DRAFFENVILLE --Prolific Prep, now in its fifth year of fielding a high school basketball program with a national schedule, is the gem of this year's 21-team field for the 24th Marshall County Hoopfest.
Prolific was established in 2014 and its black-and-green-clad team, called The Crew, has played in the Hoopfest every year since 2015. In nine games, The Crew have won eight times, including their first five in a row and three out of three in last year's Fest.
Hoopfest is an exhibition, not an elimination tournament, so there is no official champion. But The Crew made a statement last year, with wins over Aspire Academy of Louisville 70-65, Our Saviour Lutheran (Bronx, New York) 94-86 and Athens (Tenn.) Prep 84-52.
Nimari Burnett, a 6-3 senior guard who has committed to play for Texas Tech, scorched the Reed Conder Gymnasium nets for 40 points in the win over Our Saviour last year, one of the top individual performances ever in the Hoopfest.
Burnett has plenty of help this year in a rematch with Our Saviour at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, in Session 2. In addition to returning big men Coleman Hawkins (6-11 senior) and Frank Anselem (6-10 junior), The Crew has added Jalen Green, a 6-4 shooting guard who played his first three years at San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno, California. Green, a senior, has not committed to a college.
The Crew will play Dec. 5 against Hillcrest Prep in the seventh annual Hoophall West exhibition at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Ariz., the night before its two-game Hoopfest appearance. Prolific will take on Orangeville Prep of Mono, Ontario, in their second 2019 Hoopfest game at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
High on the marquee this year is the home team Marshall County Marshals, who like many of the private academies and perennial powerhouse public high school programs have their own standout this year.
Zion Harmon, a 5-10 point guard, sat out last season after being declared ineligible by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, playing a limited schedule with the Bella Vista prep school team from Scottsdale, Ariz., while continuing to attend classes at Marshall County.
Harmon is a five-star recruit who has scholarship offers from Louisville, Kansas, LSU, Auburn, St. Louis, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Creighton, according to 247sports.
ESPN has rated him the nation's top point guard in the class of 2021. He was named most valuable player after Bella Vista defeated SPIRE Institute of Geneva, Ohio, in the championship match of a Grind Session event in March. He scored 23 points and had nine rebounds and six assists in the 96-94 victory.
A native of Antioch, Tenn., Harmon led Bowling Green to the state championship as an eighth grader. After a coaching change at BGHS, Harmon moved to Adair County and led the state with an average of 32.7 points per game.
After his freshman season, Harmon came to Marshall County.
The Marshals were winners last year over Trigg County, 67-31, and fell to Pendleton County with UK signee Dontaie Allen scoring 25 points and grabbing 23 rebounds in a 50-45 win.
Marshall County has a 24-9 record in 33 Hoopfest games. The number of victories is second only to Oak Hill Academy of Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, which has compiled a 26-2 record while participating in 16 of the annual events. With Oak Hill absent this year for the second year in a row, Marshall County could draw even at the top of the victories list with a pair of wins in this year's event.
The Marshals have played in 20 of the 23 previous events.
Prolific Prep, Marshall County, Our Saviour Lutheran and Aspire Academy will be joined by 13 other teams that participated in Hoopfest 2018. The list includes Graves County, Massac County, McCracken County, Murray and Lyon County among area teams.
Other participants from the Bluegrass include Madisonville-North Hopkins, John Hardin of Elizabethtown and University Heights Academy of Hopkinsville.
The field for this year's tourney will be filled out by Lausanne Collegiate (Memphis), Callaway (Jackson, Miss.), Trinity International (Las Vegas), Dream City Christian (Glendale, Ariz.), Orangeville Prep (Mono, Ontario), Tennessee Preparatory Academy (Memphis), Chicago Curie, Briarcrest Christian (Eads, Tenn.), Prodigy Prep (Orlando, Fla.), Central Pointe Christian (Kissimmee, Fla.), Arizona Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.) and St. Louis Christian.
Other teams and players to watch include the following:
• Dream City Christian features, 6-11 Alex Tchikou, a junior power forward from Henderson, Nev., who transferred this month to Dream City from Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H. Tchikou is ranked No. 31 in the nation by 247sports.com. Teammates include a pair of 6-11 seniors, UNLV commit MarJon Beauchamp and Mark Milivojevic; plus 6-7 junior Arthur Kaluma.
* Callaway is led by a pair of small but talented guards, 5-10 sophomore Keivion Hunt (MaxPreps Top 100) and 5-9 junior Daeshun Ruffin, who hit for 26 ppg as a sophomore last year leading Callaway to the Mississippi Class 5A state quarterfinal round.
* Briarcrest Christian is led by Marcellus Brigham, a 6-6 guard-forward (MaxPreps Top 100).
* Aspire Academy has 7-0 Maya Bote, from Ivory Coast, West Africa, and 6-10 Gethro Muscadin of Gonaives, Haiti.
Hoopfest slate includes 5 girls teams
DRAFFENVILLE -- The Lady Marshals will battle in-state opponent Russellville and Anna-Jonesboro from Southern Illinois in two of three girls games in the 2019 Hoopfest.
Marshall County meets Russellville in the third game of the tournament on Thursday, Dec. 5, at 7 p.m.
The Lady Marshals will take on A-J at noon Saturday, Dec. 7, in the third game of Session 3.
The other girls contest will pit Graves County against Massac County of Metropolis, Ill.
Thursday, Dec. 5
4 p.m. - Graves County vs. Massac County (Metropolis, Ill.)
5:30 p.m. - Girls - Graves County vs. Massac County
7 p.m. - Girls - Marshall County vs. Russellville
8:30 p.m. - Lausanne Collegiate School (Memphis) vs. Jackson (Miss.) Callaway
Friday, Dec. 6
4 p.m. - Trinity International (Las Vegas) vs. Central Pointe Christian (Kissimmee, Fla.)
5:30 p.m. - Dream City Christian (Glendale, Ariz.) vs. Orangeville Prep (Mono, Ontario)
7 p.m. - Marshall County vs. Madisonville-North Hopkins
8:30 - Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.) vs. Our Savior Lutheran (Bronx, N.Y.)
10 p.m. - John Hardin (Elizabethtown) vs. University Heights (Hopkinsville)
Saturday, Dec. 7
9 a.m. - Aspire Academy (Louisville) vs. Tennessee Preparatory Academy (Memphis)
10:30 a.m. - Callaway (Miss.) vs. Chicago Curie
Noon - Girls - Marshall County vs. Anna-Jonesboro, Ill.
1:30 p.m. - McCracken County vs. Madisonville-North Hopkins
4 p.m. - Briarcrest Christian (Eads, Tenn.) vs. Louisville Male
5:30 p.m. - Our Savior Lutheran vs. Dream City Christian
7 p.m. - Marshall County vs. Prodigy Prep (Orlando, Fla.)
8:30 p.m. - Orangeville Prep vs. Prolific Prep
10 p.m. - Central Pointe Christian vs. Arizona Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.)
Sunday, Dec. 8
1:30 p.m. - Murray vs. Lyon County
3 p.m. - St. Louis Christian vs. Trinity International
4 p.m. - Arizona Compass vs. Aspire Academy
6 p.m. - Prodigy Prep vs. Tennessee Prep
Six teams have participated in more than 10 editions of the Hoopfest in its 23-year history:
* Marshall County - 20, 24 wins and nine losses
* Graves County - 22, 13-9
* Massac County - 22, 6-16
* Oak Hill - 16, 26-2
* Lexington Catholic - 13, 9-5
* Paducah Tilghman - 11, 6-5
Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.)
Hoopfest appearances: 4
First appearance: 2015
Latest appearance: 2018
Defeated Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, 2015
Defeated Advanced Prep International (Dallas), 2015
Defeated Hamilton Heights Christian Academy Chattanooga, Tenn.), 2016
Defeated Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix), 2016
Defeated Tennessee Preparatory Academy (Memphis), 2017
Lost to Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, 2017
Defeated Aspire Academy, 2018 70-65
Defeated Our Saviour Lutheran, 2018 94-86
Defeated Athens Prep, 2018 84-52
Vs. Our Savior Lutheran, 2019
Vs. Orangeville Prep, 2019
Hoopfest appearances: 20 (33 games)
First appearance: 1997
Latest appearance: 2017
Defeated Pinckneyville, Ill., 1997
Defeated Sesser-Valier (Sesser, Ill.), 2000
Lost to Bartlett, Tenn., 2001
Defeated Obion County Central (Troy, Tenn.), 2002
Defeated Century, Ill., 2003
Lost to Bolivar, Tenn., 2004
Defeated Hopkinsville, 2005
Defeated Lexington Catholic, 2005
Defeated Vienna, Ill., 2006
Defeated Trigg County, 2006
Lost to Muhlenberg North, 2007
Defeated Ashland Rose Hill Christian, 2007
Defeated Obion County Central (Troy, Tenn.), 2008
Defeated Madisonville-North Hopkins, 2008
Defeated Massac County (Metropolis, Ill.), 2009
Defeated Memphis Middle College, 2010
Lost to Bowling Green, 2010
Defeated Harrisburg, Ill., 2011
Defeated Lafayette (St. Joseph, Mo.), 2011
Defeated Massac County (Metropolis, Ill.), 2012
Defeated Wilson Central (Lebanon, Tenn.), 2012
Defeated St. Mary, 2013
Lost to Hopkinsville, 2013
Defeated Dyersburg, Tenn., 2014
Lost to Owensboro, 2014
Defeated Dyersburg, Tenn., 2015
Defeated Pope County (Golconda, Ill.), 2015
Defeated Massac County (Metropolis, Ill.), 2016
Lost to Hopkinsville, 2016
Defeated Massac County, Ill., 2017
Lost to Lexington Christian, 2017
Defeated Trigg County, 2018
Lost to Pendleton County, 2018
Stats compiled by David Green