by Shelby Hodges
This past weekend, we made our way to Houston for the George McClellan Invitational. With this tournament marking the beginning of the July Live Period, we saw many college coaches checking out the talent. Texas A&M, Texas Tech, SMU, TCU, Lamar, McNeese State, and Incarnate Word were some of the programs represented in the bleachers, and even Shaka Smart from Texas made an appearance on championship Sunday.
The coaches and fans all got to witness some intense competition, and here are the players we think showed up and showed out:
This Houston star plays with a fire, competing on every play. He is an exceptional leader on the floor as a 6’5 guard, with great ball-handling skills and one-on-one moves. The Seven Lakes senior is toting offers from Texas, A&M, Tech, OU and many more, but he is still waiting to hear back from the Kentuckys and Dukes of the world. This weekend his perimeter shooting and drives made even more impressive.
PJ Byrd 2018 TJ Ford Elite
This young gun out of Fort Bend Bush has elite ball handling skills and strong slashing abilities. At 5’11 he runs the court as if he is a seasoned point guard even though he will only be a sophomore next year. Along with playmaking abilities, he can create shooting space for himself and sink the midrange jumper as well as the three.
Fabian White 2017 Houston Hoopstars Elite
White is starting to makes waves at Kingwood as a versatile forward who can do pretty much everything. He is smart on the block, but also has good ball handling skills and can run the court. He is strong underneath at 6’6, with fundamental post moves that make him tough to defend. On defense he is even more of a threat, using his wingspan to steal any stray passes and pull down every rebound.
Zach Lord 2017 Austin Rain
This weekend Lord looked much improved from when we saw him back in June. His agility and coordination were stronger, especially under the basket where he was a major force for Rain. At 6’9, 250, the big man played very good defense as well and we look forward to what he can do next season at Liberty Hill.
Jeremy Peck 2016 Houston Defenders
This big man is a versatile threat that can play down low or face up against guys on the perimeter. He shoots very well from outside and can run the floor smoothly for a 6’8 guy. The senior at St. Thomas Episcopal plays hard and has attracted attention from schools like Tulane, Texas State and Boston University.
Jalen Preston 2018 TJ Ford Elite
Preston is a dual-sport athlete at Manvel with amazing athleticism on the court. He makes impressive transition plays, out-hustling most defenders, and loves to dunk. His ball handling is strong and he uses his jumping ability to dominate the boards. As a 6’2 forward, he is a standout that will probably catch the attention of many programs in the near future.
Kennie Cooper 2016 Dallas Showtyme
This Irving MacArthur guard has great fundamental skills, with clean handles and a dependable shot. The 5’10 senior uses his quickness and agility to find open areas on the court, spotting up and knocking down jump shots, especially from three-point land. Cooper works very hard on defense and serves as a leader for his team.
Kevin Buckingham 2016 Next Level Cats
This tough guy is a versatile power forward that uses his 6’5, 200lb frame very well. He can knockdown shots from outside and has solid moves to give himself shooting space. He also can powerfully drive inside and was able to finish through a lot of contact this weekend. The big man from Keller High School seems to be an underrated contender in his class, but has strong fundamental skills.
Jeffrey Gary 2017 Austin Rain
Gary is quick, makes good court decisions and can shoot the ball well. As the point guard for both Austin High and Austin Rain he has good awareness, making smart passes and drives to the basket. This weekend, the 6’3 guard also proved his solid ability to makes shots from anywhere on the floor. With more strength and experience he could be a very well-rounded college player.
Simon Falokun 2017 Basketball University
Standing 6’8, Falokun excels as a defender, denying a lot of shots this weekend and using his body well on the boards. He is a raw talent that still needs to grow into his height, moving a little awkward at times, but also plays extremely hard from baseline to baseline. The Alief Taylor player is lean at around 200lbs and needs more training on the offensive side, but throughout the tournament he had a soft touch off the glass.
Tim Samuel 2017 Brazoria Ballers
Samuel is a consistent scorer for both the Ballers and Brazoswood High School. He can finish inside, getting a lot of scores off rebounds and put-backs, as well as shoot from beyond the arc. The 6’4 guard is athletic and his motor never stops. He also plays strong on-ball defense, which turns into more scoring opportunities for his teammates and him.
Jamar Sandifer 2016 FVM 5:17
Sandifer is a 6’2 shooting guard that has great accuracy and speed. He can shoot, off the pass, off the dribble and around the rim. This weekend he also was a great playmaker, making smart passes to open players on his team and rebounding strong for his position. The senior at Triple A Academy currently has offers from North Texas as well as interest from Wichita State and more.
Kevin Samuel 2017 Dream Team
The seven-footer out of St. Thomas Episcopal is a strong player on offense and defense. His inside moves are powerful and he rebounds hard on both sides of the court. His ball-handling and footwork need polishing but his potential is obvious. It is no wonder why the forward has interest from Texas, Louisiana Tech and more.
Matthew Price 2016 FVM 5:17
Another great shooter, Price has a pretty stroke from three-point line and inside. He can pull up of the dribble and finish with defenders in his face. The 6’1 guard played hard this weekend and was a leader for his team. The senior at John Horn High School also used his athleticism to pull down solid rebounds and play defense.