The Annual John Wall Holiday Invitational has come and gone and there was no shortage of top high school talent participating. The invitational, which took place at Broughton High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, featured a plethora of 5-star, 4-star, and Division 1 level basketball players.
The Invitational featured two 16 teams separated into two brackets. Both brackets were named after Raleigh legends- David West and TJ Warren. There was a great mix of national and local talent, from the basketball factory that is Brewster Academy to Broughton High School, which hosted the event. Each team played three games at some point during the 4-day event, with there being a consolation bracket for teams that lost.
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the stars who graced ‘The John Wall’ last week and break down their game.
Jalen Lecque- Brewster Academy: NC State commit
2019 combo guard Jalen Lecque was the biggest attraction at The John Wall. 6-foot-4 Lecque is an electrifying athlete who can raise the roof of any gym in an instant. Not to mention, playing in Raleigh as an NC State commit naturally means you’ll receive extra attention.
Lecque’s strengths mostly derive from his incredible physical gifts. His speed, strength, and explosive leaping ability have drawn comparisons to Russell Westbrook. He uses these gifts on both ends of the floor, as he is disruptive on defense and can blow by defenders with the ball in his hands. His attacking mentality welcomes contact around the rim, and he has the strength to often finish strongly through it and/or get to the line- which can be a major asset to a team. Pair that with a growing passing ability, and the potential for him bending defenses to create for others is clear. Defensively, he is always engaged and knows how to use his length and strength to his advantage. His size also allows him to proficiently guard a couple of positions.
A major weakness in his game has always been his jump shot. While he has improved it, his jumper is still far from being an impactful tool to his game. Outside of roughly 12 feet, his jumper is not to be relied on in any capacity. Lecque also needs to continue developing his ball-handling packages and remaining under control. His attacks are primarily straight-line drives, as he struggles to create separation with dribble moves. This is paired with an IQ and feel for the game that is not quite where it needs to be yet. Lecque doesn’t always play within the offense and can get reliant on one-on-one attacks.
Alonzo Gaffney- Brewster Academy: Ohio State commit
6-foot-9 2019 combo forward Alonzo Gaffney is one of the many stars on this Brewster Academy team. Gaffney was a constant factor for Brewster during the tournament. He displayed a consistent all-around game and impacted the games without scoring. Being so young and still able to impact games in multiple ways, co-existing with other stars is an excellent trait to have.
One look at Gaffney and it is easy to identify a clear strength. Gaffney is a tall, long, and pairs fluid movement with impressive functional athleticism. While he is still quite skinny, Gaffney has very broad shoulders and a frame that suggests there is plenty of room to pack on muscle. The Ohio State commit also possesses a silky smooth jump shot. With the height and release point to shoot above defenders, his jumper is a legitimate tool for his game. Gaffney also optimizes his game with a tremendous feel for the game and basketball IQ. He glides naturally to find pockets of space on offense and he is constantly in the right spots on both ends of the floor. Guarding multiple positions is yet another asset that Gaffney can provide to a team.
While Gaffney thrives on catch-and-shoot and one-dribble jumpers, his creation with the ball in his hands isn’t terribly advanced. He can occasionally create his own shots with a turnaround or sidestep, but he will need to add more moves to his arsenal to become a more impactful scorer. Along with this, Gaffney doesn’t always finish strong through contact and is yet to learn how to use his length to finish around the rim. This paired with shaky hands results in him not fumbling the ball on drives and even when rolling to the basket.
Terrence Clarke- Brewster Academy: Undecided
2021 wing Terrence Clarke is currently ranked 2nd in his class via 247Sports. Clarke made waves at the NBPA Top 100 Camp this year with a game that looks incredibly advanced for his age. The sophomore is now fresh off being named MVP of the David West bracket at The John Wall.
Clarke is a crafty scorer who can get buckets in a multitude of ways. His jump shot shows great mechanics and he possesses an array of dribble moves to create separation that pair with his jumper. Along with that, Clarke knows how to use his long strides to get by defenders and is learning how to use his length at the rim. Athletically, he possesses speed with the ball as well as lateral quickness. At a long 6-foot-6 and growing, Clarke projects to be a multi-positional defender. He seems to understand the game at the same level as his star senior teammates, if not better. He’ll occasionally put up some bad shots, but he rarely forces action and is comfortable operating within an offense.
The primary key for Clarke at this age is to develop a wider array of dribble moves and scoring tools. Being able to use his dribble to beat defenders and get to the rim, rather than just his length, will be a crucial development. Along with that, simply continuing to learn the nuances of the game and reacting to those will be important for him. Clarke is probably in the top 15 of all players in high school, regardless of class, and does not have many glaring weaknesses at this stage.
Kai Jones- Brewster Academy: Texas commit
Yet another Brewster player is on this list. This time, its 6-foot-10 2019 Texas commit Kai Jones. Jones is a tall, lanky big man who possesses great fluidity and athleticism. Jones was a great complimentary roll man for Brewster during this tournament, as his presence was a fulcrum of the offense to offset the gravity of the other stars.
Jones possesses tantalizing physical gifts as a long player with a broad frame that can be packed on with muscle. For his size, Jones is exceptionally explosive and can glide down the court with ease. This makes him a terrific prospect as roll-man in any pick-n-roll offense. These gifts also provide him with the ability to thrive as a rim protector. His presence deters guards from driving in and generally helps to keep the ball out of the paint.
While Kai Jones has excellent physical gifts, he is still quite unpolished in his basketball skills. Jones lacks much of a face-up game with little ability to create his own offense. While his jump shot is workable, it has to be created for him. Jones is also behind on his basketball feel. Simple things like keeping the ball high on offensive rebounds or clearing the lane for driving teammates are still not quite second nature for him.
Scottie Lewis- Ranney School: Florida commit
Scottie Lewis and his strong personality made their mark at The John Wall. Lewis, the 5-star 2019 Florida commit, showed off an outstanding all-around game that features some elite level defense.
Listed at 6-foot-5, Lewis is likely notably taller than that and is very lanky. The combination of height, length, and dynamic athleticism offer legitimate next-level physical tools. At the forefront of his game is his truly elite defensive ability. Lewis is likely the best defender in the class of 2019. He can defend multiple positions at an elite level, as he knows how to use his length, shuffle his feet, and he genuinely loves playing defense. This facet of his game is aided by his natural intuition for the game. Lewis’ understanding of basketball nuances allows him to work as an initiator as well. His passing ability is underrated, and he even looks too selfless at times.
Lewis has versatile scoring ability, but he lacks a go-to move or spot on the court to score from. He is not quite reliable from deep yet, and his self-creation ability does not appear to be at a high enough level to take over games at the next level. His wiry frame contributes to this, as he can get moved off his path or disrupted at the rim by contact. However, Lewis has very broad shoulders and a frame that gives him room to fill out.
Bryan Antoine- Ranney School: Villanova commit
2019 5-star Villanova commit Bryan Antoine lit The John Wall ablaze last week. The pure scorer led Ranney to the title of the TJ Warren bracket.
Bryan Antoine is known as a truly elite scorer. Antoine’s shooting mechanics are nearly perfect and this allows him to be consistent and threatening from anywhere on the court. The 6-foot-4 wing is also adept at getting to the rim. He uses shot fakes that demand the defender to think about it and a laser quickness to get by his man. Despite having a very small, wiry frame, Antoine embraces contact at the rim. Looking at his skinny, narrow frame; his explosiveness is something of a surprise. However, he does possess deceptive athletic gifts and an ability to change speeds with the ball in his hands.
While Antoine can use his frame to deceive opponents, it is still a concern going forward. And although he embraces contact at the rim, he does not always finish well through it. A small frame is not always a death sentence for young players. Regarding Antoine, however, his narrow shoulders and naturally small build present questions as to how much he can fill out. Defensively, he appears positionally limited due to some of those physical limitations. A crucial development for Antoine will be showing he can guard at least two positions at a high level.
Isaiah Todd- Trinity Academy of Raleigh: Undecided
Class of 2020 5-star big man Isaiah Todd is one of the best prospects in his class. Todd is a player with mouthwatering potential at both the college and possibly the NBA level.
Isaiah Todd is truly an elite physical specimen. Todd possesses a rare cocktail of size at 6-foot-10, length, and athleticism. Similar to Marvin Bagley III, Todd’s ballhandling ability is unique for his size. However, Todd’s may be even better than Bagley’s was at this stage; as the junior center can create some separation using his dribble. His handle and length allow him to get to the rim nearly at will. Along with this, Todd has a budding pull-up jumper. He flashes the ability to knock down mid-range and the occasional deep jumper off the bounce, which is an incredibly rare skill for his size and age. On the defensive side of things, Todd’s physical gifts lend him a role as a promising rim protector. His presence in the paint consistently deters players from attacking the basket.
People often ask what it means for a prospect to be “raw.” Look no further than Isaiah Todd. While he has elite physical tools, Todd’s basketball skills are notably behind. As a player who can get to the basket when he wants, his touch is inconsistent and he often struggles to finish non-dunks at the rim. His basketball feel is not quite there yet, as you can tell he is a step behind in his decision-making at times. This results in forcing action and putting up bad shots more often than you’d like from a big man. To add from that, his defensive rotations and ability to think on the fly defensively are also a step slow. For Todd, his development lies on the ability to put his skills together on a consistent basis while continuing to learn the nuances of the game.
Day’Ron Sharpe- South Central High School: UNC commit
Another 2020 big man grabbed attention at The John Wall. 6-foot-9 220-pound Day’Ron Sharpe, who will be heading to UNC, put up a 24 point & 20 rebound performance in front of future coach Roy Williams.
Sharpe is likely taller than his listed 6-foot-9 and is big-bodied and mobile. A strong big who enjoys the dirty work, Sharpe always plays within himself. The future Tar Heel is incredibly strong and knows exactly how to use his body to his advantage. Unrelenting, Sharpe uses his body and high motor to dominate the boards on both ends. His offensive game is mostly put-backs and back-to-basket post-ups, both of which he is quite proficient at. Sharpe is a smart player on defense, often rotating for vital blocks or shot disruptions.
Sharpe’s big body presents a couple of points to watch as he develops. His body still looks soft and his conditioning is not at an ideal level. In order to become an above-average athlete, both of these factors will need to see growth. Outside of the paint on offense, he is mostly unimpactful. Sharpe does not possess much of a face-up game or jumper, so teams can defend him as a one-dimensional player. Another small concern is that Sharpe often bobbles the ball when catching it or fumbles when trying to possess. These shaky hands are worrisome for a player who could serve as a roll-man or creator in the post.
Patrick Williams- West Charlotte High School: FSU commit
2019 4-star combo forward Patrick Williams offers an intriguing all-around game. At 6-foot-7, 180-pounds, Williams has the size and skills to line up at multiple positions.
One thing that stands out about Williams is his composure with the ball. Never looking out of sorts, Williams possesses a strong handle and an array of dribble moves for his size. This allows him to create space on step-backs and side-steps as well as bully his way to the basket. His jumper is also consistent and pure. With reliable mechanics, Williams has displayed proficiency in scoring off the bounce as well as the catch. He goes to his pull-up rather often. At 6-foot-7, he is more fluid than dynamic in his athleticism, but he can explode in the lane when warranted. This fluidity mixed in with his size lends him a multipositional defensive resume with supreme switchability.
On offense, Williams has a tendency to take the ball out of the flow of the game and rely on one-on-ones. Occasionally dribbling the air out of the ball, his teammates are left standing around waiting for his next move. To compound on this, Williams is not exactly a playmaker- which causes concern as a secondary initiator of an offense. After dribbling the ball out and not finding a pass he likes, Williams has a tendency to settle for bad shots. Contested threes or long twos have become too common for him.