Derek Smith All Stars prepare for Tournament of Champions
The Derek Smith All Stars head to the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in North Carolina this Friday for their first major AAU tournament action of the spring.
They will face the Alabama Challenge at 8:00 p.m. Friday night at Duke University to open Pool 11 play, then have an early Saturday morning game against the Tulsa Junior Hurricanes and wrap up pool play with a 3:20 Saturday afternoon game against Philly MJC.
It's probably the best backcourt we've ever had in the history of the program," Vance said. "The backcourt is our strength..the nucleus of our team."
Two of the more talented players in the state, 6'6 Demetrious Goins and 6'7 Reggie Soileau, both forwards for North Hardin High, also were listed on the DSAS roster for this weekend but have made other commitments and won't make the trip.
Not only will Vance have Rondo and Lofton creating problems for opposing guards, he's also got plenty of talented depth in 6'3 William Graham of Lexington and 6'1 Tyler Hicks of Scott County. Graham has been a starting guard for Lexington Catholic and helped lead his team to the 2002 Kentucky State Title. Both Graham and Hicks rank as among the top players in the state.
Vance also has size along the frontline with 6'11 Derrick Rhoden of Bishop Brossart, 6'10 Jason Carter of Scott County and 6'8 Kyle Martin of Elizabethtown. Rhoden and Martin are OVC caliber talents.
The DSAS will also take a 16 and under team to compete this weekend against some of the better competition in the nation. One standout and a name to remember for the future is 6'1 A.J Slaughter from Shelby County High School. Slaughter, a rising sophomore, is one of the youngest players in the program but he's also one of the most talented.
Slaughter, who Vance calls one of the top 3 players in his class statewide and perhaps the top point guard, is a multi-skilled athlete who was a standout last month at the Executive Inn Shootout against the top players in his age group. Slaughter will get his first taste this weekend of what it's like to face big time competition from around the nation.
We'll have more throughout the weekend from the Tournament of Champions and the progress of the Derek Smith All Stars.