Prolific Prep head coach Billy McKnight had reason to be optimistic after his team won easily in three games over the weekend.
Friday, the Crew flew past Las Vegas Prep, 127-60. Saturday, it was Elite Prep from Pasadena that took a beating, 115-71. Sunday, the Simpson University JV squad from Redding was schooled 92-57 in a game where McKnight had the luxury of sitting out his top player, Jordan Brown.
Reflecting on the weekend, which amounted to a tune-up session for his talented team, McKnight emphasized it’s not really about the opponents early in the season.
“At this point, you’re not really looking at how the other teams are, you’re looking at how you are doing. If you look at how we started the season compared to how we played today, we’re playing a much cleaner style now, we’re actually running our stuff, we’re coming together and sharing the ball, and that was really our goal these first five games,” he said.
“I’m feeling much better about our defensive effort. That’s basically what we worked all week on in practice,” McKnight noted. “Our defense has come a long way and it still has a ways to go, but I feel there’s a sense of urgency out there now. The guys understand they can’t play defense the way we played in the first two games and have the kind of season we want to have.”
McKnight said there was nothing wrong with star player Jordan Brown Sunday. It just made sense to rest him.
“It’s something we’re going to do from time to time. He’s a 6-11 kid and there’s a lot of wear and tear on him out there. He’ll be back next week.”
Brown led the Crew with an impressive triple-double in Friday’s win over Las Vegas.
Sunday was a day Brown wasn’t needed and McKnight could comfortably clear the bench.
“It was a great opportunity for other guys to get playing time,” he said. “Alimamy Koroma had a great game today.”
The 6-7 wing had a double-double with 19 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Jeenathan Williams led Prolific with 23 points.
“He looked real comfortable out there and did some great things,” McKnight added.
The Crew lost one of its talented players in Friday’s game when 6-10 Oton Jankovic suffered a sprained ankle. McKnight said it was the same ankle Jankovic had previously injured.
Things will get a lot tougher this week when the Crew hits the road for Phoenix, Arizona and what’s known on the prep circuit as a “Grind Session.”
McKnight pointed out “those are going to be much more difficult games than we have played so far.”
Prolific will play Friday at 8:30 p.m. against Taylor Made Prep of Phoenix and on Saturday at 6 p.m. against Bella Vista Prep of Scottsdale. Both games are at Arizona Christian University.
The Grind Session has 32 core teams showcasing the best of high school basketball from all over the country, including the Prolific Prep Crew. Prolific has shown it can hold its own with the best of them.
“They’ve had some unbelievable players come through The Grind Session,” said McKnight. “DeAndre Ayton, for example, played for Hillcrest Prep, and is now at University of Arizona and should be a top-five pick in the NBA draft. We played his team four times last year and beat them every time. Miles Bridges, at Michigan State, who should be a top-10 NBA pick, we played against his team, Huntington Prep and swept them 3-0.
“In The Grind Session, we’re going up against teams with a really high level of talent every game and I’m not going to make any predictions,” McKnight chuckled. “The competition level is going to go through the roof next weekend, but afterwards, we’ll have a much better sense of where our team is.”
In the game against Las Vegas, the Crew was led by:
Jordan Brown: 21 points, 15 rebounds, 10 blocks, two assists, three steals.
Amadou Sow: 14 points, 16 rebounds.
Jared Martin: six points, three assists.
Nimari Burnett: 17 points, seven assists, three steals.
Jeenathan Williams: 19 points, seven rebounds, seven assists.
Sekou Toure: six points.
Oton Jankovic: seven points, five rebounds, five assists.
Alimamy Koroma: seven points, six rebounds, four assists, three blocks.
Onyinyechi Eyisi: 20 points, 15 rebounds.
Andres Valderrama-Torres: five points.
In the game against Elite Prep, the Crew was led by:
Jordan Brown: 26 points, 10 rebounds, seven blocks.
Amadou Sow: 16 points. 13 rebounds, three assists.
Jared Martin: 12 points, three assists.
Nimari Burnett: 21 points, five assists.
Jeenathan Williams: 10 points.
Sekou Toure: 16 points, four rebounds.
Alimamy Koroma: five points, five rebounds.
Onyinyechi Eyisi: eight points, 13 rebounds.
In the game against the Simpson University JV, the Crew was led by:
Amadou Sow: 10 points, 10 rebounds.
Jeenathan Williams: 23 points, five rebounds, five assists, four steals.
Nimari Burnett: 14 points, seven assists, four steals.
Jared Martin: five points.
Onyinyechi Eyisi: six points, nine rebounds.
Sekou Toure: eight points, three rebounds, three assists.
Alimamy Koroma: 19 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks.
Antonio Vivan: three points.