Dec 20th, 2017 – Day one of the four day Jerry Tarkanian Classic showcased teams from all over the country at the Orlean’s Arena in Las Vegas. Two of those teams were Morgan Park (Chicago, IL) and Salesian (Richmond, CA). The two faced off for the final game of the evening, a 9PM start (EPIC). The highly anticipated matchup everyone was waiting for between two premier programs & the two high major D1 bound point guards on each ball club, Ayo Dosunmu, headed to Illinois vs James Akinjo, whose signed with UCONN. The game was intense from start to finish, but Akinjo put the the Salesian Pride on his back like any great point guard would to say the least. The Salesian offense orchestrated by Bill Mellis was working just as good as their defense and it was too much for MP. Although both Dosunmu and Akinjo ended with 20 points on the night, many of Ayo’s came in the second half towards the end of the game when it was too little too late. Dosunmu is a skilled player with incredible athletic ability and a high motor who went on to break the Tarkanian single game scoring record later in the tourney (61), but how was the future Husky more effective down the stretch?
He began the first half with three triples and a handful of assist. When James Akinjo starts off shooting above 50% from long range, and his team is hitting as well, there is no chance your going to stop him or them. He is very patient with the ball, he knows when he’s going to break you down, and he doesn’t fold under pressure. One thing I noticed is that he brings out the DOG in his teammates. There are not too many players on this kid’s level in terms of intensity. Defensively he’s up for the challenge and he will sit in your best player. Offensively he is literally playing 2K with you..on hall of fame mode…and still bustin’ your ass. It takes an insane amount of confidence to be in the position he’s in. He’s worked for it too. It’s a scary scene for his opponents. There was a lot of trash talking going on…it was serious.
Second half was gimme those, free throws, and find the bros…threading the needle numerous times in the clutch and finding his guys on the outside or in the paint. Akinjo showed his true all around game and ability to take over a big game without necessarily dropping 50 points but by breaking down the Morgan Park defense and finding his teammates for the assist, getting his hand on numerous steals & loose balls, and knocking down free throws when they counted late in the second half. He wanted it more, thats what it comes down to for Akinjo, he just wants it more then his opponents.
Akinjo caught the attention of everyone AGAIN at Bishop Gorman HS on night #2 as he dropped 36 pts to carry Salesian in a come back victory against a tough Idaho Falls team. He looked even better this game…The first night was serious business, he was making these dudes here look even more silly. His average for the Tarkanian Classic – 24.8 PPG, via Ronnie Flores, helping his Salesian squad to 3rd place of the Platinum Division and receiving All Tournament Honors. The future Husky also just took home the MVP of a tournament in Sacramento called the St. Hope Elite Classic which hosts many teams from the Northern California Area, in which his Salesian Pride Won the Ship.
CALIHOOP EXCLSUIVE VIDEO:
In July he won the Nike EYBL Peach Jam MVP…. in August he broke fellow Soldiers Alumni Aaron Gordon’s scoring record at the Nor Cal Clash with 42 in a single game…He’s headed to UCONN…but before he does that he has a few more stops. State Champ?….Stay tuned on #CaliHoop