The Marshall County Hoop Fest is back this weekend, and the schedule for the annual event in Benton, Ky., once again features several of the top national prospects in high school basketball.
The Herald-Leader will have coverage of the event on Kentucky.com, the Next Cats recruiting blog and inside the print edition throughout the weekend. Here’s a quick look at the top players and teams at this year’s Hoop Fest:
One of UK’s four early signees for the 2017 recruiting class, Alexander will lead Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Tenn.) in two games (Friday at 5:30 p.m. CST and Saturday at 8 p.m. CST). The 6-foot-4 combo guard is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 46 overall prospect in the 2017 class, and he’s averaging 20.0 points per game through Hamilton Heights’ first four games of the season. He’ll face off against five-star guards Gary Trent Jr. and Paul Scruggs in Friday’s game.
Kentucky missed out on Petty, who signed with Alabama over the Wildcats despite being the first player from the class of 2017 to earn a UK scholarship offer. Scout.com ranks him as the No. 44 overall player in the 2017 class, and he’ll also play two games with Mae Jemison (Ala.) this weekend (Friday at 4 p.m. CST and Saturday at 3:30 p.m. CST). The Saturday game will feature Mae Jemison vs. Paul Laurence Dunbar in a battle of reigning state champions.
Ayton, who has signed with Arizona, is the consensus No. 1 player nationally in the 2017 recruiting class. The 7-footer from the Bahamas is in his second season with Hillcrest Prep (Ariz.) and has a versatile game that has already led to him being projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Hillcrest will play Friday at 7 p.m. CST and Saturday at 8 p.m. CST.
Gary Trent Jr. and Paul Scruggs
Prolific Prep (Calif.) lost No. 1 recruit Josh Jackson to graduation last year, but they’re back with five-star guards Gary Trent Jr. and Paul Scruggs this season. Trent Jr. — one of the top shooting guards in the country — has already signed with Duke, and Scruggs — an elite combo guard — is a Xavier signee. They’ll face off against Shai Alexander and Hamilton Heights (Tenn.) on Friday at 5:30 p.m. CST.
Billy Preston and Matt Coleman
Oak Hill Academy (Va.) is always loaded, and the Warriors are led this season by four-star point guard Matt Coleman and five-star forward Billy Preston. Coleman has narrowed his list to Duke, Texas and Stanford. Preston, who wanted a UK scholarship offer, has signed with Kansas and is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 5 overall prospect in the 2017 class. Oak Hill will play Friday at 8:30 p.m. CST and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CST.
The reigning Sweet Sixteen MVP and a Mr. Basketball favorite, Hollingsworth is back for his senior season and is hoping to lead Paul Laurence Dunbar to a second consecutive state championship. UK showed some interest in the Lexington star, but the Wildcats wanted to wait until the spring to consider a scholarship offer and Hollingsworth instead signed with Western Kentucky. The state’s coaches picked Hollingsworth as the No. 1 player in Kentucky going into this season, and he scored 36 points in Dunbar’s season-opening victory over Woodford County on Monday night. Dunbar plays Mae Jemison (Ala.) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. CST.
The Hoop Fest lineup features three of the top six teams in the state, according to the Herald-Leader preseason rankings. All three teams are part of the Saturday schedule, when No. 1 Bowling Green plays McCracken County at 10 a.m. CST, No. 6 Hopkinsville plays Marshall County at 1 p.m. CST and No. 3 Dunbar plays Mae Jemison (Ala.) at 3:30 CST.
▪ For the full Hoop Fest schedule, visit the event website. For ticket information, call the Marshall County High School athletics office at (270) 527-6714.