It’s hard to glean much from a high school all-star game, so the four future Louisville basketball players who played in Saturday night’s Kentucky Derby Festival Classic at Freedom Hall weren’t all that concerned about the final score or how they played.
But this week was the first time all four Class of 2017 signees – Jordan Nwora, Darius Perry, Lance Thomas and Malik Williams – spent time together. It was only one day, because Nwora arrived late Friday evening from the Jordan Brand Classic regional game in New York, yet the future Cards said they enjoyed the chance to hang out as a group.
“I lost my voice a little bit cheering them on,” said Perry, who scored a team-high 22 points in a losing effort for the Thunder team. “They’re really good players and I enjoy playing with them. I enjoyed spending the week with them and I can’t wait to be back with them on June 1 and get to work.”
Thomas said he learned that his future classmates are “all goofy” and have similar levels of playfulness. That much was on display when a young boy seeking an autograph broke up the quartet’s photo session with the media after the game. Thomas left the group pose to sign the boy’s basketball, which immediately prompted ribbing from his three other teammates, who were still trying to hold up their hand signals and smile.
“They’re all cool guys,” Thomas said. “It’s been fun. … I knew Jordan, but he really just came here and jelled immediately. We’ve got handshakes and everything.”
Perry was the star on Saturday among the future Cards, making 9 of 15 from the field, including four 3-pointers. Nwora’s flight landed just after midnight, and he said he was up early Saturday to prepare for the game. The 6-foot-8 Vermont Academy forward said his fatigue was the reason why he was just 3 of 10, though he did grab seven rebounds in addition to his seven points.
Thomas added five points and five rebounds, and Williams totaled three points, four rebounds, one block and one steal.
The feeling-out process will continue into the summer, Williams said, but it was a good opportunity to break the basketball ice with each other. His fellow signees “all play defense,” he said. Perry impressed him as a point guard, while Nwora showed him a soft shooting touch and Thomas put his versatility on display.
“That was the greatest part of the weekend,” Williams said. “It was real nice. We got a feel for each other, now we have to get it going once we get together. … We link really well together, and that’ll build on the court once we get to playing more with one another.”