With two of the nation’s finest collections of talent in attendance, the stage was set for a showdown. Didn’t happen. Prime Prep (Texas) handled national No. 3 Huntington Prep (W.Va.) in a game where the hype didn’t translate to the action on the court.
No. 1 senior Andrew Wiggins scored 18 points (7-of-12 FG, 0-of-4 on 3-pointers, five rebounds) was, by his lofty standards, average and Huntington trailed the entire game. Prime Prep junior point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, the No. 4 prospect in the ESPN 60, scored 18 points (6-of-11 FG, 2-of-4 on 3’s, four assists, four rebounds) and proved too difficult to guard.
Sophomore PF Elijah Thomas lists schools like Duke, Florida, Indiana, Kansas and Ohio State.
Prime’s three-headed monstrous frontline put Huntington in jeopardy early. The Express didn’t have Baylor-bound Dominic Woodson (Round Rock, Texas/Huntington) because of sickness. Once Arkansas signee Moses Kingsley (Nigeria/Huntington) picked up two early fouls, Prime pressured with seniors Jordan Mickey (Arlington, Texas/Prime Prep), an LSU signee, and Karviar Shepherd (Dallas/Prime Prep), a TCU recruit.
However, the real hammer was sophomore Elijah Thomas (Rockwall, Texas/Prime Prep), the No. 6 prospect in the ESPN 25. Thomas scored 18 points and had 11 rebounds.
What stood out regarding Thomas were his newly shaped body and his poise and patience in the post. Thomas is down 30 pounds, and the results are terrific.
“I’ve been eating right,” Thomas said. “I want to be better than everybody.”
With Kentucky’s John Calipari courtside to see Wiggins, Thomas picked a nice time to drop shots over Kingsley. Most sophomore posts don’t have the patience Thomas possesses. He was equally strong in the post as a passer and deft with his finishes.
This spring, Thomas will try out for the USA U16 team. He’s in better position to make a run at the roster now than he was in October. Duke, Florida, Indiana, Kansas and Ohio State were names he rattled off after the game.
Cleaning out the notebook
• Former teammates Thomas and sophomore Austin Grandstaff (Rockwall, Texas/Huntington) traveled to West Virginia to square off. Grandstaff recently transferred to Huntington and comes off the bench in a shooting role.
• Senior small forward B.J. Johnson (Ardmore, Pa./Lower Merion) wouldn’t be a bad candidate for the last spot in our ESPN 100. He’s a junior by age but signed with Syracuse. He’s exactly the kind of lengthy, late-blooming kid who has a chance to outperform his pre-college reputation.
• Pay attention when Mickey plays for LSU against Kentucky next year. Twice I’ve seen Mickey play in front of Calipari, and the senior once told me he wanted to play for the Wildcats. UK never offered and he signed with LSU. Bottom line: On the two occasions he’s played in front of Calipari, he’s done so with great energy and effectiveness. The Tigers wouldn’t mind that carrying over into SEC play next season.