Lewis has Kansas on top

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Isaiah Lewis is the first to admit he's been struggling with his shooting of late, but a couple of factors conspired to turn things around Thursday night during the opening round of the Tournament of Champions.

First, the crowd. The annual event in Springfield bills itself as the most well-attended high school tournament in the country, and it showed – with the 11,000-seat JQH Arena filled to more than half capacity.

Second, the presence of Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend, whom the four-star junior combo guard from New York Christ the King found out would be at the game just moments before taking the floor.

"I saw Coach Townsend on the sideline," Lewis said. "And kind of had to turn it up a little bit."

Turn it up he did, exploding for 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting in just 21 minutes of play, as Christ the King blew out Sylvan Hills (AR) High by a score of 71-45.

The cat-quick Lewis did most of his damage slicing to the basket in both the half-court and in transition, but he also canned a couple of long jumpers and dished out five assists. Active defensively as well, it was a complete performance for the charismatic shooting guard from the Empire City.

"That's exactly my game," Lewis said. "I'm regarded as one of the best guards in my class, and I think I can get into the lane against anybody. Mix it up, score a little bit and get guys involved."

"I played to win," he added. "The last couple of games I've been struggling with my shooting, but I think the crowd got me amped. Playing in this environment, it's like a mini-college environment."

On the recruiting front, Lewis has slowed the process down a bit. With offers on the table from the likes of Florida, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Memphis and Miami (FL) he's got plenty of available options - but one school in particular stands out, and that's Kansas.

"They're still at the top of my list," Lewis said.

At one point it looked as if he would be part of a star-studded crew of juniors who visited the Lawrence, Kan. campus in mid-October for 'Late Night in the Phog', but he proved unable to make the visit. He's been looking to reschedule ever since, and with the campus just three hours from Springfield - and the team not playing until 9:30 p.m. on Friday night - he was contemplating a quick jaunt up to the Sunflower State to get a look at things.

He hasn't spoken to the Kansas coaching staff personally of late, choosing to instead let his coaches and dad take over that role in his recruitment. But he's still extremely high on the Jayhawks; a position helped by the recent commitment of Forsyth (GA) Mary Persons star Brannen Greene, with whom he is close friends.

"It was huge," Lewis said, of the impact Greene's commitment had on his own interest in Kansas. "The day he committed, my Twitter was crazy. It was just crazy. You would have though I committed. It was just crazy. It's huge. I talk to him every other day, we talk a lot."

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