Heels eye one of 2004's top pure point guards

DALLAS, TEXAS – Maintaining the relentless recruiting efforts of the North Carolina coaching staff, assistant coach Doug Wojcik headed west last week. Texas has been a major recruiting hotbed for the staff over the past two years and Carolina has been to one particular high school on several occasions of late.

Carolina's assistant coach was just south of Dallas to watch a practice session by sophomore starting point guard Jason Horton of 5A Cedar Hill High School. You may recognize the name of the high school and also the last name, Horton. That's because Jason Horton is the talented younger brother providing many of the assists for his teammate and sibling, senior Michigan shooting guard signee Daniel Horton, a former North Carolina target himself.

Last night's game:
Last night, Cedar Hill High School (TX) defeated Arlington (TX) HS, 85-66. As usual, Daniel Horton was the high scorer with 27 points, putting on a silky, scintillating 3-point performance.

Jason Horton shared his minutes at the point but has been getting the starting nod for most of the season. The sophomore is poised to take the leadership of this team. He played a very solid floor game and made only one turnover in a jet-fueled offense, showing great on-the-ball defense. He added seven points to the scoring column but is not expected or needed to provide scoring at this point. Prep Stars currently lists Jason as one of its top 30 players for the class of 2004 and is among the top five point guards in their rankings.

Inside Carolina's recruiting analyst, Clint Jackson, has watched Jason up close and observes:

"I loved Jason Horton as a pure point guard. He is VERY quick laterally and has a fantastic feel for running the offense. While he isn't much of a scorer, he excels at reading defenses and finds the angles to distribute the ball to his teammates. He looked good shooting the ball when left open -- but as I said -- he doesn't really look to score too much right now. Very quick first step and likes to penetrate the lane. Big time floor general who will remind folks of a quicker Steve Blake from Maryland."

"I think Horton is going to be on a lot of big time college programs' wishlists for the loaded class of 2004."

On the strength of the Horton brothers' play and a very strong squad around them, Cedar Hill has climbed the ranks to number eight in USA Today's Super 25 boys basketball rankings. Cedar Hill boasts an extremely deep and talented team, with Cedric Brooks (a warrior George Lynch type), and Yemi Ogunoye (who is receiving serious in-state interest from Texas Tech chief Bobby Knight) rounding out a roster of athletic, slashing types. Cedar Hill is also ranked number one in classification 5A in the state of Texas by Texashoops.com.

Cedar Hill gained much of their national acclaim by capturing the Slam Dunk bracket title in Lewes, Del. at the Slam Dunk to the Beach tournament in December. Although his older brother, Daniel, captured MVP at that tournament, the younger Horton from the class of 2004 had a very solid tourney himself. An Inside Carolina report from the tournament had the following analysis of Jason:

"The smaller (6'1, 160 pounds) sibling came off the bench and provided sound passing, superb ball-handling and he's got his brother's [Daniel's] quickness. Look for him to be one of the better pure point guards in the class of 2004."

Coach Wojcik was in Delaware earlier this season for that tournament, scouting Rainier Beach and the Stewart twins as they lost to Cedar Hill -- and he no doubt noticed the play of the younger Horton as well.

In a game not to be missed, this weekend the Horton brothers and Cedar Hill will meet USA Today's Super 25 No. 1-ranked Dallas Lincoln (Chris Bosh, Bryan Hopkins) in a postseason warmup game at Dallas Reunion Arena.

According to Student Sports, who ranks Cedar Hill (30-1) nationally at number four and Dallas Lincoln (32-0) at number one in their Fab 50, "…while the game won't count by official University Interscholastic League standards, it certainly will have a major impact on the road to the mythical national title…a Lincoln win would put the Tigers much closer to the final No. 1 national honor."

Don't bet against Cedar Hill though. It's amazing to contend for a national title -- it's even more remarkable to do so as a sophomore starting point guard. Stay tuned for more coverage from Inside Carolina on this phenom from the state of Texas.

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