What happened in Vegas couldn’t stay there — not after a guy got so warm that he hit five 3-pointers in a row to force extended minutes during a game his team wound up winning in the third overtime session.
Durham’s Justice Kithcart was the one with the flames shooting from his fingertips Sunday. He had 30 points and five assists for Virginia-based Team Loaded in that contest, the semifinals of the 16-and-under division at the adidas Super 64 showcase tournament in Las Vegas.
“I wasn’t making a lot of shots in the first half, and I just tried to keep shooting and stay positive and get to the hole,” Kithcart said.
In the championship game, Kithcart dropped 17 points, dealt 10 assists, plucked three steals and was declared the tournament’s most valuable player.
Dave Telep used to be ESPN’s senior college basketball recruiting analyst. Now he’s a scout for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.
In other words, Telep knows basketball, and he once described Kithcart as a set-up man with “the makings of a pure point guard. ... I think he’s at his best in that role, but (he) has demonstrated the ability to score. … There’s room for improvement, but he’s one of the best 2016 point guards in the state.”
Telep said that in 2013 after Kithcart’s freshman season at Riverside High School.
Kithcart suited up as a sophomore across town at Hillside High School and now stands 6-feet-2-inches tall and weighs 170 pounds.
And while the young man might have that MVP trophy in one hand on his return flight into Raleigh-Durham International Airport, he’ll be using the other hand to count the pros and cons of returning to Hillside.
Hillside athletics director Bob Hill last week announced that he’d hired basketball coach Thurman Jordan from Holly Springs High School to pick up where Crasten Davis left off.
Davis was not retained as Hillside’s basketball coach after this past season for “internal issues,” Durham Public Schools athletics director Larry McDonald said.
During the three seasons Davis coached at Hillside, the Hornets were 55-27.
Jordan actually started the basketball program at Holly Springs in 2006, but just looking at the past three seasons, the Golden Hawks were 35-42.
Wins and losses didn’t have anything to do with why Davis lost his job as Hillside’s coach, McDonald said.
But wins do figure in deeper runs in the playoffs and opportunities for guys to bury big shots when the lights are the brightest and primed for exposing them to college coaches who might like the way they look under such shine. It’s about coaching philosophies and brands of basketball.
Kithcart a few days ago said he’d decide whether or not he’d lace up his sneakers again for Hillside upon returning from Vegas, where he absolutely tore it up.
“I just felt real good,” Kithcart said.
NOTES — Rising Northern High School senior Kentrell Barkley (6-5, 190) also was in Las Vegas handling business, scoring 15 points and snatching 22 rebounds during a game on Sunday, said Durham’s Rick Phillips, Barkley’s mentor and former Amateur Athletic Union coach. Barkley arrived in Vegas with offers from East Carolina, UNC-Wilmington and Charlotte. Phillips made it sound like more letters showing love will be in the mail real soon.