Under the masterful direction of Benton, Ky., Marshall County High School athletic director, Steve Woodward, the Marshall County Hoop Fest is now established as one of the nation's premier high school basketball events. The 2005 Hoop Fest is "as good as it gets," featuring six seniors rated among the National Top 25 by Rivals.com.
The "super six seniors" are No. 8, 6-foot-9 power forward Tyler Hansbrough, Poplar Bluff, Mo., High School, and Roy Williams' top signee at North Carolina; No. 9, 6-foot-4 second guard, Mississippi State signee, Monta Ellis, Jackson, Miss., Lanier H.S., who scored 140 points in three games, including a 54-points explosion, for an awesome average of 46.7 ppg., in the Rumble on the Ridge Thanksgiving Tournament;No. 10, the top recruit for Bill Self's Kansas Jayhawks, 6-foot-8 power forward Julian Wright, Flossmoor, Ill., Homewood-Flossmoor H.S.; No. 15, unsigned 6-foot-4 guard/forward Jamont Gordon, Mouth of Wilson, Va., Oak Hill Academy; No. 16, 6-foot-3 second guard Eric Devendorf, also at Oak Hill Academy, and bound for Syracuse; and No. 23, 6-foot-7 point guard J.P. Prince, the Arizona signee from Memphis, Tenn., White Station H.S.
On Thursday, December 2, at 6:00 p.m. cst, the 16-game, 31-team field Marshall County Shootout will tip-off at one of the nation's finest high school arenas, the 5,500-seat Reed Conder Gymnasium at Marshall County High School. This outstanding event will conclude with the Saturday, December 4, 10:30 p.m. "feature game" between defending high school national champion Mouth of Wilson, Va., Oak Hill Academy, and Flossmoor, IL, Homewood-Flossmoor High School.
Following is a day-by-day schedule of the boys' games in the 2004 Marshall County Hoop Fest:
Thursday, December 2, at 6:00 p.m. Paducah, Ky., Lone Oak H.S., with 6-foot junior point guard Chase Denson, will face Hopkinsville, Ky., Christian County H.S. At 7:30 p.m. Mayfield, Ky., Graves County H.S., led by 6-foot-5 junior Randon Cavette, will play Metropolis, Ill., Massac County H.S. In the 9:00 p.m. game Cadiz, Ky., Trigg County H.S., with a lineup that includes talented Cairo, Ill., transfer, 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Russell Mackins, and powerful 6-foot-6, 300-pound senior center, Kenny Ray Turner, a Kentucky football recruit, is matched against Charleston, Mo., H.S.
On Friday, December 3, at 7:30 p.m.Paducah, Ky., Tilghman H.S., led by 6-foot point guard Jeffar Green, 6-foot-2 wing Tim Laster, and 6-foot-4 sophomore forward David Jones, will meet Bowling Green, Ky,, High School, and their standouts, 6-foot-2 marksman Jordan Blann, 5-foot-7 point guard Russell Parker, and promising 6-foot-7 junior forward Michael Jackson. At 8:30 p.m. host Marshall County H.S., featuring talented 6-foot-6 junior center/forward Daniel Ard, will play Bolivar, Tenn., Central H.S., and their superlative juniors, 6-foot-2 point guard Willie Kemp, and dominating 6-foot-9 center Wayne Chism. Kemp scored 36 points in Bolivar's loss to Poplar Bluff (Mo.) High in the championship game of the Rumble on the Ridge Tournament. The 10:30 p.m. contest could be a repeat of the 2003 masterpiece game between Mouth of Wilson, Va., Oak Hill Academy, and Jackson, Miss., Lanier H.S. In addition to highly-rated swingman, 6-foot-4 Jamont Gordon, Oak Hill's lineup includes sensational juniors, slender 6-foot-9 forward Kevin Durant, and playmaker supreme, 6-foot-1 point guard Tywon Lawson; and S.M.U. signee, 6-foot-11 center Bamba Fall. Lanier High features the nation's most prolific scoring guard, 6-foot-4 Monta Ellis.
For all "hoops addicts" you certainly can overdose on Saturday, December, 4. The final day schedule includes two girls' games, and seven boys' games, with a slam-dunk contest sandwiched in. The first boys' event is the 12:00 noon game between Jefferson City, Mo., H.S., and Tucson, Ariz., Santa Rita H.S. Jeff City has an outstanding floorleader in 5-foot-10 senior point guard, Dustin Thomas. At 1:30 p.m. Webster Groves, Mo., will play Fairdale, Ky., H.S. The top players for Webster Groves are 6-foot-4 senior guard/forward Eric Jones, and 6-foot-4 junior post Adrian Clayborn. Fairdale features one of Kentucky's finest two-sports athletes, 6-foot-3 guard Marcus Grinter, already committed to play football at Louisville.
The interesting 3:00 p.m. game will have Coach Danny Haney's Coconut Creek, Fla., North Broward Prep team pitted against towering Houston, Texas, Westbury Christian School. North Broward Prep standouts are Florida signee, 6-foot-10 center Jimmie Sutton, 6-foot-1 guard Reid Stiegman, and 6-foot-6 junior forward Ryan Christian. Westbury Christian's imposing frontcourt includes athletic 6-foot-7 wing forward Sean Coleman, 6-foot-8 center/forward Obi Ikeakor, 6-foot-9 center Jeremy Barr, and 6-foot-8 forward Peter Stein.
The Slam-Dunk contest will begin at 5:30 p.m; followed by the 6:00 p.m. matchup of Carbondale, Ill., H.S., and Memphis, Tenn., White Station H.S. Carbondale went to the the Illinois Class AA state semifinals last year, and is led by two talented transfer guards, Southern Illinois signee, 6-foot-4 Josh Tabb, and stellar point guard, 6-foot-1 Ray Nelson. Defending Tennessee 3A state champion White Station High has a true All-American candidate in 6-foot-7 point guard J.P. Prince. The Spartans also have gifted Holy Cross signee, 6-foot-6 senior forward Colin Cunningham, and 6-foot-7 junior forward Chris Williams.
At 7:30 p.m. is the much-anticipated matchup of two Illinois Class A powerhouses, Belleville Althoff High School versus Chicago Hales Franciscian High School. The star for Althoff is St. Louis U. recruit, 6-foot-2 point guard Kevin Lisch. The main man for Hales Franciscian is Purdue signee, 6-foot-4, 245-pound, play wherever he wants,Nate Minnoy. He is joined by lightning-quick 5-foot-8 junior point guard Jerome Randle, and 5-foot-10 senior guard Mike Robinson.
If you want still more high-flying hoops, look at the 9:00 p.m. game with Poplar Bluff, Mo., H.S., against Jacksonville, Fla., Arlington Country Day School. For Poplar Bluff 6-foot-9 center/forward Tyler Hansbrough is "the ultimate warrior ." Hansbrough powered his team to the championship of the Rumble on the Ridge Tournament, averaging 31 points, and 12 rebounds, and earning MVP honors. Tyler appears to be making a strong bid for national player of the year honors. His younger brother, 6-foot-4 junior one/two guard Ben Hansbrough, is rapidly becoming a top college prospect. Ben hit the game-winning three-pointer with :04 on the clock to give Poplar Bluff a 72-71 win against Denham Springs, La., in the first round game at the Rumble on the Ridge. Both Hansbrough brothers played for the St. Louis Eagles travel team last summer. Arlington Country Day has one of the deepest rosters in prep hoops. Top performers include 6-foot-5 wing Florida signee, David Huertas, George Mason signee, 6-foot-6 wing Sammy Hernandez, 7-foot-2 junior center Jason Bennett, 6-foot junior guard Josue Soto, and 6-foot-8 sophomore A. J. Bennett.
And, now for the 10:30 p.m. primetime closer, Oak Hill Academy versus Flossmoor, Ill., Homewood-Flossmoor High School. I promise that you will have no trouble staying awake for this one.We have already listed the Oak Hill headliners, except for Clemson signee, 6-foot-four second guard KC Rivers, who likely will not play because of a pre-season injury. Homewood-Flossmoor's leader is one of the nation's best, 6-foot-8 forward Julian Wright.To see him perform against Kevin Durant, and the other Oak Hill frontcourt players will be a treat.
This is the field for the 2004 Marshall County Hoop Fest. I plan to be there, and look forward to seeing many of the most avid basketball fans in America!