Kentucky basketball fans who make the trip to Benton this weekend will have plenty to watch at the Marshall County Hoop Fest.
The annual high school showcase will be held at Marshall County High School on Friday and Saturday, and it features several UK recruits, and a number of highly regarded prospects from around the country.
Here’s a look at some of the top players scheduled to play in the event, along with a full schedule and ticket info:
(All player rankings courtesy of Scout.com)
ANDREW WIGGINS (Huntington Prep): The unanimous No. 1 player in high school basketball will play on both days, and he should be tested by premier players in both matchups. On Friday, he’ll face off against Memphis East small forward Nick King, and Saturday’s game will feature Wiggins vs. Briarcrest’s Austin Nichols. King and Nichols are both Memphis signees, and both players are ranked among the top 50 seniors in the country (see below). Wiggins, a 6-foot-8 small forward, is uncommitted, but he’s expected to choose between Kentucky and Florida State. He already has made multiple visits to UK and is scheduled to visit Florida State in early December. Wiggins isn’t expected to make a college decision until spring.
ANDREW HARRISON (Travis High): The No. 1 guard in the class of 2013 and the No. 3 overall recruit, Harrison will be the latest in a long line of elite point guards to play for John Calipari. Harrison, along with his twin brother Aaron, committed to Kentucky in October and signed earlier this month. The first night of Hoop Fest will end with a marquee matchup of Andrew Harrison vs. Ballard’s Quentin Snider, one of the top junior point guards in the country. He has committed to Louisville. On Saturday, Harrison and Travis High will face Madison Central, the No. 4 team in Kentucky and an early favorite for the 11th Region title.
AARON HARRISON (Travis High): Andrew’s brother is the No. 1 shooting guard in the country and the No. 4 overall recruit in the class of 2013. Like his brother, Aaron is a 6-foot-5, 200-plus pound player who can shoot lights-out from long range, handle the ball, and use his body to force mismatches with smaller guards. The Harrison twins form the best backcourt in high school basketball, and Aaron is expected to be the starting shooting guard as soon as he gets to Kentucky next season.
CLIFF ALEXANDER (Curie High): A 6-foot-9, 230-pound center, Alexander is rated as the No. 4 overall recruit in the class of 2014. Though still early in his recruitment, the Chicago native has repeatedly said that Kentucky and Michigan State are his top two schools, and many analysts say he’ll end up with one of those programs. Alexander will play Friday night in a matchup with national powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, which has several highly ranked recruits.
MONTAQUE GILL-CAESAR (Huntington Prep): Just a sophomore, Gill-Caesar already has drawn attention from UK’s coaching staff. The No. 18 recruit in the class of 2015 is the only non-senior to start for Huntington Prep, which is ranked by USA Today as the No. 1 team in the country. Gill-Caesar, a 6-foot-6 small forward, attended the same Toronto-area elementary school as Andrew Wiggins. He took an unofficial visit to Kentucky earlier this fall and will be a prospect to watch over the next couple of seasons. Baylor, Ohio State and Indiana are among the schools who have expressed early interest.
DEREK WILLIS (Bullitt East): The Kentucky signee is not ranked by Scout.com but is hoping for a breakout senior season after taking some time off over the summer. Unfortunately, Willis won’t be competing with his Bullitt East teammates at Hoop Fest. He was ejected from Monday’s season opener for arguing with officials, and he will miss Saturday’s game against Hopkinsville as a result. Fans in Central Kentucky can see him play at Lexington Catholic on Jan. 5.
NICK KING (Memphis East): The Memphis signee is rated as the No. 21 overall recruit in the class of 2013. The 6-foot-6 small forward is likely to match up against either Wiggins or Gill-Caesar, possibly both, in Friday night’s game against Huntington Prep. King is the highest-rated player in Memphis’ current five-man class, which Scout.com ranks fourth in the nation.
SINDARIUS THORNWELL (Oak Hill): Thornwell, the No. 24 overall recruit in 2013, leads another stacked Oak Hill Academy squad, which is ranked by ESPN as the No. 6 team in the nation. The 6-4 shooting guard is the first big recruit to sign at South Carolina under new coach Frank Martin. One of the best guard battles of the weekend will feature Thornwell vs. top-50 recruit Jajuan Johnson when Oak Hill faces Southwind (Tenn.) on Saturday night.
JOHNATHAN WILLIAMS (Southwind): John Calipari showed some early interest in Williams, a Memphis native, but the 6-8 power forward never received a UK scholarship offer and ended up signing with Missouri. The No. 33 overall recruit in 2013 could match up with another former UK recruit, Troy Williams, in Saturday night’s game against Oak Hill Academy.
JAJUAN JOHNSON (Southwind): Johnson was on the radar for both Kentucky and Louisville at one time and flirted with several SEC schools before signing with Marquette in November. The No. 34 overall recruit in 2013 is one of the best shooters in the country.
DOMINIC WOODSON (Huntington Prep): Woodson, who once lived in Louisville, took an unofficial visit to Kentucky earlier this fall but tired of waiting on a UK scholarship offer that never came. The No. 41 overall player in the class of 2013 signed with Baylor, choosing the Bears over several other high-major programs. A 6-10, 290-pound center, Woodson is ranked as one of the best big men in the senior class.
XAVIER RATHAN-MAYES (Huntington Prep): One of Wiggins’ best friends and a fellow Canadian, Rathan-Mayes is rated as the No. 42 overall player in the senior class. The 6-4 shooting guard is one of the best three-point shooters in the nation. UK was among the final schools on his list, but he ended up signing with Florida State.
TROY WILLIAMS (Oak Hill): Williams, the No. 43 overall senior, was once considered a near-lock to sign with Kentucky. In April, Williams was expected to announce his commitment to either UK or North Carolina. Instead, he held off on the announcement, opened up his recruitment, and ended up signing with Indiana. Williams, a 6-6 small forward, is the nephew of legendary AAU figure Boo Williams and is one of four nationally ranked players in Indiana’s 2013 class, which is ranked No. 3 in the country by Scout.com.
AUSTIN NICHOLS (Briarcrest): Kentucky showed interest in Nichols early, and Duke was once thought to be the favorite to land the No. 50 overall recruit in 2013. Nichols instead signed with hometown Memphis, adding to Coach Josh Pastner’s impressive class of mostly homegrown prospects. A versatile 6-9 power forward, Nichols should provide some interesting matchups when Briarcrest takes on Huntington Prep to close the showcase Saturday night.
MOSES KINGSLEY (Huntington Prep): A onetime Louisville target, Kingsley is the No. 53 overall recruit in the class of 2013 and an Arkansas signee. The 6-9 center splits time in the post with teammate Dominic Woodson. Kingsley is a native of Nigeria, and he contracted malaria while on a visit to his homeland over the summer. He’s fully recovered now and has been impressive in Huntington Prep’s early games.
NATE BRITT (Oak Hill): The No. 70 overall recruit in 2013 is currently one of three North Carolina signees, joining Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks. Britt is a 6-1 point guard who Coach Roy Williams expects “to do a lot of wonderful things in our program.” The Washington, D.C.-area native committed to the Tar Heels last year.
QUENTIN SNIDER (Ballard): The No. 23 overall recruit in the class of 2014 is Louisville‘s point guard of the future. The 6-1 playmaker committed to the Cards before his sophomore season began, and he shot up the rankings after a strong showing in the spring and summer. Snider, whose Ballard Bruins are ranked No. 1 in the state, will have his hands full Friday night in a matchup with UK signees Andrew and Aaron Harrison. The Louisville commitment is showing no signs of backing off. On Tuesday, Snider tweeted “Fri gone be a big game trust me imma be ready to Battle against them twins I ain’t gone fall back.”
Hoop Fest schedule
Friday (Session 1)
4 p.m.: Marshall (girls) vs. Massac (girls)
5:30 p.m.: Marshall Co. vs. Massac (Ill.)
7 p.m.: Huntington Prep (W.Va.) vs. Memphis East (Tenn.)
8:30 p.m.: Oak Hill (Va.) vs. Curie (Ill.)
10 p.m.: Ballard vs. Fort Bend Travis (Texas)
Saturday (Session 2)
10 a.m.: Marshall (girls) vs. Mt. Carmel (girls)
11:30 a.m.: Graves Co. vs. Warren Central
1 p.m.: Calloway Co. vs. Harrisburg
2:30 p.m.: Hopkinsville vs. Bullitt East
Saturday (Session 3)
4:30 p.m.: Marshall Co. vs. Wilson Central (Tenn.)
6 p.m.: Madison Central vs. Fort Bend Travis (Texas)
7:30 p.m.: Oak Hill (Va.) vs. Southwind (Tenn.)
9 p.m.: Huntington Prep (W.Va.) vs. Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.)
(all times Central)
Advance tickets are on sale for $25 for all three sessions. Individual sessions will be sold for $10 if available. Tickets can be bought at the Marshall County athletic office. For more information, contact Jeff Stokes at (27o) 527-6714 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Official website: Marshall County Hoop Fest