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Oak Hill takes battle of future Dukies

Duke got a glimpse of its future Tuesday night, as Blue Devil commits Taylor King and Nolan Smith battled in the Durham Hoophall Classic.

Smith and No. 3 Oak Hill Academy (Va.) held on to beat King's Mater Dei High School (Calif.), 77-74, despite King's game-high 32 points. The two battled in front of Duke's assistant coaches and several current players.

After trailing by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter, Mater Dei trimmed the deficit to three in the final seconds. All eyes turned to King, who had already hit six trifectas and taken 29 shots in the game.

The 6-foot-8 senior, however, was swarmed by three Oak Hill defenders the moment he touched the ball and was forced to dish to guard Blake Arnet, whose desperation three fell short at the buzzer.

When asked if the final play was drawn up for King, Mater Dei head coach Gary McKnight said, "Was that a surprise to anybody?"

King had helped lead the furious Mater Dei comeback, during which the Monarchs' full-court pressure forced six turnovers in the final four minutes of the game. King's three with 35 seconds left capped a 13-6 run to pull the Monarchs within two.

In the last minute, though, Smith showed the leadership that made him the only junior captain Oak Hill head coach Steve Smith has ever had. The 6-foot-2 guard assumed some ball-handling duties and went 3-for-4 from the foul line in the last 60 seconds.

"We should have had the game put away, but we had a few turnovers-unforced plays that we shouldn't have made, but we did," Steve Smith said. "Thank goodness [Nolan Smith's] the guy getting fouled at the end of the game because he normally makes free throws."

Smith struggled throughout most of the night, finishing with a modest 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting. He appeared nervous early on and missed all three of his field-goal attempts in the first quarter. But unlike King, Smith is not the focal point of his team's offense, which also features Division I recruits Julian Vaughn, Alex Legion and junior Brandon Jennings.

On the other side of the court, King was displaying his full offensive repertoire in the first half-largely with Smith guarding him. The 6-foot-8 southpaw used his height advantage to score 20 points on 8-for-17 shooting before the intermission, including four three-pointers.

King appeared to tire in the second half-he played all 32 minutes-and missed four threes in the fourth quarter, including two opportunities to cut the Oak Hill lead to two in the last three minutes.

After the game, each player was anxious to return to Cameron-next time with Duke across their chests.

"It was good to be out here," Smith said. "That floor has a lot of meaning to it-a lot of great players have played on it. I'm really excited about coming here next year and putting on a Duke jersey."

King, who has a chance to become the leading scorer and rebounder in southern California high school history, said it should not take long for him to get used to the rims at Cameron.

"They're nice," King said. "I like them. I can't wait for the next four years."

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