Springfield, Massachusetts has been offering glimpses into the
future of basketball since James Naismith put some peach baskets on
a YMCA wall in 1891. Every MLK weekend, the town gives us another
in the form of the HoopHall Classic, where dozens of the best
high-school players in the country descend on Blake Arena.
The HoopHall Classic is also one of three high-school showcases
this season that was given the green light for NBA scouts to
attend. It's a prime opportunity for the elite talents to separate
themselves from the pack — or for less heralded names to put
themselves on the map.
I checked into the arena at 10 a.m. and caught all eight
contests. These standouts, among many others, caught my eye:
DeMatha Catholic (MD) 66,
Bishop Loughlin (NY) 55
Mason So, Bishop Loughlin — So
wasn't the leading scorer of the game or the team MVP, but he
really impressed with the little things he did to help the Stags
keep control. The UNC Greensboro commit finished with 14 points and
operated as a secondary ball-handler and spaced the floor well.
So hit 2-of-5 three-point attempts, but his best play came when
he initiated the offense, passed the ball away, snuck behind the
Bishop Loughlin zone to the low block and got it back for an easy
layup. The senior also hustled on the glass impressively for a
6-foot-2 guard and grabbed 7 total boards.
Mount St. Joseph's (MD)
54, North Laurel (KY) 48
Tyonne Farrell, Mt. St. Joseph's
— Farrell logged an awesome statement game in front
of the college recruiters and NBA scouts: 19 points, 5 assists, 4
blocks and 4 rebounds. The forward (listed at 6-foot-6, though he
seems taller) was a monster protecting the rim. Both squads talked
trash back-and-forth throughout and Farrell's rejections made quite
"Scrappy game; they were talking a lot of smack," Farrell told
Basketball News. "It was good to block shots and talk back."
He also nearly brought the hoop down with an emphatic designed
alley-oop slam. But Farrell, a junior, was more than a rim-runner
and cutter. He made 1-of-2 triples and was not afraid to
power-drive from the perimeter. Farrell grew up playing guard but
has grown and built out his frame. He lists Paul George and Jayson
Tatum among his favorite pros to watch because of the way they can
handle the ball and use their strength fluidly.
Farrell and Illinois-bound senior teammate Amani Hansberry
teamed up for 5 assists apiece; each took turns dissecting North
Laurel's zone from the middle of the half-court. Hansberry had a
strong afternoon of his own with 14 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists
and 3 steals.
"Me and Amani, we go well together because we both can pass,"
Farrell said. "So he'll catch the ball, I'll backdoor slip and
he'll find me. And then, we'll set screens for each other, [and] we
both can handle the ball pretty well for bigger people. So it's
lovely playing with Amani. He's a great player."
Farrell didn't dive into his college situation, but he has
publicly posted an offer from Rhode Island and said he's confident
in the direction of his recruitment. He didn't even know NBA
personnel could attend this year's Classic — but it added another
boost of confidence when he learned afterwards.
"That makes me feel great; I didn't know that," he said with a
laugh. "That's amazing... gotta get my name out there."
Reed Sheppard, North Laurel
— Sheppard, a four-star senior bound for Kentucky,
simply didn't have his shot falling (5-for-21 from the field,
3-for-14 from three-point range). But he still ended up with 13
points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals by impacting
the game just about everywhere else. He played at a rapid pace that
really worked in transition, but even his drive-and-kick passes
occurred at blazing speeds. Sheppard follows in the footsteps on
his father, Kentucky legend Jeff Sheppard, but the younger
ballplayer looks more than capable of carving out his own path.
Ss. John Neumann-Maria
Goretti (PA) 55, Vashon (MO) 45
Robert Wright III, Neumann-Goretti
— Alright, another smaller guard with a big day!
Wright, a 6-foot junior, has already committed to Baylor and he
posted 17 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 4 steals for
Neumann-Goretti in the victory. He displayed some impressive
passing reads and decision-making in the open floor. Wright didn't
shoot all that well and did struggle in the half-court with some of
the opposing size. But he's crafty and creative, and his 5-foot-10
teammate Khaafiq Myers helps form one of the most fun backcourts
seen this weekend.
Simeon Career Academy
(IL) 52, Archbishop Stepinac (NY) 39
Miles Rubin, Simeon — Rubin is a
6-foot-9, 3-star big man en route to Loyola Chicago. He finished
with an efficient 17 points (8-for-10 from the field) plus 7
rebounds and 2 blocks, and was the beneficiary of some timely
interior passing. His frontcourt partner and twin brother Wesley (7
assists) frequently caught the basketball around the elbow and
threw it inside as Rubin cut to the basket.
The senior also added two blocks, one being an impressive
help-defense rejection on 5-star guard Boogie Fland. Simeon tasked
Rubin early with showing hard in pick-and-roll defense and it led
to two fouls, so there's room to improve with his mobility on the
perimeter. Still, Rubin was rock-solid inside and a safe bet as a
Also, I have to shout out Simeon guards Michael Ratliff and
Rashard McKinnie. They took turns tracking Fland and neutralized
his downhill speed and strength. Fland can get low and slide right
by most defenders, but not these two.
AZ Compass Prep (AZ) 55,
Oak Hill Academy (VA) 35
Zayden High, Compass Prep — Most
of this high-caliber clash was pretty ugly, but High helped Compass
Prep pull away late with some timely two-way moments. The 6-foot-10
power forward went a perfect 5-for-5 with 15 points, including a
three, a one-dribble pull-up two and some interior scores. His one
block was a monster rejection at the rim on Oak Hill big man
"I like to think of myself as a shot-blocker," High said
postgame. "I'm really good at timing the ball before it goes to the
rim. It's all about timing for me — timed it, blocked it, right
point at the right time."
High took instruction from his coaches late in the game
regarding screening angles on both sides of the ball. In his first
year at AZ Compass Prep, the UNC-bound big man says he's learning a
lot about the ins-and-outs of screening.
"Coming to AZ Compass, I've learned a lot about setting screens,
shifting my hips and being able to re-screen," he said. "It's
helped me out because I'm a pick-and-pop guy; I'm a pick-and-roll
guy. So it's lethal to the defense."
Paul VI Catholic (VA) 72,
Roselle Catholic (NJ) 59
DeShawn Harris-Smith, Paul VI
— The Maryland-bound senior absolutely rocked in a
huge win for the Panthers. Harris-Smith compiled 23 points, 11
rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals. He's quite strong for a wing
listed at 6-foot-4 and used that strength to surge past defenders
on his drives. Harris-Smith also showed some foresight as a
vertical cutter and held his own defensively. He seems physically
prepared and experienced enough to make the leap to college ball as
a dynamic 4-star talent.
Simeon Wilcher, Roselle
— Wilcher, with 21 points and 5 assists, was Roselle
Catholic's scoring spark to keep this game competitive. The senior
guard has all sorts of tricks in his bag, including one
crab-dribble-type move that split two defenders and ended in a
layup. Wilcher had a lot on his plate with 5-star teammate
Mackenzie Mgbako struggling, so the 6 turnovers are understandable
with the load he had to carry as a creator. He'll be the next
top-notch guard to watch at North Carolina next season.
Prolific Prep (CA) 71,
Westtown (PA) 33
Tyran Stokes, Prolific Prep
— There was one moment late in the second half of
Prolific Prep's blowout victory where Stokes caught his breath
during a pause in action. A young fan exclaimed, "He's just a
freshman!" from the bleachers and Stokes tossed a sly wink
"My game, I just come with a swag," Stokes told Basketball News.
"My teammates come with it [too], so it's just a group thing."
Stokes will assuredly be among the top freshmen in the country
whenever 2026 rankings drop, and he backed up his confidence with
an easy 10 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists. The 6-foot-7 wing
threw down two alley-oop dunks from senior Aden Holloway and lobbed
up one of his own to Zion Sensley.
Prolific Prep has several more experienced playmakers, so Stokes
can get comfortable spacing the floor and cutting for the most
part. He says his coaches and teammates have helped advance his
overall processing speed as a cutter.
"[In] middle school it was a lot slower, but once I got to high
school, it just became way faster. The game was faster, so I had to
step my game up," he said.
Stokes already has swarms of colleges after him (just check his
Twitter), and HoopHall was a big test for his
maturity under the eyes of college and pro scouts. He says his
mother, Kee, is his biggest source of support and helps relieve
some of the stress of his impending rise.
"Me and my mom, we just work as a team to block all the noise
out," Stokes said. "People come at me, people come at her, and we
just stick together and don't let nobody get to us."
Zion Sensley, Prolific Prep
— Beyond throwing down that alley-oop from Stokes,
Sensley earned his game's Most Valuable Player robe with with 18
points, canning 7-of-10 shots. He knocked down threes from the
corner, ran the floor for layups and even added in some mid-range
self-creation. Sensley has more game off the dribble than he got
the chance to show in a dominant win, and his offensive versatility
at 6-foot-8 is intriguing. He's a 4-star junior worth keeping an
Imhotep (PA) 62, Cardinal
Hayes (NY) 59
Justin Edwards, Imhotep — Edwards made
his case for the top billing in the 2023 high-school class with a
dominant effort in a thrilling Sunday nightcap. The 6-foot-7 wing
amassed 25 points, 12 rebounds, 6 steals and 4 assists.
The defense particularly impressed me. Edwards took on Ian
Jackson (11 points, 4-of-10 from the field, 5 assists), one of the
best juniors in the country, and stuck with him throughout the
matchup. He sprawled out on the floor for one steal and used some
quick-twitch hands to poach other passes and get running. Edwards
includes a defensive emphasis whenever he tries to cultivate a
"When I have an all-around game, it's me locking in defensively
and getting my teammates going, so that was just the main thing,"
he said postgame.
Of course, the scoring was pretty remarkable too — a combination
of emphatic driving slams and lefty mid-range pull-ups. He even
snuck in an impressive entry bounce pass that turned into a layup
assist. If you want to call Edwards the best senior in the country,
you'll get no complaints from me.
Steven Solano, Cardinal Hayes
— Solano's final stat line (4 points, 6 rebounds and
4 blocks) might not pop off the page, but his impact far
transcended the box score. The lanky 6-foot-11 center was an
impactful rim protector even beyond his swats and consistently
thwarted Imhotep with his length and timely rotations. He only got
on the scoreboard twice, but one bucket was a nifty layup spinning
out of the post, suggesting he has a bit more of a bag than we saw.
Solano's a 3-star center with a host of high-major offers and he
could be an underrated find wherever he ends up.