By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
If you’re a high school basketball fan who enjoys watching quality basketball, there’s no better place to be today than North Laurel High School.
That’s where fans can get a full dose of prep hoops and then some, as North Laurel hosts the United States Energy Basketball Classic.
Jaguars’ coach Brad Sizemore said he’s not only excited about his team participating in the event, but the fan in him is also ready to watch some of the action as well.
“It should be a really fun day of basketball for the fans and even the kids that hang around and watch some of the games,” Sizemore said.
Starting things out at 2 p.m., the North Laurel Lady Jaguars will face Southwestern, followed by Johnson Central vs. Knox Central at 4 p.m., and North Laurel vs. Whitley County at 6 p.m.
The nightcap will come at 8 p.m. as Oak Hill Academy faces off against Faith Baptist Christian Academy of Georgia.
That game alone will feature five Division I commitments.
For Oak Hill Academy, they boast three of the top 150 prospects in the nation in Sindarius Thornwell (No. 24, University of South Carolina), Troy Williams (No. 42, Indiana University), Nate Britt (No. 69, UNC) and Ike Iroegbu (No. 103, Washington State). FBCA brings with them Georgia signee JJ Frazier.
“This should be really exciting for the fans and we’re excited that our guys will get to hang around and watch the last game of the night,” Sizemore said. “When you talk about that kind of talent on the floor at one time, it’s just not that often that you see it, so I’m excited that we’re able to bring this kind of talent in here for the first US Energy Basketball Classic.”
The good news for fans is that there’s a lot more to the event than the final game. In addition to North Laurel’s game against local rival Whitley County, another 13th Region contender, Knox Central, will face off against two-time defending 15th Region Champion Johnson Central.
Along with a 10-8 record, the Golden Eagles bring with them junior standout Shane Hall. Hall is reportedly getting looks from several Division I schools, including Kentucky, Indiana, Butler, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech, to name a few.
Hall helped guide the Golden Eagles to the Sweet Sixteen Tournament last season where they fell to John Hardin in the first round.
Despite all the hoopla, Sizemore said he hopes the event accomplishes several goals when all is said and done.
“Hopefully it brings some people into the area that normally wouldn’t visit,” he said. “Also, it’s going to give our kids a chance to see what you have to do to get to the next level when we talk about high school basketball.
“The level of competition that these kids will bring is going to be really high and I hope we can really pack the gym and show them that our area really appreciates high school basketball,” he added.
Doors will open at 1 p.m. and the price of admission for all four games is $10.