STORY & PHOTOS BY GLENN NELSON
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It will be a somewhat schizophrenic existence for Cetera DeGraffenreid and Italee Lucas the next few days. On Monday night, they shared some pride in their shared choice of college, North Carolina. Tuesday and Wednesday, they will be on opposing squads - DeGraffenreid on the McDonald's All-American Game East team and Lucas on the West. Then Thursday they go back to being texting buddies and impending college teammates.
If the scenario is confusing to either, they didn't show it during the Powerade Jam Fest, which opened the McDonald's Game festivities at Bellarmine University's Knights Hall. Lucas, a Las Vegas native, laid the groundwork for a Tar Heel two-step by winning the girl's Three-Point Competition. DeGraffenreid, of Sylva, N.C., then completed the dance by teaming with Duke-bound Nolan Smith of Upper Marlboro, Md., to win the Team Ball Competition.
Cetera DeGraffenreid doesn't like what she sees
Besides being two of the three shortest players in the girl's game, both had to overcome slight difficulties.
Lucas, HoopGurlz.com's No. 6 prospect in the 2007 class, had to beat Stanford-bound Jeanette Pohlen of Brea, Calif., in a shootout just to make the finals, then had to process the opinion that she wasn't one of the favorites.
"I wasn't?" Lucas asked.
To which, DeGraffenreid offered up the first assist to her future UNC teammate. "She is now," DeGraffenreid said.
Yeah, but the favorites going in had to be Tennessee-bound Angie Bjorklund of Spokane, Wash.; Syracuse-bound Erica Morrow of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Maryland-bound Marah Strickland of Mt. Airy, Md. All three fizzled during the elimination round. Lucas, who is one of the most explosive prep scorers in the country, sizzled - logging the top girl's score of 15 twice, beating Pohlen then Northwestern-bound Amy Jaeschke of Wilmette, Ill., in the final.
The 5-foot-8 Lucas said she practiced once with her father - but about a month ago - for the competition.
Jeanette Pohlen sneaks a look at the scoreboard
"I guess I shocked everyone," she said.
So, in a way, did DeGraffenreid. Only Lorin Dixon of Springfield Gardens, N.Y., is shorter - by an inch at 5-4. That's appropos because DeGraffenreid and the other five girls had to sling the bigger men's basketball during the Team Ball Competition. DeGraffenreid said she may have benefitted by playing pickup ball with boys the past couple of weeks.
Duke-bound Krystal Thomas, who is 6-4 and from Orlando, Fla., compiled the best opening round score of 62 with Kosta Koufos of Canton, Ohio. However, DeGraffenreid and Smith put them away by 10, 53-43, in the final.
It isn't beyond the realm of possibilities, by any means, that DeGraffenreid and Lucas will go head-to-head during Wednesday's East-West game. They were asked if, for the sake of Carolina pride, they'd take it easy on each other.
"Of course not," Lucas said.
"We're taking out the West," DeGraffenreid said.
Michael Beasley of Upper Marlboro, Md., in the dunk competition
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Glenn Nelson is the publisher of HoopGurlz.com and the editor-in-chief of Scout Media (www.Scout.com), an online sports network and magazine-publishing company and subsidiary of Fox Interactive Media. Glenn also founded and coached
the Dragons and Northwest HoopGurlz select girl's basketball teams. He previously was a longtime, national-award-winning basketball columnist and writer for The Seattle
Times. His work also has appeared in several national magazines and books. He is co-author of "Rising Stars: The Ten Best Players in the NBA" (Rosen Publishing, 2002). He
can be reached at email@example.com.