Outside of the McDonald's All-American Game, it's arguable that the Spalding Hoophall Classic is the greatest yearly collection of high school basketball talent. Hosted by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the 2013 iteration of the event started on Thursday and will run through the weekend until Jan. 21.
As is the case every year, just about every player and team worth shaking a stick at will be in attendance. National Player of the Year candidates Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins will bring their teams to Springfield, and other schools like Montverde Academy and Findlay Prep will also be in attendance.
Nevertheless, with five days worth of action covering 26 different events, it's way too hard for the common basketball fan to keep track of everything. For that reason, here is a complete breakdown of the schedule along with everything else you need to know about the 2013 Spalding Hoophall Classic.
Game Schedule (via ESPN)
All times Eastern
Thursday, Jan. 17
4 p.m. - Sabis vs. South Hadley
5:30 p.m. - Lenox vs. Smith Academy
7 p.m. Lee vs. Quaboag*
8:30 p.m. - Sabis vs. St. Mary's (Lynn)*
Friday, Jan. 18
3 p.m. - Renaissance vs. Belchertown
4:30 p.m. - Granby vs. South Hadley*
6 p.m. - Braintree vs. Springfield (Ore.)*
7:30 p.m. - Springfield Sci-Tech vs. Springfield Putnam
9 p.m. - Springfield Central vs. West Springfield
Saturday, Jan. 19
12 p.m. - St. Joseph's (Pittsfield) vs. Capital Prep (Conn.)
1:30 p.m. - St. Rita (Ill.) vs. Lake Clifton (Md.)
3 p.m. - Neumann-Goretti (Penn.) vs. Orlando Christian Prep (Fla.)
4:30 p.m. - Chester (Penn.) vs. Whitney Young (Ill.)
6 p.m. - Gonzaga College (D.C.) vs. Long Beach Poly (Calif.)
8 p.m. - Springfield Central vs. Manchester (Conn.)
Sunday, Jan. 20
10 a.m. - Vermont Academy vs. Tilton (N.H.)
12 p.m. - Wilbraham & Monson vs. Worcester Academy
2 p.m. - St. Benedict's Prep (N.J.) vs. Montrose Christian (Md.)
4p.m. - South Kent (Conn.) vs. Brewster Academy (N.H.)
6 p.m. - New Hampton (N.H.) vs. Huntington Prep (W. Va.)
8 p.m. - Skills Challenge
Monday, Jan. 21
10 a.m. - St. Anthony (N.J.) vs. Lone Peak (Utah)
12 p.m. - Prestonwood Christian (Texas) vs. Archbishop Mitty (Calif.)
2 p.m. - Oak Hill Academy (Va.) vs. Simeon (Ill.)
4 p.m. - Montverde Academy (Fla.) vs. Findlay Prep (Nev.)
6 p.m. - Hudson Catholic (N.J.) vs. DeMatha Catholic (Md.)
(An asterisk denotes a girls game.)
Players to Watch
Jabari Parker (F, Simeon)
Though he's spent most of his 2012-13 season nursing a foot injury, the future Duke Blue Devil has certainly lived up to his billing this season when on the floor. Parker, who is considered the second-best player in the Class of 2013 by ESPN, was recently named game MVP of Simeon's 55-53 victory over Memphis Southwind at Penny Hardaway's Hoops Fest.
The star forward showed his all-around ability, scoring 21 points and grabbing six rebounds in the low-scoring affair. It was a performance that alleviated some concerns of skeptics, who have undoubtedly been concerned with Parker's slow recovery from the foot problem.
As always in showcases like this, it will be important to see how Parker handles elite competition. He looked fantastic against Memphis Southwind, but has yet to truly show the elite athleticism that made him Gatorade's National Player of the Year in 2012.
Parker will certainly get an opportunity to put points on the board against Oak Hill Academy. Though Oak Hill has one of the more talented offensive teams in the nation, it has a penchant for lapses on the defensive end.
Andrew Wiggins (F, Huntington Prep)
Parker may have been the Gatorade National Player of the Year last season, but he won't be the most highly touted recruit at the Spalding Classic. That distinction will go to Wiggins, who tops just about every publication's rankings for the best player in the Class of 2013.
Like Parker, Wiggins was in the news lately after a scintillating performance on the national stage. As part of the MLK Round Ball Classic, Huntington Prep made its first national television appearance on ESPN. As great players are prone to do, Wiggins used that opportunity to flash just about every skill in his elite repertoire.
The 6'7" star went flying to the rim throughout Huntington's 70-49 romp over Cape Henry (Va.), scoring a game-high 28 points in the process.
Wiggins should get yet another opportunity to eviscerate lesser competition when Huntington takes on New Hampton Sunday night. Though New Hampton has a solid program, it is not ranked inside USA Today's Top 25, nor is it even mentioned in the "best of the rest" section.
Meanwhile, Wiggins' Huntington team is fourth in the nation and come in with a 17-1 record this season. Sunday will likely see another notch in the win column for Huntington, which should give Wiggins plenty of opportunities to show off his captivating athleticism.
(Other Notable Players: Kasey Hill, Aaron Gordon, Jahlil Okafor, Dakari Johnson, Noah Vonleh)
Most Noteworthy Matchups
Oak Hill Academy Warriors (Va.) vs. Simeon Wolverines (Ill.)
Though much of the tournament's action will be great, Monday afternoon will see a double-header that should be truly sublime. First on that docket is a battle of two teams separated by exactly one spot in USA Today's Top 25.
Oak Hill heads into Monday's matchup ranked 10th in the nation and boasting a three-headed scoring monster. Leading that charge is small forward Troy Williams. The future Indiana star dominated in the Warriors' two victories last week, including a double-double against Toronto Academy.
Joining Williams are guards Sindarius Thornwell and Nate Britt. Though it's oftentimes Williams that gets the credit for his scoring prowess, it's the (slightly) less-touted stars that are truly the driving force behind Oak Hill's excellent offense. A natural point guard prospect, Britt has fantastic court vision and pushes the ball down the floor better than just about anyone in the nation.
Thornwell, meanwhile, is a do-everything menace who can make a beautiful pass one minute and go soaring toward the rim the next.
It will certainly be interesting to see how Simeon, famous for its defensive prowess, plans on attacking this trio of stars. The Wolverines play a more slowed-down, reserved pace, while the Warriors want to run down the opposition's throat.
That undoubtedly means that Parker will have to come through with a huge game. We've already highlighted him pretty extensively, but it will definitely be interesting to see who he's guarding and how he fares on that end of the floor.
Nonetheless, the key to Simeon's chances will lay far more in guard Kendrick Nunn's hands than Parker's. Barring an uncharacteristically bad offensive performance, Parker should come through with huge numbers.
Nunn has been far more of a wild-card. If he defends against Oak Hill's guards well and puts up a double-digit scoring performance, then Simeon may be able to pull out a hard-fought victory.
Montverde Academy Eagles (Fla.) vs. Findlay Prep Pilot (Nev.)
While Wiggins and Parker are the best individual players attending the Spalding Classic, neither are members of the best teams taking part in the festivities.
That distinction goes to either Findlay Prep or Montverde Academy—the first and second-ranked teams in the nation, respectively. Both walk into Monday's clash of the titans with undefeated records and a season-long track record of taking out top-notch opponents.
As for which team will win, that likely comes down to whether spectacular individual performances or team-wide depth win out in elite basketball circles.
Montverde is led by arguably the best inside-out combination in the nation. Point guard Kasey Hill, who is headed to Florida and is considered the ninth-best player in the nation by ESPN, is an absolute menace off the dribble. He has a Chris Paul-esque ability to beat his man and slash into the lane, and his partner in crime, center Dakari Johnson, is almost always there to finish.
Johnson is simply an impenetrable force at the high school level. He uses his bulk and size to simply overpower opposing big men and also to make up for his relative lack of athleticism.
Meanwhile, Findlay is filled to the brim with good, veteran players. The Pilot have four players ranked inside ESPN's Top 100 prospects in the class of 2013, but none rank any higher than No 50. Nigel Williams-Goss, Allerik Freeman and Stanford Robinson form a superb backcourt, while forward Christian Wood is the least touted but may possess the most talent of all the players.
For anyone who loves high school basketball, this is definitely the game would be sorry to miss.
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