PONTIAC, IL — Talen Horton-Tucker was a long, wide and strong bundle of potential for most of his high school years. In some games he would provide glimpses of a possible dominant player.
That future has arrived, that potential has been fulfilled, at least at the high school level.
The Simeon senior scored 25 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished off four assists to lead top-ranked Simeon past No. 2 Curie 67-48 in the title game of the 87th Pontiac Holiday Tournament.
“I’m just playing with a different level of confidence,” Horton-Tucker said. “Every year at Simeon there is a senior that is going to be there that waited their turn. This year it is our turn.”
Horton-Tucker is a ball-handler, a shot-blocker, a rebounder, a three-point shooter, a post-scoring threat. The list is practically endless.
“He can do everything on the floor,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “He’s a versatile player, I don’t know if there is another player in the state that can do all the things he can on the floor.”
The first quarter of the game was slow paced and low scoring and the teams finished tied at eight. Simeon dominated the start of the second quarter and led 27-17 at the half. The Wolverines (11-2) took over in the third quarter and never looked back.
Kejuan Clements and Bakari Simmons each scored 10 points and Zion Young added eight.
Simmons, the son of former NBA player and Simeon star Bobby Simmons, is beginning to come into his own. He spent all four games of the tournament guarding the opposition’s best player. His defensive style is relentless and annoying.
“It’s fun,” Simmons said. “It gets me going the more I get into their head. They shy away from the ball. Earlier today [in the semifinal against Danville] I stopped someone from touching the ball for eight minutes straight. He didn’t even want it. He was just going up and down the court, it was so easy. That shows your mental toughness, where you are mentally as a player.”
Marquise Walker led Curie (10-2) with 20 points. The Condors couldn’t get anyone else going offensively.
Smith has now won nine Pontiac titles, breaking the record held by former Peoria Manual and Washington coach Dick Van Scyoc.
The Wolverines won their four games at the tournament by an average of 24 points. That’s by far the largest margin of victory in any of Smith’s title runs.
“It’s never been this easy before,” Smith said. “The kids game out and gave a good effort. Coming back from Florida I wanted to see how dominant we could be at home. We were pretty dominant.”
Horton-Tucker won the prestigious AC Williamson award. He’s the seventhSimeon player to win the award, following in the footsteps of Evan Gilyard, Jabari Parker, Derrick Rose, Calvin Brock, Cameron Echols and Bobby Simmons.
“Being the guy to win that award is great,” Horton-Tucker said. “Most of the players that have won the award went to the NBA or did something good in college.”