My visit to area Thanksgiving Holiday Tournaments included a stop at the annual Metro-East Lutheran Turkey Tip-Off which featured a 16-team field of some of the top small school talent in the St. Louis Metro area. 

2020 6-5 Caleb Zurliene, Mater Dei (IL)– The Purdue Northwest commit was difficult to contain particularly when he got more aggressive offensively in the second half. Zurleiene has several desirable offensive tools. He has nice form on his shot and looked smooth shooting out to three. On the perimeter, he catches ready to shoot or drive around a defender. Zurliene also did a good job defensively rebounding and blocking shots. He finished the semifinal game with 15 points. He scored a total of 13pts, 3-3FG in the third-place game. 

2021 6-0 Rico Singleton, Lift for Life (MO)– The junior guard was selected as the tournament MVP and member of the All-Tournament team. Singleton scored 18 points in the semifinal match including a thrilling game winning layup with less than ten seconds remaining to play. He scored 17 of the 18 points in the second half. In a follow up performance, Rico scored 14 points in the championship game to help his team secure the tournament title. Singleton was at his best with the ball in his hands slashing to the rim. 

2020 6-3 Dakari Gray, Lift for Life (MO)– The high energy forward scored 17 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in the semifinal matchup versus Mater Dei. Gray is a tenacious rebounder who can quickly explode back up with an offensive rebound. Gray also has a nice face up game and is able to create his on shot off the dribble. He is an undersized forward that created matchup problems because he was either guarded by taller players that he could beat off the dribble or players his own size that he could use his strength and aggressiveness to bully to the rim. 

2021 6-2 Barcus Jackson, Jr., Lift for Life (MO) – Jackson scored 13 points in the semifinals and 17 points in the title match including a handful of 3FG. Jackson plays at a breakneck speed which sometimes led to wayward shots but most of the time ended up with easy points on the board. His intensity and speed are especially useful on defense, where he harassed ball handlers and forced turnovers. His intensity coupled with LFLA defensive strategy led to Jackson being on the finishing end of several fast break points. 

2021 5-8 Cortez Harris, Marquette (IL) – The lightning fast point guard pestered ball handlers forcing turnovers and recording a few steals in a semifinal match against host Metro Eastern Lutheran. Harris was equally as fast on offense. His speed with the ball led to Harris beating the defense down the floor and earning transition baskets. 

2020 6-0 Brett Terry, Marquette (IL) – Terry scored a game high 22 points in a semifinal match where his Marquette team limited Metro East Lutheran to only 25 total points. Terry followed up this game high performance with a game high 18 points in a championship loss. Terry thrived off scoring opportunities created by Marquette’s unrelenting defensive pressure. Terry converted off turnovers and nailed several shots from midrange area. He was also effective on basket drives during early offense. 

2020 5-10 Jacob Schadegg, Mater Dei (IL)– The senior point guard finished with 20 pts in semis including three 3FG. The McKendree University signee is a gritty point guard who seemed to get better as the game wore on. Schadegg seemed to thrive in the high-pressure atmosphere of the game especially in the second half where the teams were matching basket for basket and changing leads several times. During the period, Jacob scored clutch points by attacking the basket and also dishing out assists all of which kept his team in the hunt down to the wire.