Thoroughbred Classic Friday-Sunday features many of nation’s top prep players

THOROUGHBRED CLASSIC
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School
Pulaski County High School

By JESSIE BREWER

Billy Preston of Advanced Prep International, one of the nation's top juniors, will be in Kentucky playing again this weekend. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

Billy Preston of Advanced Prep International, one of the nation’s top juniors, will be in Kentucky playing again this weekend. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

Feb. 5 @Paul Laurence Dunbar

7:00pm Prolific Prep (CA) v Advanced Prep International (TX)

PP – Prolific Prep looks to 6’8’’ senior Josh Jackson (No. 1 by Rivals), who is down to his final five schools (Kansas, Arizona, UNLV, UCLA, and Michigan State), to lead their squad.

Seniors Vance Jackson (No. 72 by Rivals, UConn signee) and Devon Daniels (Utah signee) are key pieces in the Crew’s offense.

Head coach Billy McKnight worked with former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury while coaching in the Chinese Basketball Association.

API – Coach Ray Forsett brings in a well-rounded team full of talent who pride themselves on their work ethic. With goals of a national championship, key seniors Terrance Ferguson (No. 12 by Rivals, Alabama commit) and Mark Vital (No. 67 by ESPN, Baylor signee) hope to lead their team just there this April. They are playing in memory of teammate Kneiko Ketchens who passed away in October.

8:30pm Athlete Institute Prep (CAN) v Quality Education (NC)

AIP – Athlete Institute features 7 foot big man Thon Maker (No. 12 by 247Sports), who is considered to be one of the top players in the 2016 class. Maker, a player with the versatility of a guard, has narrowed his list down to six, St. John’s, Arizona State, Kansas, Indiana, Notre Dame, and UNLV. He returns to play for the Bears this season with his brother, Matur, a 6’10’’ junior who is beginning to pick up offers.

QEA – Quality Education features elite forward Deshawn Corprew, who is ranked No. 91 (by 247Sports). Corprew has seen his recruitment pick up tremendously recently as he has picked up offers from high majors like Kansas, Louisville, and Florida State. Alongside Corprew is junior Renathan Ona-Embo, an up-and-coming shooting guard who already holds offers from USC and Cincinnati.

Feb. 6 @Pulaski County

1:30pm Huntington Prep (WV) v Sunrise Christian (KS)

HP – Huntington Prep features the highly touted Michigan State signee Miles Bridges (No. 6 by ESPN) and Indiana signee Curtis Jones (No. 49 by ESPN). Bridges is key in the Fighting Irish’s offense as he averages double figures nearly every game. Jones, also key in scoring, provides leadership while on the court and can also take over handling the ball. One to keep an eye on is junior Onuralp Bitim, ranked No. 3 in Europe, an elite Turkish guard who, in his first year in the States, already has an offer from Georgia Tech.

SCA – Sunrise is a team stacked with mostly seniors, and they feature senior point guard Roman Young who provides leadership and creates scoring opportunities for the Buffaloes. Oklahoma, SMU, and Jackson State have extended offers to Young, with increasing interest from many others. Every player on this year’s roster has drawn Division 1 interest and most have picked up offers, including Oklahoma signee Kameron McGusty (No. 43 by Rivals).

6:00pm Prolific Prep (CA) v Virginia Episcopal (VA)

PP – Along with the leadership of Josh Jackson, Vance Jackson, and Devon Daniels, the Crew sees junior Abu Kigab also become an effective threat on both ends. Kigab is a top prospect from Canada and his offers include Kansas, USC, and Baylor. Sophomore Khaleem Bennett and freshman point guard Pierre Crockrell are also players to keep an eye on.

VES – Virginia Episcopal includes the highly touted 6’11’’ forward Sacha Killeya-Jones (No. 14 by 247Sports), who signed with Kentucky during the early signing period. Also part of the Bishops squad is point guard Justice Kithcart, a Pittsburgh signee, and 6’8’’ forward Adam Sledd, a Western Carolina commit. Senior shooting guard Kevin Quinn is another to key in on, he holds an offer from VMI.

7:30pm Athlete Institute Prep (CAN) v Advanced Prep International (TX)

AIP – Along with the Maker brothers, AI looks to elite guard Nikola Djogo (Notre Dame signee) and senior Cole Long (UMBC commit). The Bears lost point guard Jamal Murray due to his reclassification into the 2015 class, he is now playing for Coach John Calipari at Kentucky.

API – With high-flyers Ferguson and Vital, API is one of the most entertaining teams in high school hoops this season. The Bulldogs roster also includes Cincinnati signee Nysier Brooks and No. 5 (Rivals) junior Billy Preston, who has picked up offers from high major schools and is gaining interest from many others. The Bulldogs welcomed in the top point guard of the 2017 class, Trevon Duval, who is being heavily recruited by Maryland, Louisville, Baylor and UCLA, and senior Stevie Jordan who has signed with Rider.

9:00pm Victory Prep (TX) v Hillcrest Prep (AZ)

VP – Victory Prep is led by No. 7 (by Rivals) ranked junior Jarred Vanderbilt, who is being heavily recruited by Kentucky, Kansas, and many Texas based programs. Senior center Omoefay Odigie cleans up on the offensive end making him a key part in Victory’s offense. The Cardinals are the reigning Texas Charter School State Champions.

HP – New program, Hillcrest Prep, quickly gained national attention when the No. 1 ranked junior, DeAndre Ayton, announced he would be joining the team. Ayton, a native of the Bahamas, holds offers from every major program in the country, but does not plan to make a decision until the last semester of his senior year. Senior guard Channel Banks, who will likely see his recruitment begin to pick up, is another to key in on.

Feb. 7 @Pulaski County

12:00pm Quality Education (NC) v Prolific Prep (CA)

QEA – Quality Education is a powerhouse with a team that features many dominant post players. Standing at 6’9’’, senior Papa N’Diaye is one of the teams’ most prevalent scorers, his offers include Oklahoma, Mississippi State, and Rhode Island. The Fighting Pharoah’s other two main big men are 6’9’’ senior Malik Brevard (offers include Chattanooga, Middle Tennessee…) and 6’7’’ senior Marsellis Purvis (offers include UNCG, Robert Morris…).

PP – The Crew have a team full of talent and depth and that does not stop at Bennett and Crockrell. Junior Ira Lee (No. 34 by Rivals), a recent transfer, adds to the depth of Prolific’s bench. Lee, a 6’8’’ power forward, holds offers from in-state schools like California, UCLA, and USC, and many other high majors such as Texas, Arizona, and Auburn.

1:30pm Huntington Prep (WV) v Victory Prep (TX)

HP – The Fighting Irish’s roster also includes senior point guard Iván Gandía (offers from UTRGV, Alcorn St., UIC), who has proven to be key in dictating Huntington’s offense. Versatile wing Micah Thomas, a scoring threat, has offers that include Louisville, Baylor, and Iowa State. 6’8’’ junior forward Trace Young, a native of Owensboro, KY, has picked up many mid-major offers like WKU and Murray State, but also a few high-majors like Virginia Tech and USC.

VP – The Cardinals are a team made of mainly seniors and juniors, including seniors LaJuan Hardy and Antonio Terrell. They are coached by former NBA and Louisville star, Rodney McCray, who won an NBA Championship with the Chicago Bulls in 1993. Assistant coach, Moochie Norris, also has NBA experience, after a 10 year stint in the league.

3:00pm Hillcrest Prep (AZ) v Advanced Prep International (TX)

HP – Next to Ayton, Hillcrest features other top talent in a handful of guards. Senior point guard Julian Payton, who holds an offer from Texas Southern, is the son of former NBA superstar, Gary “The Glove” Payton. Other guards that have offers include juniors Dontez Thomas (offers from UTRGV, Prairie View) and Darien Knowles (offer from VMI).

API – API’s roster also features power forward Robert Brown, a junior from Dallas. A key piece to the Bulldogs’ roster, Brown has offers from SMU, UT Arlington, and Incarnate Word. Two exceptional shooters, Elijah Elliott (2017) and Malik Curry (2018), are others to keep an eye on.

4:30pm Athlete Institute Prep (CAN) v Sunrise Christian (KS)

AIP – Athlete Institute features all Canadian born players on its roster, except the Maker brothers who are from Sudan but grew up in Australia. Other key pieces to the Bears’ roster include three senior guards, point guard Quinton Gray, shooting guard Dontae Mitchell, and combo guard Tyrell Leotaud.

SCA – Center Isiah Jasey, is ranked No. 82 (Rivals) in the 2017 class and has many top offers including Kansas, Nebraska, and UCLA. A major contributor in the backcourt is junior Bryan Trimble, he has picked up offers from Georgia and UM-Kansas City. Others to key in on are senior power forward Derrick Walker (offer from Bradley) and Khameron Davis (Weber St., Loyola Marymount).

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