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April 28, 2007
King of the South, Day 1
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - With several other prominent events this weekend, the King of the South Tournament held at Nashville's David Lipscomb University managed to gather a quality collection of teams and talent from around the Southeast. Here is a look at some news and notes for Saturday's first day of competition. The tournament will conclude Sunday.
Hopson speaks. Scotty Hopson didn't hesitate on the question because it is likely one he's been asked frequently in just his hometown of Hopkinsville, Ky., recently.
Is he still committed to Mississippi State?
Hopson, who committed to the school last October, said Saturday during the King of the South Tournament at David Lipscomb University in Nashville addressed the subject - once again.
Given how early Hopson committed and with the current coaching change at the University of Kentucky, there had been whispers abound about his college selection.
"I'm still committed to Mississippi State and solid in that commitment," Hopson said.
If his commitment is solid, his game appears that way too.
Hopson scored 23 points in one his Mid-State Ballerz opening round rounds contests and displayed a knack from hitting from the perimeter as well as a variety of driving moves to the basket.
"This spring has been good so far. I've been getting the gym a lot and working hard. Right now, I'm focused on the things that will get me better," Hopson said.
Hopson noted that he didn't feel a great difference playing on the AAU circuit as a committed player as opposed to an un-committed one.
"When I wasn't committed, I think you are out there trying to impress people and the like but it hasn't really changed now. I want to just keep playing hard and working hard," Hopson said.
No Jurick, no problem. The Tennessee Mavericks played without star center Philip Jurick on Saturday but managed to win their afternoon contest with the Nashville Celtics to advance. Jurick, who recently committed to Tennessee, had other pressing issues Saturday.
"He had to go to a prom. It's all for the memories," quipped Mavericks coach Mikki Allen, who said Jurick should be available for Sunday's play.
Without their 6-foot-10 big man - who the Mavericks' coaches said is now approaching 6-11 actually - the Mavericks relied on such players as 6-foot-7 Dominique Harper, 6-foot-5½ Dominique Taylor and 6-foot-7½ Darrell Miller.
While many in the crowd no doubt wanted to catch a glimpse of the future Volunteer, that trio managed to impress and even many of the assistant coaches in attendance drifted over to take in the game.
Harper, Taylor and Miller drew the cheers from the crowd with an array of above-the-rim moves while Taylor also showed some touch with some mid-range jumpers.
"Without Philip, we had to play more aggressive. We knew we didn't have the big man back there," said Taylor, who listed Tennessee State among his favorites while also mentioning interest from Illinois, Alabama, Arkansas and Louisville.
As for the slightly-built Miller, mentioned Austin Peay, David Lipscomb, University of San Francisco, Murray State, Southern Illinois and Stanford among his favorites, he seemed aware of what he needs to do to add more schools and potential offers to that current list.
"I really need to get bigger so I'm going to hit the weight room and get stronger. I also need to work on my ballhandling skills," Miller said.
Harper said that as of right now, he's not hearing from too many schools but said that Alabama and Ohio State have always been longtime favorites.
Florida trio shines. Among the best squads playing this weekend is the Jacksonville (Fla.) Lee Bulls who boast three quality guards in Dante Anderson, Shaquille Johnson and Anthony Salters.
All three guards took turns in the spotlight during their 76-66 victory over the local Tennessee Heat early Saturday afternoon.
Anderson, hitting from the perimeter and driving the lane, finished with 21 points while Salters added 11 and Johnson chipped in with 10.
Interest in the 6-foot-4 Anderson of Eastside High School in Gainesville, Fla., has apparently been picking up of late. Georgia, Illinois, Miami (offer), Missouri (offer), Virginia Tech (offer), Florida State and Ole Miss (offer) are among the suitors for Anderson, who claimed that as of now he has no clear favorite.
As for the programs that have come to see Anderson workout this spring, he was unable to get too specific.
"Pretty much everyone has been by this spring," Anderson said.
Anderson said that there are several things he wishes to improve on this spring and summer.
"For one, I need to get stronger. I also need to improve my mid-range game and passing ability," Anderson said.
Dozens for Cousins. One of perhaps most coveted and talented prospect playing Saturday was not playing the 17-and-under division but rather for the 16-and-under Birmingham Storm.
That player is 6-foot-9 DeMarcus Cousins, currently Rivals.com's No. 1 ranked player in the 2009 class.
Cousins, already displaying size beyond his years, was hampered by some early foul trouble in his team's first contest of the day against Southeast Elite but still managed 15 points.
Cousins' early list of schools is a long one and includes UAB, Alabama, Missouri, Texas, Florida, Duke, LSU, UConn, Auburn and UCLA.
"It's a just a big list right now," said Cousins, who said he has heard people compare his game to NBA players such as Jared Jeffries and Amare Stoudamire.
As for the programs that have come by to see him play recently, Cousins said those were UAB, Alabama, UConn and two-time defending national champion Florida.