Big Talent in 2012
Marcus Smart will be trying to lead his Marcus team to their second consecutive state title this weekend.
It's going to be bittersweet for fans of colleges in the Lone Star State when Flower Mound's Marcus Smart takes the court this week in the Erwin Center. A major target of the Barnes staff in Austin, and a target of A&M as well, Smart is headed to Oklahoma State next year along with his teammate Phil Forte. Smart's Marcus team is the favorite to take home the 5A Championships this weekend.
Texas fans will get to see one of their future players though, Namaan Forest's Prince Ibeh is one of the most athletic bigs in the class of 2012. Though a raw player at this point, he might have the most upside of anybody in the building this weekend.
However, Ibeh may not be the only Naaman Forest player to join the Longhorn roster next year. Texas has shown a lot of interest in the fast rising DeMarcus Holland. According to Gerry Hamilton he doesn't yet hold an offer from the Longhorns, but will take a visit to Austin after the season.
Would it feel like the State Championship without Yates? Of course not, and this year the "Pride of the Third Ward" has some big time talent to go along with their aggressive style of play. Damyean Dotson is Oregon bound, and his Yates teammate Clyde Santee has interest from a number of high major teams.
Nation's Best in 2013?
Anytime Yates takes the floor, it's an event, but they might not be the best highlight reel show in the building this weekend. Returning to the state's biggest stage for a second straight year is Fort Bend Travis and its pair of top ten players in the twin brothers Andrew and Aaron Harrison. The Harrisons could pick up the phone and commit to any school they want to, but the odds on favorites right now are Kentucky and Maryland.
Another of the state's top players in the class of 2013 will be on display this weekend, and that's Kimball's Keith Frazier. Frazier is among the best shooters in the state in his class, but Kimball is going to need everything he can give if they're going to derail the Yates train. Frazier has taken visits to Baylor and Texas recently, and is also interested in Arizona and Texas A&M among others.
Andrew Harrison and his twin brother Aaron might be the best backcourt duo Texas has ever seen.
Anyone who's ever followed recruiting knows that the best part of this job is seeing players before they become big news. And though a few of these sophomores' names have already hit the internet, they could become big names in the summer AAU circuit as they approach their junior seasons.
One player I'm excited to see is Mumford's Aubrie King. The 6-6 King has been the buzz of the Brazos Valley this season in helping guide Mumford to an undefeated season and an appearence in the 1A State Tournament. Averaging over 17 points, 6 assists and 11 rebounds a game, King is a sharp shooter from beyond the arc. Though he plays in 1A, King has been one of the most talked about names of this season. It probably won't be until this summer until we see how King really stacks up against some of the state's best players, but he's definitely one to keep an eye on.
A prospect that more people have probably heard of is Alamo Heights' big sophomore Ben Lammers. The 6-8 forward already has interest from Baylor, but he'll have his hands full in the Mules' semifinal matchup with Kimball's own 2014 star, small forward D'Angelo Allen. A dynamic player that could have every big name in the state after him before his career is done at Kimball.
All of that said, for the class of 2014 its all eyes on Yates' Melvin Swift this weekend. Along with Emmanual Mudiay (Grace Prep,) Justin Jackson (Homeschool) and Justise Winslow (St. John's), Swift will be battling for the title for best in state in this class. The 6-8 Swift is a human highlight reel with absolutely tremendous athleticism.
In 1A Division 1 it's hard to go against Mumford's athleticism and style of play, there's a reason they're undefeated this season. Clarksville might be the favorite, but I'm taking Mumford. In Division 2 I'll take Roxton.
In 2A the odds on favorite is going to be #1 Idalou, but I'm feeling an upset in 2A so give me Shaquille O'neals alma mater of San Antonio Cole. Lubbock Estacado has had a great season, but I'm going with the favorite in 3A, Waco La Vega.
4A might be the best show of the weekend. Yates was derailed last season, but looks as strong as ever now, but Kimball isn't going to give up their championship without a fight. Don't sleep on Alamo Heights either, but I think Kimball's athleticism gets them to the finals. If Kimball can control the ball and not get overwhelmed by the Lions, they should be able to hang with Yates. However, that's a gigantic "if". I'll take the "Pride of the Third Ward" to reclaim the state title.
The state's biggest stage should be a good one on Saturday Night in Austin. Marcus and their pair of 2012 stars play solid fundamental basketball and have been one of the state's most consistent teams the last couple of years. However, the Harrison twins might be one of the best guard combos the state has ever seen. I'm looking for a classic game in the Erwin Center, but give me Travis to bring home the state's biggest prize.