In just one year of seeking to compete with the best in the nation, Branson (Mo.) Link Academy has established itself as a legitimate national powerhouse while compiling a 26-0 record. They were back this weekend beating a tough school team from Burlington (NC) and a program from Chicago (Ill.) St. Rita with some very intriguing young talent.
At the center of it all was a great man Tarris Reed. A top-40 senior heading to Michigan, Reed has broken free from a few nagging injuries that have led to a slow start to the season. He really knows how to use his 6-foot-10, 240-pound frame to establish position, bury defenders in the post, and score with touch and skill. Physically and mentally, he looks ready for the leap to college basketball. Pay inside alongside Reed, Ohio State tied four stars Felix Okpara will arrive in the Big Ten as one of the finest shot blockers in the class of 2022. He’s also improved his offense and has a long, wiry frame to lean on.
Also, impressive to see this winter has been the way the leader trey green raised his game. A transfer from North Carolina who currently ranks No. 100 nationally in the Class of 2023, the 5-foot-10 junior arrived with a reputation as more of a small two-guard than a leader. He can still score and is a dangerous shooter, but his progress as a playmaker for others has been impressive. He went officially to Nebraska and unofficially to Clemson and Virginia Tech.
Link has a trio of five-star prospects at LSU linked Julian Phillipsbound for Arkansas Jordan Walch and in the top 10 of juniors Omaha Biliew. Phillips provided some much needed points in Game 1 before sitting out with injury in Game 2. Walsh – who was just elevated to five-star status last week – was out of his game for most of the weekend but rallied late in game two to give the crowd some games exciting thanks to its athleticism. Biliew had tremendous energy and was playing above the edge. He’ll focus on attack next year, but he’s done a good job learning how to choose his places in a squad full of senior talent.
Unsigned and open to all options, there must be a place on someone’s list for senior custody Damien Mayo. A tough 6-foot-2 man, Mayo is a fierce competitor who defends, attacks the rim, and does all the little things necessary to win. Guys like him don’t always have huge numbers, but their energy positively influences those around them and makes a team stronger. Also a long-time student, it would be a shame if he were forgotten because of the programs that burrow into the transfer portal.