With a tempting plate of holiday hoops goodies on the table in Benton, KY at the Marshall County Hoop Fest, the eBoss road show hit the trail early Friday morning. After traveling some 460 miles away from home, the action on Friday night proved to be worth it as the nation’s top ranked squad, Mouth of Wilson (VA) Oak Hill tangled with perhaps the nation’s number one player in Jackson (MS) Lanier’s 6-3 scoring machine Monta Ellis.
While there was a pair of warm-up games, the marquee match-up was clearly the Oak Hill v. Lanier game and 6,000 crazed fans were in the building looking to quench their thirst for big-time hoops. Thanks to Ellis -- in a big-time way -- and the slew of upper echelon talent brought to the table by Oak Hill nobody left disappointed.
Last year, Ellis dropped 41 points in a memorable battle against Oak Hill and after he’d finished, Oak Hill’s Josh Smith -- who now plays for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks -- showed his appreciation by giving Ellis the MVP trophy that he’d deservedly won. In 2004, there wouldn’t be any doubting who deserved the trophy after Ellis came out and dropped 51 points and chipped in nine boards and six assists in front of an appreciative crowd.
Every now and then a crowd is lucky enough to witness greatness in action and it was one of those nights that anybody who was in the house will remember. Getting into the lane at will, Ellis proved again and again that there isn’t a shot that he can’t create or hit. Thanks to an unbelievable first step, grit and the God given ability to contort his body in ways unimaginable before finishing with contact despite a slender frame, Ellis drew ooh after ahh as Oak Hill threw everything they had at him, and then some.
He hit deep jumpers, scored with either hand and also helped out on the defensive end but the one thing he couldn’t do was pull out a miracle victory against a stacked squad. The final score read 94-80 in the favor of Oak Hill, but Ellis clearly won the battle and made a pretty convincing argument to be considered as the premier player in the class of 2005.
Moving on to Oak Hill it is tough to pick a player to focus on. Junior Kevin Durant is the most likely starting place as the lithe 6-9 combo forward put in a relatively effortless 24 points and eight rebounds. He hits threes with ease, finishes on the break and can even handle a little bit. It is almost scary to think that he is only in the class of 2006 and will get another year to improve and add meat to his ever so slender frame.
Assisting Durant in the victory was another 2006 standout, 5-11 PG Tywon Lawson who had 23 points and three dimes of his own. Durant and Lawson came to Oak Hill together to take their game to another level and if they stick together they could finish their careers as two of the all-time greats at the storied program. It isn’t easy to outshine a surefire McDonald’s All-American like Eric Devendorf who chipped in with 21 of his own, but they were able to steal some spotlight from the future Syracuse WG.
Enjoying an up close and personal view of the Oak Hill v. Lanier showdown was future Jayhawk Julian Wright. The 6-8 wing is slated to take the court with his Homewood-Flossmoor teammates on Saturday evening and he’s probably looking forward to teaching Durant a thing or two about hoops in the national spotlight. Expected to be on hand is Wright’s future coach, Bill Self. Be on the lookout for more on Wright sometime late Saturday or early Sunday. Considering the talent on hand, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there were no less than five NBA scouts on hand and more are expected Saturday.
Finally, in a quick note from home, any of our readers who have been keeping up in the premium room have heard about KC (MO) Central freshman Travis Relaford. The 6-4 WG came through dropping 30 plus in his varsity debut in the KC area against Schlagle. The hype was already out there, but credit to the youngster for making a big splash in his first outing.
- Total games seen- 12
- Total teams seen- 15
- Total Miles traveled- 1527.3