Acclaimed University School teammates Vernon Carey Jr. and Scottie Barnes connected on a combined 17 of 23 field goal attempts for 45 points in a 72-62 win Thursday night over upset-minded Central Catholic in the quarterfinals of the 23rd annual Les Schwab Invitational in Hillsboro,Oregon.
Carey, recently committed to play next year at Duke and considered by many the Number 1 player in the high school class of 2019, scored 12 of his 27 points in the final quarter. He also pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds in a double-double showcase. Barnes, the 2nd ranked player in the class of 2020, keyed a late 10-0 run by the Sharks from Ft Lauderdale, Fla, to break open a deadlocked game. University also got a 23 point effort from Roger McFarland as they ran their season record to 9-2 and are on a collision course to meet the nation's No 1 ranked Sierra Canyon (15-1) of Chatsworth, California for the LSI Championship in a Saturday night showdown.
University School finished last season with a 35-2 mark, with their only defeats coming at the hands of Oak Hill and to Montverde Academy in the GEICO National Championship game. Sierra Canyon features the sons of former NBA players Scottie Pippen and Kenyon Martin, both of whom were spotted sitting court-side, along with a host of celebrity NCAA D-1 coaches. In addition to Scotty Pippen Jr. and Kenyon Martin, Jr, the Trail Blazers also feature perhaps the best athlete in the tournament in the smooth Cassius Stanley, along with a pair of 7 foot centers,Christian Koloko and Jia-Hao Yu ,who combined to score 29 points in a quarterfinal win over Jesuit.
The 6'11" Carey, son of the former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman, has demonstrated why he is considered a future NBA lottery pick in the 2020 draft. With size, strength, good hands and quick feet, Carey has few weaknesses. When fully engaged, he displays a high hoops IQ and is patient to stay in the flow of the game. The 6'8" Barnes is quite simply a player who can do everything on a basketball floor. He competes on every possession, gets out in transition well,and combines a powerful build with point guard skills. Still a junior, he has elite upside. Look for his name near the top of the 2021 NBA draft list.
You can still see Carey and Barnes for two more nights in the LSI. Tonight, in a key semi-final match-up, University School meets Gonzaga Prep out of Spokane, and their headliner, 6'8 Sr. Anton Watson, who has signed to play with Mark Few and Gonzaga.
The LSI is a big time high school basketball tournament, and the trappings of success are everywhere. In a era where many schools and events no longer print a game program, the Schwab official program in now a glossy 70 page production. Two large parking lots on either side of Liberty High School in Hillsboro were at capacity last night for Day 2, forcing many vehicles onto remote side streets.
In the early years of this tournament, fans came primarily to see the Oregon schools play. They now come to see the three star-studded out-of -state teams that comprise the 16 team field, knowing they will likely witness 2 or 3 players on any given night that they will watch a few years later in the NBA. They will also witness a host of uber freshmen like 6'4" Amari Bailey of Sierra Canyon, who has already committed to UCLA out of grade school.
Even if your interest is confined to local talent, there is much to recommend. Ben Gregg from tiny 2-A Columbia Christian, is drawing plenty of attention from college scouts, Jaden Nielsen-Skinner of South Salem is giving Portland State Vikings fans a preview of their future point guard, and Jefferson senior Keylin Vance is emerging as the go-to guy at Jefferson.
Year-after-year, the Les Schwab Invitational delivers.