Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) guards Dwayne Bacon and Terrence Phillips aren’t atypical of most elite high school basketball players who follow a school, gym, rest, gym, gym and more gym daily routine.
In their downtime, like most 17-year-olds, they’re patrolling social media sites, liking pictures, reposting random video clips and retweeting fans.
In the latter process, though, Bacon and Phillips have noticed something rather peculiar.
“Not too many people are really talking about Oak Hill,” said Bacon, a senior shooting guard who is signed to Florida State. “Just can’t find a lot about us out there.”
Seems odd for a tradition-rich team who’s ranked No. 3 in the USA Today HSS Super 25 and has posted a 23-0 record.
No retweets for posterizing dunks? No comments from fans talking about how they’re winning games on average by 30 points? No Instagram vids about Dwayne Bacon’s dominant per game average of 22 points; the highest average by an Oak Hill player since Detroit Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings played back in 2008.
“Yeah it’s a little crazy if you let yourself think about it,” said Phillips, a senior point guard who’s committed to Missouri. “It’s not about the media pub and the social media shoutouts for us; we just want to go out there and get it done on the court.”
Oak Hill will be in Springfield next week for the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions. The Warriors begin the tournament at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at JQH Arena against Chino Hills, California.
But next up is Hamilton (Memphis) at 3 p.m. Saturday in a game to be televised on ESPN. Hamilton features the Lawson brothers, K.J. and Dedric, Memphis signees.
This will be the Warriors’ first nationally televised game this season.
“We’ve certainly had our run of constant attention in the past,” Oak Hill coach Steve Smith said. “We’re not too concerned with that stuff though. It’s probably a little bit different for the guys.”
Phillips has a theory as to why the Warriors aren’t grabbing the headlines.
Two words: Star power.
“You’ve got Montverde and they’ve got Ben Simmons, who’s the No. 1 player in 2015,” explained Phillips, who is averaging eight points and eight assists a game this season. “Then you’ve got Wesleyan and they’ve got Harry Giles and he’s the top player in 2016 and other teams with players who are top three and things like that. I think that’s why they get talked about a little more than us. I think we have one or two guys who are ranked in the ESPN 100; people like to follow that stuff. I think that’s why you don’t hear as much about us too.”
“I think it’s just sexier to talk about the top guys,” he said. “I get it because it’s happened for us in the past when we had guys like Brandon Jennings or Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Durant. I think we’ve got underrated kids, but they don’t have a name like that. That’s why we just teach the kids to focus on winning games.”
Phillips, however, is more driven by a game he lost.
Last April, the Warriors fell in the DICK’S Sporting Goods National High School Invitational title game, 71-62, to Montverde (Montverde, Fla.), the current No. 1 team in the Super 25, at Madison Square Garden.
“I think about that loss before every game,” Phillips said. “It really does motivate me; especially in games where we’re down. I know what it takes to get back to that championship game so that’s the ultimate goal for us.”
What helps Bacon cope with the lack of attention?
“I’d rather people be talking about us around April anyway,” Bacon said. “We’ll focus on Hamilton. That’s all we’re focused on.”
And for the first time this season the country will be focused too.
Oak Hill Academy Warriors fast takes
Location: Mouth of Wilson, Virginia
Colors: Red and gold
Coach: Steve Smith (30th season)
T of C history: None
Notable alumni: NBA superstars Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, Stephen Jackson and others. Kevin Durant attended the school and played for the Warriors but transferred to Montrose Christian School before graduating.