April 6, 2012

KDF Classic Notebook

Basketball in the Bluegrass continued Friday as the White team outlasted the Black team 130-127 in the Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic. North Carolina State signee T.J. Warren led the way with 27 points, while future Cardinal Terry Rozier contributed 16 points and 12 rebounds. In a game that featured several highlight dunks and very little defense, three McDonald's All Americans and signees for Indiana, UCLA and Pittsburgh battled it out at Freedom Hall.

Rozier Wins MVP
Louisville signee Terry Rozier took home MVP honors for the White team. Rozier was very impressive in displaying a well-rounded game. He scored 16 points and grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds in pacing the White team to a three point victory. Rozier shot 6-of-17 from the field, including three of his eight shots from the outside. He also added four assists in his 26 minutes on the floor.

Faces in the Crowd
Among the announced crowd of 6,700 fans were several familiar faces in the crowd. Fresh off a Final Four, Louisville point guard Peyton Siva was back in Freedom Hall to watch his future backcourt companion Terry Rozier. It was the second Siva sighting in as many nights as he joined teammates Gorgui Dieng and Russ Smith on Thursday at the Night of Future Stars.

Also spotted in the crowd was a trio of former Cardinal greats - LaBradford Smith, Wiley Brown and Scooter McCray. Brown and McCray both served as judges for the final round of the dunk contest. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer was also in attendance to catch the thrill and excitement of the game.

Three-Point Finals
Oklahoma State signee Phil Forte won the Three Point Shooting Contest. The 5-11 point guard blew away the competition when he hit 19 threes in the final round. It's easy to see what attracted OSU coach Travis Ford to Forte. He has to see a little of himself in the diminutive, but competitive long-range shooter. Forte was a 5A Frist Team All State selection in Texas and also led his team to the Lonestar state's title. Forte closest competition was Louisville signee Terry Rozier who drained 13 threes in the final round.

Here's the final tally:

  • Mekale McKay - 6
  • Phil Forte - 19
  • Terry Rozier - 13
  • Chicken Knowles - 12

    Dunk Contest
    Marcus Smart took home the trophy for the game's annual Slam Dunk Contest. The 6-4 shooting guard impressed judges with his Barnum & Bailey like throw downs. On each of his dunk attempts the Oklahoma State bound swingman executed a perfect flip followed by a jump stop and a two-handed slam. I'm not sure how much flipping coach Ford will allow of Smart, but he definitely showed supreme athleticism.

    Here's a look at how the competition played out:
  • Sam Dekker - First Dunk - 25 / Second - 15
  • Jakarr Sampson - First Dunk - 25 / Second - 15
  • Marcus Smart - First Dunk - 23 / Second - 26 / Third - 28
  • Terry Rozier - First Dunk - 23 / Second - 26 / Third - 27

  • St. John's signee Jakarr Sampson may be a little unpolished, but there is no doubting the young man's athletic ability. Sampson threw down a couple of dunks during the game that brought the crowd to its feet. A one-time Louisville recruit, Sampson is going to provide a highlight reel of jams for the Johnnies over the next few seasons.

  • Best fashion statement of the event was without a doubt the argyle socks displayed by IU signee Jeremy Hollowell. Definitely unique.

  • Best name in the event not named "Chicken" Knowles: Mekale McKay, an Arkansas bound swingman.

  • The surprising player of the night was small forward Sam Dekker. He's headed to Wisconsin and the Badgers are getting a great player. Dekker is very athletic. He can take his man off the dribble, but also showed a nice stroke from the outside. He will have success playing in the Big 10 for Wisconsin, but it seemed like his style would be more suited for a team that likes to push tempo and run.

  • Did anyone check the ID of North Carolina State signee Tyler Lewis? The kid can play, but he barely looks a day over 12 years old. Lewis is a McDonald's All American, but barring a growth spurt, he won't need to shave his entire freshman year.

  • Danrad "Chicken" Knowles is going to be a player for Houston. The No. 47 ranked player by Rivals.com, Chicken needs to add 25-30 points of muscle, but plays like a more athletic version of Rakeem Buckles.

  • The Louisville Sports Report's own Howie Lindsey did a great job in his third year as emcee of the event. Lindsey introduced each team's line up and set the stage for both the three-point contest and slam dunk competition. The man never rests.

  • For the first time in several years, the event was dominated by Indiana fans. The crimson and cream came out strong to support IU signees Jeremy Hollowell, Ron Patterson and Hanner Perea. With IU expected to be among the top teams in college basketball next year, it looks as if coach Tom Crean has another solid group coming in.

  • The Indiana fans were most noticeable due to the absence of Kentucky fans at the event. Usually the game is dominated by a strong contingent of Louisville and Kentucky fans. However, with just one Louisville signee (Terry Rozier) and without any UK signees, the Hoosier fans had top billing.

  • Despite a modest crowd of less than 7,000, the traffic lines to enter the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center were backed up and prevented many from making the start of the game. Perhaps two years at the downtown KFC Yum! Center made spectators forget just how frustrating the famed "Ring Road" can be. Mix in a bargain rate of $8 for parking and its no brainer why the once booming KFEC has fallen on recent struggles.

  • Perhaps another reason for the light attendance was the scheduling of the event. Originally scheduled to take place at the KFC Yum! Center the Sunday after Thunder Over Louisville, the NCAA enforced a rule that prevented the game to be played on UofL's home floor. Therefore, the all-star game was moved to Freedom Hall on Good Friday. With spring break starting for area schools and Easter weekend upon us, many families were likely headed out of town for the extended vacation.

  • Amile Jefferson led the way for the Black team, scoring 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting. Jefferson is undecided as to where he'll play his college ball, but wherever he goes he'll make an impact. The 6-8 McDonald's All American is long and versatile.

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