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January 15, 2011

Teague tops talent in Indy

INDIANAPOLIS - Four of Indianapolis' top teams - Pike, North Central, Park Tudor and Lawrence Central - hit the floor Friday night at Southport High for the semifinals of the Marion County Tournament. The guard play was impressive and nobody looked better than the nation's second-ranked prospect, Marquis Teague, who put on a show during Pike's 82-74 win over defending state champion North Central and star junior D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera.

Marquis Teague is a beast

Word out of the Indianapolis area had been that Marquis Teague had taken his game to a new level as a senior. Given how good the 6-foot-2 Kentucky signee already is, that's saying something. Friday night, he more than lived up to the talk and looked improved in all aspects of the game.

Most notably, the once skinny Teague has packed on some muscle to the top of his frame. At the same time, he's retained his elite quickness and athleticism, and has significantly improved his left hand. Playing a North Central backcourt loaded with guards, Teague got into the lane at will, scored at the rim, hit pull-up jumpers and got others involved.

For the night, Teague finished with 28 points, five assists and three rebounds but could have easily had double-digit assists had his teammates finished a bit better. Also notable is that he managed to maintain defensive intensity and aggressiveness on the offensive end while playing the entire fourth quarter in foul trouble.

More Marion County notables

Kevin Ferrell, PG, Park Tudor- "Yogi" has picked up right where he left off when we last evaluated him at Adidas Nations in Chicago. The cat-quick, 5-foot-11 point guard headed to Indiana goes right at defenses and is practically impossible to guard in a pick-and-roll situation. He's a very good pull-up jump shooter who gets tremendous lift off the floor. The pressure he puts on defenders to guard both the drive and the jumper leaves his teammates wide open and Ferrell almost never misses them when they are open while committing few turnovers. Unofficially, Ferrell had 24 points, eight assists and six rebounds as Park Tudor fell short of Lawrence Central.

D'vauntes Smith-Rivera, PG/SG, North Central- A physically imposing combo guard, the junior has always been able to overpower his opponents to score on tough drives to the rim. But, he's continued to lean up his frame and the added quickness shows in his game. He's very clever off the ball, can make open jumpers and is improving defensively. After scoring 29 points, Smith-Rivera listed Ohio State, Xavier, UCLA, Florida, Miami, Georgetown, Cincinnati and Louisville. He also confirmed that he will play this summer with Spiece.

Ronnie Johnson, PG, North Central- DSR's partner in the backcourt at North Central, the junior point guard looks to be growing a little bit. The southpaw is tremendously quick off the dribble, gets into the lane, pushes tempo and is becoming a threat to knock down jumpers with more consistency. The class of 2012 looks a bit thin at the point guard position and Johnson has elevated his game. He mentioned offers from Butler, Indiana State, Southern Illinois, Ball State, Eastern Illinois, IUPUI and others. More recently, he's started to hear from Michigan, Minnesota, Dayton, Saint Louis and Illinois.

R.J. Hunter, SG, Pike- The 6-foot-4 Hunter is a skinny off-guard who can really shoot the ball from deep. He's better off the dribble than given credit for, plays with intensity on each end and is unafraid of being a verbal leader. His lack of strength does cause him some troubles at time, but he has one of the better basketball IQs.

Zavier Turner, PG, Pike- The 5-foot-8 sophomore is built like a fire hydrant and is very strong for a sophomore. He's also fast. Very fast. He plays full-speed ahead, is fearless on drives into the lane and can make a jumper. He's young, so the hope is that he grows some more, but even if he doesn't, there will still be plenty of interest from schools.

Jeremy Hollowell, SF, Lawrence Central- As Lawrence Central and Park Tudor felt each other out during the first half, the 6-foot-6 junior wing was quiet. He hit a 3-pointer, got some rebounds and scored on a breakaway. During the second half, Hollowell was sent to play at the free throw line against Park Tudor's 2-3 zone and he proceeded to make play after play. He shot faked and drove to the rim, hit some medium-range jumpers, made crisp passes to move the defense and was dominant on the offensive glass. He finished with 20 points and double-digit rebounds in a very nice performance.

Tyler Corley, PG, Lawrence Central- The 5-foot-10 junior is a tough ballhandler who is physical for a guy his size. He's not afraid to mix it up with bigger players, has a tremendous motor and is improving. More of an opportunistic scorer, his feel for when to attack or shoot versus keep the offense running is keen.


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