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January 23, 2012

What we learned: Hardaway Hoop Fest

MORE PENNY: Preview | Saturday | Friday

MEMPHIS - The first Penny Hardaway Hoop Fest is in the books and it was a very successful weekend on the campus of White Station High School. Rivals.com analyst Eric Bossi takes a look back at what we learned.

1. Memphis class of 2013 looks deep

It's no surprise that there is talent in the Memphis area for the class of 2013. There's always talent in the city and surrounding area. However, the class of 2013 is looking particularly strong and could end up with several players making their way into the Rivals150.

With 6-foot-8 combo forward Johnathan Williams III (No. 10), Nick King (No. 15), Robert Hubbs (39) and Austin Nichols (41) already ranked highly, the city has already shown its strength in 2013 and all four of those guys played well at the PHHF.

Williams is long and has added an element of strength and power to his versatile game. King is a wing with size, and can score inside with deep range with his left-handed jumper. Hubbs is one of the Southeast's hottest recruits and Nichols is a mobile big man who plays with physicality and skill.

However, we saw another trio of Memphians making a run at the 2013 rankings. Memphis Southwind shooting guard Jajuan Johnson has always been an excellent shooter but he's added explosive athleticism and scoring off the dribble to his game. Memphis Melrose wing Markel Crawford has now added the ability to shoot from deep to his athletic slashing. Memphis Craigmont point guard Sam Craft is a tough customer and one of the better leaders in his class.

That makes seven Memphis-area prospects that are already showing high major potential.

2. Obekpa's play not just a blip on the radar

After seeing Centereach (N.Y.) Our Savior big man Christopher Obekpa play on back-to-back weekends, it's evident that he's a prospect on the rise.

No, Obekpa didn't put up crazy numbers in Memphis. But, his numbers weren't bad and he once again showed tremendous agility, length, athleticism and the ability to change games with his shot blocking and rebounding.

Obekpa is probably more of a center than a power forward right now, but his quickness off the floor and natural timing make him one of the country's premier interior defenders. Cincinnati was tailing him in Memphis but so is pretty much the entire Big East and the interest isn't dying down any time soon.

3. Simeon answers in the affirmative

Chicago Simeon didn't waste time getting down on itself after taking a nationally televised defeat at the hands of Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep last Monday. The Wolverines instead rolled into Memphis on Saturday and handled another talented, nationally ranked, team in Memphis Southwind.

Limited by foul trouble, Jabari Parker took his game to the post and was quite effective scoring 18 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out three assists in just under 25 minutes of action. But, it's not a surprise to see the five-star 2013 wing put up numbers.

The key to Simeon's bounceback win on a national stage was the inspired interior play of Marquette-bound big man Steve Taylor. Too many times in the past, the 6-foot-8 four man has been content to park himself on the perimeter and lob up three-point jumpers. The ability to hit a jumper from deep is a big part of Taylor's game, but by going inside and using his quickness and length, along with mixing in baseline drives, made the Rivals150 senior much more valuable to his team. Not so surprisingly, he was also difficult to defend while playing an energetic, versatile game on the offensive end and the glass.

Class of 2013 four-star shooting guard Kendrick Nunn still struggled some but showed good signs that he's getting his game back on track. With other D-I players such as Kendall Pollard, Jaylon Tate and Jelani Neely at Simeon's disposal, it's hard to see any other team in the state of Illinois as a favorite to win the state championship.



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