University of Kentucky basketball signees Aaron and Andrew Harrison, UK target Andrew Wiggins and University of Louisville commitment Quentin Snider are among the stars who will descend on Benton, Ky., today and Saturday for the 17th annual Marshall County Hoop Fest, a 13-game showcase of top teams and top college prospects.
The event in the 5,000-seat Marshall County High School gym has one of its strongest slates ever and figures to be a treat for fans, particularly those of UK.
“I think it’s probably one of the best events in the country this year,” said Marshall County athletic director Jeff Stokes, who began organizing the 2012 Hoop Fest as soon as last year’s ended.
There are three sessions — tonight, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night — and Stokes is expecting sellouts for both night sessions. Tickets are $10 per session or $25 for an all-session pass.
Texas’ Fort Bend Travis High School, which features the five-star Harrison twins, will play both nights: tonight against Ballard, which has 2014 star Snider, and Saturday against Madison Central. Ballard is No. 1 and Madison Central No. 4 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s preseason poll of coaches.
Wiggins, the nation’s No. 1 prospect and UK’s top remaining 2013 target, will play both nights for Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, which is widely considered the country’s best academy/prep school team.
Travis coach Craig Brownson said he’s eager to give the Harrisons and their teammates a chance to experience playing in Kentucky.
“It’ll be fun, a packed house, rabid fans,” Brownson said. “It should be neat. … (The twins) are definitely looking forward to it. I don’t think they even know what they’re going to experience. … They’ve been celebrities (at games) to an extent for a while, but probably not to the extent they will be in Kentucky.”
Travis (3-0) is ranked No. 2 nationally among high schools by MaxPreps.com. Andrew Harrison, the nation’s top-rated point guard (distinguishable from his brother only by his No. 5 jersey), is averaging 20.3 points. Aaron, the top shooting guard who wears No. 2, is averaging 21.7.
Ballard (1-0), with the nationally regarded Snider and shooting guard Lavonne Holland, could be a formidable test for the twins.
“When you play against guys who have a chance to be in the (NBA) it creates memories for our guys,” Ballard coach Chris Renner said, adding that Snider and Holland will get a “good chance to gauge where they’re at and a good chance and make a bigger name for themselves locally or nationally. … It’s a win-win for us.”
Madison Central coach Allen Feldhaus isn’t sure how his team will handle the Harrisons, but he’s glad the Indians will get the chance. It’s his team’s first time in the Hoop Fest in his 20 years at the school.
“We’re tickled to death,” he said. “… Our guys can hardly contain themselves.”
Bullitt East, second in The C-J preseason poll, is the other Louisville-area team in the event. But the Chargers, who will face No. 8 Hopkinsville on Saturday afternoon, will be without UK signee Derek Willis, suspended two games after being ejected from Monday’s game.
Marshall County Hoop Fest schedule
(All times EST, and all boys’ game unless noted)
Session No. 1 (today): 5 p.m. (Girls): Marshall County vs. Massac County (Ill.); 6:30: Marshall County vs. Massac County; 8: Huntington Prep (W.Va.) vs. East (Memphis); 9:30: Oak Hill (Va.) vs. Curie (Chicago); 11: Ballard vs. Fort Bend Travis (Texas)
Session No. 2 (Saturday): 11 a.m. (Girls): Marshall County vs. Mt. Carmel (Ill.); 12:30 p.m.: Graves County vs. Warren Central; 2 p.m.: Calloway County vs. Harrisburg (Ill.); 3:30: Hopkinsville vs. Bullitt East.
Session No. 3 (Saturday): 5:30 p.m.: Marshall County vs. Wilson Central (Tenn.); 7: Madison Central vs. Fort Bend Travis; 8:30: Oak Hill vs. Southwind (Memphis); 10: Huntington Prep vs. Briarcrest Christian (Memphis).
Tickets: $10 per session, $25 for an all-session pass.
* Notable prospects (with college choice; all 2013 players unless noted)
Huntington Prep: Andrew Wiggins, (Kentucky target), Xavier-Rathan Mayes (Florida State), Dominic Woodson, (Baylor), Moses Kingsley (Arkansas), Montaque Gill-Caesar (possible 2015 UK target), Travon Landry, (Tennessee).
Travis: Andrew Harrison (Kentucky); Aaron Harrison, sr., SG (Kentucky).
Ballard: Quentin Snider (2014, Louisville); Kelan Martin (2014), Lavonne Holland.
Curie: Cliff Alexander (2014 UK target).
Bullitt East: Derek Willis (Kentucky, suspended/won’t play), Rusty Troutman (Bellarmine).
Memphis East: Nick King (Memphis).
Briarcrest Christian: Austin Nichols (Memphis).
Oak Hill: Nate Britt (North Carolina), Troy Williams (Indiana), Sindarius Thornwell (South Carolina), Ikenna Iroegbu (Washington State), R.J. Curington (Western Kentucky target).
Southwind: Johnathan Williams III (Missouri), JaJuan Johnson (Marquette).
Hopkinsville: Jordan Majors.
Madison Central: Dominique Hawkins (WKU target), Ken-Jah Bosley, Quan Taylor.