by Rodger Bohn
The Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic is one of the nation’s more unique all-star games. Blending recruits headed to local programs Indiana and Louisville (all of Kentucky’s recruits are playing in the Jordan game) alongside top-100 recruits from all over the country, the game offers a national setting for guys who may have just missed the cut at the McDonald’s game.
Players like Victor Oladipo, Tyler Ennis and Cody Zeller all played in the game before springboarding to the League. With plenty of talent and size on the floor, onlookers watched the game wondering who would be next. Under Armour fitted the players with some fresh neon jerseys that were loud, but not too loud in what proved to be an sick night of hoops for hoopheads of the Bluegrass State.
The White team jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. They had a blend of scorers (Trevon Bluiett and Devin Robinson), set-up guys (Chris Chiozza), and finishers at the rim (Jaylen Johnson and Bonzie Colson) that you need in a game of this setting. Naturally, that type of chemistry was too much to stop, and the White team cruised to a 128-104 W.
Here are a few of the guys who killed at the 2014 Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic:
Isaac Copeland, 6-9 power forward, Brewster Academy (NH)
Copeland capped off his week of stellar play by taking home with dunk contest crown with a slap-the-glass reverse 360, a la Jonathan Bender back in ’01. Now any time you can make a Jonathan Bender reference, you know you’ve done something good because after all, how many 7-foot shooting guards have there actually been in the League, but you hope that his injuries don’t follow Copeland. This face-up power forward was named White team MVP with the inside-outside game that has drawn comparisons to another Georgetown recruit: Jeff Green. He hit open Js, changed the game with his athleticism, and threw down a number of sick dunks in transition. He finished with 13 points and showed the crazy long-term potential that he offers.
Chris Chiozza, 6-0 point guard, Memphis White Station (TN)
Even though the stats didn’t reflect it, Chiozza was the type of lead guard that you’d love to play with in an all-star game. He got in the lane at will and always had his head up in transition, looking to give up the rock to every athletic guy filling the lanes. The future Florida Gator shocked some with his bounce for a little guy too, nearly shutting down the gym with a reverse oop off the bounce that just rattled out.
Trevon Bluiett, 6-5 SG/SF, Park Tudor (IN)
The Nap Town scoring machine played his role, leading the game with 22 points. He pulled up at the drop of a dime, hit deep threes, and was a scoring threat every time that he touched the ball. Xavier will be losing a lot of scoring for next year and Bluiett is a guarantee to provide some help in that department as a freshman.
Devin Robinson, 6-8 small forward, Christchurch (VA)
Of all of the talented cats in the game, the one with the most NBA potential may have been Robinson. Approaching 6-9 and a true small forward, he hit a number of deep threes and used his freakish athleticism to change the game on both ends of the floor. Heading to Florida next season, you can’t help but see the similarities that he has with another lanky Gator swingman: Corey Brewer.
Brandone Francis, 6-5 PG/SG, Arlington Country Day (FL)
As one of the bigger guards in the event, Francis straight up bullied many of the other backcourt players in the first half. He sliced to the rack, finished through contact, and hit a myriad of deep jumpshots. Given Florida’s loss of Scottie Wilbekin, Francis should come and give them another playmaker with size in the backcourt.