January 13th, 2016
As senior point guard and future Hoosier Curtis Jones drove up the court at the beginning of the second half, he looked far to his left in anticipation for a play call from head coach Arkell Bruce. Bruce simply waved his palm outward; a clearing motion.
Jones protruded his bottom lip and nodded his head. He understood. The Richmond, Virginia native proceeded to wave off everyone but senior and Michigan State signee Miles Bridges, who had great positioning in the low post. When the spread and shoot offense decreased to an isolation play for the Jordan Brand Classic Team member, Jones passed it to senior Micah Thomas at the top of the key and Bridges did what only few high school athletes could do: Jump from the post position, catch the ball one-handed and dunk over his defender.
In a 108-61 rout of Alice Lloyd College, a school that competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), Bridges, Jones, junior guard/forward Onuralp Bitim, senior guard/forward Luka Petrovic, Thomas and Arvin Dhillon all displayed something a little extraordinary.
A 35-10 first quarter was caused by defensive cohesion. In the opening minutes, the Eagles continually drove to the far wing and the Irish trapped immediately. Be it panic or forcing a play, their guards threw passes to the center of the court and that led to four steals for Curtis Jones within a minute. Prep put Alice Lloyd into difficult situations all night and when they took advantage of two to three man traps, their slow offensive development into consistency couldn’t keep up with the emphatic play of Huntington Prep.
Against the Eagles’ junior varsity team, Huntington Prep did the following:
Miles Bridges: 12 points, four assists, four rebounds, two steals, two blocks
Curtis Jones: 23 points, four assists, four rebounds, seven steals
Ivan Gandia: 16 points, three assists, three rebounds
Onuralp Bitim: 12 points, two assists, three rebounds, six steals
Micah Thomas:7 points, two assists, five rebounds, five steals, one block
Luka Petrovic: 13 points, three assits, six rebounds, two steals, one block
Jonathan Kabongo: 11 points, three assists, one rebound, one block
Arvin Dhillon: 5 points, three rebounds
Amgad Khalil: one rebound
Behind the win, what may have been the most important element of the game was the inclusion of sophomore transfer Maurice Calloo who hails from Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The SF/PF is a 6’8″ replacement for Boko Mupungu and can not only control the post similarly, but spreads the floor even more than the latter and it was shown with a corner three. Calloo finished with 13 points and two rebounds.
Calloo was most impressive in the mid to low post; backing his defender down and creating separation for his shot release with half-spins, then going in the opposite direction. Calloo was the only player on the floor who scored consecutively with the high glass.
The Canadian also used his half-spin to draw in defenders and pass to corner shooters. Though it didn’t convert into assists, it’s a foreshadowing for another six or nine points on the scoreboard.
A new spectator never would’ve guessed that this was his first game as the coaches, nor players ever had to walk up to him and discuss what he may be doing wrong. In fact, one may have guessed they all had been practicing together for months.
“It feels good to be here,” Calloo said. “Playing with this team is going to make me better. Every day at school we talk to each other and get to know each other more. I feel like I fit in.”
“Older guys like Miles (Bridges), they’ve taken me in like I’m their brother.”
Though the court has made them brothers, Calloo has been warned that the title could be lost to laziness.
“We’ve been going hard at practice every day,” Calloo said. “Everybody has been vocal at practice. Miles told me right from the get-go, ‘You have to go hard. Here, nothing is given to you.’ That’s it.”
Calloo enjoyed his first game and has the mindset to realize that despite the blowout, usage of verbals could be increased in the future.
“It was a good experience,” Calloo said. “A lot of coaches said this would be good for me. I’ve got two more years in high school, so I’m going to make the best of it.”
“We need to talk to each other more,” Calloo said. “It’s all about talking and communicating with everybody. Sometimes you come to the gym late at night. Curt (Jones), he treats me like a brother too and he’s always working me out and pushing me hard.”
Huntington Prep will be playing at the Flying to the Hoop tournament in Kettering, Ohio in the upcoming weekend. They will play Prolific Prep January 16th and tip-off will be at 6:45.