John Wall Holiday Invitational: Takeaways from Day One and Two
I was fortunate to spend some of the past two days at Broughton High School in Raleigh, North Carolina for the John Wall Holiday Invitational. The annual Holiday Invitational is one of the premier High School Basketball events throughout the nation and the array of talent assembled in this year's field DID NOT disappoint.
The must-see game of the day was most definitely Camden (NJ) vs. Panther Creek (NC). Camden, the 11th ranked team in the nation, features consensus top 5 2023 recruits, and Kentucky commits, DJ Wagner and Aaron Bradshaw. There wasn't an open seat in the gym and Wagner and Bradshaw rose to the occasion.
Although Wagner is the higher ranked of the two players it was Bradshaw who looked the part of a future #1 pick. Bradshaw dominated the game from the tip and had two emphatic dunks in the 1st quarter alone. He would finish with 22 points, 13 boards and a block. Bradshaw is legit 7'2 with the athleticism of a wing player, showed flashes of shooting touch out to about 20 feet, and is the type of "unicorn" NBA executives continually fall in love with.
Also worth noting, Billy Richmond did his best to steal the show from his two higher-profile teammates. Richmond, a consensus top 150 guard in the class of 2024, showed off freakish athleticism with a couple of first-half dunks and was constantly hounding the passing lanes throughout the night. Richmond didn't seem to shy away from the spotlight at all and is a rising player to watch over the next calendar year.
With the majority of the Duke coaching staff, including head coach John Scheyer, in attendance presumably to see him play, Harper, the 5th ranked player in the class of 2024, led his Don Bosco squad to a victory over Garner High School (NC) 74-52. Harper finished the game with 24 points and 6 boards.
Harper has one of the more explosive first steps I've seen at this level and was able to get to the rim pretty much whenever he wanted. He glides around the court almost effortlessly which makes his quickness a little bit deceptive as well. He did show a little bit of questionable shot selection in the first half but that is something that should improve as he continues to mature. As the game went on though Harper showed an impressive sense of when to create for himself versus getting his teammates involved. His jump shot isn't quite there yet but his confidence in taking it suggests some improvement is likely long-term.
Langdon, a 6'7 sophomore from Millbrook High School (NC), continues to be one of the most impressive players in the 2025 class. His ability to create for himself off the dribble, shoot off the catch, and score out of the post gives him as polished of a skillset as I've seen at his age and one that should translate to any level. The release on his jumper is quick and compact which will allows him to get his shot off against any defender. While he may not be elite from an athleticism standpoint he has enough bounce to finish strong around the rim and is quick enough laterally to be a solid defender. The future looks bright for this young man!
Without a doubt, the most impressive team overall that I watched in my two days at the tournament was Combine Academy.
First of all, let me heap as much praise as possible on Head Coach Mike Wright. From watching the team warmup, which was probably the most organized shootaround I've seen outside of the NBA, to how the team consistently makes the right play, pass, etc... you can see Coach Wright's professional approach and how it rubs off on his team. I was most impressed however with his demeanor and teaching ability from the sideline. As good of an in-game teacher as I've seen at any level of basketball, period.
It also doesn't hurt when you have a roster loaded with the likes of Trentyn Flowers (21st-ranked player in 2024) Silas Demary Jr. (#57 in 2023) and Rakease Passmore (#51 in 2024) among others.
Flowers led the way for Combine today with 19 points, 8 boards, and 4 steals. Flowers had a highlight reel windmill dunk in the first quarter that was disallowed by followed it up a possession later with another breakaway power slam. Flowers showed off his impressive touch around the rim with a couple of acrobatic layup finishes as well.
Passmore added 16 points including two threes in the 1st quarter. He has an extremely explosive first step and from a physical standpoint (6'6 200 lb) could play college basketball tomorrow. He also showed a deft touch and craftiness on a euro-step finish in the 3rd quarter that drew a foul. He is a solid on-ball defender with no problems staying in front of his man but does seem to get lost at times when chasing off the ball.
Demary Jr., a USC commit, is the unquestioned leader of this Combine Academy squad and it shows on the court with his poise in quarterbacking the offense and directing his teammates defensively. Demary has a winning pedigree dating back to leading Millbrook High School to a State Championship as a sophomore that has translated to Combine and should continue to translate at both the college and NBA levels. He is very physically imposing for a combo guard and uses it to his advantage continually using his size and strength to bully guards on both ends, including showing some ability to work from the post offensively.