Some of the nation’s best high school basketball players took the court at Freedom Hall Friday night for the 2014 Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic. Among this talent were players Louisville commits Quentin Snider, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.
Snider, a Ballard High School point guard, Johnson, a forward from Ypsilanti High School in Michigan, and Onuaku, a center from Riverdale Baptist High School in Maryland all performed exceptionally well in front of the crowd of predominately Louisville fans. Each time they scored, dunked, or played great defense the crowd would go crazy and throw their Louisville “L’s” up.
Onuaku had seven points, 10 rebounds and a game-high four steals while Johnson, a 6-foot-9 power forward, had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Snider had eight points and a game-high nine assists and earned team MVP honors.
The White team, including the three Louisville commits and Florida commits Chris Chiozza and Devin Robinson among others, beat the Green team out, including Indiana commits Max Hoetzel and Robert Johnson and Georgetown commit Isaac Copeland, 128-104 in the 41st Derby Festival Basketball Classic.
Snider, Kentucky's Mr. Basketball and the only in-state player in the game, received the largest ovation during pregame introductions. He came out of the tunnel with his “L’s” up and the entire crowd was ecstatic.
Fans could see the connection that the three commits have already built with one another, as they passed the ball perfectly for a slam-dunk from Onuaku and a few slams from Johnson. The two players, both close to 7 feet tall, benefited from Sniders quick passing. The three players played great together and Louisville fans will enjoy watching them play together in the future.
It was a great event to watch the freshmen of the upcoming season play together on one court. For basketball fans, this was a great occasion featuring the best high school players in the nation that will soon become the best freshmen in the nation. When does basketball season start, again?
Johnson brought his mother out for the halftime dunk contest and the crowd went crazy after Johnson’s mother threw the ball against the backboard for Johnson to come behind and dunk it. Johnson waved her towards the dunk competition as she sat in her seat behind the white team benches and she came out to the court with no hesitation. His mother, Janetta, is a 6 foot 4 former Wisconsin Badgers star who holds the single-season record with 130 blocked shots in the 1988-89 season. This dunk received a perfect score, the highest standing ovation, and a place in Louisville fan’s hearts for Jaylen Johnson. It was a sweet tribute to the woman who taught him the game. Isaac Copeland, a commit to Georgetown, beat Johnson in the dunk content to a close final score.
You can watch the dunk and read more about Jaylen and his mother here.
It was a great night to be a Cardinal and watch the three Louisville commits play with each other among the best high school players in the nation. It will definitely be a great Cardinal basketball season for 2014-2015. You can read more about the game and the statistics here.
Photos courtesy of Alexis Messmer
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