by Rodger Bohn | @rodgerbohn
Now rocking RBK after a relationship that went back as far as I could remember with Adidas, the Kentucky Derby Festival kicked off with the Derby Classic. Unlike the McDonald’s game, the Derby Classic takes 5th year players and reaps the benefits in the process. JaKarr Sampson, Steven Adams, and Semaj Christon are three guys who were ineligible to do their thing in the McDonald’s game that the Derby gladly accepted. Due to NCAA rules, the game was moved from the KFC YUM! Center (Louisville’s home arena) to Freedom Hall (Louisville’s old arena) to “prevent unfair recruiting advantages.” The game is still being played in an arena decked out with Cardinals banners, so I personally see no difference. We’ll save that for another day.
Anyhow, as an official media partner of the event, SLAM was in the building all week long and here’s a look in at the game:
-The biggest draw of the crowd went to Louisville recruit Terry Rozier. Hailing from my hometown of Cleveland, Rozier came out draped in a Louisville flg and got the faithful hyped before the game even started. Ironically enough, he has a nasty take to the cup in the first few minutes of the game that got them even more hyped.
-Fans are most definitely pulling for the white team. They come with 3 IU recruits (Hanner Perea, Ron Patterson, Jeremy Hollowell) and Rozier. While the arena isn’t quite sold out, the fans make up for it.
-Amile Jefferson is also getting mad love from the fans. Still open in his recruitment, Louisville is one of the schools that he has remaining on his list. We just did a dope photo shoot with him last night for ish 159.
-Committed to St. John’s for 2011, de-committed to St. John’s, now re-committed as a member of the class of 2012, JaKarr Sampson set it off with a couple of monstrous slams. Guy has straight bunnies and is continuing to develop his face-up game. Potential wise, there aren’t many better in this game.
–Marcus Smart with the dunk of the game right in front of Hoopmixtape. As a 6’4 power wing, he doesn’t really fit the ideal mold of any position but is arguably the most productive player in this game.
-The highest ranked player in the game, New Zealander Steven Adams, is struggling early on. Like in most all-star games, big dudes don’t get the rock much and nothing has changed here. Don’t get it twisted, the guy is a killer though…as he showed everyone at Adidas Nations.
-Teams are tied at 65 at the half.
-5’10 (maybe) Phil Forte wins the 3-point contest. Guy is built like a football players, but can straight shoot the hell out of it. Look for him to do some work at Oklahoma State.
-Sam Dekker, Terry Rozier, Jakarr Sampson, and Marcus Smart are finishing up the finals of the dunk contest from last night. Dekker got it started with a mini pump reverse off of a lob from the rafters from Tyler Lewis.
-Terry Rozier slapped a Louisville sticker on the glass for a pretty plain dunk. Fans loved it, judges didn’t.
-Sam Dekker went for a between the legs reverse, but missed them all. Missed them all last night too, making him 0-12 on that dunk for the week.
-Jakarr Sampson tried to one-up him, attempting the same dunk off of a lob. No bueno.
-Marcus Smart brings out a gymnastics routine and does a reverse dunk off of oop from Tyler Lewis to give Oklahoma State both the dunk contest and 3-point contest crowns.
-Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier in a dunk-off. Smart does a front flip, followed by off glass reverse dunk from Tyler Lewis. Must’ve taken gymnastics as a kid.
-Few guys who stood out in the halftime box: T.J. Warren with 15 points on 7-9 from the field. Xavier bound point guard Semaj (prounounced se-mah-jay) Christon with 8 points, 6 assists, 1 turnover.
-Teams picking up intensity in second half after laissez-faire first half. Perhaps the coaches got into them at halftime a bit, or maybe the competitive nature is just starting to emerge.
-Amile Jefferson starting to come on real strong for white team. Guy isn’t most athletic and certainly doesn’t have the prettiest game, but may be the most productive power forward in the class.
-Jakarr Adams and Steven Adams with nice dunks for the white team to bring them to a 103-98 lead at the end of the 3rd.
-With the Indiana recruits not standing out here, the crowd has been mighty quiet as of late. IU kids back on the floor to start the 4th, so let’s see if they wake up.
-Things are getting hot and heavy here. 115-114 White team with 5 minutes to go.
-SLAM is getting hella love here. Love watching those four letters scroll in front of me on the billboard while I’m watching some great basketball.
-T.J. Warren continues his Vinnie Johnson impersonation. Guy comes off the bench, isn’t flashy, yet always winds up as the leading scorer or right around there. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he led NC State in scoring.
-HoopScoop guru Clark Francis, who is sitting right next to me, says that Amile Jefferson should be MVP.
-My guy Sam Dekker isn’t killing the way he was in the practices this week, but has still been impressive. At nearly 6’9, he can just do so many things on the floor and is a freak athletically. Will be one of the more unique players that Bo Ryan has had in recent memory.
-Official attendance is 5,042. Had a UK recruit been playing in the game, you could have added another 5k to that.
-Holding the ball in the in the last minute of an all-star game? C’mon man! That breaks every single all-star game rule there is!
-PA announcer switches it up and says there’s 6,700 here. If you can’t believe your PA announcer on attendance nowadays, who can you believe?
-White up 128-127 with 30 seconds to go.
-Marcus Smart and Phil Forte each miss shots for the black team. White team with the rock, up 1, 2.6 ticks to go.
-Foul off the ball, 2 made free throws, and the black team now has the ball down 3 with 2.6 to go.
-Going to keep it 100. While the game has been great, I have to be in Milwaukee for an 8am AAU game tomorrow. Needless to say, I’m hoping for a miss or 4 point play.
-Smart with the miss on half court 3, giving the white team a 130-127 win and me the chance to possibly get a few hours of sleep tonight.
-Sticking around for the MVP’s and final box score, but that may take a while since the local media has already mobbed the players.
-MVP’s are Amile Jefferson for the Black Team and Terry Rozier for the winning White Team. T.J. Warren got a raw deal after scoring 27 points and getting the W.
-With that, I’m out to Milwaukee. Peep my Twitter at @rodgerbohn for updates from SLAM’s own Antonio Curro’s NY2LA Swish ‘N Dish all weekend long!