Top national, local players take to court

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If you want to see the top senior high school basketball players in Southwestern Pennsylvania, then the Roundball Classic is the place to be Saturday night at Geneva College.

If you want to watch some of the top non-senior players in the country, then check out the Hoop Group Pittsburgh Jam Fest Friday through Sunday. You might even run into Kentucky's John Calipari or Ohio State's Thad Matta.

The Roundball and Jam Fest are two big basketball events that hit the district the same weekend. This is the 10th year of the Roundball, an event run by Allen Deep that includes the top seniors from the WPIAL and City League, as well as a few players from other schools in Western Pennsylvania.

The Jam Fest, sponsored by Under Armour, is a 352-team event that includes AAU/all-star teams, ages 14 and up, from around the country. The event, which includes some of the nation's top players, used to be played mostly at Pitt, but a new NCAA rule instituted last year prohibited such events on a college campus. Thus, Hoop Group, a New Jersey-based company, now uses almost 20 schools in the district for the tournament. The headquarters for the tournament is North Hills High School and its junior high and most of the top games, including semifinals and finals, are at North Hills.

Both the Roundball and Jam Fest are open to the public and tickets are available at the events.

In recent years, the Roundball has grown in popularity -- both with players and fans. The event includes two girls games and two boys games (girls games at 2 and 4 p.m, and boys games at 6 and 8 p.m.).

"Ten years ago we got the best kids from just Beaver, Butler and Lawrence counties," Deep said. "This year we sent invitations to 110 players in Western Pennsylvania and 107 of those will participate. Today, no game in Western Pennsylvania parallels the Roundball, not only in quality, but in attendance. Throughout the day, we'll put 2,000 people through the venue."

The Class AAA vs. AAAA boys game at 8 p.m. will feature Montour's Devin Wilson (Virginia Tech recruit) and New Castle's Shawn Anderson (Navy recruit). They were the only two seniors on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fabulous Five.

The Class AAA vs. AAAA girls game features Hopewell's Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, a Maryland recruit and one of the top 50 players in the country.

"The boys talent this year at the high end is a little thin, but in the middle it's very solid," Deep said. "We may not have a bunch of high-end players around here anymore, but the quantity of overall quality players I think has gone up. For the girls, I think this was a phenomenal year for talent."

As for the Jam Fest, last year's event included a number of the top players in the class of 2013, including the Harrison twins -- Andrew and Aaron -- who signed with Kentucky.

This year, the Jam Fest includes three of the top 20 players in rankings for the class of 2014, and 24 of the top 150 players in rankings. It also is an "open" period for college coaches, meaning there will be more than 200 coaches from around the country attending the three-day event It will not be uncommon to see 100 college coaches at North Hills on Saturday night watching games and scouting players.

"We have teams coming from all over the Midwest, from Florida, the West Coast and Canada," said Kyle Griffin, director of Hoop Group team tournaments along with Max Saidman. "We have about 100 more teams this year, so this is really the biggest and best tournament all year."

The three juniors in's top 20 are 6-foot-7 forward Dwayne Morgan (No. 13) of Baltimore, 6-7 forward Leron Black (No. 16) of Memphis, Tenn., and 6-4 guard Isaiah Whitehead (No. 19) of Brooklyn.

Morgan plays for Baltimore's Finest and has committed to UNLV. Black plays for Team Thad (Tenn.) and Griffin called him "one of the hottest recruits in the country." Black has offers from, among others, Ohio State, Kansas and Georgetown.

Whitehead plays for Juice All Stars (N.Y.) and has offers from Louisville, Arizona, Kansas and Syracuse, among others. Louisville point guard recruit Quentin Snider also will be in the event. He plays for the Louisville Magic.

Morgan, Black, Whitehead and Snyder will play in the Under Armour Challenge, an eight-game exhibition event Friday night at North Hills that is part of the Jam Fest and features top teams. For a complete schedule for the Jam Fest that will be updated all weekend, go to

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For more on high school sports, go to Varsity Blog at Mike White:, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.


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