In the midst of the NCAA high-major tournaments, I just wanted to give a quick plug to the Texas UIL State Championship games going on in Austin this weekend and give you some players to watch. For the hoophead-inclined, Aubrey Bloom from Gigem247 has a nice primer up as well.
5A - Fort Bend Travis vs. Northside Warren / Flower Mound Marcus vs. Garland Naaman Forest
Travis and Marcus are the favorites, and both teams are filled with "what could have been" for the Longhorns. Marcus is led by Oklahoma St.-bound McDonald's All-American Marcus Smart, who defines the term "winner." He and sharp-shooting teammate Phil Forte should help bring the Cowboys back to the Big 12's upper echelon. Smart is the biggest miss in Texas' class, in my opinion. Travis features twin guards Andrew Harrison and, top 10 prospects in the class of 2013 who recently cut Texas from their list.
Longhorn fans are probably most interested in Naaman Forest, which features Texas signee Prince Ibeh as well as DeMarcus Holland, a recruit on Texas' radar. Ibeh is a raw prospect with "tremendous upside potential", and an explosive big man like Serge Ibaka comes to mind as a comparator. Holland looks like Sterling Gibbs to me, a 2012 option if J'Covan Brown and/or Myck Kabongo leave. Just an FYI: Naaman Forest has been practicing on-campus at Cooley Pavilion.
Semi-finals are today, finals tomorrow at 8:30p.m. If Travis vs. Marcus is the final, as expected, that has the potential to be an epic game.
4A - Dallas Kimball vs. Houston Yates
Kimball is led by Keith Frazier, a five-star shooting guard in the class of 2013 who recently visited Texas. Frazier is rumored to be an Arizona lean, but with DeSoto's Matt Jones (Duke commit) and Travis' Aaron Harrison no longer options, Texas is hard after Frazier. Kimball also features small forward D'Angelo Allen in the 2014 class. Kimball dispatched San Antonio Alamo Heights yesterday to reach the finals. Alamo Heights' Ben Lammers is a guy to watch in future years, a 2014 center that could quickly shoot up recruiting lists.
Thanks to Rick Reilly, Yates is one of the more famous teams in America. This year's team has Oregon-bound forward Damyean Dotson and D1 prospect Clyde Santee. But watch out for 2014 power forward Melvin Swift. Swift is not as heralded nationally as players like Emmanuel Mudiay (Arlington Grace Prep), Justin Jackson (Houston HCYA) or Justise Winslow (Houston St. John's), but Bloom says Swift is "battling for the title for best in state in this class."
This could very well be the highest-scoring game in the tournament.
1A - Clarksville vs. Mumford
There's not usually much to write about below 4A basketball, but Mumford's Aubrie King has been getting a lot of buzz this spring. King is a 2014 swingman that has led Mumford to an undefeated season to-date, the only team without a loss in the state of Texas. His play at on the AAU circuit this summer will be a huge factor in his recruitment.
The TAPPS basketball tournament has already ended, but here are the results. Plano Prestonwood Christian, led by Julius Randle, took the 5A championship over Plano John Paul II. Randle is the top 3 prospect in the class of 2013 who is considering Texas. In 4A, Arlington Grace Prep beat Houston Westbury Christian to take the title. Grace Prep is probably the most stacked team in the state. It's led by Baylor-bound center Isaiah Austin, with future D-1 players Jordan Mickey (2013), Karviar Shepherd (2013), and Emmanuel Mudiay (2014). Westbury Christian was helmed by point guard L.J. Rose, a future Baylor Bear once thought to be a heavy Longhorn lean.
Cameron Ridley, who is committed but unsigned, and Fort Bend Bush fell in the regional quarterfinals to division rival Hightower. Connor Lammert and San Antonio Churchill lost in the second round to state-bound Warren. Prince Ibeh is at state with Naaman Forrest. Javan Felix led St. Augustine to the 5A Louisiana state title and was named the class MVP. Ioannis Papapetrou and Florida Air Academy lost to First Academy in the Florida 3A playoffs.