A masterpiece… How do we know when we witness one? Who determines? Who knows? Merrian-Webster defines a masterpiece as follows:
1 : a work done with extraordinary skill especially : a supreme intellectual or artistic achievement. 2 : a piece of work presented to a medieval guild as evidence of qualification for the rank of master.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is widely considered a masterpiece. I learned this primarily from cartoons where the painting would frequently be depicted and popular music references. I’ve never actually seen the Mona Lisa and I certainly wasn’t around in 1506 when da Vinci actually put oil to canvas. I guess it’s a masterpiece because everyone says so. Same thing with Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night… Although I do have a print of this van Gogh masterpiece framed and hung in my kitchen, I have never seen the original and certainly wasn’t around in 1889 when this work was created. I would give anything to have been able to read the notes and have access to drafts of The Souls of Black Folk as W.E.B. DuBois crafted this masterpiece in 1903.
To be in the room when a masterpiece is created… A true privilege…
I often imagine what it must’ve been like to be on the set of the classic film Stormy Weather in 1943 when the Nicholas Brothers performed the greatest dance sequence ever captured on film. How cool would it have been to sit in the editing room with Francis Ford Coppola as he put the finishing touches on The Godfather in 1972? Suppose Stevie Wonder was my homie and I had advance copies of Songs in the Key of Life in 1976…
Imagine that shit…
Back in 1994, I was still wasting thousands of dollars on car stereos… What if I had access to demos of Illmatic before Nas released his masterpiece it to the general public?
Wouldn’t heave been able to tell me shit down the plateau!
Unfortunately, I missed every opportunity to witness the creation of the aforementioned masterpieces. However, I did have the good fortune of witnessing one particular masterpiece come to fruition on a cold Thursday evening in January 2017. That night, in a virtuoso performance, Collin Gillespie scored 42 points grabbed nine rebounds and dished out six assists to lead Archbishop Wood to a an 82-73 victory over Neumann-Goretti in a highly anticipated battle for 1st place in the Philadelphia Catholic League. It was a magnificent performance featuring shot-making, play-making and decision-making of the highest order.
Simply stated… “GILLESPIE TRULY BUSSED DEY ASS!”
That game has since been etched in stone as a masterpiece. Ask anyone that was there…
It happened again yesterday… On Martin L. King, Jr. Day at Archbishop Spalding High School, I had the distinct pleasure watching and recording Imhotep junior forward Justin Edwards’ masterful performance against St. Frances Academy (MD). Edwards scored 29 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, had 3 key steals and blocked a shot while willing Imhotep to a tough victory. St. Frances entered the game ranked 20th in the nation by ESPN. Imhotep was unranked.
But… Imhotep had Edwards…
On this night, Edwards lived up to… No… FUCK THAT… He exceeded his #16 ranking in the class of 2023. His performance against a tenacious St. Frances squad in their backyard certified Edwards status as one to the top high major prospects in the mid-Atlantic region for 2023.
Shit… He may very well be the best prospect.
Edwards high major potential begins with his prototypical physical profile for an elite high major/NBA wing player. He comes in at 6-8, with a wingspan that appears to be 6-10 or more. While he is slender, he has an excellent frame that will fill out over time with broad shoulders and great hip mobility for his size.
As you will see in the highlight video, Edwards is a graceful and fluid athlete with long strides in the open court and the ability to cover a lot of ground. He gives Imhotep an exceptional advantage with his ability to grab defensive rebounds and push the ball up the court effortlessly in transition. He is also very effective on the fast break off the ball, as he understands how to fill lanes correctly and get himself an easy finish at the rim.
Edwards’ most appealing selling point, at this stage in his development, is his highly advanced offensive skill set in the half court, and his high major ready scoring ability. He is an exceptionally polished scorer for a high school junior. Edwards consistently exhibits an ability to operate from all three levels. He is at his best in the mid-range area where he can create space and shoot over the top of the defense with a high release point on his jumper. He also has very precise footwork and is never too sped up by the defense.
Edwards is especially effective working out of the mid-post area where he has a variety of moves in his arsenal to beat his man. He is a capable threat from deep, especially off the drive and kick. He has steady and repeatable shooting stroke and should be a terrific free-throw shooter. At the high school level, he is also a good pick and pop threat when needed to play the four. He does a tremendous job of attacking hard closeouts with superb footwork. Edwards is undoubtedly the best isolation scorer in the mid-Atlantic region.
He has a lot of tools in his bag. Edwards utilizes a variety of hesitation pull-ups, jab steps, step backs, crossovers, spins, etc., and he can stop on a dime with ease to get into his shot. He was an absolute nightmare for the St. Frances defenders.
Keeping it all the way real, EDWARDS BUSSED DEY ASS!
He also has the tools to hold his own on the defensive end at the high major level, in large part due to his size and length. When motivated, he slides his feet very well and can cover a lot of ground when closing out on shooters. Against St. Frances, he repeatedly demonstrated the ability to stay calm in pressure situations and come up big in crunch time. His game will fit well a the high major level, and he should be an immediate impact scorer in a league like the Big East for example.
On the defensive end, at times, he seems to just go through the motions. This was the case in a game against Reading High School earlier in the season. He didn’t demonstrate the competitive desire to lock his man down. Currently, he is not physical enough to handle bigger players down low, and he needs to add some muscle, especially if he’s considering SEC and Big 10 college destinations.
At his best, I haven’t seen a better player in the class of 2023. It was truly a pleasure watching Edwards play against St. Frances. I was in the room as he delivered a masterpiece performance against a tough nationally ranked opponent on their home turf.
Edwards, like Gillespie, is a BAD muthafucka!