However, the coaches and many of the spectators were more interested in checking out the individual talent assembled as rising high school seniors from across the state showed their skills in girls and boys all-star games.
Auburn women's head coach Nell Fortner watched Dewanna Bonner, the state's top female basketball prospect, lead the North All-Stars to a 98-69 victory over the South All-Stars in the first half of the doubleheader. The 6-3 point guard from Fairfield High scored 10 points, added eight rebounds, four assists and three steals in 18 minutes of action. Her long reach also helped force 27 turnovers for the South All-Stars.
New Auburn men's head basketball coach Jeff Lebo was one of the interested spectators at the boys game that was won 86-66 by the North All-Stars. George Drake, a 6-3 guard, was named MVP with his 12 points, four rebounds, one assist and one steal in 19 minutes of action.
George Drake showed strength around the basket on Thursday night.
"It was great to get the MVP of the all-star game and it was exciting to win the game," Drake said. "Any of us could have gotten the MVP. It was great to get to play with guys like John David Gardner." Gardner is a 6-3 college prospect from Homewood, who like Drake, is considered one of the state's top guard prospects.
Drake's performance was even more impressive considering the Calera High star was playing with a sore ankle. He says the game in Montgomery on Thursday night is the end of his summer hoops schedule. "I am going home to rest and heal up my ankle, lift weights and work out in the gym," he noted.
Gardner, who mentions Auburn as one of his favorites, also played with an ankle problem after rolling it at the national Nike tournament last Friday in Indianapolis. Despite being "about 60 percent" and wondering if he could even play, Gardner was an obvious talent on the court. He hit 3-4 field goals, 2-2 free throws, added three rebounds and three assists without a turnover. He also played good defense despite limping on the heavily wrapped ankle.
John David Gardner was a smooth performer at guard for the North team.
Unlike the boys game MVP Drake, the girls game Most Valuable Player is interested in the Tigers. Bonner was a standout in an Auburn summer camp earlier this year and is generally considered one of the top prospects in the nation.
The 6-3, 118-pounder said she enjoyed the all-star experience playing on a talented North squad that was a heavy favorite. However, after starting slowly and falling behind 19-7, Bonner and her teammates such as Whitney Boddie of Bradshaw and Tia Jackson of Buckhorn went on a scoring spree to take a 53-35 halftime lead and were never challenged after that.
Boddie, a quick and athletic 5-7 guard, was one of the best athletes on the floor. She scored 11 points, added eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and strong defensive play for the winners. Cat-quick Tia Jackson came off the bench to lead all scorers in the game with 17 points. The 5-3 guard from Buckhorn added five rebounds, three steals and two assists.
The South team's MVP, Robin Porter, is a 5-11 forward from Abbeville High and the sister of former Auburn star Chris Porter. She was the game's leading rebounder with 11 and added 10 points, two assists and two steals in 20 minutes of court time in the game that featured two 20-minute halves like a college contest. Regular high school games are played with four quarters that are eight minutes each.
In the boys game, a teammate of 2004 Auburn signee Daniel Hayles won the MVP honors for the South. Harold Edwards, a 6-5 center from LeFlore in Mobile, was the game's leading scorer and rebounder. He finished with 18 points as he hit 7-20 field goals and added 14 rebounds, including eight on the offensive glass. He played 35 minutes, which was considerably more than any other all-star with the second most minutes (24) being played by 6-5 forward Michael Adams of Pelham, who scored 10 points and added nine rebounds for the North.
Dustyn Moore, a 6-7 forward from Crossville, was the leading scorer for the North with 15 points and tied for the rebounding lead with nine. He hit 5-12 field goals, was 5-5 at the free throw line and added one block and one assist to go with five turnovers. He also had several of the most creative offensive moves of the evening.
Tiger Ticket Extra:
*Former Tiger star and NBA player Wesley Person was among the spectators checking out the action on Thursday night. The former Brantley High performer got to watch 6-5, 212 forward Derek Weeks, who is also from Brantley High, score nine points and add five rebounds.
Wesley Person (left) and Jeff Lebo (right) discuss hoops in Montgomery.
*Other SEC coaches at the event included Kevin Stallings of Vanderbilt, Mark Gottfried of Alabama and John Brady of LSU. Florida women's head coach Carolyn Peck also checked out the action along with Alabama head women's coach Rick Moody.
*One of the top prospects in the state, 6-7 forward Trey Hampton of Hoover, did not have a big offensive game. He just took six field goals and made two. He was 2-5 at the free throw line and finished with six points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes of court time for the North.
*Richard Hendrix, a 6-8, 250 post player from Athens, was originally scheduled to play but opted for the Peach Jam AAU event in North Augusta, S.C. He is considered the state's number one prospect and is ranked No. 2 nationally by TheInsiders.com.
*Yamene Coleman, the tallest player scheduled to perform at 6-10, 220 pounds, was a no-show. Coleman is from Wilcox-Central High and is being recruited by Auburn and many other colleges. Coleman camped at AU last summer and played at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum this past season in the Henry Harris Classic.
*Jess Rutherford, a 6-3, 170 guard from Hatton, had a solid performance off the bench. He hit 5-6 field goals and added five rebounds with one steal, one assist to go with three turnovers.
*Ellis Lankster, who is known more as a football prospect out of Vigor High, wasn't shy about shooting the basketball. He was in the game for just 12 minutes, but managed to put up 10 field goals although he made just one. He was 1-7 on three-pointers.
*In the girls game, Amber Rutherford, a 5-11 forward from Hatton, scored 13 points on 6-9 shooting and added four rebounds.
*Heather Hollis, a 5-11 forward from Sulligent, and Monica Maxwell, a 5-9 guard from Sparkman, each contributed 10 points to the North squad's victory.
Trevesha Jackson (54) is shown in Thursday night's game.
*College prospect Trevesha Jackson, a 6-2 forward from Auburn High, struggled with her field goal shooting. She was 2-13 on field goals and 6-7 at the free throw line as she finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.
*All 15 players on the girls South squad scored points. The team's total of 69 points was the most ever scored by the losing team in the annual contest.