Basketball

Marion County tourney preview: North Central's Wilkes sets fashion trend

The most unlikely comeback in basketball might be the return of the short shorts. Maybe not exactly John Stockton-style, but the trend toward short and skinny shorts has replaced the baggier look first made fashionable by Michael Jordan.

One of the state’s top players, North Central senior Kris Wilkes, is completely on board with the new style. He claims, though, that he’s not following anybody else. Did Wilkes “invent” the less-baggy look?

“I do see other people doing it now, but I just did it based on me,” the UCLA recruit said. “I did it when I started high school. I’m trying to bring (the look) back. It’s easier to get around when you don’t have those big, baggy shorts. And you can show your legs off a little bit. They make me stand out more. People are like, who is the guy with short shorts?”

Teammate Emmanuel Little joked that nobody on North Central’s top-ranked team has Wilkes’ fashion sense.

“That’s his style and he likes it,” Little said. “We think it’s funny. He thinks it’s cool. He kind of made it cool. Kind of. Ever since he did it sophomore year, other people have started to do it. But not me. Definitely not me.”

North Central coach Doug Mitchell joked that Wilkes “is going to bring back the 1975 style.” Hey, whatever works. This week, North Central (10-0) is looking for its first Marion County tournament championship since 2012 beginning with a first-round home game Tuesday against Southport (1-8).

“It’s big,” Wilkes said of the tournament. “We haven’t won it since I’ve been here. This year we have a really good team and we want to go undefeated this year. That starts by making a statement and winning county next week.”

Here’s a look the first-round matchups (all 7 p.m. Tuesday) along with some predictions:

Speedway (2-7) at Lawrence North (8-3): The Wildcats are looking to rebound from a 63-57 loss to Warren Central on Friday and make a repeat trip to the county finals (lost 50-48 to Pike in last year’s championship). Speedway will have trouble with Lawrence North’s big frontline of senior Ra Kpedi and junior Kevin Easley and talented guards in junior Antwaan Cushingberry and sophomore Dexter Shouse. Speedway notched a good win Friday, 59-57 over Decatur Central. Desean Hampton, a 6-4 senior, leads the Sparkplugs. The pick: Lawrence North.

Warren Central (9-0) at Lawrence Central (4-5): Any questions about the validity of the Warriors’ fast start were answered with wins over the weekend against Lawrence North and Hamilton Southeastern. Warren Central is shooting 42 percent from the 3-point line and senior Mack Smith (19.2 points per game) is leading the way. The Bears are better than their record shows, led by sophomore Wesley Jordan (13.4 ppg) and senior Daveon Bell (11.2 ppg, 3.9 assists). These teams will meet again Jan. 20. The pick: Warren Central in a close one.

Brebeuf Jesuit (7-3) at Ben Davis (8-3): Ben Davis narrowly defeated Brebeuf, 56-52, on Dec. 30. The Giants, led by junior Aaron Henry and senior Datrion Harper, have lost three games by a combined 18 points. Brebeuf’s losses — to Roncalli, Cathedral and Ben Davis — are by a combined 13 points. Myja White had 27 points in a 65-60 win over Zionsville on Friday. The pick: Ben Davis in the best game of the night.

Southport (1-8) at North Central (10-0): It’s been a tough year for Southport after the graduation of Joey Brunk and departure of Paul Scruggs to prep school. The Cardinals have had a tough schedule, too. North Central should be motivated after a five-year dry spell in the county. The pick: North Central.

Franklin Central (7-2) at Beech Grove (6-4): This should be another good one. The Flashes are quietly putting together another solid season, led by senior Grant Pedigo (18.1 ppg, 8.9 rebounds). Beech Grove is the only team to defeat Tri-West, and all four of its losses are by nine points or less. Seniors Dylan Allen (15.1 ppg) and Chase Andries (14.8 ppg) lead the Hornets. The pick: I’ll take Beech Grove in a mild upset.

Roncalli (8-2) at Perry Meridian (4-6): Roncalli has been in the Marion County tournament every year since 2000 and has never advanced to the semifinals. Maybe this is the year. Senior guard Christian Stewart is one of the county’s best guards. Perry Meridian made it to the semifinals last year and has a 1,000-point scorer in senior Nate Mills. The pick: Roncalli.

Pike (8-3) at Lutheran (5-3): Seniors Brandon Perry and Tyler Johnson will attempt to help the Saints spring the upset. Pike has been playing much better than it did early in the season, led by seniors Justin Williams (14.5 ppg) and Isiah James (12.6 ppg). Pike is the two-time defending county champion. The pick: Pike.

Decatur Central (3-7) at Park Tudor (9-2): It’s a bit of a rebuilding year for Decatur Central, which has a standout freshman in 6-foot guard Kenny Tracy. Park Tudor has bounced back from a loss to Tindley with three consecutive wins. The Panthers are strong at the guard spot with seniors Kobe Webster and Isaiah Rice and sophomore Isiah Moore. The pick: Park Tudor.

That leaves quarterfinals matchups of Lawrence North-Warren Central, Ben Davis-North Central, Beech Grove-Roncalli and Pike-Park Tudor. Give me Warren Central and North Central on one side and Roncalli and Park Tudor on the other in Friday’s semifinal games at Southport. I’ll take North Central and Roncalli to advance to Saturday’s championship with the Panthers winning it at Southport.

Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649. Follow him on Twitter: @KyleNeddenriep.

Kris Wilkes debuted a new look in North Central's win over Ben Davis on Friday night.

Kris Wilkes debuted a new look in North Central’s win over Ben Davis on Friday night.