Boyd County Middle School will be a haven for high quality basketball this weekend.
The Boyd County Roundball Classic will feature nine games spanning Friday and Saturday. It will consist of some of the top boys and girls teams in the area as well as some of the best teams in the country.
The event has been in the works since last December, and for Boyd County girls coach and main organizer Pete Fraley, it’s been worth the hard work.
“It’s been hectic,” Fraley said. “We’ve been taking phone calls for tickets, media requests and college coaches so it’s been quite a big undertaking.”
According to Fraley, the main draw for the weekend will be Huntington Prep, USA Today’s No. 3 team in the country.
Huntington Prep will play Walnut Hills (Cincinnati, Ohio) on Friday at 9 p.m. before a Saturday showdown with Arlington Country Day (Jacksonville, Fla.) at 7 p.m.
Walnut Hills features two premier players in guard Dontonio Wingfield Jr., and center Isaiah Johnson.
Wingfield is committed to play at Ohio University next season while the 6-9, 275-pound Johnson has committed to the University of Akron.
Arlington Country Day has four players rated as mid-to-high major college prospects such as guard Che Bob and forward Dante Buford. Bob has received an offer from UNC-Wilmington, according to espn.com. Buford has offers from College of Charleston, UNC-Wilmington, Old Dominion and Radford.
Getting these three teams loaded with college talent to play was the goal since the beginning for Fraley.
“For people in this area, it’s tough to get a seat at Rupp Arena,” Fraley said. “We wanted to get as many college-caliber players on the floor as possible. The Huntington Prep-Arlington Country Day game could feature as many as 10 Division I prospects on the floor at the same time.”
Along with the Prep Express comes Rivals’ and ESPN’s No. 1 ranked college prospect in Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins is being pursued by several schools, including Kentucky.
Speculation indicates that Kentucky head coach John Calipari will be in attendance Saturday night, just hours after the Wildcats’ game against Lipscomb.
“I have not directly spoken to anyone at UK’s camp,” Fraley said. “But I cannot confirm or deny the rumor.”
Even if Calipari is not there, Wiggins will likely bring out Big Blue Nation.
Fraley said it wouldn’t surprise him to see a change of colors in the gym.
“Boyd County’s colors are red and white, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of blue and white over the weekend,” Fraley said. “There will be all kinds of fans there to see him and persuade him.”
While Huntington Prep may be the headliners, the remaining seven games on the Roundball Classic schedule also feature notable talent.
On Friday, the event tips off with Boyd County girls taking on four-time defending West Virginia Class A state champion Huntington St. Joe.
Huntington St. Joe features two Division I guards in Notre Dame commit Mychal Johnson and guard Griffin Dempsey, who is receiving interest from Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, Marshall and others.
“We didn’t do ourselves any favors scheduling this game,” Fraley said. “All their players are good. We’re only going to get better from this game.”
Following that matchup, Boyd County’s boys will be in action against Shelby Valley.
On Saturday, East Carter and Shelby Valley start the day’s events with a noon tipoff.
This is followed by the Ashland girls team taking on Campbell County. The Kittens another D-I prospect in sophomore guard Alexis Robinson, who is on ESPN’s HoopGurlz' Top 100 Watch List for the Class of 2015.
Boyd County girls and Wheelersburg follow up in the first of two Ohio vs. Kentucky games.
The second is Johnson Central, and D-I prospect Shane Hall, taking on Portsmouth, an Ohio Division III state runner-up last season.
“There is going to be a lot of talent here,” Fraley said. “And a lot of local talent as well. There are going to be people here who don’t follow area high school basketball that are going to get to see some good talent.”
Saturday is topped off with Boyd County boys meeting Mason County. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:45 p.m.
Tickets cost $10 for each day, something Fraley said is a bargain.
“This gives people in the area a chance to see really good basketball,” Fraley said. “At just $10 a day, it’s just a couple of dollars a game to see some great players.”
Advanced tickets can be purchased at Boyd County High School, Borders Sporting Goods in Summit, Ponderosa Elementary School and Area Advertising in Ashland.
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2658.