By LARRY VAUGHT
Two of the state’s best high school boys basketball players will meet Dec. 9th when Adair County hosts Mercer County in the Lindsey Wilson Classic. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. CST.
Host Adair has point guard Zion Harmon, one of the nation’s top freshmen players and one of the top-ranked players in 2021 recruiting class even though he’s almost certainly going to reclassify to the 2020 class.
Mercer is led by Northern Kentucky signee Trevon Faulkner, the preseason favorite to be Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball.
Mercer coach Josh Hamlin, an assistant on the Mercer girls state championship team last season, said first-year coach Deron Breeze reached out to him in July about scheduling this team.
“Once I heard about it and the details, I knew it was something that would be great for our program. It is a great early season matchup between two ranked teams with two very good basketball players,” said Hamlin. “Trevon Faulkner is rated the No. 1 player in the state and Zion Harmon was recently ranked the No. 1 freshman in the country. Getting these two talented players battling in this early season matchup will be fun for all parties involved.”
It should be. Harmon is playing in the Marshall County Hoopfest Saturday but this will be another big stage for him and Adair.
Hamlin said even when he was coaching girls basketball last season he saw plenty of games/tapes with Harmon, who helped Bowling Green win the boys state title before transferring to Adair County this season.
“Ive watched him play in several AAU events and have been super impressed. He has a calming effect on his teammates. He is always in control of the game and its tempo. Those are special qualities for a kid that young,” Hamlin said.
“I really enjoy watching him play, but probably won’t enjoy coaching against him or scouting him that much when you see how special a talent he really is. All kidding aside, it is a great opportunity for our kids to play the No. 1 freshman in the country.”
Both Mercer and Adair are top 15 preseason teams and both are favored to win regional titles. Hamlin knew adding a challenging game like this early in the season could only help his team, which plays at Danville tonight.
“This is a great barometer for us early in the season. These events add exposure to your team and players, which is great. More importantly, this game will have a region championship type of feel to it,” Hamlin said.
“Anytime you can simulate that environment in early December, you jump at the opportunity. The game has a feel like one of the conference challenges in college basketball before the conference season starts. We get to play a tough road game, and then head on the road a couple nights later to play a solid East Jessamine team.
“This game, besides the exposure for our program, will help us prepare for our tough district contests the following week against East and West (Jessamine). It will also give us things to work on leading into the King of the Bluegrass where we play a very good Lexington Christian team first round.”