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Louisville, Indiana, Florida Recruits Excel In Derby Classic

04/16/2014, 10:15am CDT
By Rick Bozich, WDRB

Chiozza scores 13 points in all-star game

FLOYDS KNOBS, Ind. (WDRB) -- If you want a bonus look at the Louisville and Indiana recruits who'll be playing in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic Friday night at Freedom Hall, you'll get one at halftime.

Louisville recruit Jaylen Johnson will be one of three finalists in the Slam Dunk Contest. In fact, Johnson would like to bring his mother, Janetta, back onto the court to help him with one of his dunks, even though the spontaneous tactic did not work Thursday night at Floyd Central High School.

Johnson's future U of L teammate, Quentin Snider of Ballard, made the finals of the 3-point shooting competition.

He'll compete against a pair of Indiana recruits – Robert Johnson of Benedictine High School in Richmond, Va., and Max Hoetzel of Wilbraham & Monson Academy in Wilbraham, Mass. Both future Hoosiers were billed as shooters and they looked the part.

"I've said it before, I think we're the best shooting recruiting class in the nation," Hoetzel said. (The third recruit in Indiana's class is James Blackmon Jr. of Marion, Ind. Blackmon and Kentucky recruit Devin Booker are considered the top two shooters in the class but they're not playing here Friday.)

Hoetzel and Brandone Francis, a muscular Florida signee, earned 15 points in the one-minute, three-point drill. Players were awarded one-point per shot, but two for a single bonus ball in each rack of basketballs.

Johnson, Snider and Chris Chiozza, another Florida recruit, had 13 points. Johnson and Snider advanced in a shootout.

The game and the skills competition will be televised on WDRB 41 and live-streamed on Friday at 7 p.m.

"I expect to win," Johnson said. "I can shoot better than that."

"I think I'll win," Hoetzel said.

Johnson, of Ypsilanti, Mich., expects to win the Slam Dunk competition. He will compete against Isaac Copeland, who signed with Georgetown, and Devin Robinson, the third Florida recruit in the game.

Johnson teamed with Snider and U of L recruit Chinanu Onuaku for his first dunk and then waved his Mother from the stands for his finale. Janetta Johnson said that she led the nation in blocked shots during her senior season at Wisconsin, where she still holds the single-season record with 130 in 1988.

She also had 230 rebounds in her final season as a Badger before she started playing professionally in Portugal for four seasons. Janetta Johnson said that she regularly defeated her son in one-on-one games until he turned 14. "I couldn't just back him down and score any more," she said. "He started blocking my shots."

On Thursday, Jaylen positioned her five feet from the basket. He asked her to bounce the ball off the glass so he could soar for a put-back slam. Their timing needs practice.  None of the three attempts worked, so Johnson improvised with another slam to advance in the competition.

"The oops is supposed to get thrown to me, I'm not supposed to be the one throwing it," Janetta Johnson said with a laugh.

"My Mom doesn't like it when I'm playing bad so I said I was going to win something for her," Johnson said. "I said, ‘Mom, I want to put a smile on your face. Let's do this.' "

The Johnsons said they were not certain if they would attempt the Mother-Son dunk Friday night. Janetta said she wanted more time to practice. Jaylen said that he might recruit his younger brother, Lawrence, to replace his Mom, who has a sore wrist.

*Several NBA scouts watched the competition. One told me that he did not believe that any of the players in the game were one-and-done guys. Asked for his pick as the best pro prospect in the group, he picked Devin Robinson, a 6-8 forward ranked the 24th best senior in the Class of 2014 by

"He needs to put on weight, but he's very skilled," the scout said. "He can do a lot of things. He just needs to mature, get bigger, stronger."

*Another scout said Billy Donovan and Florida had the best collection of recruits in the game. "All three of his guys (Robinson, Francis and Chiozza) are quality players who can definitely compete at the highest level," the scout said. "They're athletic and team guys. Billy's in good shape."

Louisville has three players in the game as does Maryland. Indiana and UNLV both have two.

*Trevon Blueitt, who has committed to Xavier, and Illinois recruit Leron Black defeated Snider and Ohio State recruit Keita Bates-Diop in the two-on-two competition.

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