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By LARRY VAUGHT
Not only is he regarded as one of the best shooters in the country, but Moss Point (Miss.) guard Devin Booker is also a University of Kentucky signee — and coach Mico Cotton knows what kind of attention that will attract Saturday when his team plays Ballard in the Marshall County Hoop Fest in Benton.
“We will do as much as we can to accommodate fans,” said Cotton. “We won’t be there but just one night, so I am not sure how much time we will have for him to sign autographs and things like that. We play one of our biggest rival games Friday, and then we will load up the bus and come to Kentucky.
“The Kentucky every is very, very large for us. We had a taste of it in a tournament in Missouri last year. Devin will handle it well. But our whole team is excited. Based on how Devin has improved, he’s liable to have a game with 40 or 50 points this year, and we may need it against Ballard. But we know this is going to be a special trip for us.”
Indianapolis Arsenal Tech — led by UK signee 6-9 Trey Lyles (one of the country’s top 10 players) — plays Ballard on Friday and then takes on Huntington (W.Va.) Prep on Saturday.
“Fans are going to see a team that plays together. The core of our team has been together three years and won our first sectional title since 1978,” Tech coach Jason Delaney said. “We are so honored and blessed to be invited to the Marshall County Hoop Fest. Three years ago no one could have imagined we would be in this position.
“We are a public high school and to battle teams like Ballard and Huntington Prep will be great. Our sectional is one of the toughest in Indiana and we want to be tested. And it will be great for UK fans to get an early look at Trey.”
Huntington Prep features possible UK target Montaque Gill-Caesar, a 6-6 junior swingman; 6-10 junior center Thomas Bryant, a dominating low post player; sophomore Miles Bridges, another possible UK target; point guard Josh Perkins, a Gonzaga signee; and JaQuan Lyle, a former Louisville commit with offers from Kansas, Indiana and Connecticut.; and Providence signee Jalen Lindsey, a former UK target.
Another potential UK target is freshman Braxton Blackwell of Christ Presbyterian Academy in Tennessee, who has offers from Florida and Indiana already.
A definite UK target, Skal Labissiere, won’t play because of a stress fracture. He was the first player in the 2015 recruiting class to get an offer from Kentucky.
Two other players to watch will be point guard Emmanuel Mudiay of Dallas Prime Prep, the nation’s No. 1 player at his position who picked SMU over Kentucky, and Ballard point guard Quentin Snider, who signed with Louisville.
Here is the complete Hoop Fest schedule (all times CST):
- Thursday4 p.m.: Marshall Co. vs. Massac Co. (Ill.) (girls)5:30 p.m.: Graves Co. vs. Massac Co. (Ill.)
7 p.m.: Marshall Co. vs. Dyersburg (Tenn.)
8:30 p.m.: Henderson Co. vs. St. Mary
4 p.m.: Curie (Ill.) vs. Evangelical Christian (Tenn.)
5:30 p.m.: Huntington (W.Va.) Prep vs. Atlanta (Ga.) Sports Academy
7 p.m.: Oak Hill (Va.) Academy vs. Whitehaven (Tenn.)
8:30 p.m.: Ballard vs. Arsenal Tech
10 p.m.: Prime Prep (Texas) vs. Quality Education (N.C.)
9 a.m.: Warren Central vs. Wilson Central (Tenn.)
10:30 a.m.: Marshall Co. vs. Mount Carmel (Ill.) (girls)
Noon: Hopkinsville vs. Evansville (Ind.) Bosse
1:30 p.m.: McCracken Co. vs. South Fulton
3 p.m.: Marshall Co. vs. Carbondale (Ill.)
5 p.m.: Ballard vs. Moss Point (Miss.)
6:30 p.m.: Huntington (W.Va.) Prep vs. Arsenal Tech (Ind.)
8 p.m.: Oak Hill (Va.) Academy vs. Christ Presbyterian (Tenn.)
9:30 p.m.: Prime Prep (Texas) vs. White Station (Tenn.)