Columbus, Ohio-- Tuesday night saw an undefeated South Bulldogs team take on Briggs, who is in the bottom half of the City League South standings. Even though the Bulldogs came away with a 64-53 win, the outcome throughout the course of the game was not what you would expect.
Getting off to a slow start in the first quarter, Briggs switched to a 2-3 zone in the second, and this contained South for only 11 second quarter points. In that same quarter, rising sophomore Javion Williams scored eight of his 22 points for the Bruins and we had the makings of an upset as South trailed 27-26 at the half.
The third quarter was the deciding factor in the game. After coming out understandably lethargic due to playing their fourth game in six days after a trip to Florida, the Bulldogs upped their urgency and pace. Shifting to a full court press with frequent traps, South took advantage of the Bruins lack of decision makers and ball handlers. This is the style that the Bulldogs exceptional athletes thrive in.
Briggs tried to fight back in the fourth quarter, but despite their best efforts it was just a little too late. The far more talented team powered their way to a victory in what was a better game than anticipated.
South moves to 10-0 on the season after a strong performance from the junior duo of Marcus Johnson and Trevell Adams, who combined for 28 points. The Bulldogs will look to remain undefeated on Friday when they take on Africentric at home.
Briggs inches further away from the top half of the City League South standings with the loss. They were led by game leading scorer Javion Williams with 22, but also received a 10 point contribution from senior guard Quienton Johnson, who has impressed in previous showings as well. The Bruins will attempt to regain momentum on Friday night against Independence at home.
Marcus Johnson (6’4 WG / South / 2020): Appearing to be at least 6-foot-5 during the game, it is easy to get excited about the junior wings potential, who was clearly the best prospect on the floor tonight. Offensively, Johnson thrived in transition as a finisher, but also flashed some transition handling equity. Favoring the up-tempo second half more than anyone on the floor, he erupted for 10 of his 14 points in the third. His incredible leaping explosion and speed in the open court allow him to thrive as a finisher that is willing to go up through contact. He also flashed some passing equity in the halfcourt making a decisive simple read out of the middle of the zone, and a split second pass to a strong side big man while still up in the air on a long rebound.
Defensively was where the junior made the strongest impression though. He started off the game as the matchup for Javion Williams, and Johnson thrived in that role. He mainly battled him for position to front the post, preventing entry passes and trying to keep him off the offensive glass to the best of his abilities. Clearly the perfect man for this role after a two point first quarter, the Bulldogs went away from this strategy. Off the basketball, the wing showcased a smorgasbord of quality traits. He communicated well defending the roll man on frequent ball screens and making the correct call to ice Briggs’ shorter lead guards in order to take advantage of his length to contest shots. He also made several rim rotations and came up with several steals within the passing lanes, boasting his reaction time and anticipatory skills.
Johnson deservingly holds three D1 mid-major offers. The wing is just scratching the surface of his offensive potential while already being an elite defender that should have positional versatility on ball and great instincts off. He’s used slightly out of his projected collegiate role since his team desperately needs size. If he continues to improve his shooting ability he could be a major 3&D wing for a program in the future that may even develop some secondary creation value at the tail end of his collegiate career.
Trevell Adams (5’11 G / South / 2020): The junior guard really seems to be hitting his stride at the perfect time for the Bulldogs. This is his fourth consecutive game in double digit scoring numbers as the sixth man. Providing a much needed spark for this South team in the first half, he scored eight of his 14 points. Adams is a scoring minded guard with an exceptionally tight handle. He made a double move changing directions on a offensive possession in space with exceptional balance on his pull-up shot. Once into the lane, Adams can finish either below the rim with a tough layup or a crafty floater game that shows off some natural shooting touch.
Defensively, he had a solid outing as well. This was mostly on ball, where he is a willing and aggressive defender that can move well laterally. This was a strong performance for Adams and all of the traits in his game should translate to a slightly higher usage role with Tre Watkins graduating after this season. Look for Adams to make a name for himself as South’s new high usage on ball handler next season.
Tre Watkins (5’11 G / South / 2019): Tre was relatively quiet in this game, which will happen when you have as much talent as the Bulldogs do. He does deserve his recognition though. Offensively, he finished with three points by knocking down a spot up outside shot from beyond collegiate range. He also flashed incredible north/south speed as a transition handler. Defensively, Watkins had a very impressive game on ball, with tremendous lateral quickness and a lightning quick initial reaction to his opponents first step.
Watkins recently received the round of JUCO offers from Columbus State and Edison State. Even though we did not see it today, he has thrived in his senior season and his unique change of pace, burst, lightning quick open court speed and pull up ability will make him an intriguing lead ball handling option in the future.
Taquan Simington (6’2 CG / South / 2020): Simington finished the game with only six points, but made a very strong impression today. The combo guard has all the physical and athletic tools to develop into a quality two way lead guard prospect. Offensively, similar to his teammates, Simington is lightning quick in the open court and likes to attack off the dribble, where he can take advantage of a strong frame and fantastic leaping explosion. He will occasionally flash a mid-range pull up with substantial elevation, but needs to improve his balance on that shot. He rebounds it well for a guard, and that allows him to get out into transition as well.
Defensively is where Simmington has a tremendous amount of value. A strong point of attack defender with a nonstop motor, the junior is not afraid to pick you up at full court, which we saw frequently throughout the game. He’s also very aggressive in the passing lanes and creates transition opportunities for himself in that manner as well. Probably the second highest collegiate upside of anyone on the team, shooting consistency, range, and off ball defensive polish are the biggest things to look for in his development as a prospect.
Javion Williams (6’4 WF / Briggs / 2021): This was my second viewing of Williams and it was the second time he went for at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. The sophomore is an absolute double-double machine. At 6-foot-4 yet very raw, his offensive skill is limited to much more of a big than a wing at this point in his career. He is a remarkable mover for his size, good leaper, and has an explosive second jump. Williams makes use of these tools in order to consistently grab a plethora of rebounds. He also has great instincts that allow him to know where to anticipate the ball off the rim as an offensive rebounder. He also has a tremendous motor, where he runs the floor on both ends as hard as possible, even though he is rarely rewarded by his teammates.
South really struggled to contain Williams when anybody besides Marcus Johnson was on him. The forward can consistently finish through contact at an alarming rate. His production this season has been outstanding, but his game always leaves you wanting more. With great physical and athletic tools, Williams will have to make the jump to wing eventually if he does not grow which I look forward to.