High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: Matt Jones

Summer Schooled: Texas Titans

May, 31, 2012
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Julius RandleKelly KlineThe Texas Titans rely on forward Julius Randle, an "absolute beast," to dominate the paint.
Each week this summer leading up to the AAU National Championships in Orlando in July, ESPNHS will profile one of the nation's top AAU teams and tell you why you should be paying attention.

Team: Texas Titans
Location:
Dallas, Texas
Coach: Scott Pospichal

What you need to know about the Texas Titans:

The Texas Titans are just in their seventh year of existence, but coach Scott Pospichal has already developed his squad into an elite national program. Many of the key contributors on the Titans' 17U team have played together for the entire seven years, so they're extremely familiar with each other and with Pospichal's system.

"We've been together since the fifth grade," said Class of 2013 shooting guard Matt Jones. "We just know how to play together. As a team, we know what we want. We know where the ball should go, so we don't have to worry about that. We're just out there, playing and having fun."

Combine that continuity with the Titans' absurd talent level and you've got a recipe for a national championship contender. In addition to Jones, one of the sweetest shooters in the country, the Titans also have Julius Randle, the No. 2 player in the ESPN 100 and power forward Damian Jones, No. 70 on the list. And all of the team's stars buy into Pospichal's defense-first approach

"We're a very disciplined team," says Pospichal. "We want to be a tough defensive team. We're not trying to be great in transition, and very rarely do we take the first shot. We're a deliberate, half-court team and we pride ourselves on execution."

The Titans went 15-5 during Nike Elite Youth Basketball League play, tying for the fourth-best record during the circuit's regular season. That qualified the squad for the Nike Peach Jam, where they reached the quarterfinals in 2011.

Key Players:

Julius Randle, F, 2013: At 6-foot-9, 225 pounds, Randle is almost impossible to defend around the basket. "He's an absolute beast," says Pospichal. "He's a talent like I've never seen." Randle is the Titans' No. 1 option on offense, and he's posted 16.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game during EYBL play.

Matt Jones, G, 2013: A pure shooter in the Ray Allen mold, Jones stretches defenses and makes opponents pay for double-teaming Randle. The Duke recruit hit 51 percent of his 3-point attempts in EYBL play and averaged a team-high 17.0 points per game. "I try to pick my spots when I want to score or attack," says Jones. "I want to focus on making my teammates better and helping our offense run with confidence."

Preston Troutt, G, 2013: Troutt doesn't get as much attention as his highly-recruited teammates, but the 5-foot-11 guard has been with the Titans since the beginning and understands how to run the system. "He's our third scorer," says Pospichal. "He's a really good jump shooter, and he plays an important role in spacing the floor for us." Despite playing through a shoulder injury, Troutt has averaged 7.0 points per game this summer while hitting 47 percent of his 3-pointers.

Damian Jones, F, 2013: A new addition to the Titans, Jones hasn't been in the system as long as lifers like Matt Jones and Troutt. But the Louisiana native brings a rugged low-post game and a willingness to do the dirty work under the basket.

Key Dates:

Great American Shootout: June 8-10 in College Station, Texas
Great American Shootout: June 22-24 in Pearland, Texas
Nike Peach Jam: July 18-22 in North Augusta, S.C.
AAU Super Showcase: July 24-30 in Orlando, Fla.

The Titans were one of the most impressive teams during the EYBL regular season, and they have to be considered among the favorites to win the Nike Peach Jam. The team has championship experience, as Randle, Jones and Troutt have all won national titles before in various age groups.

"It's something we've done before," says Pospichal. "Our younger teams have won national championships, and these guys expect to win."

Beyond Peach Jam, the Titans will also be playing at the AAU Super Showcase in Florida. Because of team's familiarity, they expect to be playing their best ball at the end of the summer.

"We've got a deep team," says Matt Jones. "The whole team believes we can win. When everyone is out there playing and performing their role, we can really get it rolling. We're just trying to get better with every game."

Follow Mike Grimala on Twitter (@MGrimalaESPN).
Matt Jones and Ray AllenTravis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com, Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty ImagesDuke recruit Matt Jones, left, and NBA star Ray Allen are both prototypical shooting guards with range well past the 3-point line.
This summer, ESPNHS will sit down with some of the nation's elite players to break down their game, talk about the inevitable comparisons to college and pro players and get their take on who they pattern their game after.

Player: Matt Jones
School: DeSoto (Texas)
Position: Shooting Guard
Height/Weight: 6-4/180
ESPN 60: No. 22

Who is Matt Jones?
Rated the No. 9 shooting guard in the Class of 2013, Jones is a stone-cold assassin. His 3-point shot is already developed at an NCAA level, and he's capable of exploding at any moment. As a junior, he led DeSoto to the regional finals of the Class 5A state tournament, averaging 18.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Jones has been just as good during the summer season. Going against some of the most talented AAU teams in the country during Nike Elite Youth Basketball League play, Jones is averaging 17.7 points per game and hitting 48 percent of his 3-point attempts. Jones has committed to Duke, and he seems destined to continue the Blue Devils' tradition of lights-out shooting guards (Trajan Langdon, J.J. Redick, Jon Scheyer, Austin Rivers).

Scouting Report
According to ESPN RecruitingNation, Jones has the prototypical build for a shooting guard. He's athletic enough to make plays in the open floor and around the rim, but his calling card is his sweet jumper. Jones might be the purest shooter in the country, with consistent catch-and-shoot range out to 20 feet.

"He's an extremely respected shooter," says Scott Pospichal, his AAU coach with the Texas Titans. "Teams know not to leave him. We run him off screens, and he's good at the pull-up, too. He can really shoot the ball."

Most frequent comparisons: Ray Allen, J.J. Redick

ESPNHS Comparison: Gordon Hayward
Jones' range and size make observers think of classic snipers like Ray Allen and J.J. Redick, but we see his game resembling that of up-and-coming Utah Jazz star Gordon Hayward. There is a size difference, as Hayward is one of the NBA's taller shooting guards at 6-foot-8, but everything else lines up. While Allen and Redick rely on deft footwork to curl around screens and pop long jumpers, Jones (like Hayward) is more of a spot-up shooter with less elevation on his release.

Jones also has enough length, athleticism and quickness to occasionally jump into passing lanes and disrupt things defensively. Gordon makes a living by deflecting passes, sneaking in for offensive putbacks and drilling 3-pointers (38.6 percent for his career), and we can see Jones evolving into the same type of player.

"I like to do a little bit of everything," says Jones. "I take pride in my defense. I can shoot off the dribble, and I have a quick first step. I try to contribute any way I can."

Matt’s Comparison: Ray Allen
Jones has been hearing the Ray Allen comparisons for a long time, and he takes it as a compliment.

"A lot of people like to compare me to Ray Allen or J.J. Redick," he says. "I just feel blessed and grateful to be compared to great shooters like that. Ray Allen is one of the greatest of all-time, so that's an honor to be mentioned with him."

Jones says he is trying to get stronger over the summer, and he's also working on his ball handling. Allen was an underrated slasher in his prime, so Jones will need to continue tightening his handle if he wants to be the next "Jesus Shuttlesworth."

Mike Grimala covers high school sports for ESPNHS. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@MGrimalaESPN).

Players predict where Muhammad, Noel will go

April, 9, 2012
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Shabazz Muhammad knows that, on the surface, it seems glamorous to have the option of picking between heavyweights like Duke, UCLA, Kentucky, UNLV and Kansas.

Still, he’s quick to point out the flip side.

“The stress,” said Muhammad, a senior swingman at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPNU 100. “It definitely isn’t as fun as people think. It’s all you think about. It’s a tough decision.”

Nerlens Noel can attest to that.

As the top-ranked player in the ESPNU 100, Noel said it only makes it harder “when you really can’t go wrong wherever you decide to go.”

Both Noel and Muhammad will make their decisions live on Recruiting Nation's Signing Day Special Show at 7:30 p.m. ET April 11 on ESPNU.

“People don’t understand how tough this is,” said Noel, a senior center at Tilton (N.H.) who will choose between Georgetown, Kentucky and Syracuse. “It’s the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make. Everyone thinks they know where we’re going.”

Especially their peers.

We caught up with a bunch of players from around the country and had them weigh in on where they think the top two seniors in the country will land.

Matt Jones
DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas), 2013, SG
Committed to: Duke
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. I played with him last weekend at a tournament and you should’ve seen him watching Louisville play against Kentucky. It was like he could envision himself there.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Duke. He sees that he could come in and have the same impact that Austin Rivers did.”

Jabari Parker
Simeon (Chicago), 2013, SF
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Boston College. [Laughs] Just kidding, Georgetown.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“UC Santa Barbara. [Laughs] Just kidding, UCLA.”

Mitch McGary
Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.), 2012, F
Signed to: Michigan
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. Great recruiting class coming in and they just won the national title so that’s got to appeal to him.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Kentucky. Same reasons as Nerlens.”

Isaiah Lewis
Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.), 2013, SG
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He’s a one-and-done type and that’s where you go for that.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“UCLA. I think he and Kyle Anderson are gonna do work.”

Rasheed Sulaimon
Strake Jesuit (Houston), 2012, SG
Signed to: Duke
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He’s the second coming of Anthony Davis. He’s tall with very long arms that he uses to impact the game on the defensive end and rebound.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Duke. I really believe that Shabazz is gonna join me next year because he’s a competitor and wants to win. Coach K is the ultimate competitor and does great with guards like Shabazz. I believe we can do a lot of damage right away.”

Rodney Purvis
Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), 2012, SG
Signed to: N.C. State
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. That’s just my gut.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Kentucky. That’s just my gut feeling on him too.”

L.J. Rose
Westbury Christian (Houston), 2012, PG
Signed to: Baylor
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He’s gonna be compared to Anthony Davis and have that type of impact.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Kentucky. They’re just coming off a national title run and Rupp Arena will definitely be rocking next year with him there.”

Chris Walker
Holmes County (Bonifay, Fla.), 2013, F
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He saw what Coach Cal did for Anthony Davis and he’ll feel like he can do the same for him. He’ll be one-and-done just like him.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“UCLA. It’s the perfect fit with it being close to home and then he’ll have a great guard like Kyle Anderson there with him.”

Kris Jenkins
Gonzaga College (Washington, D.C.), 2013, F
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Georgetown. That’s where all the big men go to develop.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He thinks Coach Cal can help him reach his goal of the NBA faster.”

Brannen Greene
Mary Persons (Monroe, Ga.), 2013, SG
Committed to: Kansas
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He sees the impact that Anthony Davis had this year and probably wants to do the same.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Kentucky. I think he wants to be one-and-done and he sees Kentucky as the perfect school for that.”

Wayne Selden
Tilton (N.H.), 2014, SG
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He’d fit right in and replace Anthony Davis.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“UCLA. I think he and Kyle Anderson would be a force in the Pac-12.”

Jahlil Okafor
Whitney Young (Chicago), 2014, F
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He’ll replace Anthony Davis.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“UCLA. He’ll team up with Kyle Anderson.”

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.

HS hoopers make championship picks

March, 12, 2012
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SulaimonNatalie BehringRasheed Sulaimon said Duke will "shock the world" and win the NCAA Tournament.

By the time Selection Sunday concluded and 68 teams slipped on their dancing shoes for the NCAA Tournament, the most pressing business for everyone from the casual fan to the hoops junkie was to take part in what truly makes March mad.

“Time to fill out the brackets,” said Brannen Greene, a junior shooting guard at Mary Persons (Monroe, Ga.). “It’s just fun to pick the teams you think are going to win. There are so many upsets. You just never know who’s gonna upset who.”

Be that as it may, we had Greene and a handful of other elite high school players chime in on who they thought would be cutting down the nets when the NCAA Tournament concludes in New Orleans on April 2.

Matt Jones
DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas), 2013, SG
Committed to: Duke
And the winner is…
“Duke. I know this will make me sound biased, but I’m picking Duke because I have so much confidence in my Blue Devils and Coach (Mike) Krzyzewski. I think we are going to shock some people.”

Brannen Greene
Mary Persons (Monroe, Ga.), 2013, SG
Committed to: Kansas
And the winner is…
“Kansas. We’ll win it all because of the mental strength they have and because of the experience of the team. Coach Self is also a great strategist so I think they will pull it out with the quick turnaround of the games.”

Rodney Purvis
Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), 2012, SG
Signed to: N.C. State
And the winner is…
“Syracuse. They have a lot of depth and experience and they are having a great year. Plus they have the best sixth man in the nation in Dion Waiters.”

Wayne Selden
Tilton (Tilton, N.H.), 2014, SG
Undecided
And the winner is…
“Syracuse. They are just too deep at every position. Plus they have my bro Michael Carter-Williams coming off the bench. They’re just very talented.”

L.J. Rose
Westbury Christian (Houston), 2012, PG
Signed to: Baylor
And the winner is…
“Baylor. I picked them because they are finally starting to get their chemistry back going again. Also I think Perry Jones is really starting to come into his own and that’s helping his teammates. What better time for them to get than in March!”

Rasheed Sulaimon
Strake Jesuit (Houston), 2012, SG
Signed to: Duke
And the winner is…
“Duke. Coach Krzyzewski is a mastermind when it comes to tournament time. He will have them ready mentally and physically and I think after the UNC loss they will play with a chip on their shoulders. They will shock the world and the drive for five will be complete after this year!”

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.

Players elevate play for postseason

February, 29, 2012
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JonesTravis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comMatt Jones said the only way to advance in the postseason is to increase your intensity.
Matt Jones was a bit perplexed.

Here he was leading DeSoto (Texas) into what was widely considered a gimmee first-round playoff game against Ellison (Killeen, Texas) on Feb. 21 and the Eagles were getting out of character.

DeSoto had made easy work of Ellison earlier this season, routing them by 60 points, but that was then, and this was, well, the playoffs.

“That was a completely different team that we played,” said Jones, a junior shooting guard who is ranked No. 22 in the ESPNU 60. “They were fighting so hard out there and they really brought it to us at first. We had to regroup and come out and match their intensity, match their execution. We learned a lot from that win. You’ve gotta bring it in the playoffs.”

As cliché as it is accurate, it’s a realization that every high school baller has come to in the last few weeks: Go hard or go home.

“That’s the bottom line,” said Jones, who is committed to Duke. “If you don’t bring it every night you’re going home, period.”

It’s a concept that Chris Walker wished his team would’ve had the foresight to fully grasp before getting booted from the playoffs a week ago.

“I feel like we kinda knew that we’d have to raise our game to another level, but I don’t know if we knew to the level that we needed to,” said Walker, a junior forward at Holmes County (Bonifay, Fla.) who is ranked No. 7 in the ESPNU 60. “It’s so important to play harder than you’ve ever played before. It sounds crazy, but even your best game in the regular season probably won’t be enough in the playoffs. You’ve got to go to another higher level.”

That goes for the country’s most elite program too.

Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), the top-ranked team in the POWERADE FAB 50, has already broken a school record for wins with 43 this season and even though they’re record is, by definition, perfect, Warriors’ coach Steve Smith said his team will have to raise its level of play when they head over to China where they will play nine games against international competition.

“It’s very important to continually push yourself, especially at the end of the year,” said Smith, who was recently named Naismith High School Coach of the Year. “We’ve consistently challenged our guys and we’ll continue to do that as we come down the stretch. It’s up to them to respond, but they’ve been doing it all year. The kids have to buy in because at the end of the year everyone’s typically worn down.”

L.J. Rose has definitely felt the fatigue of a long, grueling season, but his motivation to push through the tired legs, mental fatigue and small nagging injuries is to consider the flip-side.

“It could all be over if you give in to all that,” said Rose, a senior point guard at Westbury Christian (Houston) who is signed to Baylor. “Everyone’s tired so you’re all still even. But when you’re in this position you don’t think about how tired you are. You just think about what it’s gonna take to get the job done. That’s the main focus.”

Jones agreed.

He said at this point it doesn’t matter how it happens, as long as his team wins, he’s happy.

“That’s another major difference between the regular season and the playoffs,” Jones said.

“Regular season you can have a bad game and get down about it and be upset, but now it doesn’t even matter. If I don’t score at all and we win, I am so excited. I don’t even give it two thoughts. You just win any way that you can.”

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
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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.

parker
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.

Quick Shots: Thanksgiving tourneys wrap

November, 28, 2011
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Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh. N.C.) combo guard Rodney Purvis, a senior, and Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas) forward Julius Randle, a junior, had been engaged in some friendly trash talk about their head-to-head matchup this season ever since the Boost Mobile Elite 24 back in August.
Matt Jones
Scott Kurtz/ESPNHSMatt Jones was on his game at the Thanksgiving Hoopfest last weekend.

This past weekend the two settled the score at the Thanksgiving Hoopfest in Dallas.

But who earned bragging rights for the year?

We checked in at the Hoopfest and a few other holiday tournaments around the country in this edition of Quick Shots.

Texas Jamboree

Westbury Christian (Houston) point guard L.J. Rose picked Yates’ (Houston) trademark full-court press apart, dishing out 14 assists plus scoring 17 points and snagging 10 rebounds in a 97-80 win for the Wildcats, who are ranked No. 37 in the POWERADE Fab 50.

Rose, a Baylor signee, said now that he’s 100 percent healthy he’s back to having fun on the court.

“I haven’t felt this good since my sophomore year,” he said.

Bull City Classic (N.C.)

DeShawn Freeman led Rocky Mount Prep (Rocky Mount, N.C.) with 17 points to knockoff Northern Durham (Durham, N.C.) 79-72 in the Challenge III title game. Freeman, a junior forward, dropped 30 points in the semifinals.

Regional Elite Development Academy (Canada) held off a pesky Christian Faith Center Academy (Creedmoor, N.C.) squad 75-71 to claim the Challenge V title. Gentry Thomas, a senior guard, led REDA with 21 points. Conquerors' guard Eric Crawford, a sophomore, pumped in 25 points, Dennis Green, a senior guard, added 21 points and Damon Harge Jr., widely regarded as the country’s No. 1 sixth grader, scored 10 points for CFCA.

Thanksgiving Hoopfest (Texas)

DeSoto (Texas) shooting guard Matt Jones, a junior, lit up Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) for 29 points on just 12-of-16 shooting to give the Eagles the win. Douglas (Oklahoma City) combo guard Steve Clark, a junior, may have taken the loss against Kimball (Dallas), but not before he pumped in 42 points, scoring from nearly every spot on the court. Keith Frazier, a junior shooting guard, scored 17 points in the second half to lead Kimball.

Andrew and Aaron Harrison, twin junior guards, did all they could to try and lead No. 15 Travis (Richmond, Texas) past No. 16 Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas), but Isaiah Austin, a senior center who is signed to Baylor, overpowered the Travis frontcourt to the tune of 16 points and 13 rebounds and Jordan Mickey, a junior forward, scored 29 points to help Grace Prep take the win. Aaron scored 24 and Andrew scored 21 for Travis.

Rodney Purvis' 23 points weren’t enough to outlast his friend Julius Randle and Prestonwood Christian. Randle scored 18 points in the win.

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

Why?

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

Hoopers play dress up for Halloween

October, 30, 2011
10/30/11
10:56
PM ET
Zena Endosomwan was relieved.

All of the stressing and agonizing over Halloween costumes had finally come to an end by answering one simple, two-part question: If you had to dress up as the player that you most resemble on the court, who would it be and why?

“That should help me out!” said Endosomwan, a senior forward at Harvard-Westlake (Los Angeles).

ESPNHS didn’t stop there; we posed the same question to a handful of elite ballers around the country.

Here’s what they had to say…

Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, Park Tudor, (Greenfield, Ind.), 2012, PG
Committed to: Indiana
Halloween costume: Isiah Thomas
Why: “I’d have to say I’d dress up as Isiah because I want to do great things at Indiana like he did.”

Noel
Steve Johnson/ESPNHSNerlens Noel said he wants to decide around the time of the McDonald's All-American game.
Archie Goodwin, Sylvan Hills (Little Rock, Ark.), 2012, SG
Committed to: Kentucky
Halloween costume: Michael Jordan
Why: “Well, I’ve actually heard this from a lot of different coaches on the AAU circuit plus Rick Barnes from Texas and Roy Williams from North Carolina told me this too… They said that I remind them of Michael Jordan when he was in high school. It’s a great honor to hear that because of who he became so I’d definitely have to dress as him.”

Nerlens Noel, Tilton, (Tilton, N.H.), 2013, C
Uncommitted
Halloween costume:
Kevin Garnett
Why: “I’d dress up as K.G. because he and I are similar because of his defensive presence, his leadership and his competitiveness.”

Rodney Purvis, Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), 2012, SG
Committed to: N.C. State
Halloween costume: John Wall (Washington Wizards)
Why: “I’d definitely go as John because he’s someone I look up to and he’s a really positive person like me. We’re both fast guards who are willing to do whatever it takes to win.”

L.J. Rose, Westbury Christian (Houston), 2012, PG
Committed to: Baylor
Halloween costume: Deron Williams (New Jersey Nets)
Why: “I’d dress like Deron Williams because, like me, he isn’t as athletic as the rest of the point guards in the league, but with his size he can dominate the game in so many different ways. He also has a great feel for the game.”

Zena Endosomwan, Harvard-Westlake (Los Angeles), 2012, PF
Uncommitted
Halloween costume: Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Why: “I’d dress as Serge because we’re both athletic, African, like to run and we play the same position. Oh, and we’re both really dark.”

Rasheed Sulaimon, Strake Jesuit (Houston), 2012, SG
Committed to: Duke
Halloween costume: Jamal Crawford (Atlanta Hawks)
Why: “I’d dress like Jamal Crawford because the way I play is very similar to him. He’s a combo guard that can play both the one and the two; plus he can create his own shot and create for his teammates as well. He’s a good shooter, both off the dribble and stationary, and he makes shots when they count the most.”

Isaiah Austin, Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas), 2012, C
Committed to: Baylor
Halloween costume: Austin Daye (Detroit Pistons)
Why: “I’d dress as Austin Daye because like him I can play both inside and out. That and we’re both long and athletic.”

Gabe York, Orange Lutheran (Orange, Calif.), 2012, SG
Committed to: Arizona
Halloween costume: Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Why: “I’d have to say that it would be Russell Westbrook. We’re both guards that can shoot and are very athletic. He’s just an explosive point guard who can drive to the basket and finish strong.”

Matt Jones, DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas), 2013, SG
Uncommitted
Halloween costume: Ray Allen (Boston Celtics)
Why: “Definitely Ray Allen. It’s the shooting and the stature and the way we carry ourselves on and off the court. I think I could pull him off for Halloween. Plus if someone really thought that I was him and needed me to prove it by knocking down a lot of jumpers I think I could do it.”

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

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