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November 25, 2012

Sophomores star on Saturday at Hoopfest

MORE: Randle shines on Friday

DUNCANVILLE, Texas -- Day two of the Thanksgiving Hoopfest at Duncanville High featured big performances from sophomores King McClure and Elijah Thomas, junior Emmanuel Mudiay and seniors Matt Jones and Jordan Mickey.

King for a day

It's still early, and there is a lot of hoop to be played for the class of 2015, but Dallas (Texas) AAA Academy's McClure made his case to be looked at as the top sophomore in the state on Saturday.

Matched up against Rockwall (Texas) High, the 6-foot-2 combo guard set the tone early with his offensive and defensive aggression. He drove physically to the rim, hunted jumpers and led his team's charge on the glass even though he was playing on the perimeter. On the afternoon, McClure finished with 22 points and impacted the game in all areas as AAA got the big win.

McClure isn't just one of the most heavily recruited sophomores in Texas. He's among the most recruited sophomores in the nation. The high-scoring guard says that he's already gotten offers from Arkansas, Baylor, Indiana, Florida, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas to go with attention from several other high-level programs.

For now, McClure isn't worrying much about his recruitment and is just focused on his continued evolution as a combo guard.

"I wasn't always a scorer. A few years ago, I was more of a passer," he said. "I've really learned to be more aggressive and feel pretty confident in my development."

Thomas stacking offers

While McClure was making his case on one end of the floor, Thomas was making his case on the other for Rockwall. As it turns out, the 6-foot-8 sophomore was making a pretty convincing one.

A low-post scorer with an advanced feel for the game, Thomas has significant game on the low block. You wouldn't classify him as a high flyer, but he's got great hands, a soft touch and a great understanding of how to use his body. In particular, Thomas is great at using his broad shoulders to gain separation and space from defenders before spinning to either his right or left for jump hooks and finishes off the glass.

"Coach (Rob) McQuaid of my AAU team has really worked with me on my post play," Thomas told Rivals.com. "He's taught us all a lot, and we work out with him a lot in the summer and then every Sunday during the season."

While many young post players are in a hurry to show that they can step out and play on the perimeter, Thomas has a great understanding of his strengths. He knows that he can get buckets around the rim, so he does what comes naturally and knows the face-up aspects of his game will show with time.

"I don't really worry about facing up until I need to do it," Thomas said. "I'm working on it, but I don't have to show it just yet because I'm successful down low."

Saturday night, Thomas earned his latest offer from N.C. State after head coach Mark Gottfried watched his performance. The N.C. State offer is added to a group that includes Baylor, Illinois, Texas A&M, California, Oklahoma, SMU, UMass, TCU and North Texas.

"It's all right, pretty cool," Thomas said of having so many early offers. "I'm just focused on trying to get better and better and working harder on my game."

Big day for Duke signee

DeSoto (Texas) High senior Jones doesn't need to worry about playing for a scholarship offer. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard committed to Duke shortly after last year's Thanksgiving Hoopfest and hasn't looked back.

Well known as one of the best 3-point shooters in the class of 2013, Jones is also a solid defender and plays with a high basketball IQ. During a 30-point performance against Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Prep, Jones made big play after big play down the stretch of a tight game.

Most notably, the four-star who ranks No. 35 in the class of 2013 showed killer instinct and used the dribble to make plays. He had some slick drives along the baseline and took advantage of hard closeouts by defenders to hit them with shot fakes and get by them. His handle is among the things he's been working on in preparation for his arrival in Durham.

"My ball handling and mentality toward the game," Jones said when asked what he's been working on most. "I want to be versatile on the court, and my mentality of just wanting to be the best is going to help my confidence in stepping in right away and contributing at Duke.

Berkner duo too much

Richardson (Texas) Berkner has itself a nice duo in Kendall Harris and Soma Edo. A 6-foot-4 point guard who is signed with USC and ranks No. 109 in the 2013 class, Harris ran the show while three-star Fresno State signee Edo used his nearly superhuman leaping ability to destroy the will of Monroe (La.) Carroll in a runaway win.

A big and physical guard, Harris has always been able to power through defenders off the dribble or score in transition. On Saturday, he was still able to do all of that -- and to be frank, defenders offered little resistance -- but he did other things as well. A couple of times, he pulled up sharply at the elbow after two dribbles to swish a 15-foot jumper. He also slid down the baseline for a quick jam, and his jumper looked to be a little reworked and in good form from deep.

Then there's Edo. Standing 6-foot-5 at most, he's all arms and legs, and at the end of the day he's a bit of an undersized power forward. While he may be a few inches short of ideal height for a power forward, Edo more than makes up for it with his length, intensity and stupendous leaping ability. He's almost like a volleyball player rising off the floor to spike home kills, but instead he's going up for dunks where he gets his head at rim level in a hurry. Just his presence dissuaded Carroll players from attempting shots in the lane, and he got on the glass as well. A solid three-star prospect, his activity, bounce and intensity should be a welcome addition in Fresno for the next four years.

More Saturday notes

The No. 2 player in the class of 2014, 6-foot-4 point guard Mudiay, continues to do his thing at a high level. The Dallas (Texas) Prime Prep product has all of the physical tools in the world, and his feel for the game is second to none. At times he's so good that he doesn't quite get credit for what he's doing because he makes it look so easy.

Twins Erick Neal and Derrick Neal were on the football field for Dallas (Texas) Lincoln on Friday night as they saw their season end in the state playoffs. By 11:30 a.m. Saturday, the 5-foot-9 point guards had made the transition to hoops. The juniors looked pretty good. After understandably shaky starts, they used their speed and quickness to cause problems on both ends of the floor.

For the second day in a row, Jarell Martin backed up his five-star status in the class of 2013. The 6-foot-9 forward really has a nice shooting stroke that makes him very dangerous in pick-and-pop situations. The LSU signee has a body that allows him to play a physical game in the lane, and the only thing that kept him from really going off was picking up his fourth foul in the third quarter of his Madison Prep squad's loss to DeSoto.

Martin's future teammate at LSU, Mickey, was outstanding for Prime Prep. The 6-foot-8 forward was playing with a high level of activity as usual, and his quickness in the lane is a major weapon. Just as explosive with his second jump as he is his first, Mickey blocks a lot of shots, is active on the glass and the four-star should be an impact player at LSU.

Arlington (Texas) Seguin made pretty easy work of West Mesquite, and North Texas signee Greg Wesley had a very good performance. The 6-foot-7 power forward is a high flyer who uses his athleticism to put pressure on the defense, and he's committed to helping out on the glass on both ends of the floor.

Host Duncanville (Texas) High has itself an outstanding trio of juniors who will be watched closely down the road by good programs. Physical post player Omar Sherman is a big-bodied player at 6-foot-8 with a soft touch to 18 feet and skill around the hoop. Point guard Davontae Bailey is a big lead guard at 6-foot-2 who handles the ball, makes plays in transition and has a good feel for setting up his teammates and using his body to punish defenders. Playing nicely off of those two is 6-foot-4 shooting guard Matthew McQuaid. A lights-out shooter from deep, McQuaid is a good athlete and will catch a lob at the rim when the defense is caught slipping.

Five-star Julius Randle went down with a foot injury midway through the second quarter for Plano (Texas) Prestonwood. Still, Prestonwood kept things close with Duncanville thanks to the play of senior point guard Marquan Botley. The 5-foot-9 floor general has speed to burn, and he was outstanding both days in using it to get into the lane and finish. Schools across the country are desperate to find point guard play, and Botley looks like a good option for mid-level programs.

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