On Thanksgiving night, the Dallas Cowboys gave the locals exactly what they were looking for to end their holiday right by spanking the Oakland Raiders. Friday, in the shadow of the sparkling new Cowboys Stadium, Glenn Smith's 1st Annual D/FW Metroplex Thanksgiving Hoopfest gave fans who still had an appetite for sports what they needed with a full slate of games at the Metro Academy of Math and Science. As it turned out, underclassmen ruled the day.
Jalen Courtney, PF, Provine- Thanks to some clerical errors with the scorebook, the 6-foot-7 senior was able to get away with committing four fouls in the first half without it hurting him. A long and active guy on the interior, he's willing to play physical despite his slender frame. LSU signee will get to the free throw line and is really comfortable shooting the turnaround jumper from either elbow. He was good for 20 and 12 in a tight win.
Cedric Jenkins, SG, Riverside- Very dangerous as a catch and shoot guy, Jenkins will draw looks from mid level programs because of his ability to strip nets from the three point line. He's got some sneaky athleticism and the ability to put the ball on the floor and duck in for mid range jumpers if he wants to start using a few ball fakes to make things easier on himself.
Jamal Branch, PG, Grace Prep- The future Texas A&M guard is a strong and aggressive floor general who is always in attack mode. Even when he isn't at his best, he pushes tempo, plays fast and finishes strong at the rim or with an assortment of floaters and pull-ups. A good on the ball defender, he's also versatile enough to slide between the one and the two depending on matchups. Suffered a nasty looking ankle injury in the fourth quarter but was at least on his feet walking around in the post game.
Dorrian Williams, PG, OKC Douglass- After a slow start, the 6-foot-1 point guard turned it up in Douglass' high octane attack. He attacks the rim, pushes tempo and doesn't force too much in the lane. Had the play of the day – and of the season to this point – when he drove the lane, rose up and rammed home a dunk plus the foul on a much bigger defender. Mid level programs should be taking notice.
Mark Brown, SF, Wilson- Before OKC Douglass put the game away with a 26-6 run to start the fourth, the Florida State pledge did everything he could to keep Wilson in the game. A well built 6-foot-4 wing, Brown prefers to attack the rim where he's a creative finisher with either hand. Will need to focus on becoming more consistent as a jump shooter while preparing for life in the ACC.
Isaiah Austin, C, Grace Prep- With his size and skill, there are a number of ways that the near seven footer can impact the game. Friday night, he seemed more interested in hanging between 20 and 25 feet from the basket to shoot jumpers and attack off the dribble. He did have one pretty two dribble drive and finish from the three point line along with a couple of dunks. The big man also got active as a shot blocker late with a couple of key swats but was a non factor for large stretches while scoring six points.
Ricardo Gathers, PF, Riverside- Built like an NFL end, Gathers remains one of the most impressive looking physical specimens in his, or any for that matter, class. He keeps the ball high in the post so guards can't strip him and loves to go to the jump hook but he worked out with limited touches. He can be explosive when he gets his steps right, but is a bit straight up and down at times. Struggled a bit to contain the quicker and bouncier Jalen Courtney.
Wannah Bail, PF/SF, Baytown Prep- Bail is emerging as one of the more intriguing guys in 2012. With legit 6-foot-8 size, he's a long and lean lefty athlete with some burst off the dribble. Would love to see him use his length and athleticism to become more of a factor on the interior as a scorer, rejector and rebounder. As it is, he tends to float to the wing looking to launch long jumpers when his real weapons are floaters and dunks.
Ja'Darius Davis certainly looks the part of a player. The 6-foot-7 senior at Lufkin (Tex.) High is a well put together and long armed insider. While not necessarily a high flyer, he does know how to use his strength and did his best to man the glass and provide some offensive punch for his outmanned team. If the grades are in order, he can help out a low to mid level program … Monroe (La.) Carroll junior point guard Xavier Lee will be interesting to watch down the road. The 5-foot-11 floor general was quick to the rim, changed directions well and knocked down a few deep jumpers during Carroll's win over Lufkin. … Dallas Madison's William Cook shows promise as a potential late signee somewhere on the Division One level. At 6-foot-5, he's capable of hitting some threes, slashing for transition finishes and he even posts up a bit. … Baytown Prep's Michael Carey is being touted as a point guard and the 6-foot-4 sophomore handled the bulk of the handling duties on Friday. A strong athlete, he loves to attack the rim and has the bounce to finish over bigger players. Looks like he may be more natural as a physical, attacking two than as a point. …
It's hard not to enjoy OKC Douglass' pressing and up and down style. They aren't huge, but it allows their stable of point and combo guards to dictate tempo and opens up fluid 6-foot-6 twin junior forwards Romond and Ramond Jenkins for jams and easy finishes at the rim. For now, the twins are easy to tell apart but if Romond cuts his Mohawk we'll be in trouble. … Leading the way for Douglass in the scoring column was 5-foot-8 freshman PG Stephon Clark. Quick off the dribble, Clark is potentially lethal from deep and connected on five triples. He'll be one to watch down the road. … Jalen Courtney might be slightly undersized for the SEC, but his length, explosion off the floor and a pair or terrific hands will help make up for the lack of an inch or two in height. … Courtney got some needed help on the offensive end from junior teammate Jarvis Summers. The 6-foot-3 wing went for 22 and came up big in the 2nd half when Provine needed him most. He's a rhythm shooter and looks to be a low to mid level prospect. … We'd like to officially put Piney Woods junior swingman Kentwan Smith into the category of intriguing. Looking every bit of 6-foot-7, he's a long and slinky wing who can operate on the baseline. Mechanics on his jumper look to be pretty good and we'd just like to see him be a bit more aggressive on the offensive end and glass. If he can bring it consistently on both ends, his size, athleticism and relative skill level will get him some high end looks. … Also liked the effort from Piney Woods junior point guard Xavian Rimmer. A well built 6-foot-1, he went for 14 and was involved in most of Piney Woods positive plays. …
Ricardo Gathers mentioned offers from LSU, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Washington, USC, Alabama and California. Missisippi, and UCLA have also been in to watch. … Cedric Jenkins has offers from New Orleans and Tulane to go with interest from Louisiana Tech, Baylor, Georgia Tech, and Georgia State. … It's been pretty quiet on the recruiting front for Dorrian Williams. The only school he mentioned that has been putting in the work on him was Missouri State. … Baytown Prep coach Josh Baillio mentioned Texas, Texas A&M, USC, Arizona State, Arizona, Baylor and "a ton of others" as programs that have been in to see his junior stars Wannah Bail and Michael Carey. … Ja'Darius Page mentioned that Northwestern State has been out to see him recently. He also claimed recent phone calls to his coach from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, UNLV and others.
Maybe they were in a food coma, but we didn't see quite as many college coaches as expected. UMKC's Wendell Moore, Wichita State's Earl Grant, Louisiana Tech's Nikita Johnson, Texas State's Tony Flaska and UT Arlington's Allen Adams were spotted in the crowd. Moore wins the road warrior award for the day for making the down and back trip from Kansas City to Arlington by car in the same day.
"That's lunch meat Isaiah. That's lunch meat all day!"
Enthusiastic fan yelling to Isaiah Austin after he came off the baseline for a big two handed jam.
Lufkin (Tex.) High 45 Monroe (La.) Carroll 64
Baytown (Tex.) Prep 49 Dallas (Tex.) Madison 40
Dallas (Tex.) Wilson 63 Oklahoma City (Okl.) Douglass 79
Jackson (Miss.) Provine 74 Laplace (La.) Riverside 72
Arlington (Tex.) Grace Prep 52 Piney Woods (Miss.) Prep 47