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January 20, 2012
The inaugural Penny Hardaway Hoop Fest will tip off Friday night on the campus of White Station High School in Memphis, Tenn. The event is scheduled to pit some of the area's top teams against national powers such as Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill, Chicago Simeon and Montverde (Fla.) Academy. Rivals.com national basketball analyst Eric Bossi will be on hand and these are a few of the storylines he'll be watching.
1. Can Hill thrill?
During December, Rivals.com was looking forward to getting a look at class of 2013 four-star point guard Kasey Hill at the City of Palms. Unfortunately, the 6-foot-1 junior at Montverde was suspended for his team's first two games of the event and we didn't get a look at him. Since then, Hill made a New Year's Eve commitment to Billy Donovan's Florida Gators. During the summer, Hill emerged as one of the top stories after dominating games at the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis. Later in July, he was a bit up and down when Rivals.com watched him in Las Vegas. With Montverde scheduled to play two games at the PHHF, we should be able to get a very good look at the talented floor general.
2. The King of Memphis?
With Jarnell Stokes having made his way to Tennessee a semester early, juniors Johnathan Williams III of Memphis Southwind and Nick King of Memphis East are the area's two highest-ranked players. A long combo forward, Williams looked good at October's USA Basketball developmental camp before going down with an injury so it will be interesting to see how the No. 10 overall player in the 2013 Rivals150 has bounced back. A 6-foot-6 wing and No. 15 nationally, King will be playing in front of Rivals.com for the first time since July when he played at the Peach Jam with Memphis YOMCA. Are Williams and King still the top dogs in Memphis? Have they changed places? We'll see this weekend.
3. Can Hubbs live up to the recent hype?
While King and Williams are currently the two highest-ranked, Memphis-area products in the 2013 Rivals150, Robert Hubbs has been the most talked about of late. A 6-foot-4 wing at Newbern (Tenn.) Dyer County roughly 85 miles northeast of Memphis, Hubbs has had every college coach that has been in to see him this winter buzzing about his ability. We'll be very curious to see just how far the multi-faceted guard has come since we last saw him last July.
On Monday, Chicago Simeon took the floor at Springfield (Mass.) College to play Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep in the marquee game of the Hoophall Classic. Ranked No. 1 nationally at the time, the Wolverines were taken to the woodshed by Findlay during a nationally televised game. We are pretty sure that five-star junior Jabari Parker will be ready to roll. But how about Marquette-bound Rivals150 senior Steve Taylor and 2013 four-star Kendrick Nunn? How they bounce back against a very talented Memphis Southwind team could say a lot about how they are going to finish their season.
5. Is Obekpa more than just a shot blocker?
It's not that there is much doubt about whether or not Christopher Obekpa belongs on the list of the nation's premier shot blockers. We are just curious to get another couple of looks at the athletic 6-foot-8 insider from Centerreach (N.Y.) Our Savior New American. In addition to getting another look at his shot blocking and rebounding prowess, we'll be looking to evaluate his offense more closely. While he didn't finish particularly well last weekend at the Hoophall Classic, he showed some touch and form on his jumper, along with quick spin moves to suggest that he's not quite as offensively limited as some have made him out to be.