The D. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh played host to one of top live events in the Midwest as the Pitt Jam Fest kicked off this weekend. NEO Spotlight and 3rdCoastHoops took in some of the action throughout day number two, following a handful of the area programs who were in attendance.
Keep reading to see which student-athletes stood out and be sure to catch some of the highlights from Saturday!
Collen Gurley (TNBA OH) 6'2 2018 - After a sluggish first half start by TNBA OH in Saturday's opening game, it was Gurley's hot shooting that sparked a late second half run to give his squad a 78-63 win. The guard out of Archbishop Hoban connected on four consecutive triples when his team needed them most and his energy picked up as his shots began to drop. The 6'2 guard is NEO's top shooter in the 2018 class and he has watched his stock rise following a strong junior season.
Jordan Burge (Another Level 17U) 2018 - A controversial no-call on what appeared to be a clear goaltending spoiled what would have been an impressive come-from-behind win for Another Level against BWSL - Russell. While his potential game-winning bucket didn't get the whistle, Burge was sensational from start to finish and took over in the second half. The 6'3 wing used his wide frame and above average length to shield off defenders and convert rim to rim finishes. Burge handled the ball in the open floor and attacked straight line drives in a way that only he can.
Holden Lipke (PK Flash 17U) 2018 - Lipke is one of the more under the radar guys in the Youngstown area. After hearing his name throughout last season, I was finally able to check him out. The 6'3 wing is a lethal lefty who knows how to get his shot. Lipke made a number of long jumpers and showed a solid pace and feel for the game off the dribble. He has the chance to be a steal in what is already a pretty deep 2018 class.
Mason McMurray (TNBA OH) 2018 - Last week, McMurray picked up his first offer from High Point following a strong showing at the Hoop Group Spring Jam Fest. McMurray's unique skillset at 6'7 caught the eyes of a number of coaches who were in attendance. He displayed some toughness around the rim as a result of some added strength and time in the weight room. I was impressed with his motor and how effectively he rebounded out of his area, two aspects of his game that weren't as consistent throughout the high school season.
Alex Heath (Another Level 17U) 2018 - Heath is as tough of a kid as you will find in the area. On Saturday, Heath's balance of scoring and playmaking was a personal best as he was able to take care of the basketball and find teammates on the floor with pin point dimes. Heath found his rhythm shooting the rock early on and has proven over the years to be a knockdown shooter from deep. Despite standing at just 5'9 he plays with an intensity that is unmatched and the grittiness he showed this weekend is what coaches want to see from an undersized lead guard.
Kevin Peterson (Murphy AC) 2018 - Padua head coach Brian Ansberry raved about Peterson, his leading scorer from this past season and someone who played a key role in some big upsets for the Bruins. On Saturday, this was evident when Murphy AC advanced to the Elite 8 of the Gold Bracket on Saturday after a pair of wins. Peterson, a 6'5 deadeye shooter, scored 12 of his team's first 16 points in a win against the NOVA Cavaliers out of Virginia; he shot the ball efficiently in both showings on the day. With ideal size on the wing and the confidence to shoot it from anywhere on the floor, Peterson is certainly a player to follow during the summer months.
Meechie Johnson (OBC/Hardwork) 2021 - There has certainly been some hype building up about the 5'10 guard out of Garfield Heights. Johnson is considered to be one of the top rising freshmen in the Midwest and the next guard in line under his uncle Sonny Johnson. He played up in the 15U division all weekend and proved that he can hold his own against quality high school competition. Johnson is a lightning quick guard with an elite handle who can make shots in a hurry, knocking in five threes against a talented DC Blue Devils squad. As his body continues to mature, Johnson has the athleticism and lateral speed to be a formidable defender.
“I don’t even think JR Smith could turn on the blinker in his car with his left.” - Chauncey Billups