Hopson powers Blue to victory in Jordan Game

NEW YORK -- High school all-star Scotty Hopson relished the grand stage at Madison Square Garden.

It was Hopson's final chance to showcase his wares before heading to the University of Tennessee.

In his last high school game, Hopson, of University Heights Academy in Hopkinsville, Ky., scored 21 points and pulled down four rebounds as the Blue Team beat the White Team, 124-114, Saturday night in the 2008 Jordan Brand Game before a crowd of 7,000.

The Blue's crushing second-half run, coupled with the White's weakening attrition, helped it secure victory.

"We came out with a different attitude in the second half," Hopson said. "We had fun; it was Madison Square Garden after all."

The Blue led by as much as 23 in the second half.

The surge was fueled by the ball-handling skills of Arizona-bound Brandon Jennings (Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va.), who had a game-record 14 assists and scoring of Hopson and Demar DeRozan (Compton, Calif.), who dropped in 17 points.

"Brandon is a special player; he gets everyone involved on the floor," said Blue coach Ed Azzam of national powerhouse Westchester High in Los Angeles.

Several players, if born two years earlier, would have been on display for NBA personnel. They would have been mere ping-pong balls dancing in the lottery hopper waiting for guaranteed million-dollar contracts. They'll have to wait until 2009 for a chance to be drafted.

Instead the players were looking to be the next Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Eric Gordon or Derrick Rose, college freshmen expected to be lottery picks in June's NBA draft.

That didn't hinder several agents from attending. Several Nike officials, including global basketball director George Raveling came out to watch.

Kevin Durant of the Seattle SuperSonics, Ron Harper, formerly of the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, and Vince Carter of the New Jersey Nets were also on hand.

Michael Jordan, who addressed the players before the game, sat quietly four rows from the court. Boyz II Men, a popular rhythm and blues trio from the 1990s, performed the national anthem.

After trailing most of the game, the Blue tied it at 75 with 13 minutes left and B.J. Mullens' putback gave them a 77-75 lead, a minute later.

The Blue, made up of players from the Western part of the U.S., would not relinquish their edge.

"It was a West versus East rivalry," said Jennings, who added 10 points and was named his team's MVP. "We play pretty good ball out West. We were trying to get back after losing in the McDonald's Game [last month]."

Hopson's conventional three-point play gave the Blue an 84-77 lead with 10:23 left and Jennings, the top-ranked player in the ESPN 150, made it 90-79, two minutes later.

The Blue fell behind by 19 points with eight minutes remaining in the first half. The White employed a transition, quick-strike offense paced by Memphis-bound Tyreke Evans, a senior from American Christian in Aston, Pa.

Evans, who scored a game-high 23 points and was the MVP of the McDonald's All-American Game last month, picked up where he left off in Milwaukee. He again produced in his final one on the high school level.

"Tonight I felt pretty good; Brandon [Jennings] just took over [in the second half]," Evans said, who won MVP for the White.

Samardo Samuels, a 6-foot-9 forward from nearby St. Benedict's in Newark, N.J., gave the White a 45-24 lead after making a pair of free throws with 7½ minutes remaining in the opening half.

"You can't worry in games like these," Azzam said. "We have plenty of scorers."

Seven players on the Blue scored in double figures, including 13 apiece from Wesley Witherspoon of Berkmar (Lilburn, Ga.) and William Buford of Libbey (Toledo, Ohio).

The White jumped to a 32-20 lead with 11 minutes left in the first half when Wake Forest-bound Al-Farouq Aminu of Norcross, Ga., hit two free throws. Ed Davis stretched the White lead to 35-22 a few seconds later slamming home an offensive rebound.

Hopson and B.J. Mullens of Canal (Winchester, Ohio) each scored four points during a 10-2 run later in the half drawing the Blue within 54-51.

The White carried a 60-53 edge at the break.

Christopher Lawlor covers high school sports for ESPN.com.