DUNCANVILLE, Texas - For the second straight night at the Thanksgiving Hoopfest, Dallas (Texas) Lincoln found itself on the floor in a showcase game.
This time, city bragging rights were on the line as the crew from South Dallas squared off with its bitter rival, Dallas (Texas) Kimball, from Oak Cliff just across town. Oklahoma State-bound LeBryan Nash came up big again but it was the extra help that he got from West Virginia-bound Keaton Miles that made a huge difference as Lincoln fell behind early, rallied for a big lead and then held on in a spirited affair.
But the Lincoln-Kimball battle wasn't the only big one of the day as Flower Mound Marcus followed to give Oklahoma City (Okla.) Douglass its first loss in nearly two years to cap a great two days of action at the Hoopfest.
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Keaton Miles, SF, Lincoln: The West Virginia signee has always been open to critiques from those who have watched him play and it's pretty evident that he listens and goes to work on his game. After a bit of a stall in his progression, he's made it clear over the past couple of days that he's added to his game. His ball-handling is much improved, he's a threat as a pull-up jump-shooter and his added strength has made him even more of a threat on the glass. He was all over the floor in Lincoln's big win over Kimball and finished the day with an impressive 20-point, 12-rebound outing.
Jonathan Holmes, PF, Antonian: The 6-foot-8 four man from San Antonio emerged as a four-star prospect in July before signing with Texas during the early signing period. On Saturday, he proved that he wasn't just a one-hit wonder. Having bulked up some since July, he's able to battle more in the post but it's his skill level that earns him his lofty status. He stepped out and drilled threes, shot-faked for drives to the bucket and generally dominated play during a win over Mesquite (Texas) Poteet.
Marcus Smart, SG/SF, Flower Mound Marcus: The 2012 four-star is one of the most difficult to describe. He's not the greatest shooter, he's not the greatest athlete, but he is one of the greatest competitors in the entire country. When a big play needs to be made he either makes it or seems to have a hand in it. He didn't score big in either game, but he did all of the little things that you would want a big-time player to do.
Julius Randle, PF, Prestonwood Christian: The sophomore made sure he didn't get off to a slow start on Saturday and came out looking to force the action. Despite a strong upper body, the 6-foot-8 southpaw prefers to face the defense so he can read and react. He's much quicker off the bounce than you might expect and is pretty advanced in getting the ball to the rim. Also capable of hitting jumpers, he does have a tendency to over-handle at times because he's asked to do so much and that leads to some turnovers. But, clearly, this is a young man with an extremely high ceiling and he's certainly worthy of his top three status in the class of 2013.
More Saturday notables
Jordan Williams, SF, Kimball: Kimball raced out to an early lead and then fell behind by 16 at the half. During the second half, they mounted a furious comeback and much of it had to do with Williams, who scored 15 of his 18 during the second frame. An athletic guy, he committed himself to crashing the offensive glass (grabbed six offensive boards) and played physically against Lincoln - where he played as a freshman and sophomore.
LeBryan Nash, SF, Lincoln: For whatever reason, there's been plenty of people who have doubted Nash throughout his career. There's no way that anybody who watched him over the past two days could have any questions. He can make jumpers, drives to the rim, posts up, rebounds and routinely brings down the house with monstrous dunks while powering his way through hacking defenders. The stat line says 29 and 11, we say it was just another day at the office for the five-star senior.
Dorrian Williams, PG/SG, Douglass: Missouri State has landed a guy who should be able to step right into the Missouri Valley and contribute. He has good strength, sneaky athleticism and has turned himself into a very capable shooter from deep. His two-time defending Oklahoma state champion team lost for the first time in quite some time, but it wasn't for lack of effort on either end of the floor. He did a terrific job of hassling 2012 four-star wing Marcus Smart from Williams.
Luke Mergerson, PF, Duncanville: The 6-foot-7 power forward deserves worked hard to get his body in shape and the results have helped him tremendously on the floor. He's become bouncier around the rim, runs the floor better and blends that with the ability to step out and make 10- to 15-foot jumpers.
Phil Forte, PG, Flower Mound Marcus: FM Marcus is all about toughness and execution, and that pretty much describes the 5-foot-10 junior. A terrific shooter from deep with loads of confidence, he's proving to be better off the dribble and as a playmaker for others as time goes on.
San Antonio (Texas) Antonian big man Darrious Hamilton signed with Boise State just a few weeks ago so he was justifiably bummed when he hit the floor Saturday morning. But, Broncos fans have plenty to look forward to from the long, lean and athletic insider. He runs the floor, has a frame that will carry plenty of muscle and should become a productive board man with some scoring pop in college. ... For the second day in a row, Jamal Branch had a fine outing for Arlington (Texas) Grace Prep. He controlled tempo, played solid defense and scored when given the opportunity. ...
A teammate of Branch's at Grace Prep, Jelon Hornbeak had himself a big summer playing with Texas Select. A 6-foot-3 combo guard, his play was a bit up and down in Duncanville. The junior needs the ball in his hands to make plays off the dribble and Grace Prep has so many guys that need touches that he sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. He can shoot with range or score at the rim, but to make sure he's always contributing he needs to find ways to get himself involved even when the ball isn't coming his direction.
Humble (Texas) Christian Life has an interesting guy to monitor in combo guard Josh Gray. At 6-foot-2, he specializes in pull-up jumpers from between 12 and 22 feet. He can also get to the rim, involves others and looks to be a pretty good athlete. ... Also at Christian Life is class of 2012 Rivals150 member Michael Lewis. A native of the New Orleans area, the 6-foot-8 power forward looks like he's added some needed strength to his lean frame. He ran the floor very well, but other than that didn't get many opportunities to show what he's capable of doing. ...
He's not the biggest guy, but Dallas Kimball point guard Shannon Lilly plays with as much heart as anybody on the floor. A 5-foot-10 floor general from the class of 2012, he can flat shoot the cover off of the ball from deep. He made a bundle of threes while scoring 26 points as Kimball fought furiously to come back from a double-digit deficit and also made some hustle plays on defense. ...
OKC Douglass senior post player Marquis Buxton-Hill isn't going to win the 100-meter dash at the Olympics, but the beefy center can get some things done offensively. A good rebounder, he is most comfortable shooting jumpers from 8 to 12 feet and he's pretty successful doing so. ... Marcus Smart and Phil Forte get a lot of the attention, but junior guard A.J. Luckey is proving to be a more-than-capable guy in his own right. The 6-foot combo guard got things going early for Flower Mound Marcus with some conversions at the rim and from deep. Then, late in the game, he shook off some missed free throws and stepped up to hit some big ones when it mattered most. ... Because Christian Life has so many players, their substitution pattern is tough to get a read on and playing time varies. However, 6-foot-4 lefty wing Tyler Rambo made the most of his time on the floor. A native of Kansas City, he's a tough kid who attacks the basket, gives great effort and does some dirty work. Schools on the low to mid major level should be taking a look here.
It's really tough to single out just one guy on Luther Riley's Jackson (Miss.) Provine team. The group is well-coached, plays hard, plays together and is the type of team that is impossible to dislike. The players banded together and got a big win at the buzzer against Prestonwood Christian. ... Finally, event director Glenn Smith did a great job putting the field together and running the tournament.