RALEIGH, N.C. — Three Kentucky 5-star basketball commitments add a bluegrass flavor to Tobacco Road’s 44th annual HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational staged in the heart of ACC country.
The Kentucky 5-star trio are power forward Bam Adebayo, a 6-foot-9, 230-pounder from High Point (N.C.) Christian; point guard De’Aaron Fox, 6-3, 170 pounds from Katy (Tx.) Cypress Lakes; and power forward Sacha Killeya-Jones, 6-10, 207 pounds from Lynchburg (Va.) Virginia Episcopal.
The three featured Kentucky players are among head coach John Calipari’s class of five recruits boasting 5-stars. Calipari will take advantage of the opportunity to see all three under one roof with a visit to Raleigh. Kentucky beat Louisville on Saturday, but the Wildcats are off until Jan. 2 at home against Ole Miss to start SEC play.
The tournament started this past Saturday with the David West Bracket at Raleigh’s Broughton High and with the girls division at Cary Academy. After a day off Sunday, the tournament resumes Monday through Wednesday. The John Wall Bracket with elite teams from out of the area begins on Monday.
Broughton is the alma mater of basketball Hall-of-Famer Pete Maravich. A framed jersey of the late Maravich, who played at LSU and in the NBA for 11 seasons, greets visitors in the lobby of the Holliday Gymnasium.
“I think Pete would have enjoyed this tournament,” said Holiday Invitational director Bill Sewell. “I know he would enjoy seeing Fox. He’s lightning fast. I’ve heard he’s as fast as or faster than John Wall.”
Many fans will come to their own conclusion on Fox’s speed since they are familiar with Wall dating back to his high school days. Wall, a Kentucky alum with the Washington Wizards, played at Raleigh Word of God and sponsors the John Wall Bracket with the elite teams. Last year the Wizards’ scheduled permitted time for him to attend games one of the days.
David West, an Xavier alum with the San Antonio Spurs, played at nearby Garner High and sponsors the David West Bracket that features other top teams from the area.
A year ago Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina Coach Roy Williams, N.C. State Coach Mark Gottfried and Wake Forest Coach Danny Manning all made their presence felt at Broughton’s gym. At the time, Brandon Ingram of Kinston, N.C., was an uncommitted senior.
He signed with Duke the following April and is starting for the Blue Devils this year.
The coaches also were attracted to a field that featured top-ranked juniors Harry Giles and Dennis Smith. Giles committed to Duke and Smith to N.C. State.
Smith’s team, Fayetteville (N.C.) Trinity Christian, returned to the Holiday Invitational this year, but Smith suffered a knee injury playing for his AAU team in August that ended his season.
“We get a lot of great players to come here, but I also think this is a great community event,” Sewell said. “Old friends see each other at games and fathers and sons come to watch games. It’s a great atmosphere.”
In the John Wall Bracket, Adebayo and Fox could face each other in the second round if their teams win their first-round contests. Fox and Cypress Lakes play at 5:10 p.m. on Monday and Adebayo and High Point Christian follow at 6:50 p.m. The Tuesday second rounder is at 8:30 p.m.
Killeya-Jones and Virginia Episcopal are on the other side of the bracket and would only face one of his two fellow Kentucky recruits in the final. Virginia Episcopal opens plays at 8:30 p.m. Monday.
In the David West Bracket, two college-bound players from Raleigh-area high schools meet in first round. Virginia commit Jay Huff (6-11, 190) of Durham Academy and George Mason commit Ian Boyd (6-3, 180) of Apex meet at 5:10 p.m. Saturday. Boyd also had football scholarship offers as a tight end, linebacker or safety, but he decided to focus his college career on basketball.
Games begin each day at 12:10 and continue all day until the final tip at 8:30 p.m. The girls championship game will be played Wednesday at the Broughton gym.