The 60th Annual Diamond Anniversary Whataburger Basketball Tournament tipped off Thursday and it featured a number of rising young prospects in the state.
Here’s how some of the top players performed on Day 1.
Kevin McCullar 6’6 SF San Antonio Wagner (2019)
McCullar continues to impress me with his great feel for the game. The 6’6 smooth forward scored on all three levels in the win vs. South Grand Prairie. He was deadly from the mid-range, creating space from his defenders off the dribble and knocking contested shots down with ease. The four-star wing also showcased his elite athleticism on a play where he caught the ball on the wing, ripped through, got past his man to attack the rim and finish with a poster dunk on a help-side defender. When McCullar lets the game come to him, he is a threat to put up big numbers. He was the high-point man for the Thuderbirds in the overtime win, finishing with 30 points.
Bryce Cook 5’6 PG South Grand Prairie (2019)
When Bryce Cook heats up, he is hard to contain. The Tulsa commit is a small guard with a strong build that is exciting to watch because of his great scoring ability. Bryce caught fire in the second half knocking down multiple jumpshots off the dribble and finishing strongly at the rim in transition. The three-star guard is great at creating shots for himself by using his tight, quick handle to break down defenders and create space to score. The small guard can really stroke it from behind the arc and has deep range on his jumpshot. He finished with 30 points in the overtime loss to San Antonio Wagner.
Karlyn Kenner 6’2 PG South Grand Prairie (2019)
Karlyn Kenner’s stock is rising this basketball season. Playing alongside 2019 stud Bryce Cook in the backcourt, Kenner is a 6’2 strong guard with broad shoulders, in which he uses to shield off defenders when getting to the rim. Kenner made some timely shots in the game vs. San Antonio Wagner, including a deep 26 foot three-pointer to send the game to overtime. He finished with 21 points in the loss.
Jamal Bieniemy 6’5 SG Katy Tompkins (2018)
Jamal was the high point man for Tompkins in the loss to Mansfield Timberview with 25 points. The Oklahoma signee has great size for his position. He is a tall and long combo guard who plays strong with the ball and has a tight handle. Jamal displayed his ability to pull up and knock down the midrange jumper. He also can move without the ball and find ways to get open shots in catch-and-shoot situations. With Trae Young likely to leave Oklahoma, Bieniemy’s offensive skill set will be of great use in Lon Kruger’s system.
Kristian Sjolund 6’10 PF Katy Tompkins (2018)
Kristian had a solid performance in the game vs. Mansfield Timberview. When Sjolund plays, he reminds me of a poor man’s 6’10 version of New York Knicks’ star big man Kristaps Porzingis. He is a tall and long forward who has range beyond the college three-point line. Sjolund also is effective in the high post because of his ability to consistently knock down 15-17 foot jumpers and find open shots for his teammates from that area of the floor. His elite skillset is what makes him one of the top stretch-fours in the state for his class.
Isaac Likekele 6’5 SF Mansfield Timberview (2018)
Likekele is a team-first do-it-all type of basketball player. He does what it takes to win and competes on both ends. The Fresno State commit is a great on-ball defender who took on the challenge of guarding three-star Katy Tompkins guard Jamal Bieniemy. Bieniemy finished with 25 points; however, each time Isaac was guarding him, he was either forced him to take tough shots or give up the ball willingly. Playing alongside Chris Mullins, both wings give Timberview a dynamic defensive duo. Likekele is a player who takes pride in getting all of the 50-50 balls because he realizes the role he needs to play for his team to lead them to a victory. He finished with 19 points in the win.
Drew Timme 6’10 PF Richardson Pearce (2019)
Timme is another big-time player that you can count on to play hard every minute he is on the basketball court. Going up against talented bigs (Grayson Carter and Jakobe Coles), the four-star big man was aggressive on both sides of the floor attacking the undefeated Guyer squad at will. He finished nearly everything at the rim and grabbed nearly every rebound that was in his reach. Timme is at his best when he leads the offensive break after snatching a defensive board. This usually results in a strong finish at the rim or him getting to the foul line. He finished with 27 points in the blowout loss to Denton Guyer.
Larry Wise 6’5 SG Waxahachie (2018)
The biggest player in the Indians’ starting lineup is 6’5 two-guard Larry Wise. Due to his size, he has to play out of position as the stretch-five man in Waxahachie’s offense. However, he proved in the game vs. North Crowley that he still can be effective. Wise finished with 27 points in the win, dialing in from long distance, knocking down shots in the mid-range, and finishing strongly at the rim. He has sneaky bounce and is a threat to dunk on help-side defenders at times. Wise looks bigger and stronger this season and is physically ready to compete at the next level. Drake is definitely getting a steal in this versatile wing.
Kendric Davis 5’11 PG Houston Sam Houston (2018)
Justin Northwest had no answer for Kendric Davis on Thursday night. The four-star guard put on a clinic knocking down shots from deep and getting to the rim and finishing over bigs with soft-touch floaters. The best part about Kendric’s game is his speed and quickness. He blows by defenders, getting to the paint to create scoring opportunities for himself and others. The TCU signee is a tough guard who hates losing and competes to the final buzzer. He fouled out late in the fourth quarter and finished with 31 points in the loss to Northwest.
Avery Anderson 6’2 PG Justin Northwest (2019)
After having a quiet 6-point first half, Anderson turned it up finishing with 33 points in the win vs. Houston Sam Houston. He was unstoppable in the fourth quarter knocking down four straight contested threes to get the Texans back in the game and eventually in the lead. He is a fun player to watch because of his elite scoring ability and shiftiness when handling the basketball. At times he was careless with the ball, but when it mattered most, Anderson made the big time plays offensively to lead his team to the win.