High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: West Virginia

Players give midseason grades

January, 30, 2012
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Rodney Purvis has never been one to rest on his laurels so it’s no wonder that when asked what midseason grade he’d give himself, Purvis didn’t hesitate to start with what he wanted to improve on.

“As a player you can’t think that you’re doing everything right,” Purvis said. “You should always be looking to improve. That’s the only way you’ll reach your goals, and mine are high.”

L.J. Rose
Steve Blake/CKY SportsL.J. Rose is happy with where he's at, but wants to continue to improve.
Purvis isn’t alone there.

We asked a handful of players to grade their performances at the midpoint of the high school season. From the top players in the country to players on the come-up, the consensus was that there’s room for improvement.

Rodney Purvis, Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), SG, 2012
Signed to: North Carolina State
My midseason grade is…
“Definitely a B+ because there is so much more that I want to improve on. Things like defense, rebounding, talking more and getting a more consistent motor.”

L.J. Rose, Westbury Christian (Houston), PG, 2012
Signed to: Baylor
My midseason grade is…
“Got to say a B because you can always get better. But I feel like I’ve done a great job of being more of a vocal leader on the court and also been playing pretty well. We are now 20-2 and we are hoping to keep the losses at two and finish out March with a state title.”

Rasheed Sulaimon, Strake Jesuit (Houston), SG, 2012
Signed to: Duke
My midseason grade is…
“B+ because I feel like I’ve done a really good job of leading my team to a 19-3 record and played well offensively and defensively. I still need to get better, get my teammates better and just get better as a whole.”

Shabazz Muhammad, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), SF, 2012
Uncommitted
My midseason grade is…
“B+ because I feel like I’ve done a good job of leading my team and contributing on the offensive and defensive ends. I do whatever it takes to help my team win.”

Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.), SG, 2013
Uncommitted
My midseason grade is…
“A- and the reason for that is I've been playing real well this season putting up big numbers, getting other guys involved and playing good defense. I always take the challenge of guarding the best player on the other team.”

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.

NCAA forces showcase to change location

December, 16, 2011
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Related: High school events moved out of college arenas

A last-second NCAA ruling means that 20 high school teams that were originally scheduled to play at Duke University’s historic Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., for the “Clash at Cameron” will instead head to Fayetteville, N.C., to play in the “Clash in Carolina" at Crown Arena Friday.

Saturday's slate of games was canceled due to the last-minute schedule shuffling.

The event was declared non-scholastic and the NCAA does not allow non-scholastic events to take place at Division I college facilities because there’s too much of a recruiting advantage.

It’s the same NCAA ruling that moved the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions, a prestigious AAU tournament that’s held Memorial Day weekend, from Cameron Indoor Stadium, UNC's Dean Smith Center and N.C. State's Reynolds Coliseum to high school and rec gyms.

Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.) players’ disappointment was twofold; not only will they not be able to play at Duke, they also won’t be able to play against Simeon (Chicago), the No. 1 team in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.) also dropped out.

"It's obviously disappointing to our guys to not be playing at Cameron,” said Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford, who got rescheduled to play Mt. Zion (Durham, N.C.) Saturday after Simeon dropped out. “This event has been circled on most of our calendars not only for playing at Duke, but playing Simeon, too. Now that neither is happening it's certainly disappointing."

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

Offseason Offerings: Andrew Wiggins

October, 26, 2011
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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

Long road to FAB 50 title

October, 25, 2011
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The road to the POWERADE FAB 50 mythical national title won't be an easy one.

That journey will definitely pass through Ft. Myers, Fla., and Springfield, Mass. Those two locations are home to the most loaded events this upcoming season in terms of FAB 50 ranked-caliber teams in attendance.

Ft. Myers, Fla., is the home of the State Farm City of Palms Classic, the nation's top holiday tournament in recent years. The 2011 edition (Dec. 16-21) is no different, as Bishop Verot High School will host no less than eight FAB 50-ranked teams between December 16-21. The field of teams include (listed with preseason FAB 50 ranking):

16-Team Classic:

No. 2 Miller Grove (Lithonia Ga.)
No. 6 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
No. 7 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
No. 10 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
No. 16 Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas)
No. 18 Riverside Academy (Reserve, La.)
No. 50 Trinity (Louisville, Ken.)

4-Team Signature Series:

No. 23 Friends' Central (Wynnewood, Pa.)

The third place and championship game on Wednesday, December 21 will be televised live on ESPNU.

Among the teams that did not make the FAB 50, the one that intrigues us the most is Salesian (Richmond, Calif.), led by standout junior wing Jabari Bird. The Pride open the season unranked in the West Region Top 20, but one has to wonder how high they would have been in the FAB 50 had standout point guard Dominic Artis, who recently de-committed from UCLA, not left NorCal for Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.).

Speaking of Findlay Prep, the rugged schedule for the No. 8 ranked Pilots includes a stop at Blake Arena in Springfield, Mass., on Monday, Jan. 16 at the 2012 Spalding Hoophall Classic. In that game, Findlay Prep will battle No. 1 Simeon (Chicago, Ill.) as part of a four game set to be televised on ESPNU.

Seven of the top nine teams in the POWERADE FAB 50 will participate at the Hoophall Classic, which is quickly becoming the nation's top showcase. The top showcase games at the five-day event over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend (Jan. 12-16) are:

Jan. 14

No. 47 La Verne Lutheran (La Verne, Calif.) vs. St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.)
No. 18 Riverside Academy (Reserve, La.) vs. No. 19 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)
No. 3 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) vs. Prestonwood Christian (Arlington, Texas)
No. 13 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) vs. Northwest Catholic (West Hartford, Conn.)

Jan. 15

No. 23 Friends' Central (Wynnewood, Pa.) vs. St. Mark's (Southborough, Mass.)

Jan. 16

No. 2 Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) vs. No. 9 St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.)
No. 7 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) vs. No. 13 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)
No. 1 Simeon (Chicago, Ill.) vs. No. 8 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)
No. 6 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) vs. No. 24 Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.)

As if those games aren't enough to make fans and pollsters drool, there is a tentative game to be played on Jan. 7 at the Cancer Research Classic in Wheeling, W. Va., between No. 1 Simeon and No. 2 Miller Grove.

There is no guarantee that game at the Cancer Research Classic will pit the top two ranked teams in the FAB 50. But if Miller Grove can survive its early season schedule, including a game against No. 3 Oak Hill Academy, and win the City of Palms Tournament, there is no doubt the Wolverines will be pushing Simeon for the top spot.

Should Miller Grove falter before facing a potentially unbeaten Simeon club, there will be plenty of pressure on Jabari Parker and company to win that game. If not, a new No. 1 team heading towards the postseason could potentially emerge from the results of the Hoophall Classic.

At the conclusion of the 1989-90 season, four of the top five ranked teams in the National Prep Poll (precursor to the FAB 50) all finished with unbeaten records, led by No. 1 King (Chicago, Ill.) with a 32-0 mark.

With the stacked national schedules ranked teams are playing nowadays, that scenario is unlikely to materialize again.

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN

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