BENTON, Ky. -- The 15th annual Marshall County Hoop Fest once again showcased some of the best high school programs and high-major Division I players from the basketball-crazed state of Kentucky and the nation.
Four-star St. John's SF Dom Pointer (Roseville, Mich./Quality Education) was terrific in transition, while uncommitted PF Otto Porter (Sikeston, Mo./Scott County Central) displayed a high-level midrange game and was the big surprise of the weekend.
2011, SF, 6-foot-6, 190 pounds
Pointer had several spectacular above-the-rim finishes on the break. The St. John's signee attacked the basket from the wing, hit midrange jumpers and seemed very confident from 3-point land. Pointer also hit the defensive glass and led the break, making excellent decisions when passing the ball. This strong and physical wing displayed his ability to finish through contact on a regular basis in addition to defending both wing positions with great energy en route to 22 points, eight rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks in a 77-65 win against Christ School. Pointer has continued to improve at a steady pace.
(Atlanta, Ga./Oak Hill Academy)
2012, SG/SF, 6-5, 195 pounds
Adams is a big-body wing who proved he is more than a spot-up shooter from 3. When his jumper was off, Adams did a great job of expanding his game. He attacked the basket with several straight-line drives; he welcomed contact and drew fouls when he didn't score at the rim. Adams also did a great job on the glass and was a willing passer when he drew a crowd. He finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds in a hard-fought, come-from-behind 73-71 victory against Quality Education.
(Memphis, Tenn./ Melrose)
2011, SF, 6-7, 210 pounds
This monster athlete is a great finisher in traffic and welcomes contact on a regular basis. Thomas is a physical wing who scored by attacking the basket off the bounce and by posting up smaller or weaker defenders. All of Thomas' points came from inside 15 feet en route to his 22 points and eight rebounds, with 10 points coming from the foul line. The future Memphis Tiger showed that he is physically better than most high school players at the small forward position.
Players to watch
Charles McKinney (Winston-Salem, N.C./Quality Education Academy)
2011, SG/SF, 6-4, 180 pounds
McKinney is a big-time athlete who is known for his ability to defend all three perimeter positions with ease, but against Christ School (N.C.) his offense was evident (25 points, eight rebounds). McKinney finished above the rim on the break, had a couple of impressive putbacks in traffic on the offensive glass, and made open shots. He knocked down midrange jumpers, floaters in the lane and a couple of 3s. McKinney played with great energy and was in full attack mode on every catch. Oregon State, Bradley, Iowa and DePaul are on McKinney's list. He has targeted his birthday, Jan. 26, as the day he will make his college choice.
Chris Freeman (Greenville, Ky./Muhlenberg County)
2011, PF, 6-5, 210 pounds
Freeman was a terror on the glass, pulling down 16 rebounds (seven offensive). He is a big-time athlete with a college-ready body. He repeatedly made athletic plays around the rim; he finished through contact, although he is a little undersized for a power forward heightwise. Freeman played with consistent energy and urgency on both ends of the floor. Freeman is being recruited by Indiana State, Murray State and Western Kentucky.
2011, SF, 6-9, 200 pounds
The long, wiry and smooth forward is very skilled and a matchup problem due to his great size and skill level. Porter can score in a variety of ways from anywhere inside the arc with his superior midrange game. He knocks down jumpers off the catch and can make scoring plays off the dribble like a 6-3 wing, but his 6-9 frame allows him to shoot over smaller defenders like they are invisible. He also hits pull-up jumpers going left or right, has the handle to beat his man, and can finish with great body control or pass the ball on the money to an open teammate. He finished with 29 points, 13 rebounds and eight steals in a 71-45 win over Graves County (Ky.). Porter has already taken official visits to Missouri and Georgetown, while Seton Hall, Mississippi, Kansas and Missouri State are also all making a push for him.
Quentin Snider (Louisville, Ky./Ballard)
2014, PG, 5-11, 150 pounds
Snider put on a show against Ducanville (Texas) by scoring 24 points and playing a fabulous floor game. Snider hit midrange and 3-point jumpers off the catch or dribble in the half court and also had an impressive stop-and-pop 3 on the break. His stroke is confident and smooth. Snider has a tight handle and can get the ball to open teammates with his excellent court vision and ability to pass with either hand. He has an excellent feel for the game, makes good decisions with the ball and never seems to be out of control. Snider has the tools to be a special player if he continues to develop, and Kentucky, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Xavier, Florida State, USC and Detroit have already taken notice.
• Uncommitted 6-7 PF Luke Mergerson (Duncanville,Texas/Duncanville) is an under-the-rim finisher who plays with great urgency. He scores around the rim out to about 15 feet and rebounds at a steady rate on both ends. Mergerson went for 15 points and 19 rebounds against Louisville Ballard.
• Superathletic and strong 6-11 center Lekan Ayaji (Quality Education Academy) was terrific against Christ School. He rebounded at rim level and power dunked drop-off passes to go along with a decent looking turn shot over his left shoulder. Ajayi's game is still in the developmental stages on the offensive end, but his upside is off the charts. Tennessee, Wake Forest, Seton Hall, Florida State, Florida and Kansas are all involved.
• Class of 2012 center A.J. Hammons (Carmel, Ind./Oak Hill Academy) has continued to improve his conditioning and was a presence in the lane against Quality Education (N.C.), recording six blocked shots. Hammons has great size, length and timing.
Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986 to 1990 and was a first-team All-MAC selection his senior season. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.
More game photos can be viewed at www.mpi-murray.com