Kenner Summer League: Thompson arrives, Starks impresses

While storms brewed around the D.C. area on Sunday, a few Hoyas decided to bring some thunder of their own into McDonough during Kenner Summer League scrimmages.

With 18 points to his name, junior guard Jason Clark led Team Takeover to a blowout in the early game, but that’s not to say it wasn’t entertaining. Team Takeover amused the crowd during warm-ups with an impromptu dunk exhibition, and again when the game devolved into a series of uncontested jams. (The Kenner League: Where six footers repeatedly get open dunks in a set offense.)

In the late game, Austin Freeman was noticably absent. (Rumor has it that he spent his weekend playing in Las Vegas.) However, it gave the Tombs’ underclassmen a rare chance to shine. And they did—mostly.

To date, Hollis Thompson has yet to stand out in Kenner League play. And I’ve been a nervous wreck because of it, mostly thanks to the statistical minds at Hoya Prospectus, but also because his beautiful left-handed take against Ohio was the single positive memory that I took into the off-season.

Luckily, Thompson did not disappoint yesterday. Finishing with 19 points, two rebounds, and two assists, he played energetic defense, hit his contested jump shots, and regularly drew fouls under the hoop. Now, if only Thompson would play well enough to threaten Clark’s playing time, forcing Clark to buckle down on defense. (Delusional? Maybe, but Kenner League does that to a man.)

Despite his showing, Thompson wasn’t the star of the game—that honor goes to freshman guard Markel Starks. Can we call him “The Stark Plug?” Because he is going to be lightning off the bench next season. In contrast to Clark doing his best Harlem Globetrotter impression, Starks showed a stoic intensity throughout his scrimmage. On his way to 20 points, Starks took control of the Tombs, going so far as to call huddles during time-outs.

The rest of the freshman class, however, needs some extra time in the gym. Nate Lubick had a few great boards to start the scrimmage, but quieted down in the second half. On his way to seven rebounds, Lubick won over the crowd by diving for loose balls and taking charges. Moses Abraham, Lubick’s partner-in-crime in the paint, also got the crowd behind him. Not only did he nail a series of mid-range jump shots during warm-ups, but he also converted one of his first post moves as a Hoya. (At this point, any hint of refinement amongst Abraham’s raw athleticism is worth getting behind.) Abraham finished with six points, six rebounds, and three blocks.

And sadly, Aaron Bowen did not recreate last week’s successes. After missing his first three shots, he wore an expression eerily similar to how I remember DaJuan Summers during his final days as a Hoya. Although he finished the game with a great steal-and-dunk sequence, it wasn’t enough to wash away the disappointing game. For Bowen, it’s simple—if the jump shot falls, he’ll get to play.

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