Last week, USA TODAY High School Sports began releasing our preseason Super 25 boys basketball rankings with teams 11-25 and teams 6-10. Monday, Plano West (Plano, Texas) was released as our No. 5 and on Tuesday, Bishop Gorman was released as our No. 4 team. Today’s team is No. 3 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), which finished 41-4 last season and is already 3-0 this season. The rest of the release schedule:
Thursday: Team 2
Friday: Team 1
Oak Hill has only one returning starter, senior guard Terrence Phillips. At another school, that lack of experience might be cause for alarm, but the Warriors always reload, not rebuild, with talented transfers.
“I think it’s the most talented team we have had since 2012,” Oak Hill Coach Steve Smith said. “I don’t know if we’re quite that good yet but we do have a lot of depth.”
The Warriors return Phillips, who is the younger brother of former Warrior and current NBA player Brandon Jennings. Seven-foot center Rodney Miller and junior power forward Khadim Sy also saw playing time last season. The bulk of the attention, however, is going toward the Warriors’ newcomers. In their 54-44 defeat of Quality Education (Winston-Salem, N.C.) on Tuesday, 6-6 senior guard Dwayne Bacon, who played at McKeel Academy (Lakeland, Fla.) last season, led Oak Hill with 16 points. Josh Reaves, who was at Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) last season, was next with 11 points and another transfer, former Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) post Daniel Giddens, had 10 rebounds and five blocks in the game.
“Smith is one of the best players we’ve had in the past 10 years. He lives just down the road from Montverde (Fla.) Academy, so I asked him, ‘Why are you calling me?’ He said, he had always wanted to go to Oak Hill. He plays with a lot of confidence and can really shoot the ball. A lot of people don’t realize how well he can shoot, I guess, because he goes to the basket so easily. He also passes really well and can bring up the ball when other teams press. Daniel is a force, we haven’t had a guy like him since A.J. Hammons a few years ago. He doesn’t want to be called a center, but he causes problems for other teams on both ends of the floor and is a good kid, a good leader.”
Reaves, a 6-5 senior guard, led Paul VI with 12.6 points a game and has committed to Penn State. Giddens, a 6-10 senior, averaged a double-double at Wheeler and is an Ohio State commit. Bacon has committed to Florida State. The Warriors also added Joe Hampton, a junior forward who averaged 11.9 points a game at DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville); Lindell Wigginton, a 6-1 sophomore guard from Canada; and Andrew Fleming, a 6-5 senior guard who led Ensworth (Nashville) to the Tennessee Division II-AA state title last season and an Iowa commit.
Despite all the new players, Smith said he doesn’t expect chemistry to be an issue.
“They’re really a close group right now,” Smith said. “People ask me, how do you get these guys to play together? It’s not as hard as you would think because they live together, they eat in the cafeteria together and go to church together. They’re with each other all the time. That helps too on the court. It seems like it has nothing to do with basketball, but it does. There are no cliques. I have enjoyed coaching them.”
The Warriors’ schedule, as usual, includes plenty of tough opponents, including No. 13 Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.), No. 17 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.), and No. 16 Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland).