Future NBA talent on display at The 2023 Hoophall Classic

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SPRINGFIELD, MA – JANUARY 14: Mikey Williams of San Ysidro (1) drives to the basket during the Hoophall Classic high school basketball game between Christopher Columbus and San Ysidro on January 14, 2023 at Blake Arena in Springfield, MA (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

The HoopHall Classic is an annual high school basketball showcase at Springfield College in Massachusetts, which features the premier players and teams from across the nation. Ten of the last eleven first overall picks in the NBA Draft have played on the event’s fittingly-named James Naismith Court.

NBA Scouts in Attendance

In 2023, for the first time in the showcase’s illustrious 21-year history, NBA personnel were allowed to attend the 5-day, 32-game basketball extravaganza–one of three high school-level events approved for NBA scouts. Thus, a reported 25 NBA teams were represented over the weekend, along with the usual array of college programs.

Philly-area Prospects Shine

The Philly area is home to three of the top four prospects in the 2023 class. The trio will all play at Kentucky next year. DJ Wagner (ESPN’s #2 in 2023) and Aaron Bradshaw (ESPN’s #4 in ’23) are teammates at Camden (NJ), while Justin Edwards (ESPN’s #1 in ’23) plays at Imhotep (PA). Edwards plays alongside ESPN’s #28 from the 2024 class, Ahmad Nowell. Camden is coached by former NBA player (and Sixer) Maalik Wayns.

Camden battled in a loss on Saturday, January 14th, as Centennial (CA) won 66-62 behind Duke-commit Jared McCain’s (ESPN’s #12 in ’23) fiery 27 points (9/18 FG, 6/10 3P, 3/5 FTs). McCain was named First Team All-Showcase. DJ Wagner, son of former NBA player Dajuan Wagner, countered with 27 points (12/23 FG, 1/5 3P, 2/4 FTs) of his own, while Aaron Bradshaw added 15 pts (5/7 FG, 1/1 3P, 4/4 FTs).

Sunday, January 15th, Imhotep and Justin Edwards defeated Cardinal Hayes (NY) 62-59 as Edwards led with 25 points (9/17 FG, 0/2 3P, 7/10 FTs), 12 rebounds, four assists, six steals, and one block.

On Monday, January 16th, Camden managed a 90-54 win over Bishop Gorman (NV). Camden had six players record 12+ points. Bishop Gorman features Jaxon and Jase Richardson, sons of former NBA player (and short-time Sixer) Jason Richardson. Jase is ranked #37 in the class of 2024 by ESPN.

Imhotep’s Edwards was awarded First Team All-Showcase honors, while Camden’s Wagner was named to the Second Team. After Camden’s Saturday loss, where John Calipari traveled after his Kentucky squad knocked off Tennessee in Knoxville, Wagner acknowledged his future coach’s dedication and described the feeling of three of the top four prospects all hailing from Philly and committing to Kentucky:

“It feels great, you know, obviously, being from around the same area. It’s a great feeling. We take a lot of pride in that. I’m definitely excited.”

— DJ Wagner

Montverde Academy (FL) continues dominance

The world’s premier basketball school, Montverde Academy, played two games at HoopHall–Saturday, January 14th, vs. La Lumiere (IN) and Monday, January 16th, vs. Sunrise Christian (KS). In Saturday’s 85-63 win over La Lumiere, Maine-native Cooper Flagg (ESPN’s #2 in 2025) emphatically poured in 21 points (8/10 FG, 3/4 3P, 2/2 FTs) to go along with five rebounds, three assists, five steals, and a block. Oregon commit KJ Evans (ESPN’s #13 in ’23) added 19 points. Eight rebounds and four assists.

In Monday’s 64-51 victory over Sunrise Christian, Liam McNeeley (ESPN’s #10 in 2024) impressed with 10 points (2/6 FG, 2/6 3P, 4/5 FTs), eight assists, three rebounds, and two steals. McNeeley gained an offer from Kansas during the past week.

“He’s on everyone pretty much, but I think we all realize that it’s for the best. We kind of keep our heads down and play harder and harder. Obviously, you know who he’s coached and what he’s done, so it’s that trust that I have in Coach. I’m always going to put my trust in him.”

— Cooper Flagg on his relationship with Coach Kevin Boyle

Legendary Coach Kevin Boyle has many other options under his tutelage, including Duke-bound Sean Stewart (ESPN’s #16 in “23), Derik Queen (ESPN’s #9 in “24), and Asa Newell (ESPN’s #18 in “24). Flagg was named to the All-Showcase First Team.

“I think it’s just my personality has helped me to stay humble…Not being able to see all the people I grew up with, friends and family every day–it has been a big adjustment doing that, but you know that you’ll always be able to go back and see them.”

— Cooper Flagg on the transition from Maine to Florida

Columbus (FL) picks up a pair of high-profile wins

Columbus squared off with San Ysidro (CA) on Saturday, January 14th, and Sierra Canyon (CA) on Monday, January 16th. Saturday’s 74-67 win came against social media sensation Mikey Williams (ESPN’s #34 in ’23) and JJ Taylor (ESPN’s #62 in ’23). The San Ysidro duo is committed to Memphis for next year. Williams recorded 24 points (7/22 FG, 0/4 3P, 10/11 FTs), six assists, four rebounds, and two steals, while Taylor managed 20 points (8/21 FG, 1/6 3P, 3/7 FTs), 12 rebounds, two steals, and a block.

“We didn’t do great today. Defensively, we let people get by. That’s not how we play–defense is our foundation, and today we didn’t show that. We got to be much better on Monday.”

— Cameron Boozer after 74-67 win over San Ysidro (CA)

Columbus was led by 15-year-old Cameron Boozer (ESPN’s #1 in 2025) with 33 points (10/16 FG, 3/5 3P, 10/12 FTs), 15 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and three blocks. Boozer’s brother, Cayden, added 14 points (5/12 FG, 0/2 3P, 4/4 FTs), seven assists, seven rebounds, and two steals. The Boozer brothers are the sons of former NBA star Carlos.

Monday, in their 47-46 win over Bronny James (ESPN’s #28 in ’23) and Sierra Canyon, Cameron Boozer was Columbus’ leader again, scoring 18 points (7/13 FG, 2/7 3P, 2/2 FTs) to go along with 13 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and one block. James, son of NBA great LeBron, finished with 13 points (4/17 FG, 3/8 3P, 2/2 FTs), eight rebounds, three assists, five steals, and one block. Cameron Boozer deservingly carved out a place on the First Team All-Showcase.

“Just to take my time and not compare myself to others–focus on myself, and become the best player I can be.”

— Cameron Boozer, on his Dad’s advice

It will be interesting to observe the different pathways some of these players take. The last time I attended the event, in 2020, I was able to take in performances from three of the top four picks in the 2021 NBA Draft — Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, and Scottie Barnes, along with NBA Champion Moses Moody and projected first-round pick and current Duke Blue Devil, Dariq Whitehead.