Once upon a time the Marshall County Hoop Fest held the distinction of arguably being the top high school basketball event in the entire country.
Steve Woodard was the patriarch of this prestigious event and since his departure the bright shine has simply wore off of the tournament.
Enter Travis Haddock, a Memphis guy who seized an opportunity to bring a derivative of this event into the Memphis area. He contacted Mr. Woodard and thus this Friday and Saturday at White Station High School the inaugural Penny Hardaway Hoop Fest will tip off.
This event will bring some of the top national teams into the Memphis consciousness to tangle with some of the local talent that is always high quality.
On Friday at 6:00 Our Savior New America from New York will tangle with one of the top DII schools in the state and the defending DII/AA state champion Ensworth. Here is your chance to see Class of 2013 point guard extraordinaire Corn Elder (Ensworth) and my selection as the top team in the private school division.
At 7:30 the legendary Oak Hill Academy Warriors will battle Class AAA defending state champion Craigmont. Oak Hill is loaded with talent this season including several high level D1 signees including Tyler Lewis, Devauntes Smith-Rivera, Jordan Adams, Damien Wilson and many more. Craigmont will look to the leadership skills of rising junior Sam Craft (Craigmont).
The nightcap on Friday will feature the host squad Spartans of White Station battling the always powerful Montverde Academy from Florida. The Spartans are young led by a pair of talented sophomores in Leron Black (White Station) and Davell Roby (White Station). This game will tip at 9:00.
On Saturday the festivities get right to work with an 11:30 tip-off between Ensworth and Memphis Central. Central features Andre Applewhite (Memphis Central).
Nick King (Memphis East) will be on display at 1:00 as Memphis East battles Our Savior New America from New York. This will also be a chance for everyone to see one of the top freshman in the state in Keelon Lawson (Memphis East).
At 2:30 White Station will tangle with Briarcrest Christian and their trio of stars Austin Nichols (Braircrest Christian), Demarc Richardson (Briarcrest Christian) and Chris Jones (Briarcrest Christian). Should be a dandy.
Dyer County will invade the Queen City for a showdown with CBHS beginning at 4:00. Everyone will get to see up close the talent on display from rising junior and SEC recruit Robert Hubbs (Dyer County).
The top ranked team in the state Ridgeway gets their shot at 5:30 as they will meet Montverde Academy from Florida. The Roadrunners are getting superb guard play from the trio of Cameron Golden (Rideway), Adam Weary (Ridgeway) and Jonathan Burroughs-Cook (Ridgeway).
In the main event of the evening the mighty Oak Hill Academy Warriors go to battle against Memphis powerhouse Melrose at 7:00. Melrose will look to junior Markel Crawford (Melrose) and Devante Hampton (Melrose) to slow down the powerhouse Oak Hill attack.
The final game of the evening, also christened the semi-main event, the second ranked Jaguars of Southwind taking on the nations top ranked junior Jabari Parker and Chicago Simeon. Southwind will counterattack with a pair of highly touted juniors of their own in Juwan Johnson (Southwind) and Jonathan Williams III (Southwind).
This is a big time showcase of talent and I will be right their courtside to watch all of the action.