Five things to watch Friday in the Jordan Brand Classic:
Yikes. DeAndre Ayton and Mohamed Bamba are on the same team. I’ve seen Ayton and Bomba play against each other several times, and when they do that, they neutralize each other, so you don’t see how dominant they can be. The two best post players in this year’s 2017 class are both playing for the West. Playing them at the same time could slow the offense a bit, but I don’t see anybody on the East stopping Ayton if he takes it inside and Bamba will allow the West to play more aggressively, knowing the shot-blocker is back there lurking.
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Trevon Duval vs. Collin Sexton is going to be fun to watch. I don’t know how much these two guards will be matched up during the game, but in practice, they showed everybody will be watching when they are. Both players are so quick, so explosive, they can embarrass whoever is in front of them. This is what their practice matchup looked like:
The reemergence of Tennessee in women’s basketball. The Volunteers, once the dominant team in women’s basketball, might be ready to return to the top again if this year’s recruiting class is any indication. The Volunteers already have three ALL-Southeastern Conference players returning and the Jordan Brand Classic has two first team American Family Insurance ALL-USA Girls players who are headed to Tennessee in forward Evina Westbrook from South Salem (Salem, Ore.) and Anastasia Hayes from Riverdale (Murfreesboro). Keep an eye on those two, plus Ribault (Jacksonville) forward Rennia Davis and St. Francis (Alpharetta, Ga.) post Kasiyahna Kushkituah, all of whom will have to learn the words to Rocky Top in the near future.
The chemistry of Brian Bowen and Jaren Jackson Jr.: Bowen and Jackson led La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) to the title at the DICK’S High School Nationals two weeks ago. They are the only teammates in the boys game and they’re both playing for the East. That could be a big advantage as the rest of the players have had but two practices together to develop chemistry.
Keep an eye on these guys: Alabama signee John Petty of Jemison (Huntsville), Matt Coleman of Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), Tremont Waters of Notre Dame (West Haven, Conn.) and Jalek Felton of Gray Collegiate (West Columbia, S.C.) didn’t play in the McDonald’s All-American Game two weeks ago or in the Nike Hoop Summit last week. So, today’s game is the first chance for them to shine before a national audience. Great players have big egos, so it will be interesting to see which one steps up.