High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: ESPNU25

AAU notebook: NCAA coaches inspire

April, 30, 2012
HAMPTON, Va. -- CP3 All Stars (N.C.) swingman Theo Pinson doesn’t mind admitting that when he glanced over to the sideline and saw coaches from Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, North Carolina State and others watching his every move, it gave him extra incentive to work even harder on the court.

Pinson and CP3 were one of 40 teams competing in the second of four sessions in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League here last weekend. The teams are vying for one of 24 spots in the Nike Peach Jam in July.

“Some guys say they block it out, but I don’t think that’s real,” said Pinson, a sophomore who is ranked No. 9 in the ESPN 25. “I definitely think to myself that I need to do the little things and play better defense and concentrate on playing harder. The coaches are the big motivator.”

Metro Hawks (N.Y.) junior guard Isaiah Lewis agreed.

He said that seeing the coaches who are recruiting him made him want to play harder to reinforce the fact that they want him.

“You don’t want that interest to drop off,” Lewis said. “There are so many good players in this league, and you just want to come out and play the best that you can. The coaches help you with that.”

Last of the Unbeatens

With the second session of the EYBL in the books, CIA Bounce (Can.) is the lone undefeated team. The Canadians won five games this weekend by an average of 18.6 points per game and now sit at 9-0.

Bounce guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes said that even though they’re the last undefeated squad, there’s no pressure to remain perfect.

“We’re just going to keep going out and performing at a high level,” he said. “We feel we can go undefeated throughout the entire season.”

Parker Sits Out

Mac Irvin Fire (Ill.) had to compete without its biggest piece this weekend, swingman Jabari Parker who is the top player in the ESPN 60. Parker stayed back in Chicago to nurse a sprained ankle and to receive an award, according to his teammate Jahlil Okafor.

“We just had to keep playing hard without him,” said Okafor, a sophomore center who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPN 25.

The Fire went 3-2 this weekend without Parker, who is expected to be ready for session three in Dallas on May 11-13.

Randle’s Shoe Obsession

Julius Randle had to bring an extra bag on his trip to Hampton for the second session of Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, but it wasn’t for extra clothes. Randle needed a bag to store seven pairs of shoes.

“I mean come on, I’m a ball player,” said Randle, a junior forward who ran with Team Texas Titans. “I’ve got to switch up my shoes for my different games.”
Randle wasn’t kidding.

From Kobe Bryant’s grey and blacks shoes to Kevin Durant’s black and blues, Randle wore a different pair each time he took the floor.

“I’m just a sneaker guy, I guess,” said Randle, who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPN 60. “That’s just my thing.”

Rim Bender

Mac Irvin Fire (Ill.) center Jahlil Okafor caused quite a stir in his game against the Georgia Stars in the morning session on Sunday. Okafor bent the rim down when he missed a dunk in the second half, stopping play for more than an hour.

Immediately, players and spectators ran from the adjoining courts to snap pictures of the bent rim.

Eventually, the game was moved to another court and Mac Irvin won 65-51.

Inside the FAB 50: Can Findlay be No. 1?

March, 8, 2012
With this year’s field of teams set for the National High School Invitational, a question on the minds of many is whether the final No. 1 ranking in the POWERADE FAB 50 has been locked away in a closet at Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.).

Oak Hill has been No. 1 since January and has done little to give the ESPNHS rankings compilers a reason to ponder moving any other team into that position. The Warriors wrapped up the best record they’ve ever had last week (44-0) with a 130-69 triumph over Body of Christ Academy (Raleigh, N.C.).

With Oak Hill not participating in the NHSI, there is the possibility that No. 2 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) could enhance its case by winning an event loaded with top-ranked teams.

Based on results already in the books, it’s a no-brainer to rank Oak Hill in front of Findlay Prep. This is because Oak Hill has a 77-59 win over La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) while the Pilots’ only loss was 67-66 to the same team.

So how could Findlay perhaps overcome the common opponent disadvantage with Oak Hill? Here’s the possibilities:

1. The Pilots get a chance to play No. 25 La Lumiere in the NHSI and avenge that one-point loss with a convincing win.

2. Findlay wins the NHSI over a field that also will include No. 10 St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.); No. 11 Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.); No. 14 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.); No. 16 Ely (Pompano Beach, Fla.); and La Lumiere.

3. The Pilots not only win the NHSI, but do it with their McDonald’s All-Americans -- Anthony Bennett along with 6-foot-8 Brandon Ashley -- both putting on a show. Bennett was not at 100 percent in the December game with La Lumiere.

4. The two best non-NHSI teams that Findlay has beaten this season -- current FAB 50 No. 5 Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas) and No. 6 Simeon (Chicago) -- both complete their seasons by winning state titles and thus assuring themselves of very high final rankings.

5. One or two of the best teams that Oak Hill has beaten this season -- led by current No. 9 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) and including No. 44 Science Hill (Johnson City, Tenn.) -- do not complete their season by winning championships and thus slightly diminish Oak Hill’s strength of schedule. It should be noted that coach Steve Smith’s team will already own big wins over the two top Texas Association of Private Prep Schools champions: No. 12 Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas) and No. 24 Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas).

It would definitely take a lot for Findlay Prep to have a strong enough case to move into No. 1. We also wouldn’t want such a move to be viewed in any way as a knock against the Warriors for going on their exhibition tour in China. That’s an opportunity that the players will remember the rest of their lives.

Still, with rankings that are based on criteria such as strength of schedule, it is possible that Findlay can put together a resume that could in the end be superior to Oak Hill’s.

Oak Hill's tour of China

Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) closed its season at a historic 44-0, which earned them the top spot in the POWERADE FAB 50.

But the Warriors won't participate at the ESPNHS National High School Invitational on March 29-31. Oak Hill is sitting out for the first time since the tournament’s inception in 2009 due, in large part, to its basketball tour of China, which runs from March 7-19.

“If we weren’t going to China we’d definitely play in the NHSI,” said Oak Hill coach Steve Smith, whose Warriors will play nine games against international competition. “But this is something that will be very special for the kids and very special for the school. I wanted them to experience this.”

The Warriors have never won the NHSI and have lost twice in the finals, including last year’s double-overtime thriller to Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.).

Smith said he never felt the Warriors played their best ball at the NHSI because of the timing of the event.

“We usually have about 17 days off then have to turn right around and play in that big a tournament,” Smith said. “We finish our season in February and play in late March, early April and that’s just tough to do. You can’t find teams to scrimmage because their seasons are over and then we wouldn’t have our point guard because right when we get back Tyler’s (Lewis) headed off to the McDonald’s game. It’s just a tight squeeze with all that we have going on this season.”

Brewster sweeps Tilton; Oak Hill makes history

February, 23, 2012
Wayne SeldenLori Young/ESPNHSWayne Selden is Tilton's best guard, but the Rams aren't sure when he'll return from his sprained ankle injury.
Aaron Thomas scored 19 points and Jakarr Sampson added 11 points and 14 rebounds to help Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.) escape with a 60-56 win over Tilton (N.H.) on Feb. 20.

With the win, the Bobcats (28-0) completed the regular season sweep (3-0) of rival Tilton (25-6).

Georges Niang did all he could to keep the Rams close, scoring 32 points and grabbing eight rebounds, but he didn’t get much help. Nerlens Noel got held to just eight points in the loss.

Still, Noel, the top ranked player in the ESPNU 100, can sense that there will be a chance for payback in the coming weeks.

“I think we’ll play them again,” Noel said. “They’re a great team and we’re a great team. I think we’ll see them again in the tournament championship.”

If they do face Brewster again, it likely will be without sophomore shooting guard Wayne Selden, who severely sprained his ankle during practice three weeks ago.

Selden has yet to return and is currently on crutches with a walking boot.

“I don’t know when I’ll be back,” said Selden, who is ranked No. 6 in the ESPNU 25. “Hopefully soon.”

Warriors make history

With its 73-51 win over Flora Macdonald (Red Springs, N.C.) on Feb. 18, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) broke a school record for wins in a season with 41. After knocking off Shenandoah Valley Christian (Stephens City, Va.) on Feb. 21, the Warriors are now 42-0.

The Warriors, the top ranked team in the POWERADE FAB 50, have posted 40 wins three times (2006, 2007 and 2009). The 2006 and 2007 unit lost its final game while the 2007 unit finished No. 1 in the FAB 50.

“It feels amazing to be 42-0,” said Warriors’ point guard Tyler Lewis, a McDonald’s All-American who is committed to North Carolina State. “It feels great to break records especially at Oak Hill. We’ve made history and hopefully we can win another championship. We’ve worked so hard to get to this point. Now we’re hoping we can achieve our goal by getting a ring.”

Oak Hill has two regular-season games left before heading to China where they will play nine games against international competition.

NBPA Camp Has New Personnel Director

Former NBA player and coach John Lucas II is the new director of player personnel for the National Basketball Players Association's Top 100 camp.

A three-time All-American at the University of Maryland, Lucas was the No. 1 pick of the 1976 NBA Draft and played in the league for 14 years. He's also been the head coach of three NBA teams and has experience executing summer camps for high school and middle school-aged players.

He will be responsible for securing players for the 19th annual camp, a key summer evaluation stop held June 13-17 at the University of Virginia.

Lucas takes over the player personnel role previously held by Dave Telep, the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. Telep was in that role for three years after taking over for Bob Gibbons of All-Star Sports.

Tilton eager to avenge Brewster loss

January, 14, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Wayne Selden can anticipate that it’s coming, and he’s prepared to be proactive in order to explain.

“You wanna talk about the loss to Brewster Academy?” he asked. “Maaan, that was a crazy game.”

Wayne Selden
Lori Young/ESPNHSWayne Selden said Tilton's transition game gives it the best chance to beat Brewster.
Selden goes on to list the reasons Tilton (N.H.) fell in overtime, 84-78, at Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.) on Dec. 11. He reels off everything from the calls not going the Rams’ way to the fact that they were missing shooting guard Dominique Bull, a senior who has signed with Missouri.

Then there’s that whole conspiracy theory about the Rams actually winning at the end of regulation per the stat sheet. Selden said he was told by a scorekeeper that Tilton should have actually won by one after the fourth quarter.

Home cooking?

“I know it sounds like a lot of excuses,” said Selden, a sophomore shooting guard who is ranked No. 10 in the ESPNU 25. “But that really added to why we didn’t win. I admit, though, we still should’ve won the game. I cannot wait to play them again. I want to play them right now. Let’s go to the gym now.”

He won’t have to wait long.

Round 2 of the bitter, intense rivalry will commence at the Spalding Hoophall Classic on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN.

“We definitely don’t make excuses, but that game was, let’s just say, different,” said Tilton center Nerlens Noel, a junior who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPNU 60. “I think being on a neutral court, the outcome will be a lot different. Either way, it will be very intense.”

Brewster Academy senior swingman T.J. Warren lit Tilton up for 32 points in the overtime win, and over the last month he’s heard all of the excuses that the Tilton players gave for the loss. But Warren anticipates more of the same.

“It will be another intense game with a lot of trash talking I’m sure,” said Warren, an NC State signee who is ranked No. 23 in the ESPNU 100. “I know both teams will give their best shot. The only difference this time is we want to beat them by 30. That’s just our mindset.”

The Bobcats weren’t far from that in the first meeting, leading by as many as 22 points in the first half before the Rams staged a furious comeback to force overtime. That’s all the proof Noel needed to convince himself that Tilton could come away with the win Sunday.

Noel and Selden have yet to win against Brewster in their two years at Tilton.

“We turned it on when we needed to, but then I fouled out before the end of the fourth quarter,” Noel said. “I know the game would’ve gone different had I not fouled out. I can’t remember fouling out of a game in forever, but I fouled out there. But like I said, we’ll just have to leave no doubt about who’s better this time. It’s what a rivalry is all about.”

Brewster Academy coach Jason Smith downplays the whole idea of a rivalry with Tilton, pointing out that New Hampton Prep (N.H.) is the Bobcats' true rival.

“That’s not to knock Tilton, but it’s just another game for us,” Smith said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to be ranked No. 1 all year among polls that include five-year prep schools. Tilton is obviously a great team, but we look at it as an opportunity to prove that we’re the top team in the country.”

Selden and Noel have the same goal, and the fact that they could potentially do it on national TV “is just the icing on the cake.”

“We couldn’t have asked for a better scenario,” Selden said. “This game is something that I have been so ready for after the last one. No more talking after this one. We’ll let the whole country decide who’s better.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN.

Gonzaga College rolls past Whitney Young

January, 8, 2012

WHEELING, W.Va. -- Things couldn’t get any worse for Nate Britt.

Here his Gonzaga College High School (Washington, D.C.) team was lucky to be down three to Whitney Young (Chicago) at the half and Britt had contributed just one steal and one foul.

“It was my worst first half of the year I’d say,” said Britt, a junior point guard who is committed to North Carolina and ranked No. 15 in the ESPNU 60. “I knew we needed to pick it up, but I just couldn’t get it going. I’ve been in a slump the last few games. We were gonna need someone else to step up.”

Enter Kris Jenkins.

The junior forward used his quickness and relentless motor to dominate Whitney Young’s frontcourt to the tune of 21 points and seven rebounds to help Gonzaga (10-0), ranked No. 11 in the POWERADE FAB 50, roll past the Dolphins (6-4) 54-44 Saturday night at the Cancer Research Classic in Wheeling, W.Va.

Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof chipped in with 10 points for Gonzaga, and Jahlil Okafor, who is ranked No. 3 in the ESPNU 25, led Whitney Young with 16 points and eight rebounds.

“I definitely noticed that we needed a boost,” said Jenkins, who was named Most Valuable Player. “They were a lot bigger than me, but I felt like I could beat them with my first step and that worked for me. That was a tough win, but we found a way to get it done.”

The Dolphins jumped on Gonzaga early by pumping the ball inside to Okafor, who overpowered the Eagles' front court scoring 10 points in the first half to give the Dolphins a slim 32-29 lead at the half.

Gonzaga couldn’t get anything going offensively in the first half. They shot just 34 percent from the floor and went 1-of-8 from the 3-point line.

The lone bright spot was Jenkins whose 16 first half points kept them within striking distance.

“We couldn’t hit anything,” Britt said. “We’re usually a lot better shooting the ball so I don’t know what was going on there. Jahlil was killing us in the first half so what we really talked about was turning it up defensively in the second half. We felt like that’s where we’d have the best chance to win.”

By the end of the third quarter, Gonzaga’s intense defensive pressure had caused Whitney Young to commit 18 turnovers. The Eagles only had three.

Midway through the fourth quarter they’d turned those giveaways into a 19-6 run, a deficit the Dolphins couldn’t recover from.

“We know that Whitney Young is a great team and Jahlil is a great player,” Jenkins said. “And they play a tough schedule so we knew that their record didn’t mean anything at all. We are really happy to come away with the win. It’s huge for our program and to do it on national TV was really special.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN.

12 bold HS hoops predictions for 2012

January, 3, 2012
From Mitch McGary picking Michigan over Duke to Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) winning a double-overtime thriller over Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) at the ESPNHS National High School Invitational, 2011 had lots of memorable moments.

Our guess is that 2012 won’t be any different.

Here are 12 bold predictions for the new year.

1. Phoebus’ (Hampton, Va.) Troy Williams, who is ranked No. 8 in the ESPNU 60, will become the most famous basketball player in his family after a show-stopping performance on the summer circuit. Right now that honor belongs to his uncle, Boo Williams.

When Boo, a 6-foot-7 forward, graduated from Phoebus in 1977, he was an all-state selection and went on play at St. Joseph's University. Of course, he's most famous for his tireless contributions to the explosion of AAU basketball in the South with his flagship program, the Boo Williams Summer League. Regardless of how good a player Troy becomes, uncle Boo can always tease Troy that he wore his uncle’s retired jersey No. 5.

Kelly Kline/ESPNHSWe predict that Tony Parker will be anchoring the paint for the Buckeyes come November.
2. Tony Parker will pick Ohio State. Parker, a senior forward at Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) who is ranked No. 31 in the ESPNU 100, won’t be able to resist the draw of becoming the next Jared Sullinger and opt for the Buckeyes over Duke, Memphis, Kansas and UCLA.

3. Julius Randle will pick Duke. This is sure to rattle a few fan bases’ feathers, but Randle, a junior forward at Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas) who is ranked No. 3 in the ESPNU 60, will take his five official visits then sign on to join college basketball’s Evil Empire because of his relationships with Mike Krzyzewski and his close friend and Texas Titans AAU teammate Matt Jones, who recently committed to Duke.

4. Nerlens Noel will lead BABC (Boston) to repeat as champs of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League this summer. The trio of Noel, a junior center at Tilton (Tilton, N.H.) who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPNU 60; Jaylen Brantley, a junior point guard at Wilbraham Monson (Wilbraham, Mass.); and Wayne Selden, a sophomore shooting guard at Tilton who is ranked No. 10 in the ESPNU 25, will be too much for teams to handle.

5. The Harrison twins, Aaron and Andrew, will lead the Houston Defenders (Texas) to the ESPNHS Super Showcase title again this July. Last year the junior tandem, which leads a talented Travis (Travis, Texas) team, handily beat BABC and will prove to be too much for teams on the AAU circuit again come spring. Andrew is ranked No. 4 in the ESPNU 60 and Aaron checks in at No. 7.

6. Damon Harge Jr. will lead the North Carolina Rising Prospects to the 13-and-under AAU national title. Coach Kendrick Williams’ talented young bunch already took home the King James Classic title and finished No. 18 in the nation last summer with Jordan Riley anchoring the paint.

Add Harge, the country’s top sixth-grader, at the point, and the Prospects will be a problem. Harge is currently running the point for Williams on Christian Faith Center Academy’s (Creedmoor, N.C.) varsity team, and the last time he played 13- and 14-year-olds he averaged 35 points per game. The Prospects could go undefeated.

7. Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.) forward Mitch McGary, who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPNU 100, will take home MVP honors at the Jordan Brand Classic. Much like James McAdoo last season, McGary -- a senior who is signed to Michigan -- will clean up the misses from guards who are trying to do too much in the all-star setting.

8. Mitty’s (San Jose, Calif.) Aaron Gordon, the No. 6 recruit in the ESPNU 60, will become the first underclassman to win Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball honors since 2000. That year, 7-footer Tyson Chandler led Dominguez (Compton, Calif.) to the FAB 50 national title and was named national junior player of the year by ESPNHS.

9. Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) forward Anthony Bennett will win MVP honors at the 2012 McDonald's All-American Game in Chicago on March 28 and challenge Shabazz Muhammad and junior Jabari Parker of Simeon (Chicago) for 2011-12 ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA honors.

10. Harrison Barnes will become the third consecutive Boost Mobile Elite 24 alumnus to earn NCAA tournament most outstanding player honors. That obviously means we're predicting North Carolina to win its third NCAA title in the past eight seasons. Barnes will follow 2011 MOP Kemba Walker of Connecticut (2007 game) and Kyle Singler of Duke (2006).

11. Oak Hill Academy will finish No. 1 in the final POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings. It will be the seventh mythical national title under veteran coach Steve Smith. The Warriors finished No. 1 in the FAB 50/National Prep Poll in 1993, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2004 and 2007.

12. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) swingman Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 1 recruit in the ESPNU 100, will make fans in his hometown rejoice by choosing to stay home and play college basketball for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

He will be UNLV's most important recruit since forward Larry Johnson picked the Runnin' Rebels in 1989 out of Odessa Junior College in Texas. Johnson originally signed with SMU out of high school but was a non-qualifier and led the Runnin' Rebels to their only NCAA title in his first season.

Five to watch at the HS OT Holiday Invitational

December, 27, 2011
As much as Rasheed Sulaimon loved ripping open gifts and scarfing down hefty portions of Christmas dinner, he knows that taking home the High School OT Holiday Invitational title would trump it all.

“I’m all about winning,” Sulaimon said. “There’s nothing better than that.”

It won’t be easy.

Here are the top five players who will be in attendance at the basketball tournament in Raleigh, N.C. from Dec. 27-30.

Anton Gill, Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.), 2013, SG
Committed to: Louisville
Gill, who is ranked No. 48 in the ESPNU 60, is a talented combo guard with an exceptional mid-range game and remarkable athleticism to get to the basket and finish with authority almost at will.

Rodney Purvis, Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), 2012, SG
Signed to: North Carolina State
Purvis, who is ranked No. 16 in the ESPNU 100, is one of the best guards in the country and attacks the rim exceptionally well. When he makes up his mind to get into the lane there's little the defense can do to stop him.

Kaleb Tarczewski, St. Mark’s (Southborough, Mass.), 2012, C
Signed to: Arizona
Tarczewski has some of the best hands of any big man in the country and finishes in the lane with authority. Tarczewski, who is ranked No. 6 in the ESPNU 100, runs the floor well and erases shots in the lane.

Theo Pinson, Wesleyan Christian (High Point, N.C.), 2014, SF
Pinson, who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPNU 25, dominates with his versatility. Pinson knocks down the trey and gets in to the lane and finishes with authority.

Rasheed Sulaimon, Strake Jesuit (Houston), 2012, SG
Signed to: Duke
Sulaimon, who is ranked No. 12 in the ESPNU 100, is a defender’s worst nightmare because he can break down his defender with his ball handling ability or knock down deep 3-pointers efficiently. It’s virtually impossible to stop him when he gets rolling.

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN

No. 21 soph Lattin enrolls in Spanish academy

November, 8, 2011
ESPNHS - Texas

After a strong summer with Houston Select AAU, Khadeem Lattin decided he’d play his sophomore season at Canarias Basketball Academy in Spain.

Lattin, a center who is ranked No. 21 in the ESPNU 25, was originally enrolled at Westbury Christian (Houston).

“I think it’s a great opportunity for him,” said Lattin’s former teammate at Westbury L.J. Rose, a senior point guard who will sign with Baylor this week. “I know he’ll have a great experience over there, and I know his mom wants what’s best for him.”

Lattin’s mother, Monica Lamb, played with the Houston Comets from 1998-2000 and his grandfather, David “Big Daddy” Lattin, starred for Texas Western’s 1966 national championship team, which was featured in the movie “Glory Road.”

Kansas, Texas, Baylor and Texas A&M, among others, are all hotly pursuing Khadeem Lattin.

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN

Thankful for the 3

November, 2, 2011
Matt Jones is far from rude, but, on this one, his interjection is well-warranted.


He doesn’t have to think about the question. Not even a bit.

Jones knows exactly how to answer it immediately, so when he hears “Where would your career be without the 3-point line?” Jones interrupts very matter-of-factly with “Nowhere.”

“The reality is that I’ve got all of these schools recruiting me because of my ability to shoot the 3,” said Jones, a junior shooting guard at DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas) who is mulling over offers from Duke, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Kansas and Arizona, among others. “So if there’s no 3-point line, there may be no Matt Jones. I’d probably be fighting for a low D-II scholarship. I owe the people that brought the 3-point line to the high school game. I owe them big.”

Matt Jones
Scott Kurtz/ESPNHSMatt Jones said his ability to shoot the three is what makes him a hot commodity.

Jones’ sentiments are shared by thousands of other marksmen around the country who are grateful that in 1987, the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations adopted the 3-point line. College hoops introduced it the year before.

“The creation of the 3-point line was the most impactful change the high school game has ever seen,” said NFHS executive director Bob Gardner. “Obviously, high schools don’t have the financial resources that colleges do, so we needed that extra year to paint the lines and things like that. We also wanted to see what type of impact it made on the game, and it was bigger than anyone could’ve ever imagined.”

Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.) swingman Andrew Wiggins agreed. He said that without a 3-point line, the game would have less excitement.

“I think that would change a lot of the endings of games,” said Wiggins, a sophomore who is the top-ranked player in the ESPNU 25. “You could be down 12 with one minute to go and hit a 3, and it just does something to your team. It hypes everyone up. Without 3s, so many players would be just average. I mean, where would Ray Allen be without 3s? Shooting guards would be real average.”

That’s precisely the reason the NFHS decided to implement the arc 24 years ago.

“The high school game was being dominated in the paint,” Gardner recalled. “So if you didn't have a tall guy down there, you were at a tremendous disadvantage. The 3-point line was the ultimate equalizer. It really expanded the game for smaller guards.”

Big guards, too.

As Sylvan Hills (Little Rock, Ark.) shooting guard Archie Goodwin, a 6-foot-5 athlete who is notoriously known for posterizing defenders, pointed out, the 3-point line makes the defense guard the perimeter, thus opening up the lane for breakdown guards.

“If there wasn’t a 3-point line they’d just drop back to the free throw line, so you couldn’t finish with high-percentage shots,” Goodwin said. “It would all be two points, so that would be the smart thing to do defensively. I’m so glad we have an arc because I don’t think basketball would have as many dunks and highlights. Having it helps everyone.”

That prevailing theme became more real to Jones as the conversation progressed. He paused suddenly, as though he was pending for thought, then revisited his gratitude.

“I’m telling you, man, I owe them a lot for bringing that 3-point line,” Jones said. “This line has changed my life. I owe them one or two thanks.”

Maybe even three.

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN

Offseason Offerings: Andrew Wiggins

October, 26, 2011
With the offseason in full effect, ballers around the country have begun what is widely regarded as one of the most grueling grind modes of the year as they prepare for the up-and-coming season.

Every week we’ll profile an elite player and have them dish on one of their most unorthodox training methods and explain why it’s been so beneficial.

Next up?
Andrew Wiggins
Scott Kurtz/ESPNHSAndrew Wiggins said repetition is key when it comes to making and creating shots.

Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.) swingman Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 player in the ESPNU 25.

The Drill: Double-crossover pull-up jumpers

The Rundown: “Well, I start at the halfcourt line and do one in-and-out cross then I cross it back over to the opposite direction. After that I take a few more speed dribbles toward the goal and stop and pull up for a mid range jump shot. I do that for about 10 minutes.

I don’t really take a count of my makes because it’s more about the repetition of it all. I definitely make most of the shots though.”

The Benefit: “This drill really helps with your repetition. When you’re shooting and trying to create your own shot it’s so important to get in a routine of doing the right things.

You never want to change your shot. So it kinda gets you in the mindset of doing the right things at all times.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN