Nike Hoop Summit: Tigers signee gets first taste of Memphis
By JOSHUA PARROTT
MEMPHIS - Attention Memphis men's basketball fans: Future Tigers guard Derrick Rose arrived in the "Bluff City" earlier this week for the 10th annual Nike Hoop Summit.
But the Chicago Simeon senior has yet to be recognized as an instant celebrity in his future college town.
"I haven't really gotten the whole bang yet," said Rose, a 6-foot-3 guard who will lead the USA Junior National Select team against the 10-man World team at 3 p.m. Saturday at FedExForum. "Hopefully, people see me out (around town) and they'll know who I am and they'll come out to the game."
Rated the nation's third overall senior prospect by Rivals.com, Rose averaged 25 points, 9.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 3.4 steals per game this season as Simeon (33-2) became the first Class AA program to repeat as Illinois state champions. Simeon finished the season as the nation's top-ranked team by RISE/SI.com and sixth by USA Today.
Rose was brilliant in a 78-75 win over defending national champion Oak Hill (Va.) Academy last January with 28 points and nine assists. He signed with Memphis last November over Indiana and Illinois.
Who's No. 1?
One year after the consensus No. 1 player from the Class of 2006, current Ohio State freshman Greg Oden , chose not to play in the Hoop Summit, this year's event has no shortage of talent.
But who is No. 1 this year?
Maryland's Michael Beasley is considered the best by Rivals.com, while Oregon's Kevin Love is ranked No. 1 by Bob Gibbons All-Star Report. Scout.com and RISE/SI.com. Both have Huntington (W.Va.) standout O.J. Mayo on top of their respective rankings.
Mayo doesn't exactly agree with the rankings, but said the nation's best players are competing in this year's Hoop Summit.
"I don't think we have any one top player in this class," said Mayo, who signed with USC. "I think we have top players at each position. You've got good inside players and good guards.
"I just think we probably have the top five (players) at each position."
In a side note, Mayo and Huntington teammate Patrick Patterson join Episcopal (Penn.) Academy's Gerald Henderson and Wayne Ellington as the only players from the same prep team to be selected to play in the Hoop Summit in the same year.
Oregon's Kevin Love was in Memphis for the first half of Thursday morning's practice before flying to Atlanta to accept the 2007 Naismith Trophy as the male high school basketball player of the year. Love - a 6-10 center who finished as Oregon's all-time leading scorer with 2,628 points - is expected to be back in Memphis on Friday and play for the USA team on Saturday.
Love's father, Stan Love, played in the NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Bullets.
Huntington forward Patrick Patterson is the only USA player who has yet to sign a national letter of intent with a college. The 6-8 forward has narrowed his choices to Florida, Duke, Wake Forest, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.
The late college signing period runs April 11-May 16.
"Right now I'm trying to enjoy (the Hoop Summit) so recruiting is the last thing on my mind," Patterson said. "When I get back home, I'm going to talk with my family and narrow my six down to three and at the end of the month I'm going to decide."
What exactly is Patterson looking for?
"I'm a family guy," he said, "so I'm looking for a family atmosphere."
Other Hoop Summit signees include Jerryd Bayless (Arizona), Michael Beasley (Kansas State), Jonny Flynn (Syracuse), Kevin Love (UCLA), Donte Greene (Syracuse), O.J. Mayo (USC), Kyle Singler (Duke), Derrick Rose (Memphis) and Nolan Smith (Duke).
Oak Hill Academy's Nolan Smith has a tattoo on his left arm in memory of his father, former Louisville and NBA guard Derek Smith .
Derek Smith scored more than 1,800 points at Louisville from 1978-82 and played for five NBA teams before dying of an apparent heart attack while on a cruise ship on Aug. 11, 1996.
"Mainly what I remember about my dad is what people tell me," said Nolan, a Duke signee who averaged 22 points per game as a senior for Oak Hill (40-1). "I know every time I step on the court, I'm playing in his memory."
Smith is a name familiar to West Tennessee hoop fans. Smith scored a game-high 34 points back in January in Oak Hill's 83-62 win over Liberty.
After that loss, Liberty won 15 consecutive games to win its second straight Class AA state championship.
Oak Hill beat nine state champions this season and finished ranked No. 1 by USA Today.
"They got after it," Smith said of Liberty, which finished the season ranked No. 13 nationally by RISE/SI.com. "They weren't scared."
-Joshua Parrott, 425-9634