Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) coach Steve Smith has had seven undefeated seasons, won multiple national titles and coached countless NBA All Stars, even one NBA MVP; yet, when Harry Giles III gets to campus later this month it’ll mark the first time Smith has coached a player ranked No. 1 in the country.
Last week, Giles, the No. 1 player in the ESPN 100, announced that he would be transferring from Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.) to the Warriors for his senior season.
“We’ve had a lot of guys in the No. 2 or No. 3 spots with Ron (Mercer), Jerry (Stackhouse) Carmelo (Anthony) and Kevin (Durant),” Smith said. “Brandon (Jennings) was the Player of the Year, but Harry’s No. 1. He’s definitely a special talent.”
Still, be that as it may, Smith said he doesn’t feel any added pressure to win a national title with the addition of Giles.
The Warriors are a mainstay in the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals tournament and have lost in the title game to Montverde (Montverde, Fla.) the last two years.
“Because of our name and because of our past successes people expect us to win every game every year,” Smith said. “Having Harry won’t make our expectations or people’s expectations of us any different. Now I do think he makes the target a little bigger.”
Good thing Giles will have plenty of help.
The Warriors also added a pair of highly touted rising sophomores – Kenneth Nwuba and Montez Mathis – Matt Coleman, a point guard who is ranked No. 25 in the ESPN 100, Mario Kegler, a senior wing who is ranked No. 36, and Braxton Blackwell, a senior wing who is ranked No. 37.
“We always get a bunch of talented guys who inquire about coming here,” said Smith, whose Warriors open their season at the Phenom Hoops National High School Tournament (Lewisville, N.C.) on Nov. 13-14. “I’m definitely happy with the group we’ve got.”
He wasn’t the only one.
When news broke of Giles’ plans to attend Oak Hill, Smith said the mood on campus was festive.
“And the students aren’t even here right now,” Smith said. “The administrators and staffers were all excited and talking about it; even people who I don’t even think are on Twitter were all over Twitter reading about it. Harry’s a big presence. He’s a big name and it’s been that way for a long time.”
Still, Smith is fully aware that Giles’ top dog status alone won’t ensure national title hardware.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us; that hasn’t changed,” Smith said. “Harry is a guy who can be used in so many different ways. He does everything really well and the best thing about him is that he’s always working to get better. Add in the fact that he’s a great kid who guys like and that just adds to why he’s dominant. I’m excited about getting him down here and working with him.”
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