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November 30, 2012

Weekend preview: Spotlight on Wiggins

MORE BOSSI: Syracuse make moves up team rankings

The weekend is here and Rivals.com will be attending two major high school basketball events. National basketball analyst Eric Bossi is headed to Chicago for the Chicago Elite Classic while contributor Corey Albertson will be in Benton, Kentucky for the Marshall County Hoopfest. Here's a look at a few of the storylines that we'll be watching.

What's up with Wiggins?

At the Marshall County Hoopfest we'll get two opportunities to watch Huntington (W.V.) Prep against very good high school competition from the Memphis area. They take on Memphis East featuring Memphis commit Nick King on Friday and on Saturday they'll tussle with Memphis bound Austin Nichols and Briarcrst Christian.

Those games should provide a great setting for our first look at Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 player in 2013, since he made the move from the class of 2014. We know what type of athlete he is and we know what type of potential he has. Now, we're interested to see how his ball handling and jump shot are coming along. Also, Wiggins is supposed to be visiting Florida State soon and we'll be looking to get more detail on when to expect the visit.

Is Okafor ready to handle the No. 1 spot?

When Wiggins made the move to 2013, Jahlil Okafor of Chicago (Ill.) Whitney Young moved into the No. 1 spot in the class of 2014. Now, it's time to see how much of a lock the big man from the Windy City has on that spot because he's going to be tested playing against four-star senior and N.C. State pledge BeeJay Anya of Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha.

A true back-to-the-basket post man who is pushing 6-foot-11, Okafor is a rarity in today's high school game. He's a big guy with great hands, good feet and soft touch that you can throw the ball to and know with confidence that he can get a bucket. He rebounds, he runs the floor much better than given credit for and he plays with a high basketball IQ. Hopefully he's getting the touches he should in the paint so we can see how the development of his off hand and faceup game from about 10 feet are coming along.

Can Bates-Diop close the gap?

Based on our current rankings, recent Ohio State commitment Keita Bates-Diop is the No. 20 player in the class of 2014. In the state of Illinois that puts him behind the above mentioned Okafor and Cliff Alexander, who checks in at No. 4 nationally.

Much of Bates-Diop's ranking has to do with the furious run of improvement that he had to close the summer. The small forward went from good prospect to highly productive player on both ends of the floor and it will be interesting to see how that improvement has continued. Word out of Illinois is that Bates-Diop has grown to 6-foot-8 and continued to improve his perimeter game. So, the question is whether or not he can close the gap on Okafor and Alexander.

Speaking of Alexander, he'll be taking the floor at Marshall County Friday night (Baates-Diop and Okafor are playing in Chicago) and he's also someone that we'll be watching closely. The 6-foot-9 big man from Chicago (Ill.) Curie burst onto the national scene in a big way because of his physicality, athleticism and ability to score and rebound in traffic. Now, it's time to see if his skill package has caught up with his physical gifts. His peers are starting to catch up on him physically as they mature so it's important that he develop other aspects of his game and become more of a threat from between six and 12 feet.

Plenty of other talent to choose from

Both the Chicago Elite Classic and Marshall County Hoopfest have plenty of talent in addition to the guys we've highlighted. At Marshall County we'll also be closely eyeing a trio of Kentucky commits in Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison and Derek Willis. Oak Hill will be on hand with four-stars Troy Williams, Sindarius Thornwell, Nate Britt and Ikenna Iroegbu and we'll also get a look at Memphis (Tenn.) Southwind's four-star seniors Johnathan Williams III and Jajuan Johnson.

In Chicago, we are not likely to see the nation's No. 3 senior Jabari Parker. The 6-foot-8 forward is still recovering from a foot injury but his Chicago (Ill.) Simeon squad is still stacked and headlined by Illinois signee Kendrick Nunn. 2014 five-star Stanley Johnson will be on hand with Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei and SMU bound senior Sterling Brown will be tested by the high scoring BYU bound trio of Eric Mika, Nick Emery and T.J. Haws.

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