5 Thoughts on the OPS Jamboree Finals
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

5 Thoughts on the OPS Jamboree Finals

December 10, 2019

Gretna played host to the finals of the OPS Jamboree on Monday (yes, Gretna is now in the “Omaha Public Schools Jamboree,” as is Millard South). 

On the girls side, top-seeded Millard South running clocked No. 3 Omaha Northwest 79-26. In the boys final, No. 2 Omaha Central beat No. 5 Omaha North 78-55.

Here are five thoughts on the action.

Millard South is a Powerhouse

The Patriots have the best one-two punch in the state on the girls side in Creighton commit Jayme Horan and South Dakota commit Maddie Krull. The two-woman game with Krull driving and kicking to Horan for 3 or Horan hitting Krull on a cut to the rim is devastating. Those two outscored the Huskies all by themselves as Horan led the way with 17 and Krull added 15, surpassing 1,000 career points in the process.

However, what really caught my attention is how many young players were making plays for the Patriots. Millard South has seven underclassmen including five freshmen on its roster. Mya Babbitt, a freshman guard, stood out in particular. 

Ir’s clear that Millard South is still going to be handful even after Horan and Krull graduate.

I didn’t make it out to Gretna until midway through the second quarter, so the rest of these thoughts will be on the other game.

Central’s Defensive Versatility

Omaha Central coach Eric Behrens might have won this game with one tactical decision: He started 6-foot-5 senior forward Teth Tut on Omaha North’s 5-foot-5 junior point guard, Curtis Ogba Jr. Ogba was the team’s second-leading scorer in North’s 2-0 start to the season. He got to the free-throw line a bunch in the first game and knocked down three 3-pointers in the second.

On Monday, Ogba finished with two points on 1-of-6 from the field and he missed his only free throw attempt. He only got off one 3-pointer, a running desperation shot at the end of the first half. Tut moves well for his size and his length made it tough for Ogba to find space to get off shots. He had three assists and three turnovers too.

Senior guard Latrell Wrightsell Jr., the team’s leading scorer, is a terrific on-ball defender and Abe Hoskins III, the younger brother of Nebraska football player DaiShon Neal, provides a physical presence defensively off the bench. Add in a 6-foot-7 transfer from Minnesota in starting center Deng Diew and a pair of 6-foot-4 forwards in Scott and Jason Warner as options off the bench and Central has the pieces to match up defensively with pretty much any team they’ll face this year.

Wal Chuol is On Fire

Central as a team was very impressive, but the best player on the floor on Monday was North senior Wal Chuol. The 6-foot-4 wing scored 27 of North’s 55, shooting 10-of-15 from the field, 5-of-8 from 3 and 2-of-4 from the free-throw line. He was hitting shots off movement and from well beyond the arc, and he had some strong takes to the basket as well. He actually scored 29 points but had a layup wiped away because  a teammate grabbed the rim before the ball went through. He got into a bit of foul trouble in the first half but went off for 20 in the second including 12 in the fourth quarter.

Chuol has gotten off to a blazing start this season, scoring 20 or more in all three games. He’s 11-of-20 from 3 and is 16-of-21 inside the arc, and those aren’t all layups. He’s got the ability to shake a defender with his crossover and pull-up on a dime, elevating over the top for a clean look. Chuol has always been offensively gifted, but now he’s finding some consistency.

Central Depth

Omaha Central had 10 different guys score on Monday including five guys with nine or more points. Wrightsell led the way with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Diew, a post presence that balances out the guard play, flirted with a double-double with 10 points and eight boards. Veteran point guard Max Polk led the team in scoring in the season-opener and is capable of going off at any time, and he chipped in 10 against the Vikings. Junior Faisaun Germany is kind of the utility guy on the team who impacts the game in a lot of ways, and on Monday he came alive late for seven of his nine points in the fourth quarter.

What really gives the team depth of scoring, however, is its trio of sophomore guards off the bench. Jay Dawson, a 6-foot-3 wing, was second on the team with 12 points and he did it on just five shots. Dawson converted a three-point play in the first quarter then shot 3-of-3 from deep in the second half before missing his first shot, a mid-range pull-up. He’s long and has a soft touch.

PJ Davis, a 6-foot-3 guard with a strong frame, and Jakson Page, a 5-foot-9 point guard, each chipped in a pair of buckets. Davis finished strong at the rim twice while Page knocked down a couple of jumpers, a mid-range shots off the bounce and a catch-and-shoot 3.

There aren’t many teams that can match the depth in scoring talent Central rolls out there.

True Neutral Site

You’d have a tough time finding two schools in the metro farther away from Gretna to play in this game, making it as neutral of a site as you can get for a game still played in the Omaha area. I’m not sure why Gretna was hosting in its first year in the tournament, but it did and the crowd turnout was pretty good. The game even brought out some stars as Nebraska commit Donovan Williams made the drive up from Lincoln and 2021 target Hunter Sallis turned up as well in addition to a handful of other players.

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