36th_v3The 36th annual City of Palms Classic has made it down to the final four after the first 3 days of action. The teams that have advanced to the semi-finals include #1 Mater Dei (CA), # 4 St. Patrick (NJ), Wheeler (GA) and Winter Park (FL).

In game # 1 you have a battle of front courts when David & Travis Wear (Mater Dei, CA) go up against Ari Stewart and Richard Howell (Wheeler, GA). Mater Dei, CA is the # 1 team in the land, there starting five have all signed with a major division one school.

They receive solid play from the Wear twins who each have continued to expand their game and add muscle to their frames over the last year. They have the ability to finish inside with an array of post moves but can also step out and hit the mid-range jumper. Andy Brown also chips in with his high basketball I.Q. and versatility. Its backcourt isn’t too bad either with both guards signed to the Pac-10, one at (USC) and the other (UCLA).

Wheeler, GA has quality bigs who can finish on the inside with ease, Richard Howell is a work horse on the inside that can be very productive and Ari Stewart is a very active wing who finishes well off the bounce and crashes the boards well. There point guard Phil Taylor is a solid and ultra quick player who can break the defense down and penetrate for an easy basket. He protects the ball well along with dishing out many dimes.

In game #2 you have a match-up of elite guards with Dexter Strickland (St. Patrick, NJ) vs. Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL). This will be Dexter Strickland first game of the tournament after having to sit-out the opening game for disciplinary actions. He is headed to (UNC) next season as part of the # 1 recruiting class in the country. Dexter is a very explosive guard who is able to score in bunches with a smooth jumper or attacking the rim.

On the other side of the court will be super sophomore Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL) who has already verbal to Florida and is the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers. He has been on fire in the first two games of the tournament helping lead his team to back to back upset victories over ranked opponents. Austin has a great feel for the game at such a young age and his jumper is silky smooth from just about anywhere on the floor.

St. Patick will also get help from its standout sophomores in Michael Gilchrist and Derrick Gordon who each had a huge game the other night. Michael Gilchrist is a top 3 prospect in the class of 2011 who combines his inside playing ability with the ability to play on the wing. At 6’7 he is a man child on the boards on both ends of the floor and has the ability to fill up a stat sheet with his none stop hustle. Derrick Gordon is a solid guard who can score with the best of them. Derrick has the ability to get in the lane with ease and finish or find the open teammate.