Good Afternoon & Merry Christmas to all. I hope everyone's enjoying their day, good health and good food. I just sat down and loosened my belt after a nice turkey and lobster dinner. On Monday, I'll be heading up Interstate 35 from San Antonio to Austin. I'll be spending December 27-29th in the State Capital evaluating some great high school hoops talent in action. The Inaugural Westlake Holiday Hoops Classic Tournament promises to deliver the basketball goods. It's Santa's gift to Austin, TX. The brainchild of Austin Westlake Head Coach Tres Ellis, Craig Carlton & John Rowan it's their intent to build this into one of the most outstanding holiday tournaments in the country. I've pledged my assistance.
I was delighted to accommodate them when they asked Texas Basketball Inc. & The D1 Nation to provide media coverage. It's a great beginning although there's a slight disappointment when both Fort Bend Bush ( #7 in Texas 5A & Houston Yates (#4 in Texas 4A) dropped out to take all expense paid trips out of state. However, there's more than enough talent & tradition to make this inaugural event an exciting one. And with the teams and high level players in attendance, how could I refuse? Let's handicap the field and introduce you to some of the key players/prospects in the event.
2012 P 6'6" Drew Wikelius has nice footwork with his back to the goal. One of the few traditional back to the basket players in the area. Always good for 10 plus rebounds per game.
2012 G R.J. Rowan has a smooth stroke and the confidence to pull it at any time. Rowan is neck and neck with sophomore Will Morse as the team's leading scorer. Rowna's's also beginning to go to the basket more often as he gains confidence in his new role this season.
2013 PG Will Morse is quickly becoming a seasoned veteran. Likes to get his team mates involved but if you leave him alone he'll bury the shot on you. Has two games of 30 plus points in the past few contests.
2013 PG Will Morse
2011 P 6'5" Tom Fisher is a burr in your saddle. Never spectacular, but always solid Fisher comes to get his nose bloody and brings the young Chaps squad a degree of toughness.
Like Westlake, this team is a year away from being REALLY good as most of their leadership consists of underclassmen.
2013 P 6'5" Jimmie Gilbert goes to the boards with abandon and always plays with lots of energy. His Pops, Big Jimmie was All Southwest Conference for the Texas A&M Aggies back in the day. If Gilbert grows a little more he'll be a mid major plus guy.
2013 P Jimmie Gilbert
2012 G Alex Caruso is the straw that stirs the Consolidated drink. Capable of playing the one, two or three. He can shoot it, get to the hole, has great court vision and is a crafty passer. Did I mention that Caruso has major hops too? Definitely on the radar of mid majors and high majors in the Big XII. Pops Mike (now Associate AD at Texas A&M) was a PG himself back in the day as he ran the Creighton Bluejays squads under the great Eddie Sutton.
2012 G Alex Caruso
2012 F 6'6" Jett Raines is athletic, rebounds well and is capable of hitting the midrange jumper if he's not guarded closely.
2014 Simi Socks. I don't know a darn thing yet about this kid, but as a frosh on varsity if this isn't the best name in the tournament ("Simi Socks") then I can't wait to see the other contenders.
Duncanville (10-3) # 10 Ranked in Texas 5A
The Dallas area powerhouse is not as strong as in years past but they come to play every time out and they'll have guys hungry to carry on that winning tradition.
2011 P 6'7" Luke Mergerson has an offer from Southern Methodist University and is being courted by a host of others including Notre Dame, Georgia Tech & Colorado. A well built, hard nosed competitor who hits the boards hard, finishes around the goal and can hit the face up shot.
El Paso Montwood (11-2) #23 Ranked in Texas 5A
Coach Tony Harper's teams are as well coached as anybody's in the State of Texas. They like to control tempo, keep the possessions to a minimum, get the best look available and go home with a 40-39 win.
2012 P 6'9" Joey Martinez is a long presence as he patrols the interior defense for Montwood.
Pflugerville (10-4) #12 Ranked in Texas 5A
Former district foes to the host Westlake squad, Coach Mike Murphy's Panthers bring another high octane offensive crew to the gym.
2011 G Deon Mitchell (Northern Iowa) is tough. He can do it all on the offensive end and scores at will.
2011 PG Deon Mitchell
2011 W Cameron Blue can hit from the perimieter, but he's most valuable to The Ville when he's grabbing rebounds and altering/blocking shots inside.
2013 G T.J. Williams, the heir apparent to Mitchell gives great depth and leadership off the bench.
El Paso Socorro
I have not seen Socorro play so I'll reserve judgment until then. They do have a hefty Senior in 6'7" Alonso Langarrica.
Watch out for Junior G Chris Hynes
The tournament begins at NOON on Monday, December 27th at Austin Westlake High School. This is a must see event for all high school hoops fans.-Coach Max Ivany