Thoughts on Fort Bend Travis vs. Hightower

After one live viewing of Travis High School's superb Harrison twins, I convinced my friend to come to a repeat showing, this time against district foe Hightower. It wasn't a hard sell. My friend, a Houston Cougars graduate but Texas Longhorns fan, was interested in seeing Hightower's Danuel House (a Cougar signee). You may remember House's name from a past BC post written by Trips Right (if not, here's the link to jog your memory).

We ventured out to Missouri City and Hopson Field House, part of a new athletics facility fed by a powerhouse athletics program: Hightower's football team fell to Southlake Carroll in this year's 5A Division 1 state championship. Presumably, Hopson will also host games for the recently opened Ridge Point High School, a 4A school fed by Sienna Plantation, a preferred neighborhood for rich Houston athletes. So yeah, athletics is pretty good round them parts.

But I digress. Travis continued to run roughshod through 23-5A, clinching the district title by beating Hightower 84-70. Travis currently sits undefeated in district play with one game to go before making its playoff push. I wouldn't be surprised to see Travis in the state championship game.

The score wasn't nearly as close as the final score indicated; at its high point, I believe Travis' lead sat in the 20s. Aaron Harrison hit two quick, poorly defended 3's to open the game, and that was pretty much the beginning of the end for Hightower.

TRAVIS TIGERS

I'm not in the habit of ogling teenagers unless her name is Kate Upton, but Andrew Harrison. My goodness! That kid is the real deal. There's no box score available for Travis, but he reportedly put up a triple-double line of 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. His strength is breaking defenders off the dribble. He's stronger to his natural right, but can go left and possesses a killer crossover. I'd take his dribble-drive over Myck Kabongo's right now. Kabongo is faster, but Harrison is bigger and stronger with much better body control. Harrison's shot is still erratic, and there's no consistent release point. But he was money against Hightower, knocking down three-pointers and field goals with ease as his confidence in his shot kept rising.

I had more confirmation that Aaron Harrison isn't nearly as good a ballhandler as Andrew--he can't go left, for one--but his scoring prowess amazes me. He has NBA range from deep and near-perfect form on his jumper. The ball looks insanely pretty when released from Harrison's hands. He's also a plus slasher and thrives in the transition game as a finisher or spot-up shooter. Both Harrisons have quick hands and feet on defense, and with the right coaching, can be solid defenders.

One guy I really like on Travis' team is Kyle Coulter, whom I previously mentioned in the Bush write-up. Freed from the Herculean task of trying to shut down Bush's Cameron Ridley, Coulter really shined against Hightower. He's a great athlete (quarterback of Travis' football team) that has an innate understanding of how to play. He's a smart basketball player: a hustler who fights for loose balls and can knock down an open jumper. Without having seen him play football, I can't imagine why a small school isn't looking at him in either sport. One last note: listed at 6'6", Coulter is legitimately taller than the Harrisons and has a collegiate build.

Where will the Harrisons play their college basketball? It's worth noting that their head coach, Craig Brownson, shouted out a playcall quite loudly a few times during the game. That play name: "KENTUCKY". The play appeared to be a pick and roll with a Harrison brother utilizing a Coulter screen, with Coulter rolling to the basket ready to receive a pass. Shades of Brandon Knight and Josh Harrellson, imo. Then again, the Harrisons sport UnderArmour shoes (a sponsor of Maryland, another college finalist). So take what I noticed with a grain of salt.

HIGHTOWER HURRICANES

I'll get this out of the way: I was very disappointed in Danuel House's performance, and I wouldn't be surprised if the scouts sitting in the stands were too. House's box score reads as 17 points, 9 rebounds, but he scored 11 of his points in garbage time, after Travis subbed out their entire lineup with 2 minutes to go.

House is extremely, ridiculously athletic. On one fast break, he jumped over the Travis defender (only to have the referee wrongly call a charge). House has a long stride that makes his dribble penetration to the basket look exceptionally quick. However, he struggled creating his own shot, didn't exhibit long distance range until garbage time, and looked passive and disinterested throughout the game. It kept bothering me throughout the game, but I finally placed who he reminded me of: an injured Boobie Miles on Friday Night Lights.

To be fair, Hightower's coaching staff did him no favors with its gameplan. The Hurricanes inexplicably played a 3-2 zone, with House (the tallest and most athletic Cane) defending the top of the key. He looked out of place there, and despite his wingspan was unable to stop the Harrisons from blowing by him. Zone or no zone, House did not look good in man-on-man defense, and I imagine he'll be a mediocre defender his first year at Houston. On offense, both my friend and I felt that Hightower should have just run iso's for House and let him take his defender. Instead, House hardly touched the ball in the flow of the offense. When he did, it was in tough positions to score easily, and he was consistently swarmed by the smaller Travis defenders.

I will say that his highlight reels look nothing like the House I saw live, and I'm willing to concede I may have just caught him on an off-day. I still think his game will translate really well in college, and I'm excited to see him play in the third ward next year. I would, however, temper expectations that House will be a one-and-done. In a way, he reminds me of Jordan Hamilton in that he'll need to mature in college before he's ready for the pros.

Bralon Addison, a name Texas football recruitniks just might know, was charged with handling the ball up the court on most possessions as Hightower's nominal point guard. I say that because Addison really isn't a basketball player; he's a football player that dribbles a ball. Addison's only source of offense is to dribble the ball into traffic and throw up a prayer. He relishes contact, but doesn't draw it correctly for basketball purposes (actually, a common theme for Hightower's entire team). Addison put up a donut in the first half but settled down to score 6 points in the second. He's stocky and built, and likely an inch or two below his listed height of 5'10". I pity the free safety or wide receiver he's one day barreling into.

Hightower rode a brief surge of hot shooting from senior guard Phillip Harris to make the game somewhat exciting. If Harris were a few inches taller and could shoot better, he could land a scholarship somewhere. One guy that will probably make a college roster down the line is sophomore wing Leon Gilmore. Gilmore already has the same build as House and was the best player on the court for the Hurricanes on Saturday. Right now, Gilmore is more comfortable as an interior banger who cleans up on the boards and can make a close range jumper. Gilmore hoisted a handful of three's with little success, but ended up with a stat line of 15 points and 8 rebounds. If he's not going to grow any taller, Gilmore needs to get more comfortable on the wing and improve his outside game, but he's one to watch.

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