Former Hephzibah star Donald Little could be playing on a national championship prep squad.
Little and his Mount Zion Christian Academy (Durham, N.C.) teammates are playing in the prestigious Reebok Holiday Classic at Durango High in Las Vegas this weekend.
Mount Zion (6-0), ranked No. 3 in the country by USA TODAY, opened up with Compton High out of Compton, Calif. in the first round of the tournament on Thursday night.
Mount Zion Christian Academy is led by the early favorite for the National Prep Player of the Year award in 6-foot-9 forward Tracy McGrady. McGrady, a Florida native, is averaging 29.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.1 steals per contest.
The team's No. 2 scorer is Macon native Max Owens, who has signed with the University of North Carolina. The 6-foot-5 swingman is averaging 18 points per contest.
Also at the tourney is No. 1 Dominguez High (3-0) out of Compton, Calif. Dominguez has a 35-game winning streak and is led by senior point guard Kenny Brunner. The 6-foot-1 guard played for the Southern California All-Stars this summer at Augusta's Nike Peach Basket Classic.
The two teams could meet for the championship of the tourney. No. 15 West End out of Birmingham, Ala. and No. 18 East High out of Memphis, Tenn. are also nationally ranked teams playing in Las Vegas this weekend.
The surprise team in the field could be unranked Redemption Christian out of Troy, N.Y. Redemption Christian, which finished second last season in the tourney, is led by 6-foot-9 Lamar Odom. The senior forward transferred from New York City's Christ the King High to Redemption Christian this season and is averaging 18.6 points, 11 rebounds and 10.5 assists per contest.
AREA HOLIDAY HOOPS: South Aiken (4-0) is entertaining area squads today through Dec. 23 in the Thoroughbred Classic and then it is off to Myrtle Beach to challenge the best teams in the country in the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Dec. 26-30.
South Aiken will open against Colony High out of Wasila, Alaska on Dec. 26. Wasila is led by 6-foot-1 guard Eli Wilson, regarded as one the country's top 100 prep seniors.
Other teams in the Beach Ball are Woodbridge High out of Irvine, Calif. and Dudley High out of Greensboro, N.C. Woodbridge is led by 6-foot-10 center Chris Burgess, who has signed with Duke, and Dudley is led by 7-foot, 265-pound center Brendon Haywood, a North Carolina signee.
Butler continues play in The Great Florida Shootout today while North Augusta is in the Gray, Ga. Holiday Classic that runs through Saturday.
Aiken High will play host to an Holiday Tournament Dec. 27-28. The girls matchups on Dec. 27 pit Hephzibah against Westside at 4 p.m. and Richland Northeast against Aiken at 7 p.m. Aiken defeated Hephzibah, 36-33, in the championship game last season.
The boys matchups pit Hephzibah against Lincoln County at 5:30 and Silver Bluff against Aiken at 8 p.m. The consolation and championship games will be played on Dec. 28.
OAK HILL SLUMP: Oak Hill Academy (6-2) dropped from No. 2 to No. 25 in the national prep rankings after losing twice last week to then No. 3 Manuel (7-1) out of Peoria, Il, 74-62 and No. 19 Minneapolis (Minn) North, 85-56.
The 29-point loss to North was the worst defeat in Oak Hill coach Steve Smith's 12-year career at the school.
Former Westside star William Avery is leading Oak Hill in scoring at 19.6 per game and in assists per contest at 6.7.
SHINE AND CREW: Former Richmond Academy point guard Ty Shine will be in a big game on Saturday.
Shine and his Cincinnati Withrow High teammates will meet fellow Ohio power Oaks Hills Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Oak Hills ended Miami (Fla.) Senior's 14-game winning streak with a 63-56 win last week. Miami Senior (9-1) is ranked No. 16 in the country by USA TODAY.
VIRGINIA BOUND: Chezley Watson, a 6-foot-1 guard from East Hall High in Gainesville, Ga., has signed with Virginia.
Watson led East Hall to the Class AA semifinals as a junior before losing to eventual state champion Swainsboro. The loss also broke East Hall's 25-game winning streak.
GATORADE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kennesaw Harrison High quarterback Daniel Cobb has been named the Georgia Player of the Year by Gatorade.
The South Carolina Player of the Year was wide receiver Brian Scott. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder is regarded as the state's No. 1 prospect and led the state with 80 receptions for over 1,250 yards and 17 touchdowns. Scott will play in Saturday's prep all-star game between North Carolina and South Carolina in Charlotte's Memorial Stadium.
Of the 51 Gatorade Player of the Year awards, including the District of Columbia, only two were juniors. Ronald Curry, a 6-foot-3 quarterback/defensive back, was named the Virginia Player of the Year. Curry, a junior, started at point guard for the Boo Williams All-Stars at the Nike Peach Basket Classic this summer. He was a fourth team Parade All-American basketball player as a sophomore.
The other junior was quarterback Jason Gesser out of St. Louis High in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Gatorade National Player of the Year award went to Travis Minor out of Baton Rouge (La.) Catholic High. The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder, rushed for 2,649 yards and scored 47 touchdowns this season.
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