December 7, 2006

Lights shine bright in Atlanta

ATLANTA, GA - Lights, check. Camera. Plenty of them around Georgia Tech. Action. It was everywhere in the Old Spice High School Showcase on Thursday night as four of the top 25 teams in the country took to the floor on national television.

Guard play pays off for Oak Hill

Oak Hill Academy finally got it's test this year. The nation's number one team had to fight off a pesky Norcross High School, ranked No. 2 overall in the country by USA Today, for a hard fought 65-57 victory.

Oak Hill saw their lead climb to 10 under three minutes to play but Norcross forward Gani Lawal scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and cut the score to four points.

Atlanta native Howard Thompkins sank a 15 foot jumper to help seal the victory.

"If Howard doesn't hit that shot, we aren't winning the game," junior guard Brandon Jennings said.

The possession before, Jennings sank a difficult high floating lay-up over the outstretched hands of Lawal. It was his third made bucket in a row for the top 10 prospect.

"That shot was huge for us," Nolan Smith, a Duke signee, said. "Those are just the kind of plays you expect to see from him each game out. He is fun to watch and even funner to play with."

Smith isn't too bad to play with either. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard finished with 25 points (8-14 FG, 6-9 FT, 3-5 from three). Jennings added nine points and 10 assists while Thompkins added 11 points and a team high seven rebounds. Future Michigan guard Alex Legion added 12 points in the victory.

Norcross wasn't going down easy.

"They really challenged us," Oak Hill head coach Steve Smith said. "They had a great crowd and they were just a great team for us to play. We knew it wasn't going to be easy. They are one of the top teams in the country for a reason. We have six, seven, eight more games like that ahead of us."

The home town Blue Devils rode Lawal's interior success in the fourth quarter. The four-star forward put on an offensive clinic in the blocks. It seemed like everything he touched down low was going in.

Al-Farouq Aminu looked like the player he was in the spring time, rebounding, running the floor, playing at the rim and playing above his shoulders. The five-star junior post was doing a little bit of everything for Norcross. Most impressive was his attention to cleaning the glass. Aminu scored 14 points and grabbed a game high 20 rebounds.

Is Jennings really USC bound?

Jennings verbally committed to Southern Cal around Thanksgiving but the five-star junior left some reason of doubt after the game.

"It was a chance to stay close to home but I haven't signed my letter of intent yet. There is a lot of time between now and then," Jennings said. "Who knows what can happen between now and then. Maybe there is (a chance of looking around) a little bit. We'll see."

The five-star guard left a lot to the imagination. He also considered Arizona and Connecticut and pledged to the Trojans while home during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Home sweet home for Storrs

Lance Storrs is ready to call Georgia Tech home right now. At least that is the way he played on Thursday night at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard scored a game high 20 points in a 69-53 victory.

The future Yellow Jacket was knocking down everything from downtown (4-6 from downtown) and seemed to be the

"I told him before the game that this is his future home and he needs to give people a preview of what's to come and to give the people of Columbia something to remember when he leaves," Columbia head coach Phil McCrary said.

Storrs gave quite the preview. The senior said he is looking forward to playing on Cremins Court in the near future.

"I felt comfortable out there," Storrs said. "This is my hometown and my hometown fans. I wanted to give them something to expect from my next year."

So did future Georgia big man Jeremy Price. The 6-foot-9 center was a hoss inside, scoring 17 points and corralling 12 rebounds against city nemesis J.J. Hickson, a NC State signee.

Junior Travis Leslie was the sparkplug that Columbia needed from the outset as the athletic wing crashed the boards and made the small plays that the Lions needed.

"They were going to try and get out in a fast paced game but we knew that we would be successful if we went into our half court game," Price said, "because that is the style of play where we are the most successful."

The win continues Columbia's win streak and extended it to 36 victories in a row.

Wheeler had a difficult time getting out in transition, their trademark strength, and didn't have any production from anyone other than Hickson. Even the five-star Hickson struggled with his own game, shooting six of 14 from the floor. The only other player to crack into double digits was junior Dequan Jones, who scored 11 points.

Coach's row

Head coaches in attendance included North Carolina's Roy Williams, Florida's Billy Donovan, Oklahoma's Jeff Capel, Georgia's Dennis Felton and Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt. Assistants from Kentucky, Air Force, Central Florida and Georgia Tech also manned the sidelines.



 

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