Paul VI of Fairfax, Virginia makes its third consecutive appearance in the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions, but this season’s Panthers are different than what Springfield basketball fans are used to.
Few of the players who led Paul VI to a third place T of C finish and a Virginia state championship in 2014 remain on the roster. Some emerging players, such as sophomore guard Aaron Thompson and 6-foot-8 junior Corey Manigault, are on the roster, but the star power had to be reloaded for the Panthers.
Seven members of last season’s state championship team transferred from Paul VI this past offseason. The former T of C champion will face Parkview at 5 p.m. Thursday in the first game of this year’s tournament.
Coach Glenn Farrello comes off a 31-6 campaign that netted him multiple coach of the year awards into a 5-7 start to this season. In his eighth year at Paul VI, he coaches two players ESPN considers to be among the top 100 recruits in high school basketball.
Senior guard Franklin Howard is a 6-foot-4 guard committed to Syracuse. Howard owns a long frame and is a capable outside shooter. He attacks the basket well and can hit floaters and running shots if stopped short of the rim.
Junior forward V.J. King attended St. Vincent-St. Mary’s — the alma mater of NBA superstar LeBron James — for two years then transferred to Paul VI.
King’s connection to King James goes beyond his underclass schooling. The 6-foot-7 slasher played AAU basketball for the Ohio-based King James Shooting Stars. The heavily-courted King is undecided on his college basketball plans, but the roster of teams recruiting him includes UCLA, Ohio State, Georgetown, Michigan, Arizona and Michigan State.
Paul VI Panthers fast takes
Location: Fairfax, Virginia
Colors: black and gold
Coach: Glenn Farrello (8th season)
Last season: 31-6, Virginia Division I state champions
T of C history: won the tournament in 2013 and took third in 2014, 5-1 total record
Notable alumni: Erik Green, former Virginia Tech basketball player now with the Denver Nuggets