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2 commits highlight Hoophall Classic

A glimpse at the future of Blue Devil basketball will be on display tonight at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke commitments Nolan Smith of Oak Hill Academy and Taylor King of Mater Dei High School will face off in the second of three games as part of the Durham Hoophall Classic High School Invitational.

Patrick Patterson, the top uncommitted high school senior and Duke's primary remaining recruiting target, will also take the court when his Huntington High School team takes on Artesia High School in the final game of the triple-header. The first game will pit two local North Carolina schools against each other.

The games will tip off at 5:30, 7:00 and 8:30 p.m., respectively.

"With Nolan Smith and Taylor King having committed to Duke, we put a call down to Duke to see if they'd be interested in hosting the event," said David Elkins, the head of marketing partnerships for the Basketball Hall of Fame. "It was less about recruiting and more about showcasing two players who had already committed to Duke."

All four of the teams playing in the final two games are currently ranked in the top 11 by USA Today's Super 25, including three of the top six teams.

"This event is an opportunity for the Hall of Fame to bring our brand and celebrate in a great market," Elkins said.

The idea for the classic was conceived last year during the Final Four when Oak Hill head coach Steve Smith expressed interest in participating in a Hall of Fame-sponsored event. The Basketball Hall of Fame organizes games at all levels of basketball to promote the sport, and it has hosted a set of high school showcases in Springfield, Mass. for each of the past six years.

But since Oak Hill could not participate in that event this year, Smith suggested that the game he was scheduling with traditional west coast power Mater Dei be considered for an alternate venue.

After Elkins consulted with Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski about the idea, the wheels were set in motion to bring the Hoophall Classic to Durham.

"Cameron was a great facility because there's so much history, so it made sense to us for the Hall of Fame to do an event there," Elkins said. "It's an amazing opportunity for the teams as well. It's just a dream come true for a lot of those kids who probably won't go on to play Division I basketball."

Once O.J. Mayo, the top-ranked senior in the country, transferred to Huntington in the fall, the Hall of Fame coordinators approached the school about being added to the schedule for tonight's event.

Although each of the four ranked teams play national schedules and have played in college arenas before, Mater Dei head coach Gary McKnight said those venues do not compare to Cameron.

"It's a great experience for the kids," he said. "They're very thrilled to have an opportunity to play in an arena that they watch on TV all the time."

More than 2,500 tickets have already been sold, and tickets can also be purchased at the door.


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