CTK-Cardinal Hayes: 4 Observations!

I had a good time in New York, as I spent close to a week in the Empire State. It’s definitely a different world compared to Dallas and experiencing the culture, the food and the basketball was a memorable experience.

I got to catch some New York Catholic League hoops on my last day and it was a high level matchup featuring a multitude of Division 1 prospects as highly-regarded Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.) hosted FAB 50. No 19 Christ The King (Middle Village, N.Y.) on a Sunday afternoon.

CTK’s roster consists of UCLA signee Brandon Williams, 2024 forward Qin Pang, 2025 wing Kiyan Anthony, St. John’s signee Brandon Gardner, (who didn’t play) and 2023 wing Devin Vanderpool.

Cardinal Hayes’ roster contains 2024 guard and All-American candidate Ian Jackson, 2024 sharpshooter Elijah Moore and 2024 big man Steve Solano.

Both teams were tying to rebound from recent West Coast losses and it was Christ the King that won going away, 78-48. The team that won wasn’t surprising but the victory margin was, as CTK rebounded nicely from its loss to Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.). Cardinal Hayes has played tough competition, but it is going to have to go back to the drawing board going into 2023.

Let’s dive in on my notes and evals from the matchup.

Tale of Two Halves

If someone would have told me at half the score differential at the end of the game would have been 30 points, I would have called that person crazy.

The first half was a good one, as both teams ran their sets, executed and also competed on the defensive end. Quality shots were taken, with guys battling for rebounds and 50/50 balls and by intermission the score was 33-30 CTK’s way due to a half court heave by Brandon Williams.

The 2nd half started out ugly for Cardinal Hayes, as Christ The King went on a quick 10-0 run. CH started pressing offensively and took more contested shots from the perimeter in the second half, as CTK converted on the Cardinals’ mistakes which led to transition finishes and open threes. Once the final buzzer went off, Christ The King outscored Cardinal Hayes 45-18 in the 2nd half.

Albeit the Cardinals having an up and down season, when they play together, advance the ball and value quality looks, they can compete with almost any team in the country. When they don’t, it goes south quickly. 2024 Elijah Moore missed shots he normally would make, but I do think the team goes away from what works which has resulted in its slow start.

Brandon Williams Perimeter Game is Upticking

Williams’ physique and size pops out immediately. The future Bruin was a matchup problem from the tip utilizing his bulky frame to finish in the paint through contact. But what impressed me most about Williams is he looks very comfortable on the perimeter and showed ability to create his own look off the bounce.

Williams displayed a nice stop-and-pop game, was able to connect on catch-and-shoot threes and when he did drive, he showed good balance and control navigating through traffic to avoid potential offensive fouls. The Bruins are getting a good one with Williams and he has a chance to contribute right away.

Qin Pang’s Name Will Be Heard More From the next 6 Months

We dove in about how Brandon Williams was a mis-match problem but his front-court mate Qin Pang showcased his offensive versatility, too. There is alot to like with him. At 6-foot-9 with the ability to shoot it from deep, he puts it on the floor, hunts for rebounds and doesn’t evade contact. He collected a double double on Sunday and had a very solid performance in the star studded matchup vs. Sierra Canyon.

He isn’t a complete unknown in the recruitment world, holding offers from Michigan, Illinois, Missouri and several other P5 level programs, but I do believe he has a chance of being a Top 100 player in his class. With more consistent performances I believe he can see a bigger jump in his recruitment.

Ian Jackson’s Naked Eye Game Recap

Obviously the physical tools are there when you look at Jackson. He has long arms, broad shoulders, and is an explosive athlete.

Jackson showed versatility on the offensive end playing on and off the ball. He is becoming a better and more willing passer off the bounce, allowing him to generate clean looks for himself and others. He showed creativity with his handle by utilizing hang dribbles and keeping defenders at bay. His ability to change speeds makes him a consistent visitor of the paint.

I thought he showed a sense of urgency on the glass early, rebounding and pushing pace which resulted in easy buckets in the paint.

He connected on a few threes, but still on the streaky side. His outside shooting can get better and I believe it will with time and work. That will open up his game even more down the road. His effort and energy was consistent, but his shot selection could have been better in the second half.

Regardless, Jackson showed why is one of the top prospects in the 2024 national class.

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