DRAFFENVILLE – Andrew Wiggins, widely considered the best high school basketball player in the country, drew a big crowd to Georgetown’s Scott County High School Nov. 18. The next appearance for the 6-8 star will be Friday night in Marshall County’s Reed Conder Gymnasium.
The early signing period came and went without Wiggins making a commitment. University of Kentucky fans and coach John Calipari, who was on hand to watch Wiggins play in a 61-44 win over Christian Faith Academy of Creedmoor, N.C., are hoping Wiggins will choose UK.
He will display his talents as one of the star attractions in the 17th annual Hoop Fest. His Huntington (W.Va.) Prep Express will take on Memphis East at 7 p.m. in the opening session’s third game Friday evening.
Another highlight game is on tap for the late-late show, a 10 p.m. tipoff in Game 5 between Louisville Ballard and William B. Travis of Richmond, Texas.
The Tigers’ lineup features twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison, who have already committed to UK.
Both teams bring perfect early-season records into Hoop Fest. Huntington Prep is 4-0, with Wiggins averaging 20.5 points per game, and Travis is 3-0. Aaron Harrison has the edge on his brother in scoring, 21.7 to 20.3.
In between those two games, perennial high school powerhouse Oak Hill Academy of Mouth of Wilson, Va., will pay Curie High of Chicago in the fourth game of the opening session at 8:30.
Oak Hill is virtually a co-host of Hoop Fest, having appeared in every edition of the event except the first and last editions held at Massac County High School in Metropolis, Ill., in 1996 and 2000. The Warriors, off to a 4-0 start this season, are 18-2 in 20 previous Hoop Fest games.
Another UK signee, Derek Willis of Bullitt East, will be of interest to UK fans. The Chargers, 27-5 and champions of the Sixth Region last year, will meet Hopkinsville at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the final of four games in Session 2.
Willis, 6-9, averaged 18 points and nine rebounds per game for Bullitt East, in Mount Washington, last year. Marshall County fans may remember him from December 2011, when Bullitt East knocked Marshall County out of the state tournament with a 71-62 win in the second round at Rupp Arena,
Bullitt East was scheduled to open this season at home against Lexington Lafayette and will play Henry Clay in the Mr. Basketball Classic at Tates Creek in Lexington Friday before heading to Draffenville.
Other high-profile players in this year’s Hoop Fest include:
n Xavier Rathan-Mayes, 6-3, a teammate of Wiggins’ at Huntington Prep. He has a scholarship offer from UK.
n Austin Nichols, 6-8, Memphis Briarcrest Christian.
n Jajuan Johnson, 6-4, Memphis Southwind.
n Jonathan Williams, 6-8, Memphis Southwind.
n Cliff Alexander, 6-9, Chicago Curie. The underclassman (a junior) has an early offer from UK.
The host Lady Marshals and Marshalls get Hoop Fest action under way in this 12th edition of the Hoop Fest since the tournament moved from Metropolis to Draffenville. Both teams will play teams from the event’s original host school.
The opener pits the Lady Marshals against Massac’s Lady Patriots at 4 p.m. The Marshals will meet the Massac boys at 5:30.
A second game is on tap for the Marshals as well. They will open Session 3 at 4:30 p.m. Saturday against Wilson Central of Lebanon, Tenn.