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Prep basketball talent on display around the state

Posted Thursday, January 8, 2009, at 2:11 PM

While all eyes were on the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic during the post-Xmas holiday time, there was also some pretty good basketball going on north of our area in Indianapolis.

The Circle City Classic Challenge of Champions hit the hardwood featuring 12 of the top teams in the state. Those of us who like to score the recruiting websites like Rivals. Com and Scouts.com and such, were treated to a wealth of D-I talent in the tourney. If you put any credence in ESPNU's rankings of prep players, there were plenty of top-60 talents that had big games.

One of the best contests of the afternoon was a match-up between T.C. Howe of Indianapolis and Marion.

The Giants, paced by North Carolina State-bound, Scott Wood, won a 74-72 decision and have since improved to 7-1 and a Class 4A No. 6 ranking. Wood, a 6'6 wing player, posted 28 points in the game, but he was supported by the play of power forward Mikel Brigham, who had a big day.

Brigham scored 20 points and added 16 rebounds to offset a 28 point game by Howe's Andre Hampton, a 6'2 junior guard.

Those who follow prep basketball closely already know who Deshaun Thomas of Fort Wayne Bishop Luers is, but he continues to open eyes amongst those watching the class of 2010. Though Thomas has already committed to Ohio State verbally, he the junior had scouts drooling as the 6'7, 225 small forward showed his ability to shoot the 3 off the catch or dribble in the tourney. His ability to shoot off the step back or pull up and to make plays off the dribble with great left makes him a nightmare to guard.

Though his 8-2 Knights lost a 69-57 match-up with third-ranked Lawrence North, Thomas had 31 points and seven boards in the game.

Also a bit lost in a 90-70 loss to Indianapolis North Central, was Lafayette Jeff's Roddy Richardson, who dropped 23 points and 16 rebounds.

Also newsworthy recently was just another reason to dislike Rick Pitino.

I'm not entirely sure anymore why I don't like him, but it probably has something to do with the fact that he previously coached at the University of Kentucky and has the same over polished look that Pat Riley sports.

But here's another reason, he keeps pilfering Indiana High School players from in-state schools.

Apparently Pitino and Lawrence North's Jack Keefer have developed some sort of farm club/minor league development situation because sophomores Ryan Taylor and Michael Chandler, currently of the Wildcats, just verbally announced their decisions to attend University of Louisville. That announcement gives Pitino four Lawrence North players who have announced their intentions to be Cardinals in the next few years.

The 6'6 Taylor picked the Cardinals over Cincinnati, Illinois, Purdue, Indiana and Kentucky, while the 6'11 Chandler chose U of L over Ohio State, Kentucky, Indiana and Florida.

The pair joins Stephan Van Treese, who will be a freshman there next fall and junior Justin Martin, who can sign next fall.

Perhaps another sign of doom and gloom is that Pike sophomore Marques Teague, widely considered one of the top-10 players in the class of 2011, was at the Louisville/Kentucky game as well.

Farther south, the Panthers of Bloomington South, have continued to maul opponents, averaging 80.4 ppg. and boast a winning margin of more than 28 ppg. while building an 8-0 record. The Class 4A top-ranked team is led by IU-bound point guard Jordan Hulls.

The senior has averaged 15.3 ppg. this season and has hit more than 50 percent of his 3-pointers in limited time due to the team's margin of victory.

Four different Panthers average double-figure scoring for the team, which has a big rivalry game against the Cougars of North this weekend.

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