BENTON, KY. - For the 5,000 or so people the packed into beautiful Marshall County High School gym to see Tywon Lawson and Derrick Rose, two of the nation's top point guards, they were a little disappointed. Lawson was missing in action but Rose had his strong moments on Friday night at the annual Hoopfest.
One of the most anticipated guard match-ups of the year became one of the best what-if match-ups of the year. Lawson was suspended for the event, and possibly longer, for undisclosed reasons.
Even with Lawson's disappointing absence, Derrick Rose took advantage of his time to shine. The five-star guard from Chicago's Simeon High School has the total package. He's the kind of kid that plays the same way if Lawson is across from him or an everyday kid from Chicago.
Rose attacked the basket and after having his shot blocked three times in the first quarter, the junior kept going to the rack and it paid off. Rose went to the line nine times in the game, sinking eight of the freebies. He challenged all comers and scored however he wanted at the cup.
But when the game was in reach with less than a minute and a half to play and down by two, Rose turned the ball over three times and allowed Oak Hill to secure the 63-57 victory.
Perhaps the under-lying story was the play of Nolan Smith, the No. 18 ranked player in the class of 2007. The D.C. native struggled with his perimeter jumper in the first half but decided to go to his strength and attacked the basket for his points.
Smith lead the way for Oak Hill with 21 points on seven of 13 shooting. He also made sure he took care of his big man and long time wing man Michael Beasley, who had 19 points and eight rebounds in the victory.
Future Virginia Tech forward Jeff Allen played well in the victory. He was the defensive force inside the paint. He sent away six shots by our count and scored 11 key points. He's a transition offense player and still needs to find his go-to move but at the prep level his athleticism allows him to be successful.
Maryland signee Landon Milbourne didn't look like the stud he was in July but managed to sink home both of his three-pointers en route to eight points and five boards.
The bottom line is that the game wasn't one to remember, at least not in the high-standards of the Marshall County Hoopfest. It was like driving in third gear but trying to drive in the fast lane.
Faces in the crowd
Kansas assistant coach Joe Dooley and Georgia assistant Pete Hermann were the lone Division I coaches that we saw in the crowd on Friday night. Dooley had a chance to see both Rose and Smith battle with each other while Hermann checked in with future Dawg Albert Jackson.
People were doing a double take in the corridors. And yes, that was Bob Huggins. The former Cincinnati head coach is in town to see Arlington Country Day center Jason Bennett.
Former Vanderbilt star Dan Langhi was honored before the first boy's game of the night. He played his high school ball at Marshall County High School.
Saturday, Dec. 3
8:00 a.m. - Heath (Ky.) vs. Carmi White County (Ill.)
9:30 a.m. - Paducah (Ky.) Tilghman vs. Carbondale (Ill.)
12:30 p.m. - Trigg County (Ky.) vs. Union City (Tenn.)
2:00 p.m. - Graves County (Ky.) vs. Lexington (Tenn.)
4:30 p.m. - Glenbrook North (Ill.) vs. Memphis Ridgeway (Tenn.)
6:00 p.m. - Bolivar (Tenn.) vs. Jacksonville Arlington Country Day (Fla.)
7:30 p.m. - South Laurel (Ky.) vs. Brentwood Academy (Tenn.)
9:00 p.m. - Canton McKinley (Ohio) vs. Oak Hill Academy (Va.)
10:30 p.m. - Memphis Mitchell (Tenn.) vs. Peoria Richwoods (Ill.)