Springfield, MO (Ozarks Sports Zone) -- The Courts Pro-Am kicked off its 14th summer. Local high school and college players, as well as former players, kicked off opening day with six hours of action. Here is the best of day one.
Team of the Day – MSU-West Plains: Like most junior colleges the Grizzlies are long, athletic, and deep. Their pregame layup line would have won many dunk contests. However, MSU-West Plains is more than just a team that likes to get up and down. Their ability to turn people over as well as the quality play of Malcom Henderson and Malik London on the inside helped them establish themselves as one of the summer’s top teams. If Jameel Moore can continue to knock down perimeter jumpers they will be tough to beat.
Player of the Day – Jordan Epps, UCM: Last season Epps was an NAIA All-Amercican in his first, and only, campaign at Missouri Valley College. His 18.8 PPG led to him also being named as the HAAC Freshman of the Year. If you thought that was a fluke, you are wrong. Epps shows the ability to create his own shot at will, making it tough for defenders to stay in front of him. He can shoot it, as well as finish at the rim, making him a one-on-one nightmare, especially in summer league setting.
Play of the Day – Kameron Bundy, Drury: The former Nixa standout sunk the Pacers, headlined by Missouri State’s Dorrian Willims, Gavin Thurman, and Tyler McCullough, with the day’s only buzzer-beater. The Panthers were a perfect 2-0 on the day.
The Ewww/Gross Moment of the Day – Pete Leonard, C of O: The former Ava star started the day of with seven of his team’s first nine points. However, with just 30 second left in a 52-48 contest, Leonard took an elbow to the head that would open up a gash, needing five stitches to be closed. He also painted the Chevy court baseline red. Good news, he is okay and concussion free.
WTH Moment of the Day – Alex Hall: The former Drury standout and Final Four MOP must have felt awkward taking on his former team. But, because he showed up just seconds before tip, and a broken shoe, he didn’t get much time to warm up. It didn’t matter. Hall started the game by feeding his former Panther teammates a pair of deep threes. Once a shooter, always a shooter.
Old School Player of the Day – Heath Sitton: The man who helped lead C of O to a national championship showed that he hasn’t lost a step. Sitton displayed the sweet stroke that made him a legend in Point Lookout, as well as the hops that make defenders clear the lane on a fast break. The hairline may be receding, but the game is not.
New School Player of the Day – Hannah Cook, Ozark: Even though it came very lacidisacially, Cook showed just why D-1 schools are beating down her door. Her size and ability to shoot the ball make her a match-up nightmare. The only knock on the Ozark standout is her motor. For as great as she is, it seems as if she is going through the motion at times.
Swag of the Day – Chris Ward, SBU: The former Kickapoo standout rocked a pair of purple Vans to match his Bearcat attire. The “Dancing Bear” is a spectacle in himself, even when he’s not on the court.
Odds and Ins
Missouri State fans be happy… Both the Bears and Lady Bears in action looked solid Wednesday. Missouri State freshmen Austin Ruder continued to show that he can shoot the ball with the best of them, connecting on many spot up triples… Point guard Devon Thomas made defenders look like they were ice skating with an array of crossovers and spin moves. The lefty is also as explosive as they come despite his miniature (5’9”) frame… Big man Tyler McCullough did exactly as expected, blocking shots, grabbing rebounds and throwing down some dunks. However, he also flashed the ability to knock down face-up jumpers… Sophomores Bruce Marshall and Mike Simpson also put on shooting displays. If they can stretch the floor come November the Bears will be pretty tough… Lady Bears fans also got a sneak peek of Katie Palmer. The freshman guard from Wichita handles the ball on a string to go along with her scary athleticism. The combination of her with Tyonna Snow will be a lot of fun to watch together.
The rebuilding process for Drury… May not be a long one. Coming off of a national championship the Panthers added some pieces that suggest a return to the Final Four may not be too far-fetched. We knew that sophomore Kameron Bundy has D-1 size and athleticism, and that Cameron Adams and Ian Carter are also a load. But, the addition of Wendell Pierre and Mike Nwelue bring experience and even more athleticism for Steve Hesser’s bunch. Drake Peterson and Shane Rudman also shot the ball well for the Panthers. Life without Hall and Lockhart will be tough, but the cupboard isn’t empty for Drury… The Panther women also played well, going 2-1 on the day, despite playing with just six players for much of the day. Seniors Kylie Williamson and Bethanie Funderburk provided leadership and scoring for the Lady Panthers, meanwhile freshman guard Daynlee Miller showed the ability to run the show for new coach Steve Huber. The southpaw routinely got teammates involved with precision passes. Junior Shelby White and Sanayika Shields brought toughness and athleticism defensively.
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