Christon Looking Forward to Friday

Future Xavier guard Semaj Christon has a unique opportunity this weekend, as he has been selected to participate in the Derby Festival Classic.

While the Jordan Brand and McDonald's All-American game have picked up in popularity and have become the two biggest names in prep all-star games, the Derby Festival Classic has arguably the most history out of any them. Without the national television exposure or shoe deal behind it, the Derby Festival Classic has managed to hold its spot since 1973.

Moses Malone, Dominique Wilkins, Clark Kellogg, Rex Chapman, Pervis Ellison, Damon Bailey, Isaiah Thomas, Darrell Griffith, Anfernee Hardaway and Jamal Mashburn are just a few of the names that Christon will join when he participates in the Derby Festival Classic Friday night.

Beyond just the tradition of the game, another bonus for Christon is that the game is being played in Louisville just two hours from his home in Cincinnati.

"Getting selected, I was happy," Christon said. "I really didn't know what it was at first, but now people are talking about it, and being close to home I'll have a lot of family there. Brothers, sisters, cousins and all that coming to see me play, so it should be fun."

And of course, it will also provide an opportunity for some extreme Xavier fans to cheer him on, before he ever puts on the Navy blue and white.

"Some of them have actually told me they're going to show up," he said. "It should be fun seeing them out there."

As has always been the case, the game will have a heavy local flavor to it. Kentucky's commits were already committed to other games (you're only allowed to play in two), but they have a few targets playing in the game, Louisville's only 2012 signee Terry Rozier will be playing, Notre Dame signee Cameron Biedscheid was a late addition and three future Indiana players will be participating.

"Yeah I think it should be fun," Christon said about all the talent in the game headed to local schools. "We actually have a Louisville player on our team, so it should be fun to see how they react to me and him playing."

This year's lineup includes five McDonald's All-Americans and Steven Adams, a Pittsburgh signee ranked by Scout as the No. 6 player in the class of 2012. The five McDonald's players are Devonta Pollard, Amile Jefferson, N.C. State signees T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis, and Oklahoma State signee Marcus Smart.

"This is one of the strongest lineups in the recent history of the Derby Festival Basketball Classic," said Mike Gandolfo and Keith Conrad, the event's co-recruiting chairs, in a release. "We expect it will be a highly entertaining and competitive game. Many of the top programs in the country are represented on the roster and we know the players will have great success at the next level."

Christon is coming off a season where he played with an all-star team of sorts at Brewster Academy. Brewster finished the year 32-1 and captured the National Prep School Championship.

"Yeah, we had that one little slip-up," Christon said referring to his team's lone loss to Northfield Mount Hermon in the final week of the season. "But it was good overall. It was fun."

After blowing up all summer on the AAU circuit, the 6-foot-2 point guard continued to develop his game through the school year while under the tutelage of Brewster coach Jason Smith, who also happens to be coaching Christon's team in the Derby Festival Classic.

"The workouts were tough," Christon said about this season at Brewster. "Wake up early in the morning, running and conditioning - the conditioning was the hardest part this year. Workouts I got used to it. With practice you have to be more focused and tuned in than in high school."

For Christon though, the hard work paid off, as he was awarded by being bumped up to five-star status in Scout's rankings, where he currently sits at No. 24.

"I think I improved on just getting stronger. Being a better point guard and a leader. I still have to work on stuff like shooting more consistent - having a consistent jumpshot. Overall though, I feel like I improved pretty good."

Friday night he'll get to show off those improvements against some great competition. Below are the rosters for each team. The Derby Classic will return to Freedom Hall this year after a one-year stint in the KFC Yum Center. The game was forced from the Yum Center due to a new NCAA rule prohibiting non-scholastic events from being played on a college campus or a school's main practice/playing facility. If you're interested in watching the game, tickets are still available and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com. The game tips off at 7 p.m.

White Team
Steven Adams - C - 6-11/230 - Pittsburgh
Semaj Christon - PG - 6-2/175 - Xavier
Sam Decker - SF - 6-7/190 - Wisconsin
Nathan Diedonne - PF - 6-6/190 - Boston
Jeremy Hollowell - SF - 6-7/200 - Indiana
Ron Patterson - SG - 6-3/180 - Indiana
Hanner Perea - PF 6-8/190 - Indiana
Terry Rozier - PG - 6-1/170 - Louisville
Jakarr Sampson - PF - 6-7/195 - St. Johns
TJ Warren - SF - 6-8/230 - NC State

Black Team
Jordan Adams - SF - 6-5/205 - UCLA
Cameron Beidscheid - SF - 6-7/175 - Notre Dame
Robert Carter - C - 6-9/245 - Georgia Tech
Phil Forte - PG - 5-11/165 - Oklahoma St
Amile Jefferson - PF - 6-9/200 - Undecided
Chicken Knowles - PF - 6-9/190 - Houston
Tyler Lewis - PG - 5-11/165 - NC State
MeKale McKay - SF - 6-6/195 - Arkansas
Marcus Smart - SG - 6-4/200 - Oklahoma St
Andrew White - SF - 6-6/205 - Kansas


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