WHEELING, Wv. -- Every calendar year, the first event that we have to hit is the Cancer Research Classic in Wheeling, WV. Now in its 10th year, the event has become one of the best in the nation and is always loaded with talent from top to bottom. Doc Merrick and his staff are extremely accommodating and this year was no different. The Cancer Research Classic, better known as the CRC, is one of the most talent filled events every year, being able to claim recent #1 picks Ben Simmons and Andrew Wiggins among the alumni now in the NBA. (the full list can be found here) Featuring some of the best schools in the country, along with 2 local squads, it made for a great weekend.
As follows are some of the top performers we saw over the weekend:
PJ Washington – 2017 F – Findlay Prep (NV) – Kentucky signee
Coming into the event, the word has been that PJ has developed a ton this offseason and his two games this weekend did nothing to change that notion. The Kentucky signee now resembles that of a mismatch combo forward. His outside jumpshot has improved tremendously, as has his ball-handling. He was a monster in the high post, creating for himself and others while also showing the ability to push the ball on a defensive rebound. He looks like someone who will be a problem in the SEC in the years to come, if he is even there past year 1.
David Collins – 2017 G – First Love Christian (PA)
This was our first chance to see the unsigned senior out of First Love Christian and he was very impressive. Against a stacked Findlay Prep team, David scored in a variety of ways, showing off his athleticism on a sick tip dunk and hitting 4 3s to boot, in a great 31 point performance. His strong play on Friday landed him an offer from Cincinnati and it is very evident why other high major schools are showing interest in him.
Brian “Tugs” Bowen – 2017 WING – La Lumiere (IN)
One of the best wing scorers in the class of 2017, Tugs did that in both his games at the 2017 CRC. He has a variety of scoring moves in the mid-range and his jumper is silky smooth. We like his ability to rebound from the wing and push the ball in transition. He has a final 5 of Michigan State, Arizona, Creighton, NC State, and Texas and whomever lands his signature will get one of the best remaining players in the class of 2017, as well as a potential McDonald’s All-American.
Trevon Duval – 2017 PG – IMG Academy (FL)
One of the top uncommitted players in the country, Trevon ran the show this weekend. He didn’t hunt shots like normal, instead showing his ability to run a team and take what is given to him within the flow of the offense. He gets into the paint at will and finds teammates for easy looks. He dropped dimes for dunks throughout both games and showed why many consider him to be the #1 point guard in the class. His final 5 consists of Duke, Arizona, Baylor, Kansas, and Seton Hall.
Chuma Okeke – 2017 G/F – Westlake (GA) – Auburn Signee
While he team probably didn’t perform as well as he would have hoped, Chuma was a monster all weekend. On Friday he finished with 14 points and 14 board, then on Saturday he took his game to another level in a monster 35 point and 17 rebound game. The Auburn signee can literally do anything on the court, but is at his best from the mid-range and in. He dropped in jumpers from all over the court and rebounded the ball well, showing Bruce Pearl has a good one on the way.
Isaac Barnes – 2017 PF/C – North Allegheny (PA)
He might not have been playing against anyone with size, but that didn’t mean Isaac wasn’t impressive. He scored on the block, controlled the boards, and ran hard from end to end on his way to a dominate game of 25 points and 17 rebounds against the local squad, Wheeling Central Catholic. Regional D2s need to take a look at this kid.
EJ Montgomery – 2018 PF – Wheeler (GA) – Auburn commit
For most of the time we’ve been watching EJ, his status has been based upon potential. Saturday, we saw him take his game to the next level on his way to 24 points on 9-10 from the field. He scored in the paint, in the high post, and even hit a shot from outside. His skill level is very high and when he is locked in, he is a top 10 player in the 2018 class. Auburn should be very happy that they locked him in early.
Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree – 2017 PF/C – Neumann-Goretti (PA) – Villanova signee
Dhamir has come a long way since playing in his first CRC 2 years ago. The long and lanky big man is incredibly efficient in the paint coupled with a great motor. The Nova signee rebounds at a high level to go along with great hands. He never stopped playing in his team’s loss to Wheeler on Saturday and finished with a great statline of 27 points and 10 rebounds. We would not be surprised to see him develop into a double-double guy at Villanova before he is finished there.
Jaren Jackson Jr. – 2017 PF/C – La Lumiere (IN) – Michigan State signee
The best performance of the event came in the best game. Jaren Jackson showed off his combination of production and huge upside in a dominate 24-point, 17-rebound, 2 block game versus Findlay Prep in which the stakes were very high. He has great hands in the paint and rebounds at a high level, and also showed touches of his outside game. He is a good, not great, shooter and that skill should improve before he takes the court in East Lansing. Jaren has top-10 pro potential in this class and should be a no-brainer McDonald’s All-American.
Emmitt Williams - 2018 PF - IMG Academy (FL)
This was the second chance we had to see Emmitt Williams this season, and he did nothing to change our opinion that he has the best motor in the country. He is relentless on the glass and can finish around the rim with his athleticism. The junior broke the event record for rebounds in a game on Saturday with a 20 rebound game (9 offensive). The blue bloods are starting to call and he will likely finish as a top 25 player in the class of 2018.
Naz Reid - 2018 C - Roselle Catholic (NJ)
He might not have played his best this weekend, but Naz showed off his immense upside in a weekend in which his team fell twice in very close games. He is very mobile and athletic, so much so that he is one of the most physically imposing players in all of the country at any age. He is a double-double guy anytime he steps on the court, and once he figures out how to dominate a game he will be a serious problem. If his skill level ever matches his physical ability, there won’t be many players in his class that can match him.