Pe'Shon Howard and Oak Hill Academy took to national TV for the second time on Friday night, going up against #7 ranked St. Patrick's and Duke-bound Kyrie Irving. OHA ended up winning by a point on a Doron Lamb free throw in the final seconds; hopefully the Maryland-bound guard's team beating the team of the guy headed to Duke is a sign of the future. If anyone watched the game this'd be the place to put your impressions.
It's tough to say that Howard wasn't impressive in this game. He's not a light-it-up scorer like Terrell Stoglin can be, but he put up 19 points relatively quietly and looked good doing it. He's a little hot and cold, but when he's hot he's very dangerous. His jumper from deep looked good, not Ross-level but certainly not a weakness. His court vision and passing remains well ahead of his age; he can pull off some passes that Vasquez might be hard-pressed to hit.
It was also good to see that he can certainly run the point if need be. He's still a combo, but he had several assists - at least 6 or 7 - and some ridiculous passes. Maryland will be stuck choosing between Terrell Stoglin, Adrian Bowie, and Howard for the PG duties, and its good to know that at least one guy has the handles and head to do it effectively. At one point he had to dribble out the clock for about 30 seconds, and had to break the closely guarded count continuously while doing it. I'm not sure some of Maryland's backcourt could do that.
That said, two things really stuck out to me about Howard's play: his strength and his passion.
Hitting on the first one, Howard is almost at Sean Mosley's level physically, and plays like it. He's very strong and knows how to use that to his advantage; it allows him to shield the ball from defenders and get to the rim, then finish through contact when he's there. It's striking just how strong he is, and that's good, because he's certainly not all that quick.
On the second point, no one on the floor wanted to win more than Master Pe' tonight. If anyone did, you couldn't tell. He had his questionable moments - demonstrative body language, occasional defensive lapses - but when it came down to it, he played with urgency and passion.
And yes, he still has a ton of Greivis Vasquez in him. Both are absurdly good at ridiculous passes, both are somewhat inconsistent, both have huge amounts of swag, and both have an unrivaled passion for the game. If someone has to take over #21, I could think of no one better than Pe' Diddy himself.
I don't want you to think Pe'Shon is suddenly some kind of All-American, though; his game still has its flaws. Kyrie Irving abused him defensively once or twice on crossovers, and his quickness can be a liability on the defensive end. He comes and goes offensively, and much like Greivis early in his career, has a tendency to force shots.
He's young, though, and some deficiencies are expected. He's entirely capable of playing either the one or the two at the ACC level, and the transition to doing so will be quicker for him than anyone else - he plays a national schedule, with a team stocked with D1 talent, against teams stocked with D1 talent. The rise in play won't be a huge shock for him.
So, what'd you think of the MVPe's performance? (props kckb8 for the name)