Written by Corbett Smith
Boys basketball preview: Dallas area producing hoops talent on par with nation’s hotbeds
When the next NBA draft rolls around, there’s a good chance that two of the top five players drafted will be Dallas-Fort Worth-area products: Plano Prestonwood’s Julius Randle and Flower Mound Marcus’ Marcus Smart.
When the next group of players is named to the McDonald’s All-American teams, it’s a good bet that at least two members will be from the area — probably Prime Prep’s Emmanuel Mudiay and Euless Trinity’s Myles Turner. If that happens, it will be the third straight year of multiple players from the area in the all-star game, but only the fifth time that’s occurred in the game’s 37-year history.
Basketball in Texas has long been seen as playing second fiddle to football. But if this trend continues, it’s going to be hard to deny that basketball has gained equal footing with football when it comes to producing elite talent.
“Everyone says this is the new mecca,” highly recruited Prime Prep sophomore Terrance Ferguson said.
Using the McDonald’s game as a simple metric, boys basketball in the Dallas-Fort Worth area has taken significant strides in just the past 15 years.
Before 2000, only three area boys — Skyline’s Larry Johnson (1987), Plano East’s Jimmy King (1991) and Carrollton Newman Smith’s Glendon Alexander (1996) — had participated in the McDonald’s game. Since then, 16 players have played — with at least one participant in 10 of 14 seasons.
When the phrase “basketball hotbed” is used, thoughts of New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles come to mind. But Dallas-Fort Worth is hot on their heels.
“We’re right there,” Kimball coach Royce “Snoop” Johnson said. “Most definitely. It started, I think, right around ’94 or ’95, when the UIL changed their rules as far as allowing the kids to do AAU and participate in those national camps.”
In 1995, the state Legislature passed a sweeping overhaul of the education code, a small portion of which removed restrictions the UIL had in place to prevent its athletes from year-round non-school competition. A larger battle with summer participation dated to 1978, when Houston high schooler and future NBA player Greg Kite sued the UIL after being ruled ineligible because he played in a California basketball camp.
“In the past, guys could only participate in certain events, certain camps,” Johnson said. “And I really think that limited Dallas guys from getting the exposure for games like the McDonald’s All-American Game.”
Johnson’s father, former Kimball coach and current assistant Dallas ISD athletic director Goree Johnson, concurred.
“Allowing them to play year-round, that’s helped a lot,” Goree Johnson said. “Basically, once the season was over, we couldn’t pick up a basketball in the off-season.”
With more lax rules regarding summer play, standout athletes from North Texas have brought increased media attention, as well as exposure to college coaches as those players travel to the coasts on select, AAU or even high school teams.
The Johnsons and North Crowley coach Tommy Brakel all said that the athletes have always been in North Texas. But college coaches now make it a point to know what’s going on in the Dallas-area basketball scene.
“Basketball across the state really has produced those [elite] kids,” Brakel said. “If you look at what the D-FW area puts out annually, if you look at what the greater Houston area puts out annually, you can’t find a perennial college program … that doesn’t have players from Texas.”
Other players to watch:
Arkansas pledge, younger brother of former Iowa State SG Chris Babb
Episcopal School of Dallas
AAU teammate with Mickey Mitchell, Alex Robinson
North Texas pledge, one of the area’s best low-post scorers (22.9 ppg)
South Grand Prairie
Bruising post presence will be called on more offensively this season
Spotlight’s on Texas Tech pledge
Sharpshooter back at Rockwall after transferring
Haitian big man; still-raw prospect has bulked up over the summer
Expected to take more of a leadership role by coach Kenny Boren
Crafty left-handed PG is committed to Texas A&M; 17 ppg, 6 apg
Massive post is LSU pledge; 13 ppg, 11.5 rpb, 5.5 bpg
Texas Tech pledge was role player last season; explosive near the paint
12.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg as a sophomore for the 2013 5A Region I finalists
Teams to watch
Coach: Chris Dyer
2012-13 record: 33-3, 5A regional quarterfinalists
Notable: It speaks volumes about what DeSoto’s Chris Dyer has established that his team is No. 2 in the TABC state 5A rankings following the graduation of McDonald’s All-American and Duke signee Matt Jones. Five players who received all-district honors are back: senior 6-7 power forwards T.J. Maston (a Baylor pledge) and Devin Wyatt (a Loyola Marymount pledge), first-team 7-5A guards Takedrick Brown and Julian Green, and district co-sophomore of the year Antwon Portley. Adding to that experienced mix is a young group of sophomores, highlighted by 6-9 post Marquis Bolden.
Coach: Royce “Snoop” Johnson
2012-13 record: 23-10, 4A state finalists
Notable: If D’Angelo Allen and Kimball could return to the 4A state tournament this season, Allen would have finished all four of his varsity seasons in Austin’s Erwin Center. If Kimball — a runner-up a season ago after surrendering a 16-point lead to Rosenberg Terry — could win another state title, it would be Allen’s third in four seasons. Allen — a 6-6 forward with offers from Arkansas, Georgetown and Marquette — will have some help. Powerful 6-5 post Trent Brinkley returns, and South Carolina junior transfer Jawun Evans will provide stability at point guard.
Coach: Cedric Patterson
2012-13 record: 28-9, 4A regional quarterfinalists
Notable: Lincoln still gets mentioned with South Oak Cliff and Kimball as one of the powerhouses of Dallas ISD basketball. But it hasn’t made the state tournament since 2004, having lost six times during that span in the regional quarterfinals. Well below the Class 4A enrollment cutoff with only 712 students, Lincoln has half the student body of those other powerhouses. Regardless, this season’s team will again be in the mix. Twin 5-10 senior guards Erick and Derrick Neal have been the dynamo for the team’s successes over the last few seasons; both are orally committed to UT-Arlington.
Coach: Rod Johnson
2012-13 record: 32-4, 3A state champions
Notable: There wasn’t a bigger shock at the state tournament than watching Madison flatten favored Houston Yates in the 3A final, outtrapping and outhustling a team known for its up-tempo pace. The promotion of assistant Rod Johnson doesn’t change anything schematically. Sophomore sharpshooter Admon Gilder, the 11-3A MVP last season, averaged 17.3 points and 5.5 rebounds. All-district guard Cameron Bryant, Brandon Stanton and Lebraun Armstrong will join Gilder in the backcourt. Forwards Ke’Tarrious Bouchum (6-4, sophomore) and Anthony Davis (6-5, senior) move up to varsity to join returning senior centers 6-6 Johnathon Turner and 6-7 Devante Wheatley.
Coach: Anthony Morgan
2012-13 record: 19-14, 5A bi-district qualifier
Notable: West, a fourth-place qualifier out of District 10-5A last season, starts the 2013-14 season ranked No. 1 in Class 5A by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. Three transfers — Plano Prestonwood’s Mickey Mitchell, Houston John Cooper’s Avery Johnson Jr. and Frisco Liberty’s Tyler Davis — are a big reason for the optimism. They are joining forces with SportsDay’s 2013 newcomer of the year, small forward D.J. Hogg and two-sport star Soso Jamabo. While Mitchell and Johnson’s transfers haven’t hit snags, Davis was ruled ineligible by the 10-5A DEC on Oct. 29; his appeal is pending.
Coach: Ray Forsett
2012-13 record: 37-2, semifinalist in National High School Invitational
Notable: The South Dallas charter school, which withdrew from the UIL last season, should again be one of the better prep programs in the country. According to Forsett, SMU pledge Emmanuel Mudiay is a teammate’s dream at point guard, putting players in the best places to succeed. Sophomore Terrance Ferguson looks to be Mudiay’s heir apparent. A 6-6 shooting guard, Ferguson played this summer on the gold medal-winning U.S. under-16 team at the FIBA Americas championships in Uruguay. The school has been hit with transfer problems, with posts Elijah Thomas and Omar Sherman leaving. P.J. Washington, a 6-8 freshman, will play big minutes for an undersized frontcourt.
Triple A Academy
Coach: Tim Singleton
2012-13 record: 28-5, 1A Division I state champions
Notable: Not satisfied with winning another state title in 1A, Triple A Academy founder Leroy McClure took the unprecedented step of moving his school up two classifications outside of an alignment year, jumping all the way into 3A — ahead of the UIL’s impending charter school classification changes. With a wealth of talent, there’s no doubt Triple A will be able to compete in the same district as Madison and Region II finalist Wilmer-
Hutchins. Senior Jeremiah Jefferson (a Weber State pledge), senior Gary Breaux and juniors King McClure and Tyler Singleton combine for what might be the most talented backcourt in the area. Developing 6-8 sophomore post Harrison Henderson will probably be a major Division I prospect.
News and notes
Shakeup for DISD powers: Several of the DISD’s premier programs will be under new leadership. At Lincoln, South Oak Cliff assistant Cedric Patterson has replaced retiring coach Leonard Bishop, who won a 4A state title in 2002 and coached for 31 years in the district. Wilmer-Hutchins assistant Lyndon Love, formerly a head coach at Spruce, has taken over at Carter for the retiring Robert Allen. After Damien Mobley’s departure to Waxahachie, defending 3A champ Madison promoted assistant Rod Johnson — the older brother of Kimball coach Snoop Johnson and the son of DISD assistant athletic director Goree Johnson. The brothers will face off in Wednesday’s Madison-Kimball opener.
Sherman back at Duncanville: Duncanville’s state championship hopes took a significant blow over the summer, when all-district 6-8 power forward Omar Sherman transferred to Prime Prep. But those fortunes reversed quickly not long after the start of the school year when Sherman returned to Duncanville.
Foreign flavor: Gracin Bakumanya might be the least known of the trio of international frontcourt players transferring to area private schools, with ESD’s D’jery Baptiste and Prestonwood’s Schnider Herard already known quantities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Originally from Congo, Bakumanya was reportedly going to play for hall of fame coach Bob Hurley at St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.), before showing up at Pantego. New coach Andre Walker praised the 7-0 center’s footwork, saying his soccer background makes him the team’s best defender.
Monday: First day of games
Nov. 29-30: Thanksgiving Hoopfest in Duncanville
Dec. 26-28: Holiday basketball tournaments
Feb. 15: End of district play
Feb. 28-March 1: TAPPS state tournament, Mansfield ISD
March 6-8: UIL state tournament, Austin’s Erwin Center
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN.