Top players, coaches converge on North Hills High School

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Some of the top junior and sophomore basketball players in the country as well as a couple hundred college coaches will be in Pittsburgh this weekend.

The Under Armour Hoop Group Pittsburgh Jam Fest is a national AAU tournament that will be played Friday through Sunday at a number of schools around the Pittsburgh area. More than 350 teams in five age groups will come from numerous states to compete in the event, and the majority of the teams will be comprised of high school juniors and sophomores.

This is the only "live" recruiting weekend of the spring, so NCAA coaches from across the country will attend the games. The main hub for the tournament is North Hills High School and middle school, which are across the street from one another. On Friday and Saturday night, it won't be uncommon to see 100 college coaches in the stands at North Hills.

Two years ago, Kentucky coach John Calipari was in the stands to watch the Harrison twins (Andrew and Aaron), who were starters for Kentucky this year as freshmen.

"In Western Pennsylvania, this is probably the only opportunity you can see the next great college or NBA player," said Mike Rice, tournament director.

Rice is the former coach at Robert Morris and Rutgers who is now the vice president of Hoop Group, a New Jersey-based basketball company that stages the Jam Fest. Rice is working for Hoop Group while he decides on his future.

"I will probably coach again one day, but I'm enjoying what I'm doing now for Hoop Group, getting a chance to run grass-roots tournaments like this one, and also working out and working with different young people," said Rice.

Among the players in the JamFest this weekend will be 6-6 guard Josh Jackson of Southfield, Mich. He is ranked the No. 1 sophomore in the country by Rivals.com and plays for One Nation AAU team. He already has scholarship offers from Kansas, Louisville and Ohio State, among others.

Also playing is 6-10 Diamond Stone of Milwaukee, the No. 3-ranked player in the junior class. Connecticut, Arizona, Florida and Wisconsin have offered scholarships to Stone, who plays for Young Legends AAU.

A few other top juniors in the JamFest are Justin Jackson of Toronto, who plays for Canada Elite, and Derrick Jones of Philadelphia, who plays for We R 1. Some of the top players in Western Pennsylvania also will be playing in the event.

Eight of the top teams in the event will play in the Under Armour Challenge Friday night at North Hills. Many of the playoff games will be Saturday and Sunday at North Hills. For a complete schedule, go to www.hoopgroup.com.

Hoops For The Cure

The 19th annual Hoops For A Cure is Saturday at Chartiers Valley High School, but the all-star event is bigger than ever.

In the past, the Hoops For A Cure included one boys and one girls all-star game. But this year, four games (two boys and two girls) will be played, featuring top senior players around the WPIAL, City League and a few players from District 10.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Nathan S. Arenson Fund for pancreatic cancer research.

The games begin Saturday at 3 and will include all five seniors who made the Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 boys and girls teams -- Hampton's Ryan Luther, Obama's D.J. Porter, New Castle's Malik Hooker, Fox Chapel's Erin Mathias and Seton-LaSalle's Yacine Diop.

Butler, Baldwin turnarounds

There are five sections in WPIAL Class AAAA baseball, and two of the teams in first place are big turnaround stories.

Butler leads Section 1 with an 8-2 overall record and a 5-0 section mark. Baldwin is atop Section 3 with an 8-0 record and a 5-0 section mark.

Butler was 2-16 last year and did not win a section game. Baldwin was 15-37 the past three seasons and has had only one winning season in the past seven years.

The key to Butler's success this season has been pitching. Butler has given up one run or shut out eight of 10 opponents. Butler has is 5-1 in one-run games.

Meanwhile, Baldwin is averaging eight runs a contest.

McKay again

Facing Blackhawk stud pitcher Brendan McKay is an unenviable task, but Central Valley has to do it twice in six days.

McKay is scheduled to pitch today against Central Valley, putting his 44-inning scoreless streak on the line. McKay struck out 20 against Central Valley in an 8-0 victory Wednesday.

Norwin hires football coach

Norwin's school board Monday night hired David Brozeski as head football coach. He will start immediately. Brozeski, 39, was an assistant football coach for Norwin the past 17 years, focusing primarily on defense. He also coached track and field and basketball for Norwin.

Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.


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