LAS VEGAS, Nev. –
The defining moment in the basketball careers of Phil Forte
and Marcus Smart
came in March when they led Marcus High School (Flower Mound)
to the Texas Class 5A state title in front of over 13,000 fans.
The duo was together again Saturday for pool play action in the adidas Super 64, leading Texas Assault to its third win in as many games at the event.
It's a familiar position for Forte and Smart, who have led Marcus to a 76-4 record over the past two seasons and helped Texas Assault capture the under-16 bracket at the Super 64 last summer.
"We've been playing together since the third grade," said Forte, a lights-out 3-point threat who led Marcus in scoring as a junior at over 16 points per game. "We came together and know where each other are on the court. We are more like brothers."
Saturday at Desert Pines High School just a few miles from Las Vegas Boulevard, the college coaches on hand outnumbered fans and Texas Assault was advancing to tomorrow's single-elimination championship bracket regardless of the outcome. No matter, Smart – ranked No. 24 in MaxPreps.com's Class of 2012 Top 100 – was playing like a trophy was on the line, taking charges, blocking shots, keying the full-court press and bleeding all over the floor after busting open his lip.
"I take a beating a lot," Smart said. "Today was one of those days. I took more beatings than I expected to take, but that's definitely part of my game. I'm a real physical player."
He looks the part of one, pushing 6-foot-4 and around 205 pounds. In football-crazy Texas, it's a small miracle he isn't married to the gridiron. But clearly basketball is his calling. His high school coach, Danny Henderson, has compared him to a shorter version of Magic Johnson and like the Lakers legend, setting the table for teammates is among his strengths.
"If you want your teammates to play for you, you've got to feed them sometimes," Smart said. "You can't be one those players that's like, 'Oh, I've got to score 30, it's all about me.' Your teammates will quit on you and it will be just you. You can't be a team by yourself."
That philosophy has translated in a heated recruiting battle that involves most of the Big 12 and North Carolina. Kansas' Bill Self and UNC's Roy Williams were among the coaches lining the court Saturday. He hopes to make a decision prior to his senior campaign at Marcus.
At 5-10, Forte's options aren't as plentiful or glossy, but schools like Boise State, Fresno State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, San Francisco and Texas Tech are in pursuit. While package deals rarely come to fruition in college basketball, he wouldn't mind continuing his career alongside Smart.
"It's a possibility. We really want to play together if we can," Forte said. "It depends on what is best for us, but if we can that would be great." Dunn deal
Five-star center Andre Drummond
is the unquestioned focal point of the Connecticut Basketball Club, but Saturday it was point guard Kris Dunn
sparking a second-half surge in a win over the Houston Hoopstars.
The 6-2 point guard has shot up the rankings this summer, landing at No. 48 overall in MaxPreps.com's July update. That climb may continue with his play in Vegas.
But there is more to Dunn than his exceptional drive-and-kick skills. He is also a 3.7 student with Harvard among his list of suitors.
"I always wanted that to be one of my schools," Dunn said. "It's one of the best for education and me and my family really love that school."
Beyond Harvard, Dunn is keeping things under wraps for the most part, mentioning that several several Big East and ACC programs are also in the hunt.
"Everybody is kind of equal," Dunn said. "Me and my family are going to talk about it down in Orlando after everything is done."
He has made one decision on schools already, however. He is leaving New London High School (Conn.)
for Wilbraham & Monson Academy (Wilbraham, Mass.)
next fall, where he will join one of the stars of last week's EYBL Finals in South Carolina, Jalen Brantley
"That's my boy. We work out a lot and he is a great shooter," Dunn said. "I'm going to have fun playing with him, driving to the hole and kicking out. That's a three-ball right there."More Saturday Super 64 standoutsAndre Drummond, Connecticut Basketball Club:
The big man came to play in the second half and simply outclassed fellow elite 2012 big Cameron Ridley. Drummond will make the decision regarding the No. 1 overall player difficult in August.Nick Banyard, Texas Assault:
The 6-8 forward put on a show alongside Forte and Smart, flashing some range from beyond the arc while doing what he is known best for – hammering dunks and impacting shots on the defensive end.Notes
UNLV legend Jerry Tarkanian made an appearance at Rancho High School to see back-to-back games featuring top prospects Shabazz Muhammad
and Drummond...Speaking of UNLV and Muhammad, Rebel fans haven't been shy about showing their love for the nation's No. 1 prospect, attending his games in force decked in red and even echoing the "Reeeeeebels" chant after a big play Saturday. Muhammad is taking notice, telling the Las Vegas Sun, "That's what it's all about: You want to have fun with your recruitment. Everybody's here. My family's here. I've lived here 12 years. My coach's brother is the head coach. I really like the program, so they're going to continue to be in my recruitment."...In addition to one of the nation's top guards in Smart, Texas Assault also features one of the nation's top running backs. Johnathan Gray
, a University of Texas verbal commitment, has rushed for over 7,000 yards during his prep career and came off the bench as a defensive stopper for Assault.