By Ani Umana
* special to Nothing But Net Magazine

The transition from getting your face stuffed with pies, turkey and dressing coupled with naps taken sporadically throughout the day, to a 12 hour shift at Sandra Meadows Arena has been an annual tradition for me. 

The Thanksgiving Hoopfest presented by Glenn Smith took place on Friday November at Duncanville High School and then on Saturday November at The Dickey’s Arena in Fort Worth, TX. 

There were plenty high major prospects that manned the courts and a commanding victory against the #1 Team in the country!  Let’s take a look at the notes and storylines from a weekend of hoops.

Underclassman Look

2025 guard  Trent Payne for Allen HS (TX)  has the tools of becoming one of the next big time guards out of Dallas. An electric guard that’s bouncy, quick and showed ability to score it in bunches. Staying with the ‘25 group, Hillcrest High School (Dallas TX) has a two of them that are required to perform in order for the Panthers  to win games. Jed Nansha provided a physical presence in the paint  but can also mix it up and attack slower footed post-guys from 15 feet out. Mike Williams, son of former NBA player Mo Williams, runs the show for Hillcrest. A sound PG that showed ability to affect games with a combination of his passing and scoring. Also of note for Hillcrest is the the older brother of Jed in 2024. Israel Nansha is a 6’8 post with an advanced physical frame. Rebounds out of his area and active as a rim-protector.

Speaking of tandems, Denton Guyer’s (TX) backcourt is one to watch. ‘25 Jeremiah Green & Jordan Lowery allow the Wildcats to play with a fast pace and put up a lot of points. Jeremiah has good positional size mixed with smooth scoring prowess and playmaking capabilities. Lowery can get downhill and puts pressure on the defense. A tough guard that has shown improvement in his shot-making. 

Now to the 2024 group. Liam McNeely of John Paul II (Plano TX) stuffed the stat sheet with his 11 point, 12 rebound, 4 assist and 4 steal effort. Standing at about 6’7 with perimeter skills, high feel and motor,  Liam can impact games outside of just scoring the basketball. One of the upper echelon players in the country for 2024. David Castillo choreographed an efficient performance for Bartlesville (OK) in their win vs Richardson Lake Highlands (TX). Played with poise, scored it in pick-n-roll and can connect with range. Stat line was  28 points and 4 rebounds on 64% shooting.

Talk about scorers. Lake Highland’s sophomore guard Tre Johnson didn’t have his typical offensive onslaught that the local fans are accustomed to, but he did finish with a sound offensive outing: 15 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists on 50% shooting. 

Although Coronado (Henderson NV left Dallas 0-2 this past weekend, they did have some bright spots. One of them was sophomore guard Josiah Cunningham. He connected on shots from deep and also created sometimes off the bounce that produced a high quality shot. Cunningham told me he is hearing from a couple of mid to high major programs as he definitely showed he’s a division one  prospect. 

Intriguing is the word when talking about sophomore big man Lekendric Taylor (Wilson/Dallas TX). Long, athletic and moves well but just hasn’t put the pieces together yet and still has a way to go. Made plays in spurts that showed what he could become….Skying for a block or finishing above the rim with ease, just no consistency yet.

Down Goes #1

Arizona Compass Prep were in two tough battles at the Thanksgiving Hoopfest and prior to their arrival they were ranked the best team in the country by several media outlets. Also, before Richardson (TX) handed them a 61-38 loss on Saturday, AZ Compass were in a dogfight Friday night vs McKinney (TX) squeezing by with  a 74-69 win.

UCLA signee 2022 Dylan Andrews, 2023 premier prospect Marquis Cook and one of the top unsigned senior big men in the country 7-0 Adrame Diongue led the charge vs McKinney.

19pts 7rebs & 2stls – Dylan Andrews

12pts 5rebs 2blks – Adrame Diongue

14pts 2stls 2blks – Marquis Cook

Also AZ Compass Prep got a notable contribution from Vanderbilt signee Colin Smith, who adds offensive versatility as a high-feel passer, shooter and someone that can attack closeouts.

McKinney was led by 2023 guard Ja’Kobe Walters. Made tough shots, showed fearlessness when attacking off the bounce and competed on the defensive end. Finished with 26 points 7 rebs 3 assists and 4 steals.

Now back to the headline, Richardson dynamic backcourt of Alabama signee Rylan Griffen (25 points) & Kentucky signee Cason Wallace (22 points) outscored AZ Compass 47 to 38 as their scoring prowess and Richardson’s overall defensive pressure (AZ Compass shot 32% from the field) were key reasons for the commanding victory. No argument on my end on who currently holds the best backcourt in the country.

2023 guard Kylan Boswell was a bright spot for AZ Compass that game, stringing together 13 points on 5 for 9 shooting. 

Duncanville U

This year’s edition of Duncanville’s basketball team is shaping to be the best one Head Coach David Peavy has possessed. Consisting of a strong batch of division one prospects headlined by 5 Star senior guard Anthony Black & 5 star junior forward Ronald Holland, DVille notched two strong wins vs Corona Centennial (CA) & Sierra Canyon (CA).

Holland has improved in his perimeter shot making, shooting 37% from three this past weekend but he still went to his bread and butter by imposing his will inside. Crashing the offensive glass, finishing on 2nd chance opportunities and  attacking the rim and drawing fouls. 

Black, standing at 6’7 and running the point position, got downhill, made plays for himself and others but as impactful as he is offensively, he’s just as effective on the defensive end. Being a pest on-ball defender, altering/blocking shots and playing the passing lanes to garner steals.

The Panthers received strong contributions from Texas State signee Davion Sykes, who orchestrated a 16 point, 8 assist, 4 reb performance on 70% shooting vs Sierra Canyon. A big wing prospect whose best basketball is yet to come. NAU signee CJ Ford showed some bounce back offensively after struggling scoring vs Corona Centennial. Producing 12 points on 40% shooting from deep. The one prospect that raised his stock the most however, was 2023 point guard Aric Demings. Bombed it from deep, utilized a quick first step to get to the basket and defensively was a nuisance as a on-ball defender. Averaged 14.5 points, 3rebs & 2 steals per game at the Hoopfest. 

NLR Leave Texas With Flawless Record

North Little Rock (AR) sport a trio of high level talent with Oregon pledge Kel’el Ware, Arkansas signee Nick Smith and unsigned senior Corey Washington. Smith recently was cleared for contact play ten days prior to their Friday matchup vs Kimball (Dallas TX) as he was healing from a serious wrist injury and it showed early on. Struggled finding a rhythm and was playing very safe. The 2nd half was a different animal as Smith played with more assertiveness and looked to generate attention from the defense. He ended up with 15 points and connected on the game-winner vs The Knights. 

Nick Smith 2 game averages: 18.5 points 3.5 assists & 2 rebs

Love what Corey Washington brings to the table. Muscular frame, athletic, plays with high motor mixed with a more polished offensive game. His production on the glass and as a finisher in the open court allows NLR to secure second chance opportunities and higher percentage shots. 

Corey Washington 2 game averages: 18pts 8rebs on 53% shooting

Last but not least and my personal MVP from the Hoopfest was the big fella Kel’el Ware. A skilled frontline prospect with long arms, soft hands and great timing on blocks. Ware made his prescence known on both ends of the floor as he cemented himself as a 5 Star level prospect.

Kel’el Ware 2 game averagesL 25.5 points, 17 rebs, 3 blocks on 74% FG shooting

Stat lines to Note

‘22 Kijani Wright, 6’8 Forward – Sierra Canyon/CA: 22 pts & 15 rebs on 81% Shooting vs Duncanville

‘22 Shy Odom, 6’5 Small Forward – Sierra Canyon/CA: 11 pts & 10 rebs on 5 for 9 shooting vs Duncanville

‘22 Robert Jennings, 6’7 Forward – TACA Storm/TX: 21 pts & 5 rebs 2 stls vs Woodrow Wilson

‘23 Bralyn Smith, 6’5 2/1 CG – TACA Storm/TX: 18 pts on 8 for 9 shooting vs Woodrow Wilson

‘22 Arterio Morris, 6’4 CG – Kimball/TX: 24.5 pts, 5 rebs & 3.5 asts (2 Games)

‘23 Jadyn Toppins, 6’7 PF – Faith Family/TX:  20 pts & 8 rebs 2 blks vs NLR

‘22 Austin Nunez, 6’2 PG 27pts, 6 rebs & 3 assts vs Coronado

‘23 Jared McCain, 6’3 CG – Corona Centennial/CA: 24.5 pts, 5 rebs & 2.5 assts (2 Games)

‘23 Devin Williams, 6’9 PF/C – Corona Centennial/CA: 14 pts, 9 rebs & 2 blks vs Duncanville

‘22 Kyreon Lindsay, 6’8 PF – Denton Guyer/TX: 21 pts, 20 rebs & 2 assts vs Tulsa Union

‘22 Jared Washington, 6’3 SG – Mansfield Timberview/TX: 23 pts, 3 rebs & 3 stls vs North Crowley

‘22 Richard Isaacs, 6’2 PG – Coronado/NV: 22pts, 4 rebs, 2 asts & 2 stls vs SA Wagner