Hey LeBron: Emmitt Williams is coming. And he already has one up on you. The former Lehigh Senior standout who transferred to Orlando Oak Ridge broke LeBron's Jordan Brand Classic scoring record with a dazzling 44-point explosion on April 8 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Williams, who led Oak Ridge to a fifth-place finish in the 2017 City of Palms, is headed to LSU in the fall.
The City of Palms is the cradle of champions, and this year's GEICO High School Nationals proved it. The last two City of Palms Classic winners met for the national title on March 31 in New York. It was 2016 COP champ Montverde Academy emerging victorious over 2017 COP winner University School of Fort Lauderdale, 76-58, thanks to 25 points from Duke-bound R.J. Barrett and 21 from future ACC rival Michael Devoe, who's headed to Georgia Tech. They held Vernon Carey, the No. 2-ranked player in the 2019 class, to just 5 for 16 shooting for University School, though he was impressive on the boards with 10 rebounds.
Duke's recruiting class may have more hype, but North Carolina will be bringing in this year's McDonald's All-American Game MVP. Fellow Tar Heel Michael Jordan and Jonathan Bender are the only players in the history of the game to score more than the 28 points Nassir Little had in this year's edition, played March 28 at Philips Arena in Atlanta. Little starred for Orlando Christian Prep at this past year's City of Palms.
Now it gets interesting at the game's highest level. The NBA playoffs begin, and so do the storylines involving the 31 City of Palms alumni on playoff rosters. Perhaps no team is as intriguing as the Sixers, led by Joel Embiid. Kevin Love will have to step it up for the Cavs to get back to their fourth straight Finals. The banged-up Warriors could use an unexpected contribution from Jordan Bell to win their third title in four years
Director of Officiating Kevin Hetherington spoke with us last month about the difference between calling the average high school game and reffing elite talent like the players at the City of Palms. Now, with the NBA playoffs underway, Hetherington shares his insight on officiating at the game's highest level.

Q.  The relationship between players and officials in the NBA appears strained, and the frequency of player complaints has been on the rise. Have you seen college and high school players following suit and emulating their NBA counterparts?

A.  "I would say generally, no. They all want to be NBA players, let's face it. But I don't see bad behavior trickling into the high school or college game. I don't see mouthy players. It may be because we have a different type of control. High school players and college players don't run high school or college basketball. NBA players, to some extent, if not almost exclusively, run the NBA."

Q. A common complaint from NBA players is that they're not being officiated consistently from game to game. Is that an emphasis for you in the City of Palms?

A.  "Quite frankly, I prefer to have the games called consistently from Game 1 to Game 35. Anybody who's ever refereed knows that's a tall order. I can tell a staff of 50 how to referee, but I don't have control of them all year long. I have control of them for six days. It's difficult to try to get everybody on the same page. But that's my challenge in the summer and the offseason. It's to find people to referee our games who fit that mold and who can adapt, who can referee these games the way I want them refereed." 
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