OK, so Emmanuel Mudiay won’t be joining the procession of superstars playing for John Calipari at Kentucky.
But he will be strutting his stuff in front of western Kentucky audiences when he and his Prime Prep Academy team from Dallas come to Marshall County’s Hoop Fest Dec. 5-6-7 – and again in January, in the inaugural McCracken County Festival of Hoops Jan. 9-10-11.
And so will some of Calipari’s next crop of recruits. Two recent UK signees will be playing in the Hoop Fest.
Trey Lyles, who will be playing in both tourneys with Arsenal Technical of Indianapolis, signed with Kentucky on Nov. 13; and Devin Booker of Moss Point, Miss., inked his national letter of intent to join the Wildcats the next day.
Tyler Ulis of Marian Catholic of Chicago Heights, Ill., who also signed with UK on Nov. 13, and his Spartans team will perform in the McCracken County tournament.
Mudiay, a 6-5 point guard, is ranked at or near the top of the heap of the class of 2014’s players. He shocked the basketball world late last month when he committed to Southern Methodist University, rather than picking Kentucky or one of the other elite programs for his brief tenure before moving on to the NBA.
Other highly regarded players coming to the two events include Cliff Alexander (Chicago Curie), Jalen Lindsey and Angel Delgado (both of St. Joseph Prep of Huntington, W.Va.) and others.
Alexander played in Hoop Fest last year, along with twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison, now starring with Kentucky, and Andrew Wiggins, quickly achieving superstar status at Kansas.
Eight boys teams and two girls squads will play in both the Marshall and McCracken events, including some area teams and some of the high-profile teams that play national schedules – and have the blue-chip athletes that give Hoop Fest and similar events their primary appeal.
Arsenal Technical will play two games in Hoop Fest and will be back in western Kentucky for a McCracken County appearance.
Prime Prep Academy, a year-old school in Dallas established by a group including retired multi-sport professional athlete Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, will also make its first appearance at Hoop Fest with a pair of games, and will play twice in the Festival of Hoops as well.
Evangelical Christian Academy of Cordova, Tenn., is scheduled for one game in each tournament. The Eagles make their first visit to the Marshall County event.
Huntington (W.Va.) St. Joseph Prep is back at Hoop Fest for the second year in a row and will be part of the inaugural Festival of Hoops, playing twice in each event.
Also, Marie S. Curie of Chicago returns for a second straight single-game appearance at Hoop Fest and will play one game in Paducah.
Perennial Hoop Fest participant Oak Hill Academy of Mouth of Wilson, Va., will be back for the 15th time in the event. The Warriors have a 20-2 record, with wins last year over Curie and Memphis (Tenn.) Southwind. They will play two Tennessee teams this year, Memphis Whitehaven and Christ Presbyterian Academy of Nashville.
Oak Hill has been in as many Hoop Fests as Marshall County (17-4) and Graves County (8-6) and has played more games than any other school.
Among local schools, Marshall and McCracken will play in both tourneys, making a double appearance in their own event and a single game in the other, and Massac County of Metropolis, Ill., will play a single game in each tournament.
Both the Marshall and Massac girls teams return for this year’s Hoop Fest, and both will play a single game in the Festival of Hoops.
A significant omission in both tournaments is one of the First Region’s pre-season favorites, Calloway County. The Lakers return most of the key pieces of last year’s 23-9 team, which upset Marshall County in the District 4 championship game and lost to Graves County in the region title contest.
Calloway played last year for the fourth time in Hoop Fest, falling 78-55 to Harrisburg, Ill. The Lakers are winless in four Hoop Fest games.