Last week, I went to the 49th annual City Of Palms Classic at Florida Southwestern for 3 days from December 18th until December 20th. Regarded as arguably the best holiday event in the country, this year was no different with tons of top teams & players coming to FSW to compete. This piece will focus on 4 guys who had solid performances but might not be getting the same type of publicity as the highly touted prospects who were in attendance.

6’4” DJ Mitchell (2023/Wheeler)
To understand his full value, you have to watch Mitchell closely as his impact extends beyond what you’ll gather just from the box score. He doesn’t score a ton for Wheeler and they don’t need him to; instead he is given top defensive assignments in each game and takes pride in it. Mitchell is a long 6’4” who can really move his feet and is stronger & more physical than you might assume at first glance. Those traits paired with a high level of engagement both on & off the ball allows him to make things difficult on just about anyone he has to match up with on the defensive end. His efforts on Justin Edwards and Jared McCain in the Wheeler games I watched were impressive. With his offensive game, it's not that he isn’t capable. On a team with 3 high major signees, the shots & touches just aren’t going to be there as much as they would on typical high school teams. Mitchell has had some good flashes of scoring this season and I think the fact that he has already had to learn how to be impactful while playing with talented guys will help him in college. Wheeler will continue to be a team that is closely followed and Mitchell will continue to help them win; that should make others recognize that he’s valuable.

6’2” Eric Baldassarre (2024/IMG Blue)
IMG’s Blue group only played 2 games at City Of Palms, but Baldassarre put up pretty crazy shooting numbers in those and left an impression on a handful of people in attendance. He averaged 16.5 PPG, going 12-18 from the floor and 9-14 from 3-point land. Baldassarre has a very quick release and his shot has soft touch on it. He knocked down spot-up attempts with ease and also proved that he is comfortable running off screens for perimeter looks. Although he isn’t overly strong or athletic right now, when teams flew at him to make sure he didn’t get up a 3, Baldassarre showed that he can make the right play when he puts the ball on the deck. In IMG’s matchup with Providence that I was able to catch, Baldassarre was a big part in making the game close as he got hot in the blink of an eye from deep. His shooting ability is already enough to warrant attention, his continued physical development will make him even more valuable as a prospect.

5’11” Tim Prather (2025/Newton)
Prather’s best performance came in the 1 game I was able to watch of Newton during the event as he finished with 18 points on 7-9 shooting and 4-6 from 3. He found a rhythm pretty quickly and continued to thrive as the pace picked up & Newton gained control. Prather has a compact shot with good balance & consistency, spacing & staying ready off the ball in both halves. When he pushed it himself in transition, he made good reads on whether to score or find others. With a football background as well, Prather is physically mature for a sophomore with a good amount of bulk in his upper body already. That trait was most evident defensively with his pressure containing ball-handlers. Even while giving up height, Prather makes it hard for opponents to get through bumps because of his strength, along with having active hands. His upperclassman years should allow him to have the ball in his hands more and show PG abilities.

6’4” Jamie Phillips (2024/Winter Haven)
Having not watched him since the summer, it was good to get an updated look of Phillips at City Of Palms. In Winter Haven’s game against North Laurel on Monday morning, he had a team-high of 24 points, which included going 4-5 from beyond arc. His outside shooting may be his best trait as Phillips has a textbook stroke and deep range. However, is he much more than that. I liked how he used his big body against smaller perimeter defenders throughout the game. Phillips initiated contact & took bumps to work his way inside and also posted multiple times. I think he has a lot of potential in the mid-post. He made some good passing reads in this game as well, another quality I think he could use when posting. There’s a versatility to his offensive game that I think college coaches will like. If he really puts a focus on improving his body & conditioning over the next year, both his game and recruitment should benefit greatly.