O.J. Mayo and his two-game suspension dominated the pre-event chatter at the Hoophall Classic in Durham, N.C. Teammate Patrick Patterson simply dominated.
The 3-game Classic, played in front of a crowd of about 2,500 at historic Cameron Indoor Stadium was highlighted by Patterson’s 20 point, 12 rebound, 4 block gem against Lakewood (Calif.) Artesia. Huntington rallied for the 73-66 win.
Patterson, Scout.com’s No. 11 prospect in the senior class and last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year from West Virginia, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt why he’s a McDonald’s All-American. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski was flanked by his assistants and a guy sporting a bright orange “Florida” t-shirt two rows behind him. All had to be impressed.
Roughly 450 miles down the road, St. Patrick turned back St. Benedict’s, essentially clearing the way for Huntington to move into the top spot in many high school polls. To Patterson, sitting a top the standings was a motivating factor.
“That’s where we wanted to be,” Patterson said after hearing the big game score. “We wanted to be No. 1 and I think tonight we proved we can be.”
Maybe more important, they proved they can be even when Mayo isn’t in the lineup. Hours before the tip-off off the game, Huntington learned that Mayo and his mates won an appeal stemming from last weekend’s suspension.
Scout.com’s No. 1 prospect in the senior class was cleared to play. The scene was reminiscent of LeBron James’ “Hummergate” suspension back in 2003. King James came off suspension and put on a show at the Prime Time Shootout. Though comparisons are uncalled for and essentially unfair, the suspension and subsequent attention it received was similar in coverage to what James went through.
As USC assistants Gib Arnold and Bob Cantu looked on, Mayo was unable to get comfortable in his surroundings and turned in what was by his standards, a subpar performance. The combo guard scored 19 on 7-for-19 from the field and just 2-of-8 from downtown.
Late in the 4th quarter, with his team up a point, Mayo was whistled for his final foul. He was disqualified but not despondent. To his credit, with each blow of the whistle tagging him with a foul, Mayo quickly raised his hand, held back his comments and played on. At one point, he even playfully patted a ref on the rump seemingly agreeing with his call. In short, the star was on his best behavior.
Meanwhile, Huntington dealt marvelously with the loss of their other star. Having prepared two days to play without Mayo, the plan was in place to move on once he was disqualified. “We just talked about how people were down saying we’d lose without O.J.,” Patterson said. “We kept our head in the game and said we wanted to play inside-out when O.J. was out.”
Credit guard Michael Taylor for keeping his cool and running the show once Mayo bounced. Taylor finished with 18 points.
Hoophall Crowd Was Nice
After halftime, Artesia looked like a team that traveled coast-to-coast overnight. Armed with a pair of the top 3-point marksmen in all of high school basketball and the nation’s top-ranked sophomore, the club muster up only 26 second half points. Relying on the jump shot proved to be their doom as Artesia connected on just 4 of 19 tries from downtown.
Renardo Sidney and Patterson were big time in the first half as the two sides of beef traded paint in the lane. Both showcased scoring moves on the blocks and Sidney’s drive and spin for a dunk over and around Patterson was the evening’s best Sportscenter moment. But, it wasn’t enough.
Sidney had 14 and 9 rebounds. All-American candidate James Harden was hot early but cooled late, shooting 5-for-18 (1-7 3s) for 17 points. Malik Story, a stroker with an all-around game, had 21 but he too shot poorly from downtown with a 2-for-8 outing.
Oak Hill 77, Mater Dei 74
Despite a rash of 4th quarter turnovers, Oak Hill survived Mater Dei by 3 points. A month ago, this game may have been for a No. 1 national ranking but even losses from each club couldn’t diminish the quality of this game.
Taylor King had it rolling for Mater Dei early. He acquainted himself with the rims he’ll spend the next four seasons dropping 3-pointers through rather nicely. King, one of Southern California’s finest scorers of all-time, dropped 20 in the first half.
Mater Dei, which played a game on the West Coast Monday night before traveling east for Tuesday’s tilt, should be commended. King finished with 29 points and point guard Kamyron Brown dropped 8 assists. The Wear Twins combined for 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Alex Legion had the hot hand early for Oak Hill and finished with 17. Junior Howard Thompkins (17 and 8) and senior Julian Vaughn (9 and 13) held up their end inside. Nolan Smith had 14 points but shot just 4-for-12 from the field.
Jennings had some highlight moments but down the stretch struggled with his decisions and ball handling as Mater Dei showed 4th quarter pressure. Frankly, both teams looked gassed and who could blame them? It’s almost February and these squads have played national caliber road schedules taking them across the country.
Riverside 84, Southern 42
As strong as Southern looked in December’s GSK Invitational, they looked that weak Tuesday night against Riverside. The Pirates got 21 from senior Sidney Evans, a 6-foot-5 athlete, and 16 more from point man Justin Burton.
For Southern, turnovers and the inability of Julian Gamble to leave an impact on the game was the recipe for disaster. The Spartans gave it up 24 times and Gamble turned in what might have been a season-low 5 points and 5 boards.
Patrick Patterson told a throng of media that he wants to have his list trimmed down in the next month. He’ll cut it back to three schools and attempt to see each campus again. “I’m still unsure with everything. I like everything about every school.” In case you’ve been frozen and recently unthawed, Patterson’s list is: Kentucky, Florida, Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia and West Virginia. …
What was San Diego State doing in the gym? You’d think they were looking at West Coasters. Wrong. Guard Jamal Williams is qualified and getting hit by programs like Elon and SDSU. … Oklahoma signee Chris Early fouled out and was held scoreless (0-for-7) on the evening. …
Head Coaches – Mike Krzyzewski, Duke; Frank Haith, Miami.
Assistant Coaches In The Gym – North Carolina, Duke, Miami, San Diego State, Southern Cal.