MUNCIE, Ind. - The T-Mobile Invitational got under way on Monday evening with some of the top teams in the country participating. Headlining the event were South Atlanta High School, with Derrick Favors, and Lawrence North High School, with its extremely talented frontline led by Dominique Ferguson.
Favors perfect in win
The first matchup between Duncanville (Texas) High School and South Atlanta was anticipated because of the battle on the interior. Favors, one of the best prospects in the 2009 class, was matched up with Perry Jones who is quickly making an impression as one of the best prospects in the 2010 class.
With a challenge in front of him, Favors more than answered the bell. The 6-foot-9 man-child was simply unstoppable for the Hornets. The South Atlanta guards did an excellent job of feeding Favors on the block, and from there he was money. Favors' pet move is to post on the block, turn over his right shoulder to the middle of the lane and either slam home a dunk or hit a short hook. He used that to perfection on numerous occasions, and Duncanville simply had no response.
It was obvious that Monday was Favors' day early in the second half when the big man, who is not known for his perimeter shooting, shot an open 3-pointer and banked it in hard off the glass. Running down the floor Favors took some ribbing from teammates and coaches.
Favors finished with 30 points − hitting all 12 of his shots from the floor − and 21 rebounds. The only blemish for Favors was six turnovers, but that certainly didn't take away from his dominating performance.
While Favors was great, he wasn't the only one who excelled. Unsigned senior point guard Nick Watkins (14 points) was excellent. He ran the show, played good defense, shot the ball well from deep and finished through contact. Also showing flashes was sophomore big man Nick Jacobs. Jacobs battled foul trouble, but he finished down low with explosion and showed good hands for a young big man.
Jones was best player for Duncanville. While he doesn't get many post touches, when he does get the ball he is effective. At 6-10 with long arms and a nice shooting touch, Jones showed off some big-time ability. He led Duncanville with 12 points. Also with 12 points was Oklahoma State signee Roger Franklin, who as usual played as hard as anyone on the floor and did all of the dirty work.
Behind Favors, South Atlanta advanced to the final of the four-team tournament with a 67-53 win.
Lawrence North smacks Wrotenless Garfield
One of the major drawing points for the event was the presence of 2011 super prospect Anthony Wroten Jr.. Wroten, who was granted an injunction to play, was expected on the court up to an hour before game time, but things changed. Garfield coach Ed Haskins received a call stating that the athletic department could face serious sanctions if Wroten played since no classes took place at Garfield since the injunction was issued. Because of that, Wroten will not participate in a game until Garfield begins classes in January.
Without Wroten the game lost a lot of its luster, but Lawrence North showed some impressive pieces. No one was more impressive than Ferguson. The long-armed 6-9 forward showed why he is one of the best prospects in the 2010 class. Ferguson, who has committed to Kentucky, scored in the midrange off the dribble, hit shots from the outside, scored down low, brought the ball up the floor against pressure, rebounded and made nice passes. Overall, he had about as impressive an 18-point performance as you can have.
Also playing well for Lawrence North was sophomore Ryan Taylor. The 6-5 combo forward is a freak athlete who plays harder than everyone on the floor. All game long he crashed the glass offensively and scored down low. Taylor finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.
The final player in double figures for the Wildcats was Justin Martin. Martin, a Louisville commitment, didn't shoot the ball particularly well, but he showed a good ability to handle the ball and is a good-looking athlete on the wing.
Garfield was never really in the game without Wroten. Lawrence North advanced to the final with a 61-37 victory.
Favors decided not to sign during the early period, but he has narrowed down his list to three. He indicated that Georgia, Georgia Tech and NC State are the schools he is still considering. In the past Favors has indicated that staying close to home is important to him. About staying close, Favors said, "Just so my friends and family can come see me play for one year or as long as it takes."
Watkins indicated that he is hearing from Oklahoma, Central Florida, NC State, Gardner- Webb and Buffalo.
Jacobs has interest from Oklahoma, Alabama, Xavier, Georgia Tech, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, Auburn and NC State.
Taylor noted that Louisville, Cincinnati and Kentucky are his leaders. He also listed Indiana, Purdue, Marquette and West Virginia. He has offers from Louisville, Cincinnati, Indiana and Purdue.
Sophomore big man Michael Chandler is oozing with potential, but he doesn't get much run behind the talented upperclassmen for Lawrence North. The lack of playing time hasn't stopped college coaches from taking note. Louisville and Ohio State have offered, while Kentucky, Florida and Illinois are also showing attention.