As one of the most storied hoops programs in high school basketball history, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) will travel all over the country for, roughly, 60 percent of this season, taking the best shot of every team that laces ‘em up against the Warriors.
No event, according to coach Steve Smith, will be tougher and more rewarding than the Spalding Hoophall Classic, which runs from Jan. 14-18 at Springfield College in Springfield, Mass.
“There’s just nothing like the Hoophall,” said Smith, whose Warriors will face Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) on Jan. 18. “It’s something that we look forward to every year. You learn a lot about your team from that level of competition and that environment. You’ll get to coach against a quality high school coach that you respect and you’ve got most of the top teams and players in the country.”
This year’s crop includes the No. 1 overall player in each of the next three classes, including four of the top six – Harry Giles III, Jayson Tatum, Malik Monk and Edrice Adebayo – in the 2016 class; and the top three players – Marvin Bagley III, Silvio De Sousa and E.J. Montgomery – in the 2018 class, per ESPN’s rankings. In all, 25 players from the ESPN 100 for 2016 will suit up at the Hoophall Classic.
In the past the Hoophall Classic has featured NBA superstars like Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis.
“Now in its 15th year, the Spalding Hoophall Classic is our celebration of the high school game as it brings the future of the game to Springfield and the Hall of Fame,” said Hoophall Classic director Greg Pocino. “The Hall of Fame is an institution that represents the best of the best in basketball and we look forward to watching this year’s event play out at Springfield College.”
Three of the DICK’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals Final Four teams – Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.), Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) and Oak Hill Academy – will play at the Hoophall Classic.
That level of competition is the main reason that Tatum, who hails from Chamiande College Prep (St. Louis), considers the Hoophall Classic “the best out there.”
“Every game you’re gonna see a top player and a top team,’ said Tatum, a Duke commit who is ranked No. 2 overall in the ESPN 100 for 2016. “When I played last year it was my first time being on national TV and the fans there are really live. The competition is the best in the country and that gives you chance to move your team up in the rankings. You’ve really gotta bring you’re ‘A’ game when you come to Hoophall; that’s why we love it.”
Here’s how it all went down last year at the Spalding Hoophall Classic.
Thursday, Jan. 14
4 p.m. Pope Francis (Mass.) vs. Sabis Charter School (Mass.)
5:30 p.m. Longmeadow (Mass.) vs. East Longmeadow (Mass.)
7 p.m. Chicopee (Mass.) vs. Amherst (Mass.)
8:30 p.m. Putnam (Mass.) vs. Springfield Central (Mass.)
Friday, Jan. 15
4 p.m. Sabis Charter School (Mass.) vs. Granby (Mass.)
5:30 p.m. Hoosac Valley (Mass.) vs. South Hadley (Mass.)
7:00 p.m. Longmeadow (Mass.) vs. Pittsfield (Mass.)
8:30 p.m. Springfield Central (Mass.) vs. Christ the King (N.Y.)
Saturday, Jan. 16
11 a.m. Catholic Memorial (Mass.) vs. St. Joseph (Ill.)
12:30 p.m. St. Francis (Ga.) vs. Lone Peak (Utah)
2 p.m. Roman Catholic (Pa.) vs. Montverde Academy (Fla.)
4 p.m. Paul VI (Va.) vs. Chino Hills (Calif.)
6 p.m. Athlete Institute (Ontario, Canada) vs. Hillcrest Prep (Ariz.)
7:45 p.m. Sacred Heart (Conn.) vs. Foothills Christian (Calif.)
9:30 p.m. Weaver (Conn.) vs. St. Raymond (N.Y.)
Sunday, Jan. 17
9 a.m. Suffield Academy (Conn.) vs. Williston Northampton School (Mass.)
10:45 a.m. MacDuffie School (Mass.) vs. Wilbraham and Monson (Mass.)
12:30 p.m. Vermont Academy (Vt.) vs. Brewster Academy (N.H.)
2:15 p.m. St. Benedict’s Prep (N.J.) vs Findlay College Prep (Nev.)
4 p.m. Westtown School (Pa.) vs. Potters House Christian (Fla.)
5:45 p.m. The Patrick School (N.J.) vs. La Lumiere School (Ind.)
7:30 p.m. Commonwealth Academy (Mass.) vs. Putnam Science Academy (Conn.)
Monday, Jan. 18
9 a.m. St. Anthony (N.J.) vs. Bentonville (Ark.)
11 a.m. DeMatha Catholic (Md.) vs. Chaminade College Prep (Mo.)
1 p.m. Oak Hill Academy (Va.) vs. Mater Dei (Calif.)
3 p.m. Montverde Academy (Fla.) vs. Sierra Canyon (Calif.)
5 p.m. High Point Christian (N.C.) vs. Findlay College Prep (Nev.)
7 p.m. Putnam (Mass.) vs. Abraham Lincoln (N.Y.)
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY