Team Trae Young was well represented in the Whataburger Tournament in Texas over the holidays.
TTY standout guards Ja’Kobe Walter (Class of 2023) from McKinney High School, Rylan Griffen (Class of 2022) from Richardson High and forward Cameron Barnes (Class of 2023) from Duncanville High represented well in the elite tournament.
Richardson, Duncanville and McKinney played in the high-level Orange Tournament, which was held at Legacy High in Mansfield, Texas.
Duncanville, the two-time defending state champion at 6A, entered the tournament unbeaten and Barnes did all he could to keep it that way. He scored 17 points in the opening round as Duncanville dispatched St. Mark’s 81-43. He added 15 more in a tightly contested 61-55 quarterfinal win over Martin.
2023 Cam Barnes with the reverse flush ? @DuncanvilleBB @whatatournament pic.twitter.com/hVr09dRqNd
— The Circuit (@TheCircuit) December 31, 2021
In addition to the scoring he can bring on the inside, Cam is touted as one of the most versatile defenders in the nation, able to guard 1-5, which has helped Duncanville smother opponents into submission. The four-star junior has offers from Baylor, Memphis and Oklahoma State among others.
The real @CamEBarnes out on the perimeter keeping the smaller guard in front of him @DuncanvilleBB #GASO pic.twitter.com/r8s1C6Cnm7
— GASO Clips (@GASOClips) December 30, 2021
Also in the opening round, McKinney defeated Birdville by a score of 68-61. McKinney took command of the game by jumping out to an early 21-17 first quarter lead and made their before the half, outscoring Birdville 22-9 in the second quarter. Ja’Kobe finished the game with 29 points.
However, McKinney went on to lose in the quarterfinals to Timberview 76-59. Despite the loss, Walter was still the leading scorer for McKinney, as he finished with 28 points. He added 34 points in a consolation game win over Coppell to finish the tournament with a three-game scoring average of more than 30 points a game and earn All-Tournament Team honors.
McKinney vs Coppell in the @whatatournament 5th Place game. 2023 @JaKobeWalter1 continues to make his case for top shot maker in the State. #TexasHoopsTv
WATCH RECAP – https://t.co/IhawIUgeGY pic.twitter.com/Iv1ssA3n1j
— TexasHoopsTelevision (@TexasHoopsTV) January 5, 2022
@JaKobeWalter1 @MHSLionsHoops @whatatournament @Tabchoops pic.twitter.com/KBZScMhblv
— Tommy Hays (@Tommy_Hays) December 31, 2021
5TH PLACE ORANGE
McKinney's Ja'Kobe Walter (@JaKobeWalter1) sets the new '21 Orange Division tourney high with 34 points. He and Vincent all earn All-Tourney nods.
BOX: https://t.co/S02x1OqhPB#txhshoops #txhsbb #WhataTourney @whatatournament @MHSLionsHoops pic.twitter.com/pEBpay5JcA
— #WhataTournament (@whatatournament) December 31, 2021
Walter, a junior four-star recruit, caught the attention of college scouts while playing on Team Trae Young this past summer and has demonstrated his development throughout the early stages of the high school season. He was a start of the Whataburger tournament with his consistent outside shooting and soft touch around the midrange.
“If I do something, people may think I’m coming off as too aggressive.” Walter said. “But it’s really just the fact that I care a lot about what I’m doing and I’m usually trying to put my all into it.”
Ja’Kobe remains uncommitted abut has received an abundance of offers from the likes of Baylor, Oregon and Alabama. The idea of Walter ending up at Bama is tantalizing for TTY fans, as that’s where his Team Trae Young teammate Rylan Griffen of Richardson High is headed after committing to the Crimson Tide last month.
With his commitment in the rearview, Rylan has been able to focus solely on making the best of his senior season for Richardson, and it’s working out in a big way. Richardson is now 17-1 after sweeping through the Whataburger Tournament in the Orange Division with a 4-0 mark.
After posting double digit wins over Denton Guyer and South Grand Prairie in the first two rounds, Richardson got a stiff test from Waxahachie in the semifinals. The game was close throughout, with neither team gaining much separation in the first three quarters. However, led by the efforts of Griffen, who finished with a game-high 26 points, Richardson pulled away in the fourth, outscoring Waxahachie 22-10 to win by a score of 63-47 to advance to the Finals.
In the tournament championship match, Richardson and Duncanville, arguably Texas’ top two teams went head-to-head in a rematch of last year’s 6A State Championship match and this time Richardson came out on top, handing Duncanville its first loss of the season, winning an overtime thriller 60-58.
Rylan had 11 points in the win and averaged 19.3 ppg throughout the tournament to join Ja’Kobe on the All-Tournament team and also nab Tournament MVP honors.
OMG!!!! I’m in LOVE!!!!! My whole heart is happy!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/xgcO4HTeHh
— Talandra Griffen (@_andiamtalandra) December 31, 2021
FINAL: No. 10 Richardson (TX) def. No. 4 Duncanville (TX) 60-58 to win the 2021 Whataburger Championship ?@Whataburger @whatatournament @DuncanvilleBB @RHS_BoysBB pic.twitter.com/xvmng77u6C
— The HS Circuit ? (@HSCircuit) December 31, 2021
Congratulations @GriffenRylan @whatatournament MVP?? pic.twitter.com/4KoBFkEnGm
— The Fit Kids Corp (@TheFitKidsCorp) December 31, 2021
As a star for perrenially highly-ranked Richardson while spending his summers with Team Trae Young, Rylan has become accustomed to the spotlight. A three-level scorer who shoots at a high volume, he made his early commitment to Alabama after receiving offers from Georgia, Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma.
“I chose them because of my relationship with Coach [Nate] Oats,” Griffen wrote in his commitment piece on SI.com. “He told me that he didn’t really recruit Texas that hard, but when he saw me he knew he had to have me there. That was something that really stuck out to me, and also how they committed they are to making me a better player.”