Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Holiday tournaments are casual fans' cue: Time to get into hoops
After the Kimball boys won the Dallas ISD/Coca-Cola basketball tournament last week, coach Royce Johnson said the annual event is where great players are made.
“This is your coming out,” he said.
It was the coming-out party for the Kimball boys at Ellis Davis Field House, and across the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the holiday tournaments were the coming-out party for basketball. The season actually tipped off nearly two months ago, but that was when the football playoffs were starting. Obviously, basketball was overshadowed a little.
Now, as district play begins for some and resumes for others, it’s kind of like dropping into a TV series after missing some important episodes. So (in a commanding-sounding voiceover) …
Previously on High School Basketball: The Season.
The main characters from last year are following a similar script. That includes the Irving MacArthur girls, the defending Class 5A champs. Entering Tuesday night’s game against Haltom, MacArthur was 21-2, with its only losses in the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix.
MacArthur point guard Alexis Jones, who posted a triple-double in last year’s state title game, is a must-see. The Duke signee scored 42 of her team’s 59 points two weeks ago in an overtime victory against national power St. Louis Incarnate Word.
In 4A, the undefeated Lincoln girls have an excellent chance to win their fourth state title since 1999. The Tigers have most of their starters back from last year’s state semifinalist.
It’s not that way for the defending 4A boys champion, Kimball. The Knights lost most of last season’s stars, but even with a roster loaded with sophomores and juniors, they’re the state’s top-ranked 4A team. It helps that guard Shannon Lilly, the MVP of last year’s title game, is back. It also helps to have a budding star in junior guard Keith Frazier, who played for Irving last season.
That leads us the topic of transfers, which are once again a big part of the basketball landscape.
Frazier was the MVP of the Dallas ISD/Coca-Cola tournament, and two weeks ago, 6-8 freshman guard Mickey Mitchell helped Prestonwood Christian become the first Texas team to win the prestigious City of Palms Classic in Florida. Yes, that’s the same Mickey Mitchell who was the backup quarterback at Plano West a few months ago. He attended Prestonwood as an eighth-grader, enrolled at Plano West in the summer, then transferred back to Prestonwood in late October.
Maybe the most interesting transfer situation is at Richland. Last week, guard Ricky Roberts scored 27 points to help No. 4 Richland beat the state’s top-ranked 5A team, Flower Mound Marcus. Roberts is a transfer from Marcus, where he played for the junior varsity team last season after transferring from Arlington Grace Prep.
That’s an interesting twist. And it’s a story line to keep watching because Richland and Marcus — which has three Division I signees including star guard Marcus Smart — are in the same region. That 5A Region I also includes No. 3 South Grand Prairie and No. 5 Plano West, which will create some big-time playoff matchups.
And it’s not too early to talk about playoffs. The football postseason runs right into the holidays, so a lot of great basketball stays under wraps until the new year. We’re now less than six weeks from the start of the girls playoffs, and by the second week of March, the season will be over.
The spotlight shines bright, but not for long. Enjoy the show while you can.