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December 4, 2005

Saturday action from the Marshall County Hoopfest

BENTON, KY. - The Marshall County Hoopfest had a strong lineup this season and some of the headliners proved why they are considered amongst the nation's best. Future Duke Blue Devil Jon Scheyer was one of those guys while Thaddeus Young helped finish out the tournament with a bang.

Glenbrook North (Ill.) 54, Memphis Ridgeway (Tenn.) 47

Dave Weber says it was the best Jon Scheyer performance he's ever seen at a showcase event such as the Marshall County Hoopfest. It's worth repeating: best ever.

That doesn't include the state playoffs when the future Duke Blue Devils scored 48 in a semi-final. And it doesn't include Scheyer's brilliant performance in April when he had 29 points against Wayne Ellington, a future ACC foe, and Gerald Henderson, a future Duke teammate.

Needless to say, Scheyer was pretty darn good on Saturday afternoon in rural Kentucky. Even knowledgeable Marshall County crowd stood up and gave a standing O.

Scheyer scored 36 points in the victory on 10 of 20 shooting from the floor. But shooting wasn't the key says Weber. Getting to the foul line and scoring in the paint against a quicker and more athletic Ridgeway squad. Mission accomplished. Scheyer set a Marshall County Hoopfest record with his 14 of 14 free throws.

Scheyer scored 26 points in the second half and did it by getting into the lane. Glenbrook North's offense is filled with back door cuts, great passing and constant movement. Sound like the perfect marriage for Scheyer at Duke?

A taped thumb slowed down his perimeter game. But Weber says that was the plan. He wanted his star to back away from the long ball and rely on his backdoor cuts to the basket.

Scheyer is a custom built player in Duke's motion offense. He's always moving without the ball, always looking for the pass on the cut and never afraid to give up the rock for a teammate doing the same thing on the offensive end.

Jacksonville Arlington Country Day (Fla.) 64, Bolivar (Tenn.) 62

On paper, this one provided the best potential match-ups and in real time, the game provided the best energy and outcome of the day.

Josue Soto against Willie Kemp, two top 15 point guards. Jason Bennett against Wayne Chism, two top 10 big men. It had all of the makings of a good one. As luck would have it, it was the best game of the day.

Down by as many as 11 at one point in the game, Bolivar battled back thanks in large part to the crafty play of Kemp, who is headed to Memphis next year. He rallied his team back with five minutes to play and put his squad in a position to win the game but a missed shot and a crafty play by Soto with less than five seconds to play proved to be the difference.

Soto, who looks and plays like a guy that's improved his physical strength, was able to find Chris Merrewhether under the basket after going coast to coast for the game-winning basket.

Soto, the Florida State signee, finished with 16 points while he had help from Merewether (15 points) and Devon Lamb who finished with 19 points.

Bennett was a complete non-factor on the offensive end. Some games he's effective inside, others not so much. Tonight was the latter. Rarely did he look to the basket to score. Certainly as a 7-foot-2 center at the high school level, he'll get his fair share of blocks and he did on Saturday but in order to be an effective guy at the highest level.

A.J. Stewart is taking advantage of a new opportunity and playing more like a basketball player instead of a pure athlete like he did last year. The difference this year?

"I'm a starter now," Stewart said. "Coach told me before the season that I needed to step up more because I'll be a starter this year. He told me that I've got the green light and that I should take the shot if I have it."

Stewart had a huge game with 13 points and 12 boards. More on the fast-rising junior to come on Rivals.com.

Kemp finished with 22 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals by our count. Including seven points in the final 31 seconds of play. Kemp is a change of pace at the point for Memphis and with all of the athletes on the Tigers' roster, Kemp's transition to the college game will be a little easier than most.

Never a guy that needs to score 20 points to be effective, Kemp is content with running the offense, feeding the scorers and defending the team's best player. However, when he needs to be an offensive threat, he'll be one. And a mighty good one at that. He blew past Soto with the dribble and was able to get to the bucket for the score or dish it off to an ever-ready post player for two.

Chism, even with a severely sprained ankle, gutted out a terrific 25 point and eight rebound effort. He'll be an instant impact player for Bruce Pearl and company next year as a freshman. In the Vols's system, Chism can use his strength in the post as well as his improved face up game. The four-star forward sank home a pair of threes.

Tennessee assistant coach Scott Edgar made it out to Benton to see Chism in action while Bob Huggins was watching Bennett play. Alabama assistant Eugene Harris was also in the crowd to see Bennett and Stewart.

Brentwood Academy (Tenn.) 80, South Laurel (Ky.) 60

After Roy Williams broke the hearts of Kentucky fans in Lexington on Saturday afternoon, he ventured over to Benton, a little over a four-hour drive to see Brandan Wright in action. Needless to say he didn't get a big standing ovation from the Big Blue faithful that filled the gym but there was a county's worth of kids hunting down Williams for a signature.

Back to Wright. Here's the bottom line on Wright. He's a triple double waiting to happen every night and against South Laurel that was one block short of being a reality. Wright finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds and nine blocks in the victory.

The guy with "go, go Gadget arms" as one elite high-major coach calls him uses his incredible length to score at the rim, with an elbow jumper, block shots and pass out of the defense.

Now just imagine Wright alongside Tyler Hansbrough on the Carolina blocks. Scary.

Southern Illinois signee Josh Bone added 18 points, five rebounds and five assists in the victory.

Oak Hill Academy (Va.) 51, Canton McKinley (Ohio) 50

When Oak Hill comes to Marshall County, Kentucky, they get the Ashley Judd treatment. During warm-ups, nearly half of the fans on hand were on their feet just watch the team enter the game and dunk in the lay-up line. So imagine their excitement when the game went down to the wire.

Thanks to some huge free throws from Michael Beasley and perhaps a couple missed calls at the end by the men in stripes, Oak Hill was able to win the battle of the nationally-ranked programs.

With less than 20 seconds to play, Beasley, a Charlotte commit, scored over Raymar Morgan and forced Morgan to turn the ball over with 3.9 to play and was fouled and sent to the foul stripe. Beasley sunk home the first and that proved to be the winner.

Beasley, despite his early foul trouble, finished with a modest 15 points and nine rebounds in the win.

Nolan Smith stepped up big once again in the absence of Tywon Lawson, who is out due to suspension. Smith continued his continual attack at the basket and even threw down one of the event's best dunks. Smith came barreling down the lane and when the defense split open like the Red Sea, he took advantage and threw down the dunk. Smith finished with 22 points (4-5 FG, 2-4 3FG, 8-8 FT) on the night.

Morgan struggled to get into the flow of his game but managed to muster up 15 points and four rebounds. Even in a bit of a quiet night of work, Morgan was able to get to the line often by utilizing his athleticism and challenged Beasley at the rim.

Todd Brown, a Wright State signee, was the offensive balance to Morgan. Brown scored 15 points and came up with a number of big shots throughout the game. He's a good looking shooter and should have a chance to be an impact player in the Horizon League.

Louisville was on hand to see Smith in action.

Memphis Mitchell (Tenn.) 82, Peoria Richwoods (Ill.) 56

For those that stayed to watch this one, they took in another day at the office performance from future Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Thaddeus Young. The No. 3 overall ranked player in the class of 2006 finished with 29 points and eight rebounds in a vintage Young performance.

When he gets around the basket, he's one of the toughest players in American in trying to defend. Young has a soft touch at the rim and the body control to hang in air for a reverse dunk or finger roll in traffic.

Future Florida guard Brandon Powell teased everyone with a couple of fade away jumpers from long range but the flu slowed him down and he never fully recovered as the game went along.

Andre Thornton, a Central Florida steal of a signee, put in 16 points and four boards in the victory.

After the recruitment heard round the world, Young is enjoying the life as a signed prospect. Just how much is he and Mitchell High enjoying it? Young was decked out in his Georgia Tech sweatshirt and Mitchell head coach Jerry Johnson strutted in with Yellow Jacket gear from head to toe.

One of the bright spots in the last game of the day was the play of Richwood's Bill Cole. The 6-foot-9 junior is one of the better class of 2007 big men in the Midwest. He's long, loves to face up, shoot the three and extend the defense.


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