Woolridge and Barnes Match Up

From a fan's perspective, the highly anticipated match-up between the Arizona Magic and the All Iowa Attack Red at the Jayhawk Invitational on Friday night really couldn't have gone much better.

In front of more than 2,000 fans at Haskell's Coffin Sports Complex, Royce Woolridge and Harrison Barnes – two dynamos of the 2010 recruiting class – helped their teams put on a show.

Nifty ball-handling? Check.

Long jumpers? Check.

Thunderous dunks? Double check.

Unfortunately for Woolridge, he saw things a little differently.

"It didn't feel like it," the KU commit said quietly, when told that he finished the night with 29 points to lead all scorers.

In a game that saw several ties and lead changes down to the final minutes, Woolridge's scoring outburst wasn't enough to lead his team past the Attack, as the Magic fell by a score of 78-67. Barnes poured in 27 points of his own, to go along with nine rebounds, in the victory.

Playing in front of a large contingent of Kansas fans for the first time, Woolridge said there were definitely some butterflies before tip-off.

"At first, I was a little nervous, I'm not gonna lie," Woolridge said. "Once I got here I felt a lot better."

The contest started quietly for the 6-foot-3 shooting guard. Plagued by an off-night from beyond the arc, Woolridge began making his presence felt by attacking the basket. Despite being guarded by Barnes most of the night, Woolridge was able to get to the rim virtually at will, finishing layups in the half-court and in transition.

Even if his star's jumper wasn't falling, Magic coach Kenny Mullins said that Woolrdige's talent was plain to see.

"I've seen games where he's had bad shooting games, but he always gets to the rim like that," Mullins said. "He always exposes the man in front of him, and he does what we need him to do to win the game."

Unfortunately, the other team had a bona-fide star talent of their own. Barnes, the newly-minted number one player in the class of 2010 according to Scout.com, had his full array of talents on display. Though Woolridge was able to score against him on the defensive end, the Magic had no answer for the 6-foot-6 wing offensively. Burying deep threes, posting up, and driving to the hoop, Barnes was a scoring machine.

Despite holding a lead late into the second half, the Magic failed to close the game out down the stretch – an unfortunate trait of the team in the early stages of this AAU season, Mullins said.

"We play in spurts," Woolridge agreed. "We've just gotta play harder. We'll play hard for a good 10 minutes, we'll go real hard and get a lead, and then we'll calm down and just let people come back."

The life of an AAU athlete is a busy one, particularly at a national-caliber tournament like the Jayhawk Invitational. Though he committed to Bill Self and the Jayhawks in May last year, this is Woolridge's first trip to Lawrence – and he already likes what he sees.

"It's really nice," he said. "It's a lot different from Phoenix, but I really like it here." 

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