (12-0) came into the tournament undefeated, but still an underdog, and emerged clearly as the top team in the area.
In an unexpected result, Heritage blew out Millbrook 67-43 in the semifinals. Most expected the game to be a lot closer or for Millbrook to win.
“And I understand it,” Heritage coach Tilden Brill III said. “Millbrook has won the conference the last two years. It all boils down to doing what we do and taking care of business.”
Heritage did take care of business. The Huskies beat Garner 68-62 in the John Wall Invitational Championship, leading the entire game.
Heritage is led by 6-3 junior guard Jarren McAllister, a Virginia Tech commit, and 6-7 junior forward Jayden Gardner.