The third day of the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational brought just as much excitement as the first two days, but in a different way. Teams were playing for their lives, so everyone played with a ‘win or go home’ mentality so they could ensure themselves of playing on the final day. Kentucky bound big man Karl Towns entered the gym with lofty expectations and walked away a villian; Future ACC foes Cat Barber and Matt Jones went to war; And UNC bound Isaiah Hicks continued to make his case for North Carolina’s Mr. Basketball.
Here are a few of the standouts from day three:
Anthony “Cat” Barber vs Matt Jones- The matchup between Cat Barber and Matt Jones didn’t quite have the intrigue that Cat’s matchup with Shelton Mitchell brought, but still pegged two future ACC guard from rivals schools against each other. What we didn’t expect was that there would only be 32 combined points in the first half (DeSoto had 17-15 lead) in a very ugly game of basketball in which DeSoto took home a 46-34 victory.
Starting with the victorious Matt Jones, the 6’5 2-guard almost seemed intent on showing his future fans that he could do more than just shoot the ball. He only attempted 2 three pointers and got the majority of his 18 points by the way of buckets at the rim or pull-ups in the key, showing how his game has evolved.
Cat’s numbers are a bit skewed because he had to jack up a lot of shots late in the game, but just wasn’t dropping the same shots that he did last night. Cat still got into the lane at will, created whenever he wanted and played great defense. Unfortunately for him (and his Hampton teammates), he shot 7-21 en route to posting 19 ,walking away with an L against DeSoto.
Isaiah Hicks, 6’8, PF, JF Webb (NC), 2013- It was a matchup of public vs private school powers when JF Webb took on Word of God and was evident from the tip that WOG was going to do everything in their power to shut down NC’s best player, Isaiah Hicks. The constant conversion on Hicks didn’t seem to phase him, as he found other areas to impact the game. He was active on the glass, and was good defensively both positionally and from help side. As the game went on, Hicks hit some mid-range jumpers and while teammate Mitron Terry chipped in with a huge game, they were not able to overcome the all-star team that Word of God put on the court.
Issac Copeland, 6’9, PF/SF, The Miller School (VA), 2014- With Roy Williams in the building yesterday to watch him, he was impressive, but didn’t quite show everyone his full package of skills. On Day 3, he dominated. Against The Greenfield School, Copeland was deadly from mid-range, handled the ball well in the open floor, and converted everything around the rim. His length and athleticism allowed him to defend both the perimeter and the interior and while we aren’t quite ready to call him a full time small forward just yet, he’s certainly making strides in the right direction.
Karl Towns, 7’0, PF, St. Joseph’s (NJ), 2014- The nation’s top sophomore (sort of–he hasn’t reclassified yet) was the victim to a few awful foul calls and spent just as much time on the bench as he did on the court against Broughton. He looked more comfortable on the perimeter than he did on the blocks, knocking down an NBA three and making a strong drive to rim before making great pass late in the game. He finished with a rather pedestrian 17 points, but gave fans a peak of why he nearly played in the Olympics this past summer.
Denzel Keyes, 6’5, PF/SF, Kinston HS (NC), 2013- A big time wide receiver on the gridiron, Keyes showed that he’s a legit prospect on the basketball side too. Naturally, his athleticism from the football field carried over to the basketball court, as seen by his emphatic alley-oops and blocked shots. His 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks were enough to sell us that he could fit in a D-1 program somewhere for basketball, if he desired to do so.
Shelton Mitchell, 6’2, PG, Cuthbertson HS (NC), 2014- Starting off the game a bit slow, Mitchell brought Cuthbertson back from a double digit deficit to finally grasp onto a lead in the final minute of the game and advance to Saturday’s action. he didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, nor did he score a ton, but he provided the leadership and sense of calamity to the Cuthbertson team when they could have easily let the game slip out of reach, in front of UNC coach Roy Williams nonetheless.
Devonte Graham, 6’0, PG, Broughton HS (NC), 2013- The best player on the host school did not disappoint and gave Karl Towns a run for his money. The athletic point guard got into the lane at will, finished in traffic, and played with a speed that should ebable him to see the floor right away at Appalachian State.